I want to preface this blog post by saying to any family members reading this, don’t worry, I’m fine. Although it’s all relative isn’t it, but in the scheme of things, please don’t worry, I’m OK.
I mentioned last week I had some news about my ex that I’m struggling to deal with and it’s taken its toll on me a little. Which I’m quite surprised about because I always think of myself as some uber-strong superwoman type character. After dealing with the fall-out of that relationship on my own for the last five years, I’ve now asked for some official help, and I had a telephone assessment yesterday for some potential ongoing therapy.
I’ve dabbled with CBT in the past and it’s worked really well for me, in particular dealing with a strange claustrophobia type anxiety that has only manifested itself in the past 18 months, but I can’t afford to do that anymore, and so had to stop. Hoping, I guess, that it would just ‘sort itself out’, because that’s my answer to most things. “Oh, I’ll be fine, don’t worry.” In fact, I even said that in the first paragraph of this post! But it’s a terrible habit, one of being one of life’s copers, because there’s only so much you can deal with before you reach your limit. Women do that a lot I think.
I’ve mentioned feeling ‘out of sorts’ for a while now and I think I have felt that because I’ve managed (somehow) to deal with the last five years OK with very little support, why do I feel like I’m crumbling a bit now? I blame my new boyfriend of course. Bless him. For the first time in five years, because this is the first time I’ve tried having a relationship, I have the opportunity to be myself again. Kate, not Mum. Not a daughter. But Kate. I feel lighter, in every sense, when I’m with him. Happy, younger, special. And I’m grateful that I have him, even if this turns out to be a ‘transition’ relationship, I’m grateful. I also made a really interesting observation today whilst talking to two of my very special friends on Whatsapp – that maybe, by not having a relationship for the last five years, I’ve subconsciously been punishing myself for something that wasn’t even my fault in the first place.
Whoa. That’s deep.
The trouble is, I’m worried it’s all too good to be true. That I’m not deserving of true happiness. That it’s all a trick. I’m writing about it, as per, so that I can try and get my thoughts straight. Intellectually, I understand that I DO deserve to be happy, everyone does, but emotionally it’s something I struggle with.
Anyway, it’s Friday, and for the first time all week, I feel better. I forgot the quotes, ‘better.’ Insofar as, I’ve woken up and feel a little brighter, less gloomy, more myself, and so I wanted to write about the things I’ve done this week that I think have resulted in this slight turnaround in my mood – for my future reference as much as anything else.
1. Talking. I hate talking about my past relationship, it re-traumatises me every time I have to re-live it. It’s almost a physiological reaction when I do it – I can’t breathe, I’m hysterical and cry a lot … but it’s like releasing the valve on a pressure cooker. I rarely talk about what happened, and so that gets bottled up, and up … and up, until I either have to release the valve or I’ll explode. So, as much as I hated it, I think talking about it, especially to an impartial professional, helped.
2. Exercise. I exercise 5-6 times a week normally … gym, cycling, pilates, walking, and yet this week, I could barely leave the house. I cancelled my PT session, my Pilates class and, if I’m honest, most days I didn’t even get dressed until the afternoon. But on Thursday I forced myself to get dressed into my gym gear mid-morning. I didn’t know if that would give me enough impetus to actually get to the gym, but I found a last scrap of energy from somewhere and thought, if I can just get to the gym, and do something, anything, it’ll make me feel better. I know how important endorphins are and by missing the gym for nearly a week I was missing that rush, but I was also feeling weak and flabby. I’m sure I looked no different, but I felt awful. I drove to the gym, which is only round the corner, because cycling was just a step too far at the time, and I did a leg session. I wasn’t feeling it at all whilst doing it, but I did it.
3. Man-friend. I’ve seen him twice this week (we only normally see each other once mid-week), and it’s been really good fun. We had a picnic by the river the first time, and I watched him and his friend and her children swim in a lake last night, and then we were very classy and ate a burger and drank prosecco watching the sun set at a nearby park. It was a combination of being outside and getting some much needed Vitamin D, laughing, and, I’ll admit, being a little spoilt. Or rather, sitting back and not feeling like I had to actually do anything other than be myself. It fed my soul.
4. Love Island. I hate myself for getting caught up in Love Island, but I can’t help it, it’s very addictive. But the point here is watching mindless TV. Not concentrating on anything too heavy for an hour here and there has calmed my mind down a lot. And there’s nothing quite as heartwarming as watching the Johnny and Camilla love story unfold tbh.
5. Not put pressure on myself. I dialled down everything I felt I had to do and have just done the bare minimum this week. The house is a little untidy, but I’ve not forced myself to hoover and polish, it can wait. I need to write to the council, but I know how soul-destroying that is so I’ve put it on the back burner. If I haven’t felt like cooking, I’ve asked Dexter to cook for himself, or I’ve given him a ready meal.
6. Recognised what’s happening. I’ve had depression before and I recognise the onset of it, so it was important for me to try and, without dumbing the whole thing down, nip it in the bud as much as I can. That’s not always possible for everyone, but I felt it was important to try and take as much control over the situation as I could, recognise what’s happening and do as much as I felt I could to turn things around.
7. Cheese. I wont’ even lie, I’ve eaten halloumi every day this week and I’ve loved it. My diet hasn’t been great at all this week. I’ve either not felt like eating anything, or I’ve eaten things that would be considered ‘bad’ for me, but it’s better I eat something, rather than nothing, and I knew it would pass. That soon I would find my way back to a healthy-ish diet, and I will get there. I bought a cream cake during the week, a throw-back to 4 stones ago, and it’s not something I’ve done for a year. It tasted OK, I ate it, but it didn’t fill that void I’ve been feeling all week. And it was a massive reminder. Food just pushes down feelings. It’s not a coping mechanism. Eating crap doesn’t make me feel better, in fact, it does the opposite. Sometimes you need that reminder, so I’m grateful.
This post went on longer than anticipated, so I clearly needed to get it off my chest, but I hope that it may help someone, somewhere, if they’re feeling like I’ve felt this past week. The state of the world right now is making a lot of people feel anxious, I can feel it, and I see it online all the time, so I think a lot of us are going to have weeks where we feel like hibernating. But for me, it can be a slippery slope, and, today at least, I’m optimistic that things will be OK.
Thanks for reading.