As my ‘motto’ suggests, I try and see everything in the most positive light. But there’s only so much energy to do this before things start to take their toll.
I have found this experience of burnout and depression really frustrating, partly because I seem to have a lost control of my own mind, emotions and outlook. Where did my usual positivity go? It is still there in my rational thoughts, but not so much in my emotional reactions…and I can’t help it, as hard as I try.
I have a half-written blog at the moment called ‘Not cut out to be a mother? Or a wife?’ I’ll probably finish this and publish it in due course; as usual, I have been writing down what I need to for my own therapy, but others might feel grateful for me sharing it.
One of the reasons that I started writing it is because, every day, without fail, I feel like I am letting my family down. Even without work factored in at the moment, I feel like the load is too heavy. There’s still too much to do, too much that hasn’t been done that should have (why didn’t I even manage to write Christmas cards this year?!), too many demands placed on me, too much noise, too much physical contact from the children, too much invasion. ‘Mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy!’ and ‘battles, tantrums, cries, noise and demands’ as I’ve previously described – seemingly ad infinitum.
I just want to be alone and quiet; at least more than I can be currently. Admittedly, the last few weeks have been particularly tough with both myself and the children having recurrent minor illnesses which has resulted in them being off nursery quite a lot and then off for the Christmas break so there has been much less opportunity for me to recharge. I am now absolutely at the end of my tether with them. I get to the point when I become impatient, intolerant and snappy and even saying in exasperation ‘Can you just be quiet?!’ My husband, quite rightly, pointed out that they are small boys doing what small boys do. I know that, but I can’t bear it. I’ve had enough. I can’t wait for a day alone again. Then this triggers the feelings of inadequacy and guilt; why can’t I cope with my own children?!
The New Year is going to bring more steps of recovery. Some more proactive than previously such as starting counselling/CBT to learn better strategies for coping with life’s challenges. There will also be more in depth planning about when and how to return to work; as much as I am still dreading it at the moment, it has to be done before too long therefore the practicalities must be prepared.
But, I also know that, once I am back at work, I am going to have a day a week ‘off.’ Really off. Child-free. I had already planned this months back. It felt indulgent at first; most people don’t have this. Then I came to realise that, for me, it is actually necessary; as much as I want the time alone, I also need it in order to recharge. Practically it will also be a chance to get things done that have previously been pushed out and consequently added to my stress levels e.g. CPD/Appraisal work. Hopefully, there might even be an opportunity to get some exercise and bring music back into my life properly.
Apart from external help with thought-processing etc, I hope I can also get stronger at working on this from within too. After all, with almost any issue like this, no-one else can fix the problems; it requires owning and working at from within oneself.
I had quite a specific request for a Christmas present this year. The blog image is what I am referring to. It is a ring with the structures of serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters ‘modulate human emotions, including pleasure, happiness, motivation, reward, depression and anxiety’ as described on the website it came from.
It is intended to be a positive symbol; I do not want to dwell on this experience of depression or carry a life-long label of ‘a depressive,’ either explicitly on my records or in the minds of myself and those around me. But, it has happened and it will mould my future; it will change my understanding of mental health for the better and it should enable me to ‘build better resilience.’ This last phrase was written to me on a email to me a couple of months ago. At first, I was offended and upset by it. I had always been pretty tough and worked my way through whatever life threw at me. After I hit crisis point, I already felt weak and pathetic and this seemed to reinforce this perception at the time. I talked it over with others and came to understand it better. It was certainly meant well and is actually spot on; I will come out of this even stronger and with better strategies and coping mechanisms than before.
The ring will represent happiness and motivation coming from an experience of depression and apathy and serve as a reminder of ‘In every negative experience, there is a positive and something to learn.’
Happy New Year everyone!