This is the first blog since I decided to stop following the data breach incident. This is still in the process of being dealt with and I continue to be mortified that I made such a stupid mistake.
However, I am writing this blog for 2 reasons at this point.
Firstly, an absolutely awful life event has occurred which I can’t divulge the details of, but let’s just say that things really couldn’t get much worse at the moment from a life challenges perspective.
Secondly, the aforementioned event has opened my eyes to the past and given me a new perspective on my whole situation, right back to September last year and before. And I want and need people to know about this, especially for one particular reason; my GP job, especially my practice in particular, was not the main trigger for my problems. Yes, it is an intense and emotionally demanding job and I still need to reduce my hours a bit, but this was simply one factor of many leading to the crisis point I hit last September.
My formal diagnosis was ‘Burnout with Secondary Depression.’ I ended up off work. I shut down for a week or two, as if my whole system went into involuntary hibernation. I then spent 5 months recuperating back to full health before phasing back in at work. I was utterly exhausted. I had spent every second of every day of my life for years serving other people. From 6.30am to 10pm every day; non-stop at work, then non-stop at home. Always putting everybody else’s needs before own. Not even realising I was neglecting my own needs. No opportunity for rest or ‘self-care.’ One thing I really needed to recharge was some solitary and quiet time, but I was almost never able to have this as I was virtually constantly in parent mode when not at work. Other difficult aspects of life added extra layers of challenges (things that I can’t talk about publicly). In the months in the run up to this, I knew I was finding it tough and had tried to find solutions to ease the load, share the load etc, but to no avail. There was no magic fairy to take on some of it for me; I just had to plod on. No wonder I hit breaking point! As I said in that original blog ‘There is nothing left to give.’
By the end of a Tuesday or the end of the weekend days, when the boys had been full-on for 12 hours straight with barely a second for me to catch my breath, I knew that I would become more easily exasperated. I can keep calm very well on the outside, even if I’m getting wound up inside. But when you’ve spent a whole day with the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ not going to plan, my tone may well have changed to more firm. Isn’t that the same for all parents?! Yet, my approach has always remained based on gentleness and love. Treat them with respect, reinforce positive behaviour (easy to forget), avoid constant negativity, intervene when you need to intervene – allowing some level of freedom for fun and learning through play, give them some choices when appropriate, just be with them and interact with them with undivided attention; nurture their personalities. I see others using threats, fear and aggression as a means to try and get children to comply and this has always felt extremely uncomfortable for me. What does that teach them? Surely it just generates the same in return? Shout at them and they will shout back. Use physical methods and surely you shouldn’t be surprised if they start to copy? Stick your head in a screen all day and they will think that is all life is about. Trying to be the best person you can be and providing the role model that they will look to surely is the approach to go for? I am far from perfect, but I try my best; and I acknowledge that I make mistakes to my children (the 4 year old now points out my imperfections!). There are times when my usual strategies to manage behaviour blips (e.g. counting to 3, distraction, making something fun) are not working and I wonder what else to try; if only parenting came with instructions! I am not ashamed to confess that I find it tough sometimes. I am not afraid to confess that my fuse is shorter at 5pm that it is 7am. I am human. I am imperfect. I am fallible. I don’t think I differ from many other parents; is this really a result of ‘depression?’ Is this really deemed as making me an unfit parent? Parents out there….are you perfect, never get it wrong and never get wound up by your children?!
On top of these life pressures, it has become clearer to me retrospectively that there has been quite a lot of negativity in my life that is out of my control. There have been aspects of my life that have made me feel undervalued and taken for granted. A functional being that gets stuff done but has little value in terms of a being with a personality and a soul and is more often put down than not. As someone who was bullied in my younger days and have struggled with self-esteem since, this has exacerbated these feelings of lack of self-worth.
Where did this ‘depression’ come from?! It felt very alien to me and took me by surprise; I never really believed it. I’m not a depressed sort of person. I have spent a lifetime remembering that ‘In every negative situation, there is a positive and something to learn.’ Glass always half full; or more. Amazed on a daily basis by the miracle of life; a world that I find beauty and value in simple things. A life that is short, goes by too quickly and is tragically cut far too short for far too many people; every day must be cherished. Even since all of this, I am someone who is ‘always smiling’ (one of our practice cleaners said this to me recently) and trying to boost others’ moods when they’re down.
The recent thing that has happened has brought about an unexpected turn in life. A traumatic event has been followed by extra layers of hurt due to the evolution of the fallout from it; and my ‘depression’ is being used against me in the worst possible way.
But…..this is my recent realisation. I don’t think I ever had any significant mental health problem. Yes, ‘depression’ was probably a suitable label for a short time and recurred recently as life’s loads increased dramatically again. Originally, I was so ‘burnt out’ that I wanted to hibernate for a while to fully rest and be at peace without the constant ‘noise and demands’ placed upon me. I have had emotional challenges that have been so hard to cope with that I’ve felt like I’d wished there was an ‘off switch.’ This led to scary fleeting thoughts at times, but certainly nothing that I would ever have acted on or had any desire to do so in real terms.
Now, life is at an all time low. I feel like things couldn’t get much worse (of course they could, but this is enough for now!). Of course, I am generally rather unhappy at the moment and find myself crying fairly easily. Yet, I have found a powerful inner strength. I have to be strong to get through the horrendous trauma that is currently in my life. It’s either that or let my emotions take over and completely give up. That’s not an option as much as I wish this nightmare would end; my boys need me. I will not let them down; they will be relying on me more than ever and I am going to make sure I make their lives the very best I can.
This realisation that ‘my issues’ are not from within but simply reacting to life’s events and negativity has been incredibly liberating. I am not weak. I am not pathetic. I am not mentally unstable. I am not an unfit parent. I have been carrying an unreasonably heavy load; both in practical and emotional terms.
I have simply appropriately emotionally responded to life challenges!