World Mental Health Day; a Day Late

I was very aware it was World Mental Health Day yesterday. I wanted to write a blog then. But I couldn’t; for two reasons. Here’s why…

My life is in a right pickle at the moment to say the least. Not much else could go wrong. I am therefore in the midst of a living hell and battling to get through each day’s practical and emotional challenges which, in turn, are leaving me utterly exhausted.

Yet, I am fine. Inexplicably so really. A year ago I wasn’t. I was burnt out and depressed. I thought my job was the main problem combined with parenting 2 very young ‘lively’ children and never having any breathing space to recharge. It is true that the job is emotionally intense and demanding and that the children are hard work – of course. But I now function at work without any issues; in fact, I have found a renewed sense of enjoyment and satisfaction from it. Which is a great relief as I thought I was going to have to betray the very essence of the doctor I am in order to sustain it at one stage. The children, now they are that little bit older, are much easier to manage; amongst the (normal for their age) tantrums and ‘demands’ I referred to a year ago!

It turns out the primary issue was one that I hadn’t fully recognised at that stage. Things came to a head a few months ago and my eyes were opened. I am now in the midst of dealing with a very messy fall out from that and the situation has caused more hurt and prolonged emotional pain than I have ever experienced in my life before. Yet, I am not depressed now; not a hint. I am extremely sad and hurting. I cry a lot. But this is an appropriate emotional response to a very painful situation. It’s different from depression; a blog topic for the future maybe. Once time passes and things settle, I know that life will be better than it has been for a long time; although, by definition, it will always have difficult elements in various ways. There is light at the end of a very long tunnel, through which I am only still near the beginning at the moment. But that distant glimmer is keeping me going (along with chocolate!). What choice do I have but to be strong and push through?!

The last couple of weeks have felt like a constant fast run on a treadmill with hardly a second spare to get off it; falling into bed at a silly hour still restless from the day’s events and emotional triggers. Between bashing through all the tasks and looking after the children (I am currently having a brief breather from the job whilst things are so intense personally), I simply haven’t had time to do much else. The first reason why I didn’t write this and publish it yesterday.

The second reason is that I was invited by a lovely friend to go to an event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival last night; entitled ‘The Art of Not Falling Apart.’  Although long-term, due to the marriage breakdown, I am not likely to be able to be with my children every day now anyway, I am currently not even able to be in my own home (where they are) three evenings/nights a week; not being with the children every night is hard enough but not being able to be at home either, I am finding really tough. My friend knows this and thought that this event might be a welcome distraction, rather than me sitting at my parents’ house moping and missing my babies. It really was and am hugely grateful to her for thinking of me; and it happened to be a very fitting topic for me!

The link above will give more detail about the speakers (Christina Patterson and Aaron Gillies). The title of the event was taken from Christina Patterson’s book (also the front cover of which is the image for this blog). A lot of what they said resonated with me in so many ways; both through what I have now been through myself but also my professional experience. They have had different experiences in their lives which has affected their outlook on life. Christina had numerous life events which were tough to get through whilst Aaron has suffered with depression and anxiety. The event therefore gave two different views on how to ‘get through’ these psychological challenges; and this is what their books are about (will add to my reading list!). There were a couple of points I did not agree with; but that’s inevitable when we are all individuals with different experiences and perspectives. Both had the same view on several things with I would also agree with; a support network is vital in whatever form is preferred, daily targets should be small and there is not a one-size-fits-all path or solution.

My personal nugget for World Mental Health Day….

A smiling facade can mask much pain,
Fear and loneliness often reign,
Do not try to understand,
Just lend an ear or a hand,
This is not something you can mend,
But just be there; be a friend.

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