Thursday, 12 February 2015

No internet

Yesterday the worst thing of all happened. I came home after a busy day at work and for the ten minutes I get between that and picking the kids up I sat down. There was no tv and worst of all no internet.

I could not check my Facebook newsfeed. I could not order the emergency pet food that was required because the fecking shop was being refitted. I could not browse holidays and pretend we aren't in an eternal winter. I couldn't read the BBC news page or check if it was going to snow. I couldn't check my emails for the millionth time to see if I actually got the job interview that they seem to have mislaid my application for.

The mortifying thing was I was actually a bit lost. What did I do with my spare minutes before the internet? I genuinely don't know.

I went and picked the kids up - four of them who all played (relatively) nicely for two hours. I had some time. But there still wasn't any internet. And that's what I do to avoid the washing.

As a result I fed them and actually tidied up the mess afterwards before bedtime. I even made them angel delight. (Well it's more time consuming than my usual yoghurt from fridge removal).

They went back and played some more. I danced around the kitchen (because no-one was watching). I did a very small amount of washing - enough to make me feel I'd achieved something but without breaking my spirit. Then I played piano. For twenty whole minutes. I was pretty terrible but I felt freed in some way. Yes it was the same piece of been trying to play for years and I had mastered when I was 13 but it was something.

I am determined to use those minutes when the kids don't need me for something else. Those snatched ten minutes. Not tidying, or cleaning, or cooking, or browsing the sodding internet. It needs to be things you can do for just a few moments at a time. Limericks. Origami. What on earth did I used to do before the internet?

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Time to Talk

Today has been #timetotalk day, an initiative to get people talking about mental health.

Somewhat ironic then that I had a counselling session at 8.30 this morning and my counsellor didn't show up. Clearly it was not my time to talk to her, or her to me in fact. The first time we met she didn't have any tissues, or in fact a chair for me to sit on. It hasn't been plain sailing.

All in all it's a good thing I'm in a better place right now. I dealt with it by telling the receptionist I "had commitments" and "couldn't wait", rather than launching into a sobbing diatribe about how terrible the morning had been so far, the fact I hadn't even had a cup of tea yet and that my house currently resembles a germ factory. All true (apart from the need to cry, hooray!)

Not a great start but I coped because I'm in a good place at the minute (mentally at least) And when I feel like this it's hard to remember how bad I felt before. But it is important to remember and it's important to talk about mental health. Especially today.

I think that many people who have mental health problems can suffer greatly from the feeling that they have failed in some way. I know I certainly did. In my first session my counsellor said there were an awful lot of "shoulds" in how I felt. I should be able to cope. I should be a better mum. I should have a clean house. I should be able to remember stuff I learned for GCSE. I should be thinner, fitter, more girly, happier, taller. Well maybe not the last one although it would be nice.

That's why I want people to talk about their mental health. I want people to hear that they haven't failed. That they aren't alone. That billions of people go through this. And most importantly that there are people who will be there for them.

Some people don't find talking about this kind of thing easy. I do (when I'm well anyway), but lots of people don't. And you know what, that's ok. You don't have to find out the details. But if you do nothing else just send a text. You know that person you have an inkling about? Ask them how they are feeling. Send an email. Give them a quick squeeze in the playground. Buy them a little something. Go round with a packet of fig rolls. It doesn't really matter, just make a small connection. Chances are even if they don't respond joyfully on the outside it has meant the world to them in a time when every day feels tough.

Thank you.