I’m finding it really hard to write this post. I’ve written and deleted, written and deleted but still nothing seems to be coming out right.
My words seem mundane, I’m worrying about who might take my words personally and read into them more than I intended, I question whether these are words to share or if they would be an overshare.
And this all points in one direction – I haven’t been taking care of myself as I should have recently.
It’s been a mentally and physically exhausting time and the effects are taking their toll on me.
You see, the start of this year has been wonderful – celebrating my son’s first birthday, having two full weeks off work to spend with family – but it has also been trying beyond my limits with my routine out of kilter and, most distressing, Jenson not settling into nursery.
It was hell to leave him screaming with distress at our nursery ‘settling’ sessions and difficult to come to terms with the fact that our little monkey might not be ready for being separated from us. For a week Gregg and I were left in the unknown of whether we would both need to reduce our hours at work to provide full-time care for our son since he was finding the transition to nursery too distressing.
And as life as we knew it hung in the balance, it was unbearably hard.
Did we parent him in a way that made a transition to nursery more difficult for him? Would Gregg still be in support of all the parenting decisions that are so important to me – co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, sling carrying – with his desire to support Jenson to be ‘independent’? How would our lives be if we were to cope on one salary? Would this impact plans that I dream for us as a family – plans that rely on our savings.
And the stress was too much for me.
Despite the fact that we turned a corner, he settled into nursery just in time – I’ve been left feeling broken and out of kilter.
My back was agony since I was carrying so much tension and I turned back to my old habits of eating too much.
Eating for comfort when things were too much.
Eating sweet stuff at work when this is something I’ve rarely done over the years.
Supplementing my lunch with crisps and other food that I didn’t need for hunger.
Eating more desserts than I usually would.
Eating more in social situations to squash my awkwardness or just because I was not being mindful of what I was eating.
And I’ve been worried more about what other people think of me.
I’ve clung onto the things that haven’t gone well at work and with friends and family.
I’ve pulled out all the things from my past that I didn’t do well to beat myself up with.
I’ve worried that I’m going to be ‘found out’, found wanting and that people will see me for the failure I am.
I’ve felt not enough.
I feel like my internal axis has shifted and suddenly I feel intrinsically ‘not ok’. I feel like my foundations have been shaken with the force of an earthquake and are full of cracks.
So how do I get back to where I was before all this happened?
The first thing is admitting that I’m not ok. I’ve been telling people – speaking to friends, telling my mum about how I’m feeling this weekend, sharing with my sister about what’s going on, speaking up when topics are causing my anxiety to spike to protect myself, talking to my husband about it all.
The second thing is reminding myself that food is not the issue. It’s the manifestation of what is going on underneath. And so, while I need to pay attention to the food stuff and try to not stuff myself silly, the most important thing is what’s going on underneath – not loving myself, not expressing myself, not having a release for the emotions that I am feeling, not being kind to myself while everything is a bit trickier than normal.
The third thing is remembering that this is just a moment in my life. It’s a hard moment, but just because I’ve gone a step back doesn’t mean that life will always be like this. It feels all encompassing at the moment when it’s just a short period of my life.
The fourth thing is that I need to put my self-care at the top of my priority list. I need to take a lunch break at work, find some sort of exercise (apart from running around like a headless chicken to get everything done in life!), I could benefit with doing some short meditations, writing a bit more than I have recently, painting my nails, reading a good book, cuddling up more with my husband, checking in with close friends, spending time with my son doing nothing but playing, putting down my phone more, having some ‘cave time’ cooking alone in the kitchen with a podcast on.
And finally I’ve requested some counselling through work to try to work out how I can be kinder to myself and how I can cope with my anxiety when everything feels a little bit harder than usual.
I hope this post can help you if you’re going through a hard time. I hope you can take comfort from knowing you’re not the only one who has a dysfunctional way of coping with hardship – I’m in the same boat as you!
It certainly feels better to have everything out in the open – to say I’m not ok, but that’s ok.
Life is full of ups and downs and just because this bit is down doesn’t mean that it always will be.