I ummed and ahhed about posting this. But one thing that annoys me about social media is that we just post snapshots of the good stuff. We’re not honest about the bad stuff or the not so good stuff and all that does is lead us to pile so much unnecessary pressure on ourselves to lead these perfect lives. With perfect kids and perfect parenting skills.
It’s not real life.
What will follow is a very honest account of how my anxiety impacted on my life today. I want to be very clear; I am safe, I am ok, I am fully in control of myself and I am happy. However, if you’re not and you need to speak to someone then I have included some numbers below. It’s ok to not be ok, just don’t go through it alone.
Samaritans – 116 123
HOPE Line – 0800 068 41 41
Mind – 0300 123 3393
Anxiety UK – 03444 775 774
I’m not sleeping very well at the minute. I keep having the same dream. I am talking to someone about having to ‘do’ something that I don’t want to do. The someone is asking me why I’m doing it if I don’t think it’s right and I’m trying to explain that I have no choice, that I have to do this thing and that I can’t stop it or change it. Something bad then happens and I wake up.
Every. Single. Time. I. Close. My. Eyes.
I woke up this morning from another horrible sleep and my first thought was the biological father of my youngest child.
Out of respect, I am no longer going to post anything about him, his family, or our current court action. I don’t have to write things on the internet that my children may potentially read when they reach an age to be allowed Facebook when I can just tell them myself.
Anyway, I woke up and my first thought was him.
And I just couldn’t cope with it. That thought spiralled and I was suddenly overwhelmed with thoughts that there was no point in me going to work because I’m not as smart as anyone else there, I’m not achieving anything of worth, I’m not as qualified and I’m not as necessary.
I didn’t want to get out of bed because that way I could avoid anything or anyone that would just confirm to me that I am in fact not good enough, failing and pointless.
I started to cry. And I cried and cried. And I couldn’t catch my breath and I just couldn’t empty the negative thoughts out of my head.
I was angry that I couldn’t get the thoughts out of my head, because I can normally rationalise my way out of anything. I was panicking because I didn’t know how to stop it. I was upset because I felt like no one needed me and that I wasn’t bringing anything to anyone’s life.
And I cried some more. My heart was racing and I couldn’t focus and I felt so physically sick. The pressure in my head was so intense I thought it might explode and I couldn’t breath properly.
What I should have done, yesterday, was deal with the thoughts when they started. When I had the first irrational thought during the day that I wasn’t as good as anyone else in my team I should have acknowledged it. But I didn’t. I pushed it down and refused to allow myself to cry and I suppressed it.
And it got so big inside me that today it just all came spilling out in a wave of irrational fear and anxiety that was all-consuming.
All I wanted to do at 6am was get back into bed and give in to those feelings.
But I didn’t.
I got up and showered and made three packed lunches and fed the girls and got them ready for school.
And then when I was folding washing about 7am I had a sudden wave of wondering how I was going to drive to work alone and walk into the building alone and it just seemed so unmanageable that I started to cry again. I couldn’t catch my breath. I had to talk my way through it enough that I could leave the house.
And I did. I left the house. I went to work.
I work with some really vulnerable children who can display some quite challenging emotional and behavioural needs throughout the day. Today was no different and actually if I’d stayed in bed it would’ve been worse.
I love my job and I love the kids and I was helpful today at school. I wouldn’t have helped anyone if I’d stayed in bed, least of all myself.
But then I panicked when I left because I worried I’d get home and not be a good parent and that I’d be alone and that I’d be rubbish and I teetered on the edge all the way home in the car.
I came home to an unexpected parcel which threw me because I hadn’t ordered anything and I get a bit paranoid over mail sometimes.
It was from my sister who had sent me a treat box that’s full of nice self care bits and pieces and it made me cry (again).
Inside were some self care cards and the one about talking to yourself from five years ago really hit the nail on the head.
Five years ago I was about to fly to Iceland with my best friend for what turned out to be one of the most emotionally taxing weekends of my life. And you had better believe I am not that person anymore.
KEEP GOING. Even when it’s hard. For yourself. For the self you’ll be in five years time. KEEP GOING.
I’m going to bed tonight knowing that today I did everything within my power to do a good job, to be a good parent, to look after myself. It might not always be social media worthy but it’s real. It’s true. It’s who I am.