Updated: Dec 31, 2019
So, we’re into our last month of Devon life. Work pressures are ramping up as we hurtle towards Christmas, and with that, the stress levels are rising. Add to that a significant spanner-in-the-works regarding our flat buy, it’s been a rather intensive week.
But remarkably, mentally I’m doing ok - yes it’s been stressful, but I’m not only coping, I’m actually doing ok, like, I feel as if I actually still have my sh*t together!
Rewind 6 years and it was a whole different story. Back then I really struggled to keep mentally healthy, a few rather rubbish consecutive experiences (family deaths, car crashes, and an existential crisis) left me reeling, and pretty unwell. But with the help of my amazing family, my doctor, and my friends, I learnt to rebuild myself and my life, and began the journey to wellness and well being.
Now, mental health can be a tricky thing. In my case, time and support allowed me to heal and grow, but I could never really be sure that I wouldn’t regress back to my dark ages if another trigger-event occurred. Historically stress, specifically stress associated with change, often triggered a depressive episode. These times weren’t fun, it was bloody hard to battle through, but in the words of my favourite blue fish, I ‘just kept swimming’ until I got somewhere.
Back to the present day, this week has hailed the arrival of the stress machine that is the build up to Christmas. It’s always a stressful time for anyone in education (Teachers and TA’s you are amazing and all deserve to wear those halos with pride, that’s if they’ve survived the onslaught of over enthusiastic angels after the Nativity play!) I’m not teaching this year, but still have a lot of things to do within school. Add to that managing this flat-purchase, packing up everything in our current house, and chasing misplaced mortgage offers (yes the Bank lost our paperwork…), it’s been a hard week. As I said, back-in-the-day, the prospect of any sort of life-change, would hail the arrival of the big black dog of depression, but even after the week from hell, I feel fine.
Fine. Not the kind of ‘fine’ you say to well meaning colleagues when they ask you how you are, but actual ‘fine’. Yes I’ve felt stressed at times, yes I’ve felt sad at times, but all of these emotions remained in perspective. I observed them, experienced them, and then waved goodbye to them as they passed on. All that Mindfulness stuff I’ve been doing (on and off) has actually helped! I must do more…
Buddha said that the root of all suffering is attachment. We live in a culture built on the promotion of attachment (after all capitalism wouldn’t work if we didn’t actually want the capital…) and so it’s no wonder that we as a country are experiencing a mental health crisis. Personally, my fear of change was rooted in my attachment to the idea of keeping things the same - the idea that familiarity= security. Over the past 5 years, I’ve started to learn to let go, to embrace change, and see it as an exciting opportunity, rather than a fearful trigger. The rather horrific experiences of past years have educated and strengthened me, allowing me to look forward to the future, in the knowledge that I can handle anything it throws at me.
That’s pretty deep for a Friday night…
Basically it’s like that old saying: from the manure, the strongest flowers grow.
If you’re in the manure right now, I send you love and positive vibes. Keep going, because although you might not realise it right now, you are growing. Ask for help, show kindness to yourself; with the right love and care, you will one day blossom into a better, stronger version of yourself.