Yesterday I posted why I haven’t been writing and why I still can’t write for a bit and
it’s all very true. But this morning I woke up and realised how I am neglecting myself
somewhat and how putting my writing on hold is part of that. Writing is one of my ‘me’
things and I share it with others in the hope that they may identify with some of it and it may
offer some support or some of it may provide interest. I also realised today that I am not
practising the things that I preach. The things that keep me well. So here I am at 7am, sitting
amongst the boxes and the jumble with a warming cup of hot coffee to get some of it down
and make some sense of it.
I’ve always proposed an early mental health check in before glueing your face to your
phone. To identify how you feel today, assess your mood, let any negative feelings surface and
release. To journal if you feel inclined. Have a relaxed breakfast and plan the day. For a few
weeks now I’ve been getting up, drinking coffee, glueing myself to the phone, scrolling
everything, Twitter, Facebook, Emails, Messages, more coffee, smoking multiple cigarettes
and not checking in with how I feel all day at all. In fact actively avoiding how I might be
feeling. Then getting on with breakfast and stumbling into the day, getting on with things but
with no plan.
I’ve reached a point where I am fragile now. I realised that this morning when I picked
up the phone and put it down again deliberately without looking at anything. For a few days
I’ve been feeling cumulatively exhausted, tense and increasingly anxious. I’ve been so caught
up in the care of someone else for 3 months. Then selling furniture, taking deliveries and
creating a new room for my daughter, dealing with the chaos that has created in the home. I’ve
left no spaces for me recently and that has been symbolically represented by the lack of space
in my flat with the contents of my daughters room everywhere. To write, to breathe, to check
in, to do something I enjoy, to go for a walk. I’ve been on survival mode but it’s not a type of
survival that my mental health will survive long term.
I’m constantly anxious and on edge now and I need to go back to basics and deal with
it using the strategies that I recommend to others. Or I’ll be no use to my little girl. Constant
vigilance is required to maintain mental health. It’s so easy to slip. There will always be these
moments of falling and awakening and needing to wake up and refocus. Maintaining and
awareness and honesty is key.
This honesty is useful when dealing with others too. Something I think we find a little
harder. “Are you ok? “I’m fine” when actually if we were honest we may be able to get a little
bit of support. It’s been hard to get support during the lockdown of course because of social
distancing. But you can be honest in your phone conversations as the stress has been building
and I have done that recently and I have found it valuable.
This is just a short piece really. To demonstrate even those who write out how to do it
perfectly can fall down. I intend now to pick it up again. To slowly start putting my
strategies in. To create those spaces again. I feel some relief already just from writing this piece,
this statement of intent. It won’t be easy and I still have no feelings, hopefully they will come
on a walk. My daughter had a relapse last week. There is still a lot to do in the house. But it
must be possible to make some spaces. There are a lot of hours in the day and jobs can carry
over. With Bipolar Disorder it is of paramount importance to keep things going as relapse
prevention can be life saving. And for Grief management it took me a long time to start the process.
I have not had an episode for 8 months. I am on my way for my target to a year although
I am not complacent and I know anything could happen. I feel vulnerable right now and I need
to build myself back up to feeling like a Warrior again. I need to remain vigilant.
My average daily plan will look like this although won’t always be fulfillable as we
both have a lot of appointments:
Wake up-Coffee and emotional check in with journal
Breakfast and plan day
30 minutes social media
(Eat 3 healthy meals)
30 minutes walk with affirmations
Care for daughter/homework, finish putting home back together/house jobs/food shopping
Finish the day with emotional check in and reading for pleasure
These are the simple sorts of things that work. The structures that keep us well. They are good
for anyone but particular those who need to adopt a self care routine to prevent a catastrophic
slide in mental health.
If you would like to read a more detailed article on self care, please check back on my extensive post “Self Care For Those Who Find Self Care Difficult”.