I’m Ben and I’m struggling at the moment.
It feels good to get that off my chest.
I have a good idea about what is going on. I know it’s a combination of a tough situation at work; winter/dark morning and evening blues; reoccurring skin rash issues (legs and backside – I know, what a lovely image!) – this is something I get with my periods of depression/anxiety; poor sleep, nightly bad dreams and 3am wakings; general busyness of balancing work, home, school runs, homework, cooking, trying and failing to do Miss J’s hair in the mornings as well as Dr J does it; pressure on my time making exercise difficult to fit in as often as I would like; tiredness which is eating into my energy during my down time in which I like to read and relax; and just unexplained and untriggered lowness. There is no doubt too that my need to feel on top of stuff – organised, planned, in control, safe – adds to my burden; the pressure; to my sense of constantly running and feeling very tired in these moments.
I am just finding life a bit tough at the moment.
It’s not unbearable, can’t get out of bed tough, but it is tough. I am drawing upon all my tools, techniques and interventions to get through it and trying hard to make time for me and importantly being kind to myself and not judging myself, or being too hard on myself, in these tough moments. I have learnt to listen to my body and mind and to lower my expectations of myself when times are hard. I am hunkering down a little and trying to strip back my commitments and the potential for feeling over stretched. Searching for my happy places; my happy tasks. This all helps. But for me, saying all of this out loud – on here – also really helps.
Like most depressives, these periods eat into my feelings of confidence and self worth. They eat away a little at me and sap my energy and drive. They prompt doubts, neediness and insecurities. They bring out my fears and worries and kick in the vicious cycles of bad thoughts, bad dreams, bad sleep and the resultant tiredness.
The good news is that I have been here before and I know it will pass. I know it will be grand. I know how this movie ends. I also know that for me, being open about how I am feeling really helps. I’ve had four meetings in the last 24 hours in which colleagues have naturally started by asking me “how are you?”. I don’t start a full download of all my ups and downs, feelings and emotions (or mention the rear end rash), but I do tell the truth now. I say that things are a bit tough. That I am struggling a little. I don’t fall back on the old ‘“I’m fine” chestnut and gloss over things. I am more open. More direct. More me.
This works for me. It is one less thing to worry about or to expend energy on. The easier thing to remember is the truth. Honesty is the best policy and all that. It also helps me to normalise how I am feeling. Hiding it away – locking it away in the cellar of my mind and painting a smile on my face – just adds to the weirdness I would feel and to the stigma around mental health issues. If it’s ok not to be ok all the time, it’s also ok to tell people you’re not ok. Ok?
I’m Ben. I’m struggling, but I’ll be ok. I will hang in there. Keep working at being well. At being me. In the meantime, if you ask me how I am doing I am likely to tell you – although I will spare you some of the derrière details.