Like many people, I have a number of mini-obsessions. Routines. Things that are important to me to do each day – things that you might call little superstitions. One of them relates to my mobile phone.
I am an obsessive charger of its battery; considering anything below 75% to be low. If it ever gets below 50% – I hardly ever let that happen by the way – I start to stress. I am so concerned about my phone running out of battery that I always have a charger wire with me and now also obsessively charger my portable charger too, which rarely leaves my bag or pocket!
I don’t want to focus too much on what lies behind this obsessive behaviour – I know it relates to my fear of being out of contact from those I love and need to feel close to. I know it stems from my fear of abandonment and detachment. My fears of being left alone. One of my biggest fears in life is not being able to contact my wife and daughter and them being unable to contact me. I know that is a rational fear but it is born out of the irrational concern that they will leave me or somehow let me down. It doesn’t take a genius to draw a line between this 2019 experience and that of the small boy – back in the mid-1980’s – waiting in his Nanna’s bay window for his weekly – and invariably late-starting – parental visit.
The reason for reflecting on this today is not to relive that painful and deeply impacting childhood experience but to take a minute to think about the importance of recharging batteries.
It is not an exact science when it comes to us humans – there isn’t a percentage battery level we can consult – but I know from my recent feelings and behaviours that I am definitely running well below 50%. I have been feeling tired; having bouts of anxiety; had a nasty panic attack on Tuesday evening when a small work issue become a major wellbeing issue for me due to being over tired and too tightly-wound; I’m feeling some of the nausea I have felt before when my stress levels are rising and my episodes of depression are kicking in. My mental health diary – my daily journal of my mood and feelings – tells me that the last week has seen a noticeable dips in my wellbeing scores. They have fallen as my sleep has worsened, my motivation for exercise and reading has waned and energy levels have dropped. Two LFC wins, a day off yesterday with my girls and the support of my boss, has really helped – and just kept me from falling into a dark cloud. I just got to my mental health umbrella in time but I know that unless I take action now I will get soaked pretty soon.
The good news is that after today, I am off work for two weeks and have the time to take a breath, get some rest and recharge my batteries with my favourite people and activities. Lots of cups of tea in Birkdale with Miss and Dr J awaits; some golf; more LFC therapy; writing for pleasure; Test Match Special (which is playing as I write this) on the wireless (I love writing that word – it reminds me of my grandparents); running; reading and resting.
I am feeling good about the time ahead and know that it will really help me to get back on form. It will help me ride out those wobbles and bumps in the road that mostly I can navigate these days but are harder to rise above when tiredness takes hold. Tiredness for me is a killer; it is the perfect breeding ground for my depression to make an appearance and bring with it those anxious feelings that can so easily leave me on the floor – literally – struggling for breath. I am able to bounce back from these episodes now and I know hey will pass and I can get a hold of myself but I am not sure I will get comfortable with the feeling of helplessness that I feel as I see the panic attack coming at me and don’t feel able to stop it.
As I write this, I am left asking myself why I let my personal battery level get this low recently, especially as I am someone who spends so much time thinking about my health, wellbeing and work-life balance. The answer is simple; I thought I could manage; that I could handle all that life was throwing at me, especially as I have been coping so well in recent months, with the help of my wellbeing approaches and the little white tablet I take each morning. But in truth I have let my battery level drop too far before plugging myself into the mains. I am a week or so behind where I should be and – as I discovered when I updated my out of office (my last day off was 9th June) – I have left it too long since my last break from work.
As I log off my laptop today, I will plug in my own battery charger. Unlike the me of a few years ago, I will not judge myself for getting below 50% – I won’t tell myself off and punish myself for this “failure. I will instead embrace the reboot I have coming up and spend it in the present; enjoying the moment; savouring every bit of it; soaking it up.
I’ll be back soon; recharged, ready and raring to go. And I will be more watchful in the future about leaving it too long between breaks. I wouldn’t let my iPhone get within a few hours of the battery dying so I need to treat myself as kindly as I do my phone. I should add this to my list of mini-obsessions.