Talking about mental health is an important thing to me ever since I had a mini breakdown back in 2014, having burnt myself out in my career.
I worked for the NHS in England and, for my sins, was the Head of the Patient Experience Department in one of the biggest Trusts in England and then headhunted to a failing Trust, to assist in it’s regeneration. What I did not realise was that it would be like stepping back into the 1970’s with regard to working practices and attitude, at times I felt that characters from The Sweeney would come screeching round the corner!
It was, quite simply, shocking!
As my role was to work with and help people who had concerns about their or a loved one’s care, the level of emotion that myself and my team had to deal with was staggering at times. Add to that the emotions of the staff involved with complaints, or the patients whose families had complained, combined with the arrogance of some of the people who worked in a, supposedly, caring environment towards both the patients and their colleagues, including the bullying and lying that I experienced, and it was a highly charged vile environment at times. It was a political environment so I learned to bite my tongue, so it is hardly any wonder that eventually my brain was burnt to a crisp. I have written about this in my post ‘A little bit more about me’.
The problem was that at the time I just did not realise it.
So over the past few weeks mental health has been brought to the fore in the press, and people that I am close to have experienced difficulties due to life changing events, that make you review what life is offering you; in addition a fellow blogger has written openly and honestly about the problems her son, who has autism, has experienced and I thought it was important to step up to the plate and say what has happened to me in the last two weeks.
I will be honest, with my book being considered I wondered whether to rock the boat. But that is just it, we should NOT feel like that, mental health should not be used as something to judge someone by. I have always said that I will write what I fucking want to, because if I worry about what others think then I won’t write anything. After biting my tongue for so long in my shitty career I won’t do that again.
When I was ‘mad’ my counselor told me that I was known as a ‘doer’. This type of person get’s things done, spins hundreds of plates at the same time, juggles many things. But since my illness I can not spin as many as I have in the past.
In addition a ‘doer’ will fill their day getting things done; will see it as a failing if they sit down and do nothing. I had to learn to give myself permission to stop. I was off work nearly six months and after returning decided to leave my career.
So over to the present day: over the past few weeks Rich has been working hard (yey! All good), and it is; but this kick started the ‘doer’ in me. I felt that I would be failing if I was not working all the time he was out of the house, forgetting that I would then be cooking dinner and still working when he got home.
So I would get up with Rich, feed the cats, make the tea, make his sandwich, clean the kitchen, load and unload the dishwasher, put the washing out, load some more washing, make the beds, clean the litter tray, clean the fire, promote my Etsy shop on social media sites, and then sit down and write myself a list of what to do for the day!!
Add to the mix we have friends coming to visit on Sunday ( and don’t get me wrong I cannot wait) and I decided that I should be working harder. I added to my list to erase the mold from the kitchen, and the bedroom they would be staying in (no mean feat!) and then I decided that it was essential to decorate the toilet! In addition I would add things to the list each day; as a friend said to me ‘don’t tell me, if the list isn’t long enough I bet you add to it!’ She was right, I did! I was, quite simply working from 6.30 in the morning until 9 o clock at night by the time I had cooked dinner.
So a week last Sunday Rich said something a bit flippant, something I would normally just say ‘fuck off!’ to. But this time it flicked a switch, and I could feel myself, me ‘positive, reads and follows the Tao Mois, starting to well up with tears. I knew it was stupid, that we were in the best place we have been in for a long time, so why did I want to cry?I sat down in the chair to get a grip, closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and it would not budge. I knew I had to pull myself back so I went upstairs, away from Rich to write my journal. I knew I was in a bad place when my brain started to put me to sleep and I could not write my journal, because that is what happened to me before, I would just fall asleep.
Bless Rich he came upstairs and asked me what was wrong. I answered him honestly and said ‘I don’t know’. Because I didn’t and I hoped that writing my journal would help. Talking to Rich helped, as did talking to my close friend and I knew I was doing too much. I cannot do it anymore and whilst I find it frustrating, it is who I am now. I was forbidden from writing lists and was categorically told that I was not decorating the toilet.
The problem was it had kicked in, my brain was addled again. So during the week when I went to the pharmacy in town I lost my car keys! I had left them in the car! In the ignition! I started to find myself forgetting what I was doing, not being able to find things, and getting angry at the smallest things. All because I kept writing myself fucking lists!!
Now I am writing a different list, remembering what my counselor told me; I am writing a list of what I do, instead of what I hope to do. Just to help people, who I know do the same, here is the list of what I have done today:
Made the tea, fed the cats, fed the chickens, pegged the washing out, put washing in, cleaned the kitchen, unloaded the dishwasher, loaded the dishwasher, made a chilli, promoted my Etsy shop, promoted my blog, rung the publisher, who told me that my book has been referred to another part of the company and to trust them that is a positive and it is still under consideration; washed the mold off the bedroom wall, stripped the beds, cleaned the bathroom, put the ironing away, sorted the bedding out, got the washing in, folded the washing and now I have written this blog!! I am just about to prepare dinner.
But I have allowed myself half hour breaks, to read some blogs, and sat in the spring sunshine with my knitting and a cup of tea for fifteen minutes.
I am writing this for all those doers who don’t see that they achieve more than most people do in a day, it is time you started to see it. I challenge you, write down everything you do, because everything counts, and it will frighten you. So give yourself permission to sit down!!
Look after your mental health, it is so important.