At 6.45 am this morning I dropped the bottom of (I think) the toothpaste onto the bathroom floor. Reaching down to get it, I forgot I’d left the medicine cabinet open, and as I came up the corner of it impacted my skull with some force, enough to draw blood. I have a nascent fear of head injuries, and of losing mental faculties. In fact, of everything that frightens me most in this world, these two things are pretty much at the top of the list. I’m also supremely clumsy, which has never helped my cause.
This means being doomed to spend the day with a headache and second guessing everything that happens. Because I’m unfocused and slow, because I forgot the right word for something and used another one, I’m gonna die from head trauma. Forget yesterday that I left my Bluetooth headphones and both wedding ring and another ring that my Husband bought as a gift in a coat on the back of the chair in the Gym, only realising about six hours later that they’d been left (I took the rings off to weight train.) Hooray for decent people who hand stuff in, or I’d have lost two of the most important things I own via gross stupidity. Reminder, brain: I didn’t have a head injury yesterday. I just possessed brain fog and fatigue.
My daughter says I’m being too hard on myself and she’s probably right. I can’t do everything as fast as I want. Even if the World moves at a greater speed, I’m still pretty much as I am. That doesn’t change instantly, but I am trying my best, though I could cut myself a break from time to time. My son will hate me for not doing just that this morning, but I have a responsibility to try and push him at least sometimes. I become conscious at moments like this that I find this so hard to be ‘tough’ because nobody ever gave me the training when I was young. However much I’d love to blame someone else for the shortcomings in my life, that’s simply not practical any more. I can’t give up, and neither should he.
I’ve been there and I never want to go back.
Today would be easy to just ignore and sleep off, to pretend I can do it later. Assuming I don’t have a slow bleed on my brain (I’ll never forget that episode of CSI, cheers TV for making me think/worry) if this were my last day on the planet, I think I’d like to believe I did my best in it, and every day previously. That’s the key difference between the ‘old’ me and now: the temptation to just give up and do it later is being gradually eroded by the real belief that I may not have time left to do so. I have no idea how long my internal timer has left, so I really should make the best of every single moment I am provided with.
I realise this outlook is probably causing problems as well as solving them, but right now I feel that I’ve reached a significant crossroads. Living life well matters far more than it has ever done before, and that isn’t just for myself. I don’t want to control anyone else either, simply try and help direct if the other person wants the help. Right now, I sense my son doesn’t want to be responsible, and I really don’t blame him one bit. I know that feeling only too well, and remember the undue amount of stress that came with studying for Exams. The fact I still have that anxiety dream after all these years? I get the problem.
I also understand how people can use other people’s anxieties to reflect back both to and from themselves. When you need somebody else to understand why you feel the way you do, so they can grasp that these are emotions you are feeling or have felt. When you need to share an experience in the hope it will allow others to be more sympathetic. Mostly, when you reach out for help, what you crave most is often not what you get, and there is often the desire for people to wrap you in a blanket and just make all the bad stuff vanish. These are the real issues when you try and work out how best to deal with anyone suffering from a mental illness. Everyone is different, making specific approaches really difficult unless you can identify the root cause of the problem.
A big stumbling block, it seems to me, is that telling the world everything has now become as important for some people as their own well-being, perhaps in some cases more so. When I say something on Social media, it is simply my reaction to my life. It isn’t a mantra, or carte blanche affirmation of what is right. The problem comes of course when someone disagrees, and then you’re dealing with having to firefight or consider consequences that you weren’t anticipating because you don’t know the person reading your words well enough. Every thing I say in public has a consequence, I know this. That means, effectively, from now on if I post about an issue with either of my children I run the risk of someone deciding I am a bad parent because I don’t understand how ‘kids’ today communicate.
This is where I stop my own bus, pull out the keys, leave the rest of you inside and vanish into the woods next to the carriageway, never to be seen again. You see, when I say that if you want to be ill a phone doesn’t get used, I don’t mean I’m stifling expression or cries for help. If physical well-being matters, then you learn to prioritise that over WhatsApp or Twitter. Using group chat to tell mates you won’t be in for school does not have the same impact as being silent. In fact, for some, that will indicate a bigger issue and alert parents/carers much faster than the person who has to tell everyone how sick they are to begin with. No, parenting is not an exact science, and I’d be a foolish woman to ignore my son. When I finally got here after a frantic bout of pre-school texting, I’m confident I made the right call.
I also understand only too well the crippling anxiety that comes in situations such as this. Several people have accused me of lying about this over the years, said to my face that I can have no idea of such things because I’m able to stand up for myself and talk about what has happened to me without consequence. Oh there are fucking consequences, let me assure you. The main one is that if I continue to allow fear and anger dictate my actions, I am effectively worthless as a human being. I’m not expecting you to agree with me, and I’m sure as fuck not telling you to do the same. I just know what I require to survive. I’ll also do my damnedest not to project this to my kids wherever possible.
Life, like it or not, is a series of decisions you more than often get wrong.
What today teaches me is that this is the last time I discuss my kids in public. I will admit that people who ‘use’ their kids as additions to further their own pretensions of glory make me worry for the long term sanctity of the family unit going forward. However, that’s just me. This morning, I realised something more important: if it takes a blow to the head to remind you of how important it is to listen and consider everything before acting, I need to be hit with things regularly. Please don’t judge me using your criteria as a basis. In fact, I’d really rather like it if you didn’t judge me at all and found something better to do with your time.
Don’t let the hypocritical door hit you on the way out.