Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Mental health rants

I found myself throwing the chair back, frantically heading to the fridge.
Desperate for something to put in my mouth. If I was chewing, the words that were threatening to spill would stay where they were. 
And I wouldn't get sacked. 

'So you think you can put a plaster on mental health when it's a bit poorly?
Bollocks to that' 

Too late. 
I was off. 

'You've got mental health, I've got it, he's got it, she's got it. All our kids have it. 
Sometimes it's good. Sometimes it's a bit tired. Sometimes it's properly poorly and needs a full chemical makeover. 
What the fuck is 2 days sat in a classroom going to teach me?' I spat at her. 

I sat back down. 

My other mother kicked me. 
In fact she kicked me so hard she nearly fell off her chair. 

'Well, you could learn about depression and how to get rid of it'

My other mother kicked me again. 
Harder than the first time.

'I'm sorry. What?' I asked. 

'You could learn about depression and self harm' came the response. 

'Oh. Ok. Cos living with it isn't knowledge enough? Silly me'

Kicked again. 

I needed to stop. 
My legs would be bruised at this rate.
But my 'self diagnosed Tourette's' kept the words falling from my gob. 

'So tell me what I'll learn'

Let's save the council 2 days wage n me 2 days of my life that I'll never get back. 

'Well, you'll learn what it's like for those who self harm. Why they do it. 
They'll explain what it's like to live with depression and how we can make it better' 

What the actual fuck?

I think I said 'what the actual fuck' out loud but I couldn't be certain.

Nice to know that any previous discussions I've had with the management team who support me have been acknowledged. 

Nothing quite says 'screw you' other than dismissing someone's personal experience and diagnosed mental health issues. 

I suffer from depression. 
So what?
People I love suffer from it. 
So what?

'And how did they suggest we make depression better for our kids?'

I was livid.
I couldn't hide it. 

I also realised I was now pacing round the kitchen, opening cupboards in a further attempt to distract myself. 

Well, if you go on the training you'll find out won't you' she smiled patronisingly.

'Er. No. 
No I won't.
Am I meant to jolly them along n tell them to pull themselves together?'

'Well, if we keep them busy, it will help. We can't let them wallow in their bedrooms or carry on self harming. It's not normal behaviour'




So not only do our kids have to be separated from their parents, live with people who they wouldn't ever associate with normally, have 20 different people looking after them (some of whom, they really don't like), they have raging teenage hormones, have experienced trauma, neglect n abuse, now we have to jolly them along n tell them they don't really feel how they say they do. 


There was no point arguing.
I may as well save my breath.
Bearing in mind this is someone who has previously told me that I didn't feel a certain way. 
The same person who has said that one of my boys didn't really feel anxious. 

I left the meeting. 
If I still smoked, I would have been in the garden, chain smoking.
I was so cross that after my open water swim, I still hadn't shaken it off. 
I can feel it in my shoulders.

When I am calmer, I will work out how to fight this. 
What to do with it. 
What to do with and about my colleague.

I know that I will carry on loving the kids, acknowledging their feelings and experiences. Discussing coping mechanisms with them, taking about mental health. Talking about feelings and how all things are ok. How we all have mental health, just like we have sexual health n physical health. 
I will talk about how it needs looking after and good self care. In the same way we clean our teeth, we can make sure our metal health doesn't get bits stuck that will cause decay. 

But sometimes, it's chemical and the chemical shift can't be helped and that's not anyone's fault. 
It just 'is'.
The behaviours that follow aren't the person making choices. No amount of being cross, shouting or rationalising will prevent a behaviour taking place. Neither will dismissing someone or they way they feel. 

Mental health is what it is. 
It's hard watching someone you love struggling. 
It's hard being the person to struggle.

But it's fucking horrific to be told to pull yourself together or that you don't feel a certain way. I've had it. 
It doesn't help. 

I assure you, if, in my darkest times, I could've jollied myself along, I really really would've. 

My leg is currently bruised. 
You can see that it's sore. You can see there has been trauma to my leg.... But you can't see inside my head. 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Mountains and moral compasses

Have you ever visited a space in the world and it instantly feels like home?
A place that calms your inner noise, silences the chatter and gives you peace like you've not experienced before? A space and permission to be exactly who and what you are.

I have been there this weekend.

My energy levels are through the roof.
I have been in the outside... a very large lot.
My serotonin level is HIGH

And while I haven't slept much (I was watching bunnies bounding round a field at 4am on Saturday - especially after listening to the rain all night), I haven't felt this rejuvenated in a long time.

Castle Rigg has always been special to me - Derwent has many happy memories.
Swimmings, friends, special times.

This weekend was no different.

Very special.
Very magical.
Very welcomed.
Very lovely.
Very perfect,

A celebration of all things wonderful about being in the outside.


You get the idea.
I've had a bloody nice time.

I have watched friends pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone.
I have listened when they have been nervous.
Offered words of encouragement.
Cheered when they have succeeded.
I may have even had eye leak.

My moral compass has also had an unexpected adventure.
I very innocently visited the Hoka stand - they very generously loaned me a pair of shoes to try for the weekend.

Now, there was a try before you buy offer which was too good to pass up.

I wanted to keep the comfy, spongy, clown shoes I was bouncing around Keswick in.
I didn't want to take them back on Sunday.
My Noosa's, my lovely, lovely Noosa's would feel like bricks.
My lovely Noosa's were half the price of the 'free' shoes on my feet.

'keep them' screamed my feet.
'It will be part of their business model to allow for loss' said one voice.
'It's theft' said another
'ah but you've left your shoes so its a swap, not theft'
'The karma police will make me fall and break my leg'
'It adds whole new meaning to run like you stole it' was the counter argument.

And so it went on.
All weekend.
Obviously the right thing to do is to take them back.

But..... they're so comfy.... and I didn't even leave my name..... or my number.....

Naturally, I am now the proud owner of a pair of Hoka's

I bought them in the sale when I got home.
They are multi-terrain clown-slippers for bouncing in.
And they are GAWDY.

They will make me very happy.
I will also run like I stole them.... But I wont have to run from the karma police.

I am going back to Keswick in a few short weeks.
This time with different friends.
Some will be the same friends from this weekend.
Some less, some extra.

I know now that it will be as magical, if not more so.
I know that there will be weather.
It could be all the weathers in one day.

I know there will be a whole range of feelings.
Joy, nerves, passion, excitement, fear, love, pain, determination, pride.
We will drive each other on.

I cannot wait to be in that field in Keswick and be full of those feelings.
It feels like home.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Running on empty

For the previous couple of weeks, I've started the weekend exhausted.

I've had to admit to myself that I was running extremely low reserves and my stores were depleted.

I have been training hard (yet feel like I should be doing more)
It stands to reason that something had to give.

I spoke to someone at work about this, telling him I couldn't afford to be ill (while he was coughing all over me), that it was likely my immune system was on its arse.

Little did I know that actually, I was referring to my emotional immune system.

That week, I had come face to face with a 13 year old girl, who, while I hadn't forgotten her, I had allowed her to slip quietly into the shadows for a while.
A familiar place for her. Somewhere she was unseen and unheard.

Work has been TOUGH.
Anyone who works with children knows that they are hard work.
Anyone who works with teenagers, know that the hard work can be quadrupled.
Add vulnerability in with that, separation from family, exam stress, historical abuse, violent families, living with a bunch of other teenagers who have suffered similar........ you get the idea.
And that's before you add individual crisis to the mix.

So, I'm knackered.

The kids have taken every shred of energy and positivity I own and have scurried away it for themselves.
Cos that's what teenagers do.
That's what humans do.
And the universe is based on energy exchange.

In place of all my bouncy stuff, they transferred all their crap and rubbish and negativity.
Then they ran away before I could give it back.
Plus, I didn't have that much to bat it off.... so it stuck... and got heavier.

(I wouldn't give it back.
They know that.
Lucky me.
Luckier them)

I have spent all of my professional life absorbing from kids - taking it and disposing of it makes it easier for them.
They don't even know they are doing it.
There are adults who don't know they're transferring, so why the hell should the kids?

But you know when you meet someone who makes your skin stand on end? Or gives you goosebumps?
Or their presence drains you? Or you fancy the pants off each other?
That's transference.

When you're with someone who loves you and you feed from their mood?
That's transference too.
Happiness is contagious n all that jazz.

Its one of the reasons I smile so much.
Or try to.
Its really hard not to smile back at someone who is smiling at you.
....and if you can raise a smile, however briefly, the brain responds and there is a little flurry of feel-good.
Lifting the lips in an upward direction makes chemicals in the brain dance.

In a past life, I used to be a pessimist.
But that was when I knew the 13 year old girl.
She became a 16 year old girl.
Both of these girls have tales to tell.
But not today.

I have come face to face with other past lives.

These have been unexpected visits, which have been stuff full of big feelings.
Mahoosive feelings in fact.

Fleeting visits filled with hope and adventure, vulnerability, forgiveness and more love than a heart can hold.

And suddenly, there was a shift.
This past weekend filled me with all the good stuff.
A swing of gargantuan proportion and my soul is shiny once more.

There is sufficient energy and joy - so much that I haven't been sleeping.

Not sleeping.
Yeah, I know.

But I feel ok - I feel good.
I feel fizzy on the inside without the cold water immersion.

I'd like to say its a throw back from the doom and gloom and energy sapping past few weeks, but I suspect it is more than that.
Time will tell.

For now, I am back to my giddy kipper-ish bouncy self.
There is no inner noise.
Only peace.

Happy, content silence.

Long may it continue.