(sidenote, I always thought the punctuation on that saying was pretty fluid. It actually reads more like a poem when I write it, cause I’ve always put the commas and full stops in there. Weird that my version actually talks about failing at least twice too. I’ll get to that later)
Failure – a loaded word
The last few weeks have been really…weird for me. I *started* making strides on becoming happier, healthier and more confident in my skin by trying to go for a walk outside and enjoying myself. I say started – last Friday, due to the completely thoughtless actions of a company that I’ll still say ‘remains nameless’ but is a social media scheduling program, who increased my bills by an eyewatering 1151% a month, this week has been a week of disruption, sadness, and annoyance. And it didn’t help that I was fixing a stupid video problem that very few people actually see (that’ll go on my other blog, probably this weekend. What I’m hearing myself say right ow is I have a lot of blogs to work on. It’s not a happy thought, if I’m honest), but is key to a few clients who work on those platforms. And of course, I worked my ass off to fix it. But still…it’s been a rough week, and that’s meant…no walks.
I told myself that if I ‘failed’ at any point, I’d be gentle with myself – accept that it’s a ‘fact of life’ as it were when recovering that you’ll backslide, but I have to be honest. Although that language applies to me, if you stumbled on my blog out of context, you wouldn’t know what I was discussing was in fact not alcohol or drug-induced issues, but, instead, recovery from a mental health breakdown. And if I’m entirely open about that, it was a full-on ‘breakdown’. I spent a month refusing to leave our bedroom. Five years of being unable to leave the house alone. A LOT that I still don’t like to talk about. I’ve still not gotten back to a place where the house is neat and tidy and everything has a place. I don’t think I ever will. I keep trying to put my work back together, and every little thing that knocks me off track is so significant. So hard.
When the language is all about judgement, how do you not judge?
I’m discharged from the team in question on Tuesday (hooray, I’m better…hang on), but the very last psych I worked with before I wrote this post, who I refer to as Dr C, finally said, a few Januarys ago, that he believed that everyone was a little bit on ‘the spectrum’, and in my case, I was VERY language focussed. To the point that I’ll get upset with language usage because people don’t use words precisely. It’s a form of control of course, but my psych says that he’d finally come to a conclusion that it wasn’t a power play. He thought I wasn’t/don’t do it to push people, to control them, but instead, to understand my environment. My ‘my brain won’t let this go’ is constantly stimulated. It’s language. In all it’s forms, really.
What I do know though, about all of this, is that I’ve got a bias in how I perceive language. My language ‘understanding’ has an undertone of judgementalness. It’s how my brain works, and isn’t – really – about anything other than… I guess, when you grow up as badly bullied as I was, you need to find a reason for that. When you’re young, it’s most common to blame yourself. We think, unpicking everything, that my outlook is very much coloured by wanting to belong and not managing it because…children are children. I can’t blame the kids I grew up with (I can’t – many of them are in worse places than I ever ended up), and my family did their best. I just wasn’t… I’ll be blunt I guess. I grew up in an era where bullying was still viewed as character forming. Half of my teachers didn’t know what to do with me, and I must have been difficult for my family. I was sensitive, sad, often emotionally difficult, I guess. I began to prefer my own worlds to the ones outside. I didn’t interact well. If it happened now, as in, if I was a child/teen now, I suspect I’d have been put into a specialist education program, and I may – or may not – have turned out the way I am. And there I go again, judging myself.
So. This week has been not optimal. Not even minimal. It’s been rough and hard and tiring. But… I’m learning a lot of things. Always growing. So.
I own this one. I didn’t do any exercise this week. I have good reason for it, I was disrupted, and upset and had a really ‘poor’ week. But, I’ve been able to think, plan, consider, when I’ve not been too preoccupied with reclaiming money that shouldn’t have been removed from my account. It’s been a frustrating week, but I DID get those video fixes sorted, I *am* working through stuff with clients to get on with. The week, on the surface, looks like a failure. But really?
I hate the phrase ‘new normal’. Much like the fact that I don’t like mental health being classified as ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’. Quirky language bit of my brain aside, I think making judgements like that is something that makes it difficult to accept that we’re all a little…different. There’s no one way to be.
But… ‘new normal’ and ‘freedom day’…
In the UK, they’re referring to something that may be (it actually has been postponed) postponed, called ‘Freedom Day’. In the UK, the day we lifted lockdown was literally going to be referred to (by our rather off-piste PM, I have to say) as ‘Freedom Day’ and all it really represented was us finishing lockdown and seeing if we see a new spike.
Don’t get me wrong. Since March of last year, things have been really difficult for many reasons. But my life had been about lockdown before lockdown was a thing. I’ve not left the house on my own for…. well, up until last week, with a few very notable exceptions, I’ve not left the house alone since around 2015, I guess.
It was insidious at first. I’d stop wanting to go into town unless I had a reason. Part of it, of course, was because of the really bad fall and learning to walk again, but by that point, we had a treadmill in the house. But I guess that’s around when I stopped leaving the house. By the time we were treated to the holiday *of a lifetime* (and I’ll be real, I’ve actually had two since mid 2015 – one in 2016, one in 2018) to Disneyland by my in-laws and hubby-to-be, they were making arrangements with the staff to make sure I wasn’t startled during large events, and I wasn’t able to leave the house. I wasn’t really working outside of the house either – I tried a few times but it never really…took, I guess. My terrible mental health got worse too because I didn’t mesh with my care team and a few things were missed. By the time the pandemic was in full flow, it had kinda…snuck past me because I was dealing with my son’s kidney issues, and though he’d been cleared the morning we went into lockdown, there was something…almost unreal about what happened for those first weeks.
Privileged, I know
We weren’t badly affected by the furlough, though my own buisness didn’t qualify for any help, most of my time was actually spent supporting my young adult children through the various challenges that the pandemic was raising for their mental health, mine and everything else.
We are a year on now, and though a lot has happened, I actually think that I’ve come out of this a lot less ‘scathed’ than others, I’m not sure that any of us will know normal again. And I don’t really know how to explain it. What I do know is that life – in all its forms are fragile and it’s hard to talk about it in terms that we all relate to because I can’t think of anything that is remotely like this, not in my experience.
Whatever the ‘new normal’ is, I hope our PM understands that his cliched behaviour and almost childish soundbites aren’t helping. Sound and fury, signifying nothing.
I know this is an odd concept to raise for someone that’s a business owner and often works as hard as I do to advocate for others, who has raised two children to adulthood and when I think about it, survive what could be seen as serious negligence by my older psych team, but sometimes, do you wish you didn’t have to ‘adult?’
Adulting is overrated
I don’t mean by this that I don’t think I should have zero responsiblities. I’m just really tired of not getting ‘a win’ in the things that I do, not really. All of my planned treats, no matter how small, have either fallen through, or I’ve had to ask my partner to pay for them after all – which makes me feel bad. He doesn’t mind as much, but it’s a bit hard to talk to my kids about being adult and responsible then running to my other half and crying because life is hard. And lately, I’ve been crying a lot. I try not to focus on bullying, because it’s not a positive thing to think about and it gives them power, but often, I’m finding a lot of people when they are challenged on what they say, suddenly try turning the tables and creating the idea that they’re a victim. That you’re in the wrong. Compound that by the fact that often, this is over hosting bills or whatnot, and you can see how it hurts me to have people treat me this way.
Realistically, my company actually works, just about right now. I’ve got some work to do over the end of my Kaiatus to launch a few websites, but, we’re actually stable. Wire thin margins, but stable, so when someone starts complaining about their hosting bill, there is a bit of me that doesn’t want to engage. Another bit of me that knows I have to, because if I don’t, they’ll not pay. And a huge bit of me that’s wary, because I’ve been attacked recently for not considering giving away services free for the pandemic.
I only really manage what I do because I’ve kept beta accounts with places that aren’t as great as they could be and finding ways to fix the shortfall, or doing the stuff that I need manually. But realistically, I’ve been out of spoons and upset for about a week now. The thing is…I can’t really pillow fort. Next week sees the start of my graded exposure to the outside world. In laymans terms, that means for the first time in five years, I’ll be leaving my house and going for a walk…and trying not to throw up when I do. It’ll either be brilliant, or I’ll make it brillaint, but today was a day where I could have just done with hiding away and not needing to deal with the world. If I manage it though, Prime Day reward will be nice. I never get anything extravegant, but….treating myself to some new books for Uni or some additional research tools would be nice (cybersec isn’t a ‘cheap’ study area, Forensic linguistics even less, and honestly? I’m lucky. I’ve got access to stuff through my partner and friends). If not there, Humble Bundle always has cool books on AI.
See…I can adult
When I start thinking like this, often, my friends point out that I pull myself out of it. I’m #blessed to get to do what I do. And, yes, I am. It doesn’t change though when nothing is going right and no one wants to do as they’re supposed to, and you need the books before the end of the month, or you’re looking forward to a tiny treat that keeps getting postponed, that you feel this way. It’s still not the ‘correct’ way to think, but….rewards are sometimes good. When applied sensibly. I can’t do it any other way. And for those of you pointing out ‘I can ask…’ I can. You’re right. Lucky me again, but….why should my partner bail me out when I’ve planned and it should work?
Like I said, I don’t like adulting. At all. 42 years old and I wish I didn’t need to. I’m just so tired of everything being uphill.
And don’t ask me about books. Still waiting for my 100 ISBNs…