As a woman with mental health issues, and the parent of an enby kid, I’m often aware of other people’s male-cis-het-ableist privilege.
Today, however, I have the most privilege I’ve ever felt in my life.
- I am in an air bnb (financially secure enough for this, and multiple trips to Tesco for cashews and vegan chocolate)
- for two nights (not in a nine-five with four weeks of holiday a year)
- my children being looked after by their dad (co-parenting: surely the ultimate privilege?)
- writing (able to pursue this un-lucrative work for many years now)
- listening to music and podcasts (having decided I can afford Spotify: currently on free trial)
- and reading (only one was free from the library).
This is heaven.
This. An accident of birth, and race, cisgendered heterosexual marriage, and secure family that led me to this point.
Oh, it’s June again. I probably blogged the exact same whine last year.
June 2019 highlights so far include:-
- waking up at 3:30am and making a ‘June’ calendar from an IKEA paper roll
- colour co-ordinating said calendar for each family member
- saying to myself ‘well, that’ll be OK, I just need not to add in anything else.’
- organising two more things that same day. For June.
- scheduling a mental health day for my youngest and thinking ‘oooh duvet day for me too!’
- losing all patience with a child who doesn’t want to go to school and telling them ‘I would be carted off to the loony bin’ if I home-schooled them. (Extra points for bad parenting AND derogatory language surrounding mental health all wrapped up in one grumpy sentence.)
- counting down the hours to July, summer holidays, and sweet, sweet freedom!
I have wonderful friends. And family. I’m lucky.
But the bar can always be raised, right? Right? We all went to a friend’s house the other day. Regular readers will know about my ongoing (whining about) mental health problems. It had been one of those weeks.
What is the best thing to do to help a friend who is struggling? I am rubbish at helping other people with their mental health – I know what it feels like, not how to help.
But this friend, she knew. She didn’t ask anything of me, not even my company. I was tucked up on a day bed, in their spare room, with my youngest, and a computer playing Spiderman and the Spiderverse. I had a power nap and managed to keep up with the story.
It was the best visit ever. Thanks guys!
Oh it must be Spring. I’m busy!
I like to be busy, but not as much as the average … person? Person in the UK? Person of my generation? ‘Busy’ doesn’t take long to develop into ‘stressed,’ and ‘stressed’ has developed into psychosis – only twice, and a long time ago now, but… I don’t have the option to push myself like other people.
What has been particularly wonderful about this year, as opposed to other Springs, when I was busy with the kids, or busy with work, or busy writing things no one was interested in, is that this year I’m busy with paid, creative work. Sometimes. Other paid work has to fit around the writing, not the other way round.
Meanwhile, the children have to fit around creativity AND paid work, and are no doubt feeling very hard done by!
You know when you think you just have a bit of a weird habit and then, 40 years later, you find out it’s a recognised syndrome?
I’m not going to talk about it in detail, but if you want to look it up, it’s called excoriation disorder. And I’ve not been diagnosed with it officially, it would be classed as ‘mild’ I think. There’s a test to do with ‘interfering with your daily life,’ and I don’t think I’m there, most days (thank goodness!).
What’s interesting is to observe my reaction to this new knowledge. I’ve been under a bit of stress these last few months and I’m adding in these behaviours as evidence of how I’ve been feeling. I’m using some of the advice online to manage the symptoms. But they haven’t stopped.
Knowledge is not always power.
I had agreed to go. Waking up at 5am with a headache, which developed into a migraine, then being sick just before I had to wake the children up and get them to school didn’t mean I was going to cancel.
In the car, Mr HB asked how I was. I told him the truth, the stress of my tiny insignificant worries leaking out in tears. We picked up a friend on the way, so I wiped my eyes and pulled myself together.
We got there, and I had a nice time. A small group of friends, celebrating, taking time out from their own lives to be there for someone else on a special day.
Postscript: later, I was reminded of the pains and worries carried by every other friend that had been there, talking, smiling, laughing – holding it together.
I feel like I’m becoming a bit of an expert on self-care. What I used to think of as ‘laziness.’ Here are some of my favourite things to do to help myself through a difficult week. I’d love to hear yours!
- Go to bed at 9pm.
- Go to bed at 8pm with Netflix.
- Put my pyjamas on at 4pm on weekends.
- Drink less overall, but have one night a week getting pleasantly sozzled, having completed steps 2 and 3.
- Have a bath.
- Cancel an engagement.
- Say ‘no’ to things.
- Buy stationery.
- Visit the GP if necessary.
- Take the tablets when necessary.
- Eat delicious, healthy food.
- Eat delicious, unhealthy food.
- Do a Yoga with Adriene on YouTube.
- Read a book from my childhood.
- Doodle while listening to a CD (remember them?).
- Phone/Skype/write to a friend.
- Find where the cat is. Sit with him.