I spent a bit of time thinking about what to write today. And I still don’t know what to say.
But it seemed important to say something.
It’s a bit weird for me, because although I don’t usually stop seeing everyone or have my kids at home full-time, in many ways I’ve lived a tinylife for a while now. My thoughts are with those who live with less privilege than I do.
Also, I find the world much easier to understand when no one is expected to show up, be unstressed, suffer in silence, or operate in ‘normal’ human ways. So I’m feeling remarkably well in my mental health. My anxiety isn’t based in reality.
I hope you are all OK out there. If anyone wants to get in touch, my Twitter DMs are open, or you can comment below.
Because we are moving house soon, I want to take this opportunity to write a love letter to my GP.
No, not that kind of love letter.
I am still very much married to Mr HB, thank you.
My GP is amazing. We have navigated some tricky times together – always together, he doesn’t tell me what to do – with my family’s care. He knew *zero* about trans kids but is 100% supportive.
I suffer from migraines (or bad headaches, if yours are worse than mine) , and recently I over-medicated with the one medicine that used to work. We found an alternative.
And he is always there to help with my very poor mental health, my all new asthma, my dodgy hip, the list goes on and on…
The guy is a hero. Just wanted to go on record with that.
Did I tell you I’d been to the doctor about night sweats?
I was absolutely sure it was early onset menopause. ‘It’s the StReSs!’ I said to my GP. He sent bloods off for testing and apart from the traumatic experience of the surgery calling me on a Thursday morning and taking A LONG TIME to tell me I was basically fine, with slightly low iron levels, all was well. No menopause. Phew.
So, this is the bit where I admit to wasting NHS time. I am so sorry, NHS, I know how busy you are.
It was my new blanket. It’s not breathable. I realised when I took it to bed again after leaving it in the living room for a week or so.
I get night sweats when I wrap myself in its huge beautiful soft greyness.
Here is an update on how I am feeling.
I am nearly two weeks into taking my daily pill. I have some paid freelance work today, and I’m driving to the meeting where I’m expected to take a minute of the proceedings.
My usual thoughts at a time like this are as follows:
‘I won’t be able to keep up with my shorthand.’
‘I won’t be able to read my shorthand back.’
‘I won’t be able to follow what is going on.’
‘I won’t make my deadline for the draft.’
‘Someone will tell me I am not dressed smartly enough for this job.’
And my personal favourite: ‘Am I heading to the right venue at the correct time?’
I am driving to the meeting.
I am thinking – ‘I’ve got this.’
It was a good call to go to the GP.
So last week, I was persuaded to go to the Doctor. I have been ‘out and proud’ about my mental health since suffering two episodes of psychosis in my late teens.
But I didn’t realise I was still ashamed. Happy to be medication free since 2003, (and not just because it rhymes), over the 14 years since I have tried a range of things to stay off the daily tablets.
- Counselling x3
- Diazepam (for the bad days)
- Leaning on friends
- Maintaining a tinylife
Last week, it became clear that my less-than-good mental health is not something that is going away any time soon. I thought I didn’t care about the stigma. I do care. But not enough to risk my health and the wellbeing of those around me.
So, I’m back on the tablets. And I’m getting on with my tinylife.
‘Do you think maybe you need to go to the Doctor?’
I have asked this more times than I can count. To friends that have seemed more than a little bit down, to family that don’t seem to be able to stop. I’m not sending them for a sore throat or a muscle strain, I’m asking whether they need some medical assistance with their mental health.
Awareness is so much better than it was, but stigma is, in my opinion, as bad as it ever was. Of course no one wants to feel that they can’t get through the day without taking a tablet, doing a meditation, knowing that another counselling session is on its way. But if that is what you need.
If that is what you need.
Last week, someone asked me. And I went.
More next week.
I’ve been a bit poorly over the last week and a bit. I could not believe how dreadful labyrinthitis made me feel! It took age to feel better, even with lovely medicine – God bless NHS 24, and the out of hours doctor service.
So I thought I’d shamelessly exploit my blog today to say thank you to the (approximately 1000,000) people who helped me out.
To the lady who I had never met before, who brought me flowers.
To everyone who messaged to see how I was feeling.
Special shout out to those who, when I said ‘a bit better, thanks’ replied with ‘Good. Keep resting though, OK?’
To the four households who gave up parts of their weekend to look after my kids.
And to Mr HB: for being himself. Working, feeding us all, parenting solo. And emptying the sick bucket.
I know, I know.
I wrote about ambulances just the other week there.
We were coming out of the cinema,
and the traffic was what I thought was Sunday-night busy.
It turned out everyone was sticky-beaking
at the accident,
and when it was our turn to nose out into the flow of traffic
– our lane was perfectly clear by the way –
I slowed down too.
One car had shunted another.
Everyone looked OK.
The ambulance was there, not rushing off, which I always take as a good sign.
Four … fire-fighters?
were pushing the car
out of the road
so that we could all get home.
One had the car door open and was pushing both in and outside the car.
They were running.
Running the car off the road.
So we could get home.
I’m rarely on the bypass at that time of night, stopping and starting, bumper to headlight. I always remember my sister’s advice. ‘There’s nothing you can do about it,’ she said, circa 1997, ‘just listen to the music, and chill.’
Suddenly, there was a blue light, flashing behind. How on earth would they get through all this? Thankful that I was passing a place to pull in, it managed past me.
As the car behind me pulled in too, I noticed that the car behind that had already done so.
These selfless acts reminded me. People are kind and thoughtful. Society does work. Most people – even people in a traffic jam – care.
Then the cars in front peeled off to each side, like a pulled thread, we were joined in a communal goal. And together, we let the ambulance through.
‘38.4,’ Mr HB said. ‘Or three degrees higher than mine.’ We don’t really trust the thermometers in our house. ‘Should I cancel the babysitter?’
I was still on the train, a thread spooling back towards my family, normality.
At the doctor, half four the next day, it was 38.6. Then she found a non-blanching spot. ‘Just to be sure,’ she said. ‘I’m comforted that he’s alert.’ Plans were broken up and hastily remade into a different jigsaw.
The Royal Hospital for Sick Children is a twenty minute drive from my house. We arrived at half five. By six, we’d been seen, by seven examined thoroughly, bloods by half eight, discharged by half nine.
Today, I’m grateful for so much.
For the friend who looked after my eldest with ten minutes notice.
For the NHS.
For our good health.
For my boys.