This is going to be an honesty moment and my hope is, that within my honesty, you might find some space to breathe.
I have been stuck for about three months now. Not completely bogged but definitely spinning my wheels a little,when it comes to knowing what I am meant to be doing and how. Nine weeks ago, I was looking forward to my twins going back to school, so I could find rhythm and purpose within my every day.
Today I can report that both have not been found. Neither rhythm nor purpose have raised their heads to let me know they are near. I have half-heartedly been looking for them, but like a bad game of hide and seek I found myself counting fast and searching slow.
As a result, over the last week I have become completely stuck. I am talking bogged-up-to-my-axels stuck, feeling a little like these camels! My wheels no longer spinning, but actually immovable. My mind has been screaming at me. Move. Get up. Do something. And I just haven't been able. I guess this last week has seen me in a fog of depression. I think it dawned on me that my last nine weeks have looked nothing like I imagined they might. The forward movement on a particular project has my progress looking like a hibernating bear, not even a snail’s pace.
And then the self-talk began. That voice inside my head started asking me questions like, "Who do you think you are?" "Why would you even dream you could do that, be that, write that?" "Why don’t you just give up and find a real job?" "You aren't even contributing.".
On Sunday I had a friend ask me about my week and while I didn’t go into details, I did make her aware that it was a struggle. Her reply to me was not one I hadn’t heard before, actually she has said it to me more than once, but apparently it takes me some time to register and respond in the correct way. She told me, "Nic if you ever feel like you’re having a bad day, or just need some extra support, just say the word and I will pray. Send me a one-word text - PRAY - and I will be on it." (Shout out to all the prayer warriors out there - you rock!)
On Monday I received a message at 9am, from a friend, inviting me to coffee and my reply was this - "Well I guess that would get me out of my pyjama's." I eventually got out of my own way by forcing myself out of my chair and walking to my bathroom. On the way, I remembered my Sunday conversation and I sent that text before I turned the shower on and prepared myself to leave the house
I didn’t really want to go. It took everything in me to even reply to the original message – it would’ve been easy to pretend I hadn’t seen it. Have you done that before? Please don’t tell me I am all on my own here. But somewhere inside me was an inkling of strength, enough to remind myself that this is not how I wanted to feel. This hole I felt myself sliding into would only become harder to pull myself out of tomorrow or the next day, so I should get up and start the climb today.
Time spent with that friend over coffee was just what the doctor ordered - it didn’t fix everything immediately, but it changed my trajectory. My other friend messaged me a couple of hours later to tell me she had been praying and I could honestly feel the impact.
I can’t say I ran home and jumped into my 'to do' list. I actually made some pikelets (my Nana's answer to everything), sat on my bed and caught up on a reality TV show and then I did one simple thing I know acts as a reset button for me. I drew up my Bullet Journal for the next two weeks and included two small check boxes on each day - GYM and H*W.
Why do I tell you all of this? Why would I walk you through my mess? In the hope that you might find some company there. I know I am not the only person dealing with mental health issues, especially after the year we have had. So please, if this speaks to you don’t push it aside. Take some time right now to sit and think things through.
I have spent endless hours with professionals at different times in my life learning how I work best. What tricks I can play on my mind to change the course of my thinking. Simple strategies to help me see clearer, think better and move forward. This journaling idea is one of them.
I love having a book where I can plan and track my days. For me taking the time to draw up a bullet journal relaxes me enough to see some potential in the days ahead. Yesterday I didn’t feel strong enough to track anything more than two things.
Exercise is not my favorite thing to do but I know it clears my mind. (I know there is some scientific definition around endorphins, but this is not that kind of blog.) Last week I injured myself, so it had been many days since I had moved my body and, in taking the timeout to bullet journal, I realised if I could get back to the gym this would help my mental state.
The other pothole was my inability to feel confident with my writing. The voices again pointing out all the things I haven’t done and should’ve done. One way to squash them was to return to my writing community and feed myself information that would tell me an entirely opposite message. So, Hope*Writers was my other check box.
Today I checked both boxes – woohoo. You can’t begin to imagine the happy dance I am doing in celebration – because look at me now – writing a blog post, I am hoping you will be reading tomorrow!
Friends, in taking one small action, I have shifted the fog.
So, what is one thing you could do today that may make a difference to you? You may have never taken the time to understand what works. Why don’t you spend five minutes in silence and see what comes to mind? Allow your soul to tell you what your mind might need. Watch as things float within the black behind your eyelids or what words pop inside your head. Perhaps it is taking a walk, reading a book, having a cup of tea – what is your reset button. I know you may not feel like it but find out what it is.
Once you've landed somewhere try to complete that one thing as soon as you can. Use the space it creates to find your next step and keep moving forward.
My mid-week encouragement for you is this – you are not alone. Reach out to a trusted friend. One thing is for sure – if nothing changes,nothing changes. The other - if you look closely those camels aren't stuck they are simply sitting. You might feel like your legs have given up under the weight of what you are carrying, but what if you were just resting. Not stuck, breathing deep before rising again to take your next step.
Make a change today, one small step toward forward movement, because you are more than worth it.
PS I am not a mental health professional I am just speaking from my personal experience. If you are feeling overwhelmed do not hesitate to contact someone who can help. Beyond Blue is an organisation here in Australia that provides services to support people in their mental health journey. You can email, phone in or chat online. Visit www.beyondblue.org.au to find what they offer.