Oh hi there :),
Sorry for the slight gap in content; I could tell you that work has been busy, that I’m working on other projects taking up my time (semi-true, I suppose), or I could tell you the truth, which is that I am probably in the midst of one of the worst depressive spells I’ve had in the last few years.
I deliberated whether or not to write this, but with blogs and social media, it’s so easy to give this persona that we’re all fine, and writing this blog in it’s new niche of self-care, I want to show that sometimes self-care can be used a preventative measure; maybe it helps stave off a depressive spell, or gets you out of a spiral – but that it also can help you when you’re in the thick of it, and today I’m writing it all out as despite sitting with lots of tea, tidying my room and taking a long hot shower, I just can’t quite shake it off today. It seems a little disingenuous to write a blog about mental health, without talking about the bad times as well as all the lovely things we can do to feel better about things.
I’ve been a bit negligent of myself recently; I started to fall back into bad habits; instead of combatting stress with a swim or a run, I’d just sit in my car at the end of the day and spend my 1 hour drive home spiralling, usually stopping for a bottle of wine, ready for a large glass of red as soon as I got home to bed, instead of my new staple of camomile tea.
It’s probably time I shared something on here; I struggle at my job hugely. Without going into it too much, I changed industries and roles, and it’s been a much steeper learning curve than I could have anticipated. I have a lengthy commute and, whilst driving itself has never given me anxiety, the amount of time that gives you to think can be detrimental if you’re someone who’s prone to dangerous introspection; like many of us are. I’m also not good at stress; I’d love to be one of these super high-flying power houses who takes stress in their stride, but the truth is I’m just not as cut out for it as other people are.
My friends are incredibly supportive about this, and the two or three that know the extent of it are a huge part of what helps me get through each week.
It’s my birthday a week today and honestly, I’ve never felt further behind in my life. I try my absolute best not to set arbitrary deadlines about meeting someone, having children, buying a house, saving an amount of money, but in the world we live in, it’s so hard not to catch yourself frustrated for not achieving things; you watch social media – and despite knowing that your own social media is curated to show you ‘living your best life’, you can’t help but think about how together everyone else seems. Not to mention, how dismissive people can be about these things, which in turn makes it feel as though how you’re feeling is being trivialised. Not an easy wave to ride.
I tend to go through a rather difficult cycle of feeling like I’m not achieving anything in my job, the fact I rent rather than own my place, that I’m single… I look around at all the other people my age and it just seems as though everyone is steaming ahead, whilst I still feel like I did at 19 – and I’m probably just about on that same level of achievement as I was then!
To be clear, I am insanely proud of my friends – in their jobs, their exciting travels, that they pick up their entire lives and move to the other side of the world, or growing actual human beings and raising them too, committing to a marriage and working bloody hard at it – these are all amazing things and I in no way begrudge them for, in fact, the way they conduct themselves in all of these stories makes me love them that little bit more; but I don’t know many people who don’t find themselves drawing comparisons; we’re all guilty of it, and it’s inevitable as milestones – like birthdays – draw closer, it’s always going to present us, or maybe in some cases, force us, to take stock.
And sometimes, we just don’t like what we see when we stitch all the parts of our lives together. There’s not always an immediate fix either, sometimes you just have to live with the way things are and take each day as it comes, which for an over thinker and an over planner and an over organiser like me, is probably one of the biggest challenges you can encounter, but I made a promise to myself that this year I would firmly trust in the timing of my life.
My friend Hels made the beautiful picture for me, and I need to stand by it. I suppose I’m struggling because I’d originally centred some goals around my job, although they’ve all changed now, so I feel a bit like I did last year; but I also know I don’t want to set myself unrealistic and unattainable goals. So, do you leave it all up to trusting the timing of how things pan out? Or am I supposed to take a more active role in making those changes happen? I’m not sure – and not having the answers, for an over planning-organising-control-freak like me, is frankly, a nightmare.
I am hopeful that brighter days are coming, although sometimes it does feel hard to see it that way. I’m taking the time to be that little bit more selfish while I get my head around how I’m feeling; a bit less socialising (slightly challenging as I foolishly planned a birthday party for this weekend), no alcohol in the week, one run and one trip to the swimming pool to try and get some happy endorphins – although the exhaustion that a depressive spell can bring with it – as lots of readers will know, can make that motivation tough.
I wanted to write a bit more of an honest post about being in the thick of it – I love all of the mental health blogs that help show you you come out of these things, how great it is when you come out of the other side – which it is, but sometimes you need to know you’re not the only one in the thick of it, so if this is you, and you feel like you’re behind, or you’re not sure why you haven’t achieved anything, rest assured that despite social media making it look that way (I know mine does!), people are struggling, and they’re definitely not where they thought they would be or where they should be.
I’m not writing this for sympathy or pity (unless your way of showing sympathy is by sending me chocolate and
wine tea, in which case, I’ll take it 😛 …) but just for a bit of personal self-care, to get it out in to the open and to get it off my mind, and with any luck, maybe it’ll bring someone else out there a bit of respite from wondering whether or not they’re where they should be… After all, do any of us really know what we’re doing?
Normal programming to resume soon…ish… I hope.
I love you. I think you are incredible and I think the phrase to trust in the timing of your life is so, so important. I also think it is hard because comparison can be the thief of joy, and I think social media can make all that worse, when you log onto Twitter or wherever and see people sharing their news – and as you say, it’s not about not being happy for people, but it does have more of an impact than others can realise. I will always be your biggest cheerleader, you know how much I admire you and everything you have achieved.
Love you xxx
I can’t tell you how much this resonates with me, Kate. I’m already 29, and although I’m married I don’t have a lot of what I thought I’d have by now – I’ve been unemployed for years because of my mental health, I’ve not got children, I basically feel like if I died tomorrow not only would there be nothing to say at my funeral, there’d be no one there to listen! My husband is away a lot and I don’t really have any friends so I sit on my own a lot and just brood about how I’ve wasted my 20s. It’s hard and it’s lonely to see other people living the life you’d like to have, social media just exacerbates the problem and it’s a cycle of comparing yourself to others and always coming up short. But you’re so right – no one really knows what they’re doing. There is no one out there who has the perfect life, despite what their Instagram might show. I am so sorry it’s been such a struggle for you lately, but you’re not alone – even a perfect stranger like me is more than willing to listen to you when you need it. I hope that things get a bit easier for you soon – be kind to yourself.
What a bloody amazing post. You are not alone. So many people think and feel like this every single day. Myself included. But so many chose to only show their highlight reel. Thank YOU for keeping it real and posting exactly what you’re going through, it will help others to know that they’re also not alone.
Social media has made us all compare our lives to others, and I’ve been in a very similar situation to with regards to thinking I’d have certain things by a certain age. I think you do have to trust the timing of your life, and We’re all genuinely happy for our friends, not jealous in any way, but it’s hard. It’s really hard!
Again, thank you for writing such an open and honest post, It’s definitely got me thinking.
I hope these feelings at least start to subside soon, even slightly.
I’m sorry you’ve been feeling like this. Depression is such an awful illness as there’s no escape. I’m 31 and feel like I should have the mortgage and wedding but I’m no where near and that’s OK xx
Loved this post; I definitely don’t feel as though I’m where I want to be at the moment and, as 35 is approaching fast, I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever get there. Here’s hoping that life is just waiting for the perfect time!! xx
I think social media and reality tv both have a huge part to play in making us question whether or not we’re where we think we ought to be. Facebook can be so dangerous because it’s full of people’s happy families and achievements (no shade) so it’s one of the reasons I rarely use it now. Much as I love Instagram and some of the beautiful pictures on there, I can take them with a pinch of salt and recognise they’re not all real. Sometimes it’s hard not to look at someone else’s life though and think why isn’t mine like that. I think this post is so important though, Kate, because we rarely talk about when things aren’t all hunky dory. I don’t know why, perhaps it’s fear of failure, fear of being dismissed as silly, or just not wanting to bother others. But it’s an important discussion to have and a debate that a beautifully written piece like this helps to encourage more of. Thank you for sharing and please don’t apologise for any gaps: this is your blog, you do you, xx
Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com
It can sometimes feel like you’re lagging behind, I know that at the somewhat advanced age of 56, I too should be further ahead. My friends have houses and pension plans, careers and I have nothing other than the books I love to write. I still rent and will never be able to get a house. But some of us are not part of the game, of the world that everyone else is a part of and feels at home in. I’m certainly not. My depression was with me from my teens until my mid-forties. Crippling and, although I didn’t understand it at the time, connected to my undiagnosed autism. Having been there in the past and occasionally revisiting that depression, I know that there is no quick fix, no ‘pulling yourself together ‘ other than suffering it like a persistent and all-consuming cold. It makes no difference what age we or any of us are, the feelings you share and which I have and still share with you and others will always make us feel inadequate. So I wouldn’t measure yourself too harshly against yours, others and society’s expectations. You have the gift of writing. And good writers usually sit outside and look in. Whether they want to or not! I’m not suggesting a fix to your depression, but writing is certainly both cathartic and a way to keep overactive minds busy. And you are a superb writer xxx