This is a blog that has been coming for a while but I’ve struggled to find the right words when I’ve tried to put my thoughts on paper. It’s a particularly apt topic at this time of year so I’ve tried to get it finished.
One of my biggest struggles as I start to feel the dark cloud circling is to keep in contact with other people. My first instinct is to withdraw from everyone as I start to feel like curling up in a ball and finding somewhere to hibernate until the battle is over. This can manifest itself in a number of ways, I become less engaging with people and try and avoid getting into conversations, I try to withdraw from social situations or situations I would find difficult but most of all I will start to shut down. This is normally the worst thing that I can do as the clarity that you think you will gain from being on your own is soon overwhelmed by doubting self-talk and overthinking. As soon as I find the peace that I crave it’s almost as though someone flicks a switch in my head that sends my brain into overdrive. All of the things that I wanted to clear up in my head soon get overthought and become far bigger problems than they were originally, any positive thoughts are overrun by the army of self-doubt and from there the cycle begins. Many things that start off a small problems (or not even problems at all) are soon running wild around my head like a pack of rabid wolves. The quiet that I longed for so that I could clear my thoughts has become an uncontrolled rabble that is trying to deafen me into submission.
When you see the clouds coming into view and you start to batten down the hatches, it is natural to want to escape which includes your own thoughts but what you often fail to consider is that those thoughts thrive on the silence. I’ve had a period recently that led to spending a lot of time on my own and despite having a loving family and some amazing friends, I have found it really hard to deal with. It doesn’t take long on your own for negative self-talk to start and that can soon have a debilitating effect as you don’t want to do anything and start to struggle for energy. It’s something that is very hard to express and people who haven’t suffered with it can struggle to understand as even though it is a mental illness there are physical symptoms that result from it.
One of the other aspects that is difficult to express is how you can feel so alone even when you are surrounded by people. There is always something happening in our house with the triplets growing up fast but there are times when I feel like the only person in the world. The loneliness hits sometimes and even though you can be sat in a room full of people it feels like you’re not there. It’s hard to describe fully how it feels but it’s similar to the lack of feelings or the nothingness that depression can bring on in that you’re almost trying to explain an absence of emotion rather than an emotion itself. Throughout my life I’ve generally enjoyed my own company and have never really felt the need to have loads of friends but as I’ve gone through my struggles with depression and my mental health this seems to have reversed. Long periods of solitude now seem to cause more problems than they solve as I have found recently and they end up being not very production periods even though you know that you should be making the most of them. I also find myself with the need to connect with people almost as if it is to put the brakes on the rollercoaster of my mind. It’s strange how these things have changed but also unfortunate timing as we all lead busy lives so spending time with friends doesn’t happen as often anymore. Do I need to try and make time to spend more quality time with the triplets – yes, do I need to make time to spend more quality time with Elaine – yes and do I need to spend more time with my friends – yes. How I do all of that doesn’t come quite as easily but it’s definitely something to work on in as we move into 2018.
Unfortunately, for some people this time of year can exasperate the feelings of loneliness as it’s a time for families and joy and happiness. Fortunately in order to help it doesn’t have to cost anything as a bit of time can make all the difference to someone who feels alone. As the famous seasonal song goes
It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid
At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time
We need to get out there and try to banish the shade and to spread a smile of joy. There are lots of people who will be out there this Christmas who will find it all overwhelming. They might be on their own, they might be struggling to make it from day to day, they might feel lonely and that there is no way out. If you know someone who might be struggling over the festive period, try and reach out to them, let them know that people care. You could arrange to go and visit them or invite them over to see you. Anything will help even if it’s not in person as a phone call can make a huge difference to someone who can’t see a way out of their current situation. Try to spread some joy and love this Christmas by helping someone.
One of the reasons that I want to continue with my fund raising and raising awareness and why I want to spread the message as far as possible is that one person taking their own life is one too many. The loss of Dan has had a profound effect on my life and is why I will do everything I can to help get people talking about these difficult subjects. If you want to help with raising awareness or funds, get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) as any help is greatly appreciated.
If you, or anyone you know, is finding things difficult then there are some great places to access information and help such as Mind, the Blurt Foundation and the Samaritans. Please don’t suffer in silence and if you need help, reach out as there are lots of people who will understand and can help.
Onwards and upwards