03 Mar Ten things I learnt this Winter
- Journalling can be helpful.
Newsflash. I know, I am about 100 years behind the curve. For a long time journalling was one of the things I should be doing, along with a daily quiet time, reading the Bible in a year (every year), making dinner from scratch every night, regular exercise and cutting out carbs. Somehow writing to process how I felt had made it into the ‘duty’ category and as such, when I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2009 along with lots of other shoulds, oughts and musts, I gave up the desire of being someone who journalled. Five years later I started writing online, in this blog, about my mental health and enjoyed the routine and discoveries I made by putting my thoughts down in black and white. A kind of public journalling if you will.
It is only in the past few months I have begun finding joy in journalling, just for me. It turns out when you are writing for yourself, because you want to, it is a really good way to understand and work through thoughts and feelings, who knew? (I know: everyone but me.)
2. Schitt’s Creek makes me very happy.
And David is my spirit animal. Watch it on Netflix and feel my joy. (Also my husband does the best impression of Moira, just saying).
3. Reading fiction restores me.
Okay so this isn’t something I have only just learnt, but this winter reading fiction has brought me so much pleasure. Sneaking off to bed early, or staying in bed with a cup of tea in the morning – with a good book – is one of my favourite things. Some great reads this Winter include: Winter by Ali Smith, Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid, The Confession by Jessie Burton, and Grown Ups by Marian Keyes. Not so great but good enough to distract me: Those People by Louise Cavendish and The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley.
4. I want help but I also want to be a martyr.
Ugh. This is a new and ugly revelation. We have realised over the past few months that we need some extra help at home. Work (for me and him) has increased and stuff (general housey stuff) is falling through the cracks. I struggle with the idea of someone helping out around the home. Partly because I feel I should be able to DO IT ALL, which is obviously nonsense. But this winter I have also uncovered another reason for my hesitation: fear.
I think if I am running myself ragged being taxi and cleaner and cook and emotional support and everything else my family needs AS WELL as my work, I have earned a card to keep up my sleeve which I can pull out when I really need a break. I think if I give up this martyr’s schedule – and the security having this card to play affords me – I won’t/can’t ask for a rest and will be overwhelmed. I am fearful I won’t be able to demand the rest or space I need because I won’t have earned it.
Of course this is nonsense, there is no card and I don’t have to earn the right to rest or a break by exhausting myself on everyone else behalf. But learning to trust this truth is not easy.
5. Christmas can be calm and fun.
This year Christmas was good. It was not overwhelming or especially stressful. It is possible!
6. Shared pain can bring people together.
Some hard and sad things have happened in our wider family this Winter. Without minimising the pain by sticking a bow on it and saying ‘but the great thing is we are all closer now’, we know each other a little better and have treated each other with more tenderness through this time. It has been very painful and we are closer.
7. The future is unknowable.
I am married to someone who likes to live in the future as much as possible. He makes plans and lists and wants to talk about our dreams for the next 5 or 10 years on a regular basis. At the moment this is not possible. There are a few things up ahead we can see, but much is, and will probably remain, unknown for sometime yet. Our eldest is about to launch in her first serious exams (GCSEs this summer) and the need to be in the present with and for our kids is the paramount thing right now. The future will have to wait a while.
8. I struggle with routine.
This is not news to me, but as I have just started seriously writing book number 2 I am aware of the need to keep mixing it up to keep my creative juices flowing. I am trying to plan in days where I do not open my laptop. I am reminding myself the idea that I am only being productive when I am tapping on my keyboard is nonsense. I need to keep creatively filling myself up* to carry on being inspired to write my best.
(* sometimes this looks like cleaning out my cupboards, sometimes gardening, sometimes a walk, sometimes reading, sometimes meeting a friend. Nothing super flashy, just all the normal good stuff.)
9. My body will tell me to rest even/ especially when I don’t want to.
My body is a prophet and is often well ahead of my brain. It knows before I do when I need to stop and rest and will leave me numerous signs. I wrote about this on my Facebook page (and in my newsletter) last week. If you would like to read more about elasticated trousers, the shame of not working full-time and aching arms, check this out.
10. My sisters are awesome.
Don’t worry I didn’t just figure this out, but it was my older sisters birthday yesterday and we met for a few drinks on the weekend. We rarely get together, all four of us. We are busy with all the life stuff and can rarely makes our diaries collide, but when we are all together in one room I feel so fortunate to have them. (Pictures not from this weekend – the only ones we got were awful and they would not thank me for sharing them!).
So that is what I have been learning this Winter, what about you?
ps. As I am in the process of writing book two, which is hard and often a bit serious, I have decided to make my blog a place where I can be more playful. If you are used to the more intense and always-banging-on-about-mental-health version of me, expect to be introduced to my more light hearted side!
Also – did you know I wrote a book? It is a pretty vulnerable account of my journey through and with anxiety. I know I am biased, but I think it is pretty good! Click here to find out more and purchase a copy.