A month ago, I wrote about April, a month when I used social media to try and boost my mood every day. It totally worked; at the end of April I felt completely in control and I was happy. I could focus, I was on top of everything, I was eating, and I was sleeping. I had proven to myself it was possible to be in control of how I feel, and that it was pretty easy to do.
So of course I managed to keep the #Positivity tweets going for all of two days into May before completely giving up. I don't know why, I just stopped.
And shortly after, probably around 5th May, I started to notice my mood had started to dip. Just a little bit, but I wasn't starting my day with a positive thought, and I was letting little things get to me. I tried really hard to fight it: I wrote to do lists; I did as little as possible at the weekends; I made lunch the night before; I bought fruit so I wouldn't fill up on chocolate... I tried all of the things, but gradually I've been sleeping less and less; I've added an extra bottle of wine to my weekly food shop (as an aside, I only average a bottle over a week - I'm still within my weekly recommended limits); I'm constantly tired; my limbs ache for no obvious reason; I'm constantly on the verge of tears; and somehow the words that I carefully formulate in my head before I speak are not the words that end up falling out of my mouth. I'm not being very positive.
In my office we have a jar, filled with positive quotes. Every day, someone will pick one, and earlier this week it was my turn. The jar was thrust in my face, so I'm not entirely sure I had much choice - maybe it was more obvious that I was having a bad day than I thought.
After jumbling the quotes for a while, I pulled out a little slip of paper, on which was written:
'Every path has its puddle'
That broke me. You know those moments when you don't know whether to laugh or cry? Well I laughed, and laughed and laughed until I didn't need to worry about crying, because that happened all by itself.
Once I'd recovered from laughing/ crying at the ridiculousness of this quote, I carried on with my day. Then I went home and lay on the floor (not unusual - if I lie on the floor I can't fall any further, therefore the floor is a safe place), and ranted a bit, until I realised the person I was ranting at had got bored at some point in the previous half hour and wandered off. Essentially, I was doing what a three year old does when they don't get their own way: lying on the floor, kicking and screaming until they either get what they want or they fall asleep.
I am twenty eight years old, and I have resorted to acting like a toddler who doesn't know any better. This is what the wonderful combination of both depression and anxiety does to me.
And you know what? I really really fucking hate it (sorry for the bad word dad). I hate that I get a bit of a glimpse of normality, and I feel confident and happy and ready to start getting on with my life, and then for absolutely no apparent reason, it feels like everything is just collapsing around my ears.
Maybe that quote that I thought was just a bit stupid has a point. Maybe my path is full of puddles.
And after a month back in therapy, this shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but I have a sneaky suspicion I know what my puddles are:
1. I need to help. I haven't worked out yet why it is, but I can't just stand by and let someone else worry about it (whatever 'it' may be on any given occasion). I can't bear to think that someone might need help, with the knowledge that I might be able to make their lives a little bit easier. No matter that I might not have the time, or that they might just need to work it out for themselves. And that brings me on to my second puddle.
2. I can't say no. If someone is asking for help, regardless of what it is or whether it is going to require a lot of physical and emotional Rosy-time, I will give it. I am trying, really really hard to recognise when I'm doing it, but I just don't seem to notice a lot of the time, until suddenly I'm overwhelmed with things that don't need to be my responsibility. Leading nicely into point three...
3. The pressure I am under is self-inflicted. I still haven't worked out why, but as soon as someone has asked for help and I have failed to say no, I find myself under pressure to not only do the job, but to do it well. Maybe I'm looking for a little bit of recognition, although what for I just don't know, but it takes me on to my final point.
4. I feel like I am invisible. My counsellor pointed out this week that I do a lot for other people, but she hasn't yet worked out what I do for me (I haven't told her yet that counselling is the thing I do for me). I spend a lot of time trying to fix problems, looking after other people's children, fighting inequalities, cooking dinner, cleaning (well, maybe not as much of that as I should), and going along with what other people want to do or want me to do. I have felt recently like Rosy has disappeared somewhere under the pile of other people's problems, to the point where I don't really know who the 'real' Rosy is any more.
I don't know how to change any of this - I was asked this week what it might be like to say no, and my whole body tensed up, completely involuntarily (if I hadn't been sitting in an uncomfortable chair I'd have curled up in a ball like a hedgehog). I don't want my friends to think I don't care, because I really really do.
But I also know that I need to tackle these issues - fill the potholes that make the puddles, if you like - before I can even start to work out where Rosy has gone. And I know that no-one else can do that for me.
I can't keep lying on the floor, shouting into the carpet, hoping that something in the dirt that I've not hoovered for longer than I'm prepared to mention will throw me a solution. I need to pull up my big girl pants, put on my wellies, and grab a spade. If I don't start digging, those holes are just going to get bigger, until they are (as one of my colleagues described them) 'Vicar of Dibley sized puddles', and the real Rosy will just drown.
I don't want to drown please.