This time last year I was in a bad place, a really bad place. I didn’t really realise it then, but looking back, it was. I went to spend the weekend at a very good friends for a birthday celebration.
For what was supposed to be a big social event with their friends and family there, I ended up unable to cope with it and found myself having to shut myself away into a room full of well behaved kids to compartmentalise how I was feeling. It really wasn’t like me, but I felt I had to shut myself away to deal with how I was feeling.
I had the seemingly never ending situation of my mother’s estate rumbling on, but I was also in limbo at work. A role that I once loved had changed slowly over the last two years and my career seemed to be tumbling away from me. It seemed like I wasn’t in control of it anymore, and I was finding it hard to see a way out.
I had some other issues at work going on, that had lasted about a year and I was trying my best to get a positive outcome of it. It was also a couple of weeks after we so unfairly had our neighbourhood cat Henry taken from us when he got run over at the end of July. That probably affected me more than I realised.
I was lost in so many areas, and felt like I had no control over the direction I and my life was headed in. I’d sought counselling and I was working my way through how to deal with it all, but that weekend, I hit a big low.
That evening started off well. I was able to socialise, with a couple of good friends, and with their friends and family. Their family, from my childhood, I caught up with them and slipped back into the way it used to be twenty years ago. Settling into comfortable surroundings with nice people who cared about me.
But into the night, I found it increasingly hard to interact and found myself have to remove myself away from the party, into the quiet. I took myself away from the party in the garden, and sat in the quiet livingroom. A dvd was on to entertain the kids, it was a nice and quiet and relaxed environment.
I tried to distract myself and my thoughts by playing with one of the over energetic 5 year old boys. And we had fun for a bit, but I couldn’t keep it up. It was really strange as I’d usually been able to be social and enjoy myself, but I was struggling so much then. I was in bits.
Perhaps if I still drank alcohol I’d have been more relaxed, but then I could see instead if I drank, then I’d have not have been able to keep my emotions in check. And I’d have ended up crying all over the pace and ruining the night, or making it about me, when it should have been a good birthday celebration.
After a couple of hours of trying to calm down and relax, I ended up getting upset and retreating to the bedroom I was staying in. Conscious that I didn’t want to ruin the night, I went upstairs and away from it all.
I can’t even remember exactly what I was upset about now – it would have been a mixture of my issues in work and the seemingly never ending estate that had rumbled on for nearly two years.
Each time I had to deal with it, it was like ripping a plaster off … and I had no idea when this torture would end. It was totally out of my control, just like my job at work that had changed beyond recognition and there seemed to be no way out.
I remember being up in the bedroom feeling so lost, and crying.. wailing out loud in fact. Even with my best friend ever close, downstairs – I didn’t want to be a drama and mess up the party. I tried to call a friend who lived nearby to see if I could chat or visit her, but she was out for the night.
Eventually at just before midnight, my best friend came to find me, and I cried to her. I didn’t ruin the night, and as usual, all calm and lovely, she helped me to feel better. Looking back on it we both realised that I was in a really bad place and needed to do something about it.
This time last year, on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is low, I was most definitely a 1… now I’m easily an 8 or 9. What a difference a year makes.
One year on, and steadily over the last year things have come back up to be much better and back to normal. The estate wrapped up, all finished and went away and I stepped up and got a new job and a new focus at work. And I got another issue in work sorted after about a year and a half of trying.
Then the other day I had a couple of things that were out of my control… and I noticed myself go into a really angry and bad mood. All day. I was a nightmare. I saw what was happening, but still, I was finding the lack of control hard to deal with.
I wrote down my thoughts to try and deal with it, and I spoke with friends about how I was feeling. The next day I felt better, but I really noticed how when something is way out of my control, I don’t like it.
I used to be able to push these things aside, but now it feels like I’m being pulled back into the time of not having any influence over the outcome. I like to get things done, get on with it and make things happen. But when I can’t influence the outcome, I don’t like it.
Take someone I really care about – and seeing their health deteriorating. And there’s nothing I can do about it. What I do is I learn about what it is they’re going through, speak to experts or those who have gone through similar. I do what I can to help, and I accept that that’s about as much as I can do. It’s heart breaking to see, but I can be there for them and that’s important to me.
You can’t control everything, but you can control how you react to it and deal with it.
I feel like a year on, things have progressed so much since that day I was so down and in a bad place. I’ve taken steps to deal with how I was and now gratefully I’m back to being in a very good place, with good things going on.
I knew I was strong before, having gone through a few challenges, but the last two to three years has shown me that I can face and deal with anything life throws at me. And I can bounce back from it. Life is too short to be angry and upset. And if things are out of my control, then let them be.
So much has happened in the last year, and so much has changed. I’m looking forward to more of a settled time coming up now. And if shit happens, I’ll recognise it, reach out and lean on others – deal with it and I’ll be ok.
It’s ok not to be ok.
If you’re down or lost, speak to someone. Friends, family, your GP, a counsellor, the Samaritans on 116123 or Mind.