In my previous blog I talked about the pressure I put myself under to meet an impossible self-imposed deadline and the impact it had on my mental health. Thankfully David caught me as I began to fall and stopped a full meltdown in its’ tracks.
I’m going to get the difficult bit out of the way, because these are words, I never even contemplated I would say, and certainly not in public.
David and I haven’t had an income since March.
We are dependent on food banks, benefits and the kindness of friends.
The boiler packed up a couple of weeks ago leaving us with no heating or hot water. I’m relieved to say that we now have hot water, two oil filled radiators and a very cosy open fire. Meh! Don’t need central heating after all.
We haven’t seen our children or grandchildren for nearly a year and to top it all off, every day we are constantly battling with our challenging mental health.
This is the first time that I’ve ever been unemployed, and this is my rock bottom. I want to share some of the things that I’m doing to keep it together to help anyone else who’s hit rock bottom. Life doesn’t get much tougher than this lockdown for any of us.
For every negative there is a positive. Every time the food bank ladies make their weekly delivery, it’s not just about 10 random tins and a bag of past their best vegetables and ready meals. It’s an act of kindness and compassion. It’s that feeling of being valued, belonging to the community and not feeling so alone.
We grew up in the seventies, food poverty is nothing new to us. We’re now eating the food we ate in our childhood; pies, pasties, cakes and pastries made with soft spread margarine, 27 ways of cooking mince and onions and way too much duffncustard.
Nicola and Sarah are like sisters to me and Sam is like a much, much older brother. We’re all struggling with different challenges and together we laugh in the face of adversity. Nothing is off limits, not even the food bank deliveries. You wouldn’t believe the shit they gave me when I ate three family sized Christmas puddings in four days or when I spent hours cutting the bad bits off 5kg of manky carrots. We’re all insomniacs and the childish, irrelevant and inappropriate GIFs begin at any time after 2am. We start each day roaring with laughter and by 7am we’ve got the sillies for the rest of the day. Except Sarah, she’s always late to the party.
I’m an empath, so I feel the emotions of others. I’ve experienced emotional pain, I know what it feels and looks like and I can see it, hear it or read it.
I am driven to help anyone who has a loved one in prison, anyone with BPD or challenging mental health and anyone who’s hit rock bottom. There are times when the best help and support I can give is by being positive, pointing out the funny side or posting a childish GIF.
Every time I say or post something positive, funny, compassionate or supportive, I’m helping myself as much as I’m helping others. By focusing on somebody else’s needs, thoughts and feelings, I’m not so absorbed in my own. It also forces me to reflect on my own situation and see that my life’s not so bad after all. The achievement and reward I feel when I’m told that my words have helped someone is immeasurable.
Without lockdown, I would still be a health and safety consultant and of no benefit to the people I want to help.
Guess who started blogging in July last year? Yep, before that my writing was limited to health and safety reports, presentations and the occasional ‘fun’ poster. David encouraged me to write a blog, telling me it’s cathartic and a fantastic coping technique for when your mental health is a bit wobbly. He also told me that it doesn’t matter if anybody reads it, just enjoy the pleasure and benefits of writing. Here I am now, more than 20 blogs and a few thousand readers later. I know, right! And I know I’m making a difference to the lives of others because that’s what they’ve told me.
I’ve also become a student at the Open University at 50 years old. I have the time, it’s free, I love learning and I’ll feel proud of the achievement. Especially at my age!
My standard repertoire of recipes has doubled, I have a Masters in batch cooking and my organisation of the airing cupboard is the envy of Kim and Aggie.
Be grateful for the silly things that made you laugh today and the positive things that made you smile and feel good.
Today I am grateful that the sub-zero weather means David has to cuddle me – a lot!!
I’m also grateful that David is home with me and not in prison. I’d rather starve than be without him. So there’s that! My life’s not so bad after all.