I seem to live, on the blogosphere, for @older-mum 's #oneweek. So after my season's hiatus I am pleased to link up and off load.
Try and remember the green shoots that promised so much when you look at that barren lonely tree. It was only six months ago, but now all that remains is a silhouette. Leaves, birds and small animals seem to have abandoned it for warmer clims and more inviting nests. What a simplistic, but apt metaphor for life as the mist of depression has stolen my sense of self, sole and purpose again.
Autumn has been spent agonising over my life and the threads of womanhood. Just the other day @sarahditum was attacked for daring to say that she was a better Mum for completing her degree (http://sarahditum.com/2013/11/10/feminism-and-the-mummy-mystique/ ) When a return to work seems to be blocked by the unholy trinity of child care costs, lack of opportunity and rocky self esteem it is easy to grab hold of the only identity that we can - motherhood. I grab onto and almost strangle my role of mother, as my self image as a competent human being has been eradicated by the dual killers of post natal depression and a sexist status quo.
I barely have the energy to get through the day so the idea of 'pulling myself together' after redundancy and a failed business and find a new role outside the home seems hopelessly outside my grasp. In this mental state I invite rejection and feed my sense of worthlessness. If I need extra spice I can add the enmity of my step children - what the fuck, abandonment and rejection seem part of this narrative.
In my teens I remember feeling that we would be part of post feminist generation who would dance along routes opened up to us by inspiration women who had gone before. Now I can see that having a small proportion of amazing women beating men at their own game can not compensate for the brutal realities of everyday sexism. We have comments from mainstream lads mags that are indistinguishable from the justifications of convicted rapists http://jezebel.com/5866602/can-you-tell-the-difference-between-a-mens-magazine-and-a-rapist. No part of a woman's natural body seems to be acceptable: botox, extensions, threading or a vajazzel anyone? For any problem I new knew I had there is now an extreme answer. This autumn the perpetual conundrum how to fulfil the role of wife, mother and independent woman has been taking a major beating!
So in my autumnal mind I seem to look at my life as count down to retirement age, when justification for child care and career evaporate. The energy for life is taken up with self flagellation so I comfort eat to numb my brain.
Ironically this is not a cry for help but a battle cry. I am starting to fight, cautiously and in my own way. My self doubt has a curious bed fellow in self awareness. I can recognise patterns and attribute root causes, even if this is cold comfort when caught in the mist. Hell, most of the time I am even happy. This autumn has been the time to rant and start very slowly to start taking steps. I am putting that self awareness to concrete use, recognising that even if I just start getting more sleep and stop overloading my plate I should be in a much better place by spring. The leaves that fall from that lonely tree are creating a wealth of food and warm for smaller animals from which the tree reaps rewards come spring. I just want to be strong enough to be able to seize those opportunities when that time comes.
I hope that no one else is stuck in this trap - here are some things that have helped me:
- ruby wax's book Sane New World. Rather basic compared with some of the more academic tomes I have read but still I loved it and plan to read it again.
- a fucked up buddy (not to be mistaken with a fuck buddy) see above
- ideas! There are some amazing thinkers and writers out there. When I am not depressed that I am not contributing more eloquently I am fed by their words
- walking and nature (see tomorrow's post)
- being objective about why I am overweight and using a calorie counter (My Fitness Pal) not for self flagellation but as an aid to gain a healthy outlook. Yes, it was 400 calories that I inhaled between the school run and my official dinner!
- starting to have a concept of a few very little steps that I can tackle.
- I always have the chemical route if things get worse - but so far I have eschewed the need to anti depressants.
- as Stephen fry says, I may feel shit today but one day it will be sunny. http://www.lettersofnote.com/2009/10/it-will-be-sunny-one-day.html
- remembering my victories. After decades of difficulties I have allowed my mum to be an amazing ally - she will never read this as she is too busy reading the Daily Mail (nobody is perfect) but she did: thank you I think you are amazing!
Now to recover from this how about something uplifting:
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