My unrelenting posting of pictures of sunrises and close up shots of flora and fauna, an activity some love and others, well, not so much, has slowed to the slow ambling of the elderly with well-established dementia.
T’would be quite understandable to simply assume it is related to, potentially, how busy I am.
T’is easy to justify this with “Oh, she’s working full time and a mum to three boys”. It’s understandable. It’s relateable. It’s a damned good excuse that covers all manner of getting out of doing all kinds of stuff.
It’s an excuse I entertain from time to time, and although I technically could use it as solid, hard core justification for stuff at the moment, I do believe you are only as busy as you allow yourself to be.
So busy, for me anyway, isn’t really an excuse for anything. Most of the time.
No, it’s not that I’m busy. Not with the usual working-full-time-mother-of-three-boys-volunteering-for-all-sorts-of-stuff-and-being-involved-with-things busy that we’re familiar with on some level or other.
Rather, I’m dealing with a whole heap of stuff that is … exhausting. Partly because it’s all at once, and partly because it’s just the kind of stuff that sucks the energy from your mind, body, and sole and leaves you feeling … well, exhausted.
Mentally. Physically. Spiritually.
And so I don’t have the capacity to do the things that aren’t needed to be done. Beyond the things I’m committed to, like my job. Which has the added bonus of taking my mind off the things, and giving my problems and challenges that I can solve, that allow me to use my brain, and be creative, and to do stuff for people that makes them feel better.
It’s not curing cancer I know, I get it, it’s nothing magical. But it’s good. I quite like it, actually.
Which, alongside photos of pretty skies, clouds, and stamen (I think that’s what those flower penis things are called. Am I right?) is my referencing my enjoyment of my work, and distancing myself from the “I hate my job” and “Urgh, Monday, hey?” rhetoric.
These things add up to my life being awesome. You know, sunsets and flowers and going to work on a Monday without bitching about it.
What could there possibly be wrong with my life?!
This is actually, believe it or not, not about me.
I am, at the moment, okay. Tired, bit brain fried, short tempered and a bit narky, but on the whole, I am okay.
What I also am, however, is reminded of a similar experience a few years back, where I was not okay. Really quite un-okay; stuck down a deep hole, contemplating the many ways I could end the pain, the frustration of not being able to string a sentence together or, you know, make decisions like “should I eat” or “is the milk in the fridge or not”.
The ability to reach out to others for help also evaded me. The more I hid behind photos of sunsets and flowers and weird crawly things, one of the few things that allowed me to be in the moment and just … smile … the less I was able to coherently say “Hey, I’m drowning here” and the more people were able to push me aside, believing I was both busy and happy.
At that time it was not uncommon for people to tell me how busy I was. To not ask me to things because “you’re so busy” and “I didn’t call you because you’re so busy”.
If you’ve experienced anxiety and or depression, you will understand how … hurtful, how harmful, and how lonely that can make you feel.
When you withdraw so you can cope with life, each day, each hour, each moment is an exhausting and lonely experience. To have your withdrawal explained for you by others, often on your behalf, with something so cliche and mainstream, so socially acceptable, is hard.
And it is easier to explain away … they’re busy is so much more palatable than to explain they’re depressed. It’s easier to dismiss, or engage in some sort of superficial discourse about what people have been up to and how are the kids look at the time I have to go great chatting to you.
When it’s coming from the person themselves this, too, is something simple and acceptable to hid behind.
If I tell you I’m busy, you may not ask more than that. You may ask what I’m up to and I can tell you “Oh, you know, project going on at a work” or “Kids have got a thing on”.
I don’t even need to give you more specifics. You’ll buy it.
I do know if I tell you “hey, I’m drowning here” you’ll tell me – because it’s what people tell you – “What do you have to be sad about? Look at your life; your amazing photos, your weekend adventures. You have a great job you love, you have great kids, and you are always smiling. You look so happy!”
Yeah … we depressed people smile and say we’re busy and just tired from, you know, project going on at work so we don’t have to be told we have nothing to be depressed about, or how great out lives are.
You can always tell how great someone is, mentally, emotionally, from the pictures they post on Instagram. Why the medical profession doesn’t just utilise this medium to diagnose people, I’ll never know. A photo of a sunset or a kid stuck in a couch or a cat in a box tells you all you need to know about a person’s mental state.
And there is the aforementioned snarky.
I am snarky, because whilst I am okay, and I have organised myself some good supports and strategies and have a very small number of people I can trust (greatly diminished from my last bout of Deep Dark Pitting) to support me, and my fear that I will lose this small number of people because of alllllll my previous experiences with being, basically, a horrible, snarky twat when I get like this, I am pissed that nothing has changed.
It’s not just me. It’s not even me, this time.
I see so many people around me, not waving, drowning and experiencing all of the same things, over and over and over again.
Many don’t even trust me (another dagger to the heart, twisted, thrust in some more, and ripped out sideways) because they – we – have heard time and time and time again how people “understand” … then flippantly dismiss them as “busy”.
We are easily, readily discarded. Even if our absence is noted, it’s easily excused.
Life, when it get’s a little too far beyond the voyeur-level dramatic, when it starts to fall into the realm of scary, or starts to include the taboo topics like mental illness or suicide or even not being able to cope with all that’s going on, we’re allowed to drift away.
We can talk about cancer or Autism or … a whole range of physical ailments are now being marketed to use by savvy PR companies. Even domestic/family violence is starting to make more of an appearance as a topic of discussion – which is freaking awesome – but only if it’s mainstream current affairs worthy and doesn’t involve the white middle class. That’s still off the table.
And all these things are acceptable, except the bits where mental health becomes attached or associated with it. Then … then we can deal with it ourselves.
We’ll offer you support when your child is diagnosed with Autism, but when you start to slip into the Pit of Doom, yeah, sorry – you must be so busy raising a child with Autism. Whilst we’re here, you’re also a supermum, but we can no longer deal with you when you’re in this state … you’re just too busy.
I nothing else, I implore you to look out for others.
If they go quiet, just check on them. Just a message, just a text, just a “hey, thinking of you”.
You don’t even need to ask how they are.
You don’t need to fix things or offer help (and please don’t if you can’t or won’t!)
Mostly, don’t assume they are just busy – especially if they tell you they are.
Or if they’re just tired.
Or got lots on.
They may well have. If they can’t or won’t give you more than vague specifics, it’s likely that there’s more going on. Not definitely, just maybe.
Just checking can make a huge difference.
Please just check.