I Thought I Was Coping…

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Most of the time I think I manage ‘life’ pretty well; I somehow function in the outside world and do a reasonably good job at appearing like a competent parent and professional adult (although I get a big whack of that imposter syndrome in doing so – surely someone will notice that I am winging it soon and everything will come crashing down!).

Anyone who reads this blog will know that things aren’t perfect…not by a long shot…but generally the issues that I face (thinking about both physical and mental health here – i.e HEALTH) don’t completely incapacitate me on a day-to-day basis…they just tie both my legs together and blindfold me 😉

I have to pinch myself when I remember that I have come out the other side of a gruelling cancer treatment more-or-less in one piece. The heavy emotional weight I seem to carry or, as my therapist put it on Monday, am ‘tortured by’ (jeezzz tell it like it is why don’t you?!) is managed just about well enough these days, in a large part thanks to the therapy.

I know it doesn’t always look like it but know that I would be way worse of a mess if it weren’t for the therapy. I don’t really talk here about the massive mental breakdown I had in 2009 which saw me in a right state, off work for 17 months and dangerously underweight, but I know having been to in that place where things can spiral down if left unchecked. If I take my eye off the ball for too long so far as self-care goes things start to slip really quickly (and I am utterly shite at self-care!)

I’d like to say that I am past that really harrowing knock-out stuff, that I’ve moved beyond it, that I have learnt enough strategies to live well, and that the breakdown was just an unfortunate incident triggered by a terrible bereavement; but the reality is actually doing life (living) thoroughly exhausts me. It always has. I do my best but sometimes I just can’t manage as well as I might like.

For as long as I can remember I have felt like it takes a lot of effort to maintain the persona of whoever it is I am meant to be – who I am…who am I?! To a greater or lesser extent I struggle with these things:

  • I feel on guard all the time;
  • I feel like things are going to go wrong at any minute;
  • I spend time overthinking/brooding on things;
  • I worry that I am going to fall apart;
  • I find it hard to let stuff go;
  • I worry about people’s perceptions of me;
  • I have unrealistic expectations of myself;
  • I don’t like to let people down and so often take on more than I can manage. (I wouldn’t say I am especially a ‘people pleaser’ but I certainly am not very good at putting my needs before anyone else’s – or even alongside them for that matter.)
  • List goes on and on…

Annoyingly, when I am stuck in mental/emotional hell I still don’t really talk about it despite all the therapy. I think this is quite common for those of us who have had difficult childhoods, actually; we’ve learnt that our needs invariably don’t get me and so we almost learn not to have them or talk about them.

Of course, I am getting better at talking and opening up (to some people) but it’s incredibly hard to build trust and so those ‘lucky’ (ha!) few that get to see my struggles and vulnerable side can be counted one hand. My wife said last night that she feels like I keep the vulnerable parts secret and she feels pushed away. I told her I was only trying to protect her from me and that the reality of what goes on in my head is not something anyone else would want a part of.

She said all the right things but I still feel like if I really and truly showed just how broken I am she would head for the hills. After 13 years together I should know that she stays….but it’s going to take some time to be brave. When she asks how my day has been how do I reply ‘it was fine, uneventful, but part of me is struggling really hard and wants to cut myself’? I mean who needs to walk into that?

It’s just like how it is in therapy. What happens if I truly let it all out, become so vulnerable and open, and then it goes wrong? The fear of rejection and abandonment is horrendous – I think it’d annihilate me.

As a result of all this perpetual ‘keeping up appearances’ and ‘biting off more than I can chew’ (ha, that’s so funny given my anorexic history!), I quite literally feel tired all the time (physically and emotionally)… but, as I say, this is not a new thing. I wake up tired; stumble through the day (well that’s how it feels but no one would know); burn the candle at both ends but never benefit from the light – just burnout; then crash into a pit of exhaustion at night.

Every now and then, when things feel bad (like they do today), I sit and wonder if what I am experiencing at the moment is just a bout of depression that’s crept up on me and taken root without me noticing. It is Autumn after all. Maybe I am pushing myself too hard. I don’t always find it easy to say no or put my needs first. No matter what I do there never seems to be quite enough hours in the day to get done what needs to be done and still leave time for whatever it is that I need and naturally this is going to take its toll isn’t it?

Today I have a list longer than both my arms put together of things that I need to achieve. I have completed some tasks, been reasonably productive in fact, but am nowhere near where I need to be and time is ticking away. I just looked at the clock and realised I have less than an hour before I need to collect the children from school and then it’s all go until 8pm when I get home from tutoring.

What have I done for myself today?

Nothing.

Not even had breakfast, lunch, a drink….and that’s not me bigging myself up on some eating disordered headspace thing. Really don’t need to be heading into that area again.

I just haven’t stopped again.

Time goes so quickly.

You might be wondering, then, what on earth I am doing here?! Well, knowing there is absolutely no chance of finishing what I need to do I have stopped and downed tools, briefly. I’ve made a coffee and wanted to write something. I keep telling myself I need to make time for this. Writing has always proved a really useful outlet and so writing here, as I have said before, is a bit of a lifeline at times. Putting the scary stuff out into the world knowing that there are merry bunch of mental health bloggers out there cheerleading me on is really really helpful to me…. ESPECIALLY when I am on a therapy break!

Ugh!

Yes…that horror has begun now! How long til 29thOctober????????????????????????????

There is so much bubbling inside that I want to say, that I need to process, that I want to document and if I don’t make time for it and let it out then it’ll just keep causing me trouble. I have run out of time for today and have not mentioned anything about what has actually been going on either inside or outside therapy! Awesome post!

I just needed to get it out there:

I am stuggling… and the coping is not going especially well.

It’s taking a great deal of effort to hold all my pieces together right now so any contributions of rubber bands and chewing gum will be gladly received!

Author: rubberbandsandchewinggum

Mid-thirties. Mum of two. Procrastinator. Therapy and mental health blogger.

27 thoughts on “I Thought I Was Coping…”

      1. Uggghh!! I experience that so often. I think I sort of imagine that I need to share everything right away, because then if he doesn’t come back, at least he’ll know it all. No matter how hard I try, I just absolutely hate breaks from T. xx

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  1. I’m sorry to hear you feel you aren’t coping again,you must be overwhelmed with everything. Thank you for sharing this post. Message me if you need someone to talk to that doesn’t know you, just for a little support if you wish. Keep chewing and pull those bands:)

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  2. I can relate to this despite our situations and experiences being different. I too find life exhausting and it’s so hard to find a way around that. I do wonder if there are any sacrifices that you could make? For example, do you clean the house from top to bottom every day rather than just the parts that need doing? I know that you probably have a mountain of washing with two young children! Is there anything that your wife can do in the evening when you are at work? I know that she probably works full time, but it’s about team work! Are you keeping busy as a way of avoiding your feelings?
    It’s nice that your wife wants to be there for you and maybe in time it will feel easier to talk to her about the past and show your feelings. It doesn’t sound like she would run for the hills but I totally get the fear of abandonment and emotions too. I hope the break passes quickly which sounds hollow and stupid because it’s bloody awful. Always here x

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    1. I’ve cut a lot out of my life lately- given up my role on a committee and said no to things that I might have got sucked into previously …and I have been more strategic with general life and house stuff. Part of the problem lies in the work I’m doing.I’ve just taken on some additional A Level tutoring and a group of 15 young adults for another qualification. Now my Wednesday and Friday days are busy as well as the evenings when the rest of the week is already insane. I’m desperately hanging on to my Thursday but it is largely getting on top of house and laundry now. I feel really meh and moaning. Seriously cannot believe I’m on a therapy break – terrible timing! I’m not avoiding my feelings- the problem is that they are right here, just below the surface, and I’m worried I’m gonna breakdown 😕

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  3. I am so sorry you are struggling so hard right now. It sounds like you have a lot on your plate!!! This is a good and safe space to unload and unburden yourself and we are here for you.

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  4. You’ll get through it. You always do. It’s painful and lonely and tough and gruelling, but you’ll hang on because you’re made of tough stuff and you’ve got a lot of inner strength. And I’m here for therapy break letting off steam if you need. Hugs x

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      1. Well maybe you didn’t follow me before, I was trying to touch base with everyone I followed prior and you were listed on my reader page of who I followed. No worries.

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  5. I can relate to so much of this: accepting too many responsibilities, neglecting the self-care, fearing to share my struggles even with my trusted partner, feeling tired all the time… So much of it is parallel to your descriptions here. It’s really hard, I know, and I’m sorry you are struggling so much.
    I still have a long way to go, but I can tell you two things: self-care is worth the effort, and the people who really love us can handle knowing about our struggles. I hid so much emotional “stuff” from my husband for years. But every time I opened up even a bit to my husband, he has thanked me. He has been happy, he says, to feel closer to me, to understand me better and to take our relationship deeper. I can’t help thinking that your wife will have a similar reaction.
    I have said to my husband many times, “I am sorry that you have a crazy wife.” He always responds saying something like, “I don’t feel I have a crazy wife. I feel like I have a wife who is coping bravely with difficult things, and I just love you more for it.” This warms my heart and gives me strength to keep trying.
    None of this is to say that I share everything with him or always care for myself in thoughtful ways. But when I’m able to do it, I find there are so many benefits. I would love to just encourage you to take a few gentle steps in the same direction and also experience the same benefits. Sending good wishes, xxoo.

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    1. Thanks Q, yes, I know you’re right. I think it’s just hard when the critic is so strong and the shame is so overpowering- my autopilot is faulty and needs a reboot! Thankfully this week is half term in the UK and so I have a week off from teaching and school runs… lots of other things to squeeze in like car going to the garage, dentist appointments, and catching up with people we’ve not seen in months- but the pressure is somewhat relieved. AND we are going away for a night with the kids to a theme park staying in a lovely hotel. I can’t wait. Quality family time. Thank you for your support. Xxx

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  6. I don’t know what to say as I’ve read all the lush comments that your other WordPress mates have left and can’t really add that much. All I guess is I do firmly relate to the sheer weight of pressure to function reasonably well. I function pretty well too on the surface…But only yesterday I emailed my therapist to tell her how well I thought I was doing at coping but how fucking draining it also was. It’s like (even though she never replies) I wanted her say so and reassurance that it was ok to feel proud that I’m coping well….But also her recognition that for me to cope even just half way well, it takes every scrap of energy inside me to do that feat. It IS fucking hard to cope and function and cope with therapist attachment pain and younger parts intruding AND looking after your own children AND tutoring! Wow! Your brain is pushed to it’s limits every day! You ARE doing so well. I know I am doing well too…But it is kinda depressing that life is so hard! And it’s ok to feel fed up that life is hard! You’re doing brill. I’m glad you have blogged. I need to blog this weekend as I have lots of emotion to purge out of me. If I don’t write my emotions get stuck down my throat and it makes me ill. Ugh. Sending hugs xxx 😘

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    1. Sending you heaps of love and looking forward to seeing your emotional purge in your blog. I think lots of people (even normal 😂 people) struggle with life! I just occasionally get totally overwhelmed! … still, it’s half term now and a bit of time to regroup (in theory!) but you know what it’s like with kids 🤪. Hugs to you xxx

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