Dear A, this is hard and I am struggling…

Dear A.

This is hard and I am struggling. It happens, without fail, every year. The period from the 27th December to the start of the new school term is a complete emotional disaster zone. I can trace this feeling back over at least the last twenty years, if not longer. It’s become part of the season just as much as Santa and Christmas films. I think a lot of people feel this way (do they?) – but even if there’s a lot of people in the same boat, it doesn’t help because what I feel right now is so incredibly isolating.

I desperately need time to recharge and given how hectic my day-to-day life is surely now, of all the times in the calendar, this should be the time I kick back and relax and have pj days. Nobody is expected to do much – I mean there’s the joke about not knowing what day it is and feeling like there’s no purpose – only it’s absolutely no joke feeling the way I do now. This isn’t relaxing. It’s harrowing. Yes, I am in my pjs but it’s because I have no energy or will to get dressed.

I feel so depressed. Everything feels a huge effort and I feel overwhelmed by the smallest of tasks. I should go and empty and reload the dishwasher, or at least get in the shower, but I can’t. I will do it at the very last minute before my wife gets home from work so as not to arouse suspicion of the fact that I am not functioning.

I feel so lonely and unsafe… I don’t mean that I am going to self-harm (although that has been a feature of this time of year before) I just mean I feel scared and not ok, not safe in my body. My nervous system is in tatters. I feel incapacitated. Frozen. Paralysed.

It’s at this time, every year, when all my fears rise up and I just feel desperately sad but also worthless and useless and all of those other horrible things that I struggle with so much. I can’t escape it and I can’t shift it – in fact, thinking about it, a decade ago it was this time that signalled my complete emotional breakdown which saw me off work for 17 months. It’s not a good time!!

As much as I want to ‘cheer up’ and find some energy and joy I just feel emotionally and physically wiped out. I know, now, that this is the very young stuff – pre-verbal- activating. It’s the feeling of that endless painful black hole in my chest that I wake up with, the panic, the emptiness, the tears that won’t come, the overwhelm and the detailed relentless bad dreams night after night.

And I can’t soothe it, that part of me. I just feel like I am in my own emotional prison and I don’t have the key to unlock the door and get out.

It’s bad.

Thinking about it, I am not surprised that over the years it’s been this time that has signalled the start of a rupture with Em. Things feel so desperate. I mean it’s as bad as it gets for me, and I’d reach out when I shouldn’t and then get radio silence which obviously triggered more pain, more shame, more of the ‘I am not worthy of care or love’. And this is where I am at again – now. Only I am writing this in a blog post in order not to create a rupture or to push you away. I don’t want to be ‘too much’ but this stuff, these feelings are too much for me and it’s hurting…and we’re only at the midway point.

It’s a negative downward spiral.

I know you’d probably say something like ‘try and do something nice for yourself’ but I don’t even feel like I have the capacity to exist right now. I know that’s dramatic. But ‘self-care’ feels like asking me to start speaking Chinese. I simply can’t do it.

I feel so stupid. In my last post here I wrote about how I genuinely thought this break would be ok because things are so much more secure and settled in my relationship with you. What I failed to recognise was the part that was around then is settled but this part, here, now is not. This part is the one that cannot take anything positive in. It’s the one who has no sense of object constancy. It’s the one who feels desperately alone and scared and has no words – it feels like a matter of life and death. I guess, given how bad it feels in my body it has to be the baby. It is the distress of a child who needs holding and is left out in the cold.

I don’t think how I feel is triggered by the break alone. It doesn’t feel like that…but when this stuff becomes live, it’s the break – the lack of contact – that makes it so much worse. My mental health maintenance plan is on ice – you and K aren’t there. In the usual run of things if I felt this way, the longest I would have to wait to see you is three days. I could text you and ask for a check-in and we’d probably be able to speak within 24 hours, and you’d respond with something holding in the meantime. But it’s different now. This is your holiday and I don’t want to burden you with my mess. It’s only been 9 days since I saw you but to these little ones that are panicked that feels like a lifetime ago.

Adult me is trying hard to just count it down and get through the days until we meet again. The thing is, this year I don’t even feel like I can take comfort in the fact that I am seeing you on Monday, 5 days from now. I really need to see you. I need to hug you and to cry and let some of this stuff out…but there is no guarantee that will actually happen. I am usually panicked enough on a break that my therapist won’t come back or that something bad has happened or things will go wrong (and they did last year!) but whilst I think you will come back because you care, we still might not get to see each other.

The COVID numbers are going mad here in the UK and I genuinely think we will be put in a strict lockdown again. It’s only a matter of time. And whilst there have been more provisions made for supporting mental health face-to-face in recent lockdowns, even if you don’t choose to go away and bubble with your partner, if schools revert to online learning as of next week, I will be home, here, looking after my kids and still won’t be able to see you face-to-face because I’ll be unable to get out in the daytime. As daft as it sounds there is a part of me that hopes you do go away because the idea of you staying here and my being unable to see you during the week when you are just down the road feels utterly unbearable. I could cry.

And so there it is. All my usual annual Christmas stuff playing out, the attachment pain, break struggles, and the extra cherry on top of the doom of potential lockdown just to add insult to injury. 2020 has been so hard and yet I fear there’s not a great deal to look forward to going forward.

I am so sick of hanging on by my fingertips. Survival mode is … overrated.

I miss you.


27 thoughts on “Dear A, this is hard and I am struggling…

  1. skinnyhobbit December 30, 2020 / 12:56 pm

    I just want to say I hope things improve. And you saying you were off work for 17 months before… it’s been so lonely being the only person I know who’s also been off work for almost two years.


    • rubberbandsandchewinggum December 30, 2020 / 3:54 pm

      Thanks hun, Yes, I was off a long time. I just couldn’t function enough to do my job. It was a long and necessary period of healing…although the first year was largely panic and distress being in the thick of the breakdown. Take good care. It it lonely but you are certainly not alone x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. healing1973 December 30, 2020 / 2:41 pm

    I am so sorry you are struggling. If it makes you feel better. You aren’t alone. I am in the same place of knowing my parts are severely depressed but not wanting to be a burden. It sucks, but we will make it, not sure how some days, but we do…we survive. It is usually messy but we get there. You can do it

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum December 30, 2020 / 3:56 pm

      Sending hugs. I’m sorry you are having a hard time too. It’s really tough isn’t it? And yes, I know we’ll get through it…there is no other option. I just wish it didn’t feel so utterly desperate right now. Take care xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. behindapaintedsmile30 December 30, 2020 / 2:53 pm

    I’m sorry you’re struggling hun. Our break is the same and I’m feeling it! I would be really surprised if they close the schools and also disappointed because my nephew was seriously let down in lockdown 1.0. Rumour has it that my area is going into Tier 4 so I think the whole country will. Hospitality and retail look like areas responsible for the spread. Hopefully we will find out today. Would it be beneficial to text A when the announcement is made so that you know what her plan is?
    I get how hard and soul destroying it is to deal with the uncertainty and having to stay in survival mode. x

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum December 30, 2020 / 4:00 pm

      Ahh nooo I am sorry to hear things aren’t good. I think we are going into tier 3 but waiting to hear about schools. Everything feels so hard right now. I want to reach out to Anita but actually don’t want to be ignored so won’t. This break is just dire. So much coming up. I wish I had anticipated it better…only I don’t know what could have been done to change it. I wish I could talk to A for ten minutes! Take good care of yourself and just keep swimming xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • behindapaintedsmile30 December 31, 2020 / 1:23 pm

        I’m just missing T. I struggle with Christmas and New Year so it’s always hard that it coincides with a therapy break even if it’s just one session. We’ve been moved into Tier 4, but T has stayed in Tier 3. She said before Christmas that we can continue with face to face sessions regardless because her professional body had emailed her to confirm that. I still worry that she will change her mind though. There’s also the threat of snow so I may end up having an online session anyway.
        Do you feel any more at ease now that the schools are not closing? 😬 I would contact A if not because she would rather you did than torture yourself. You can’t possibly anticipate how you will feel in a week. It’s also nice that you were feeling contained and secure. x

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum December 31, 2020 / 1:30 pm

        That’s understandable. I think this time of year is so so hard for so many of us and the fact it nearly coincides with therapy break is just cruel! I’m glad that your T has said she’ll continue face to face. I’m sure she won’t change her mind. She’s clearly considered it before telling you. I hope you can get there and snow isn’t too bad. I did send the link to this post to A yesterday after another friend said they didn’t think A would want me to suffer this. She replied this morning. Short holding message but enough to take the edge off. I want it to be Monday so I can see her but don’t want it to be time to go back to work. Ugh. Take good care 💙


  4. Mac December 30, 2020 / 6:54 pm

    sending hugs. I do hope things get better soon for you. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Claire Louise December 30, 2020 / 7:10 pm

    Sending big hugs, I am struggling with the break too. I’m lucky that I still have email contact which I’m so grateful for. Unfortunately I’m now in tier 4 and clinically vulnerable so have made the decision to return to phone/online sessions. I hope the days to Monday are as safe as they can be for you x

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum December 31, 2020 / 7:42 am

      Oh god. That sounds hard. Thinking of you. Still feel crap today. I just want to stay in bed and hide! Hugs x


      • Claire Louise December 31, 2020 / 9:39 am

        I’m still in bed. I know I ought to get up but this feels safer. Take care lovely, well done for sending the email, and I hope you hear from A soon x

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum December 31, 2020 / 1:16 pm

        Sometimes bed is the best place to be. We don’t give ourselves enough rest. Such high expectations to be active and productive. It’s been a killer year. Netflix and duvet would be my go to if I didn’t have kids to entertain. A got back to me. Big hug x

        Liked by 1 person

  6. LovingSummer December 31, 2020 / 12:45 am

    Did you actually send that to Anita? I can’t tell, as I wrote a message out and didn’t send it (but then eventually did, after sitting on it a few days first). If you did, I’m sure she’ll have just the right words for you. She’s got the touch that way.
    I really hope that your lockdown isn’t as severe as affecting schools for you. This has gone on far too long and I am SICK of it! So I can fully understand why you would be too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum December 31, 2020 / 7:44 am

      My best friend read it and said I ought to send it as I’m clearly not ok. I did yesterday afternoon. I think it was a mistake, now. I don’t think she’ll read it a s that’s already set the cat amongst the pigeons internally. I really hate feeling like this. Did T get back to you? X


      • LovingSummer December 31, 2020 / 7:50 am

        It’s so hard when we have sender regret isn’t it? I do find that a great reply settles that instantly though.
        No, T hasn’t replied, but he has read it now, which feels better than seeing it left unread. I did say a couple of times that he doesn’t need to reply, and I wondered how a person even could reply, I know I can’t think of anything to say to my own message, so not sure how I could even ask it of him! It feels like giving someone an impossible task. I don’t think that about your situation though. Anyway, I usually wish T a Happy New Year, so I’ll ping that off tonight, and I suspect he’ll reply to that as it’s lighter and more mainstream! Maybe he’d reference the first text, who knows. It’s all a bit like a game of pin the tail on the donkey!

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum December 31, 2020 / 1:14 pm

        Sender regret! Yes! A replied earlier and I feel more settled than I did yesterday – woke up less desperate but ridiculously flat. A doesn’t have blue ticks anymore so in some ways it’s good as I don’t know when things are read … but I also hate it!! I saw your message and I get what you mean about what could he respond to… I guess maybe, ‘I hear you LS – look forward to seeing you soon’. Sending hugs 🤗


      • LovingSummer December 31, 2020 / 1:18 pm

        He did a magnificent response this morning!
        I knew you’d feel better if A replied. I’m glad you do ♥️

        Liked by 1 person

  7. lavenderandlevity January 1, 2021 / 2:59 am

    Yes, this time of year is an absolute shit show. I usually handle it by fleeing the country. Sadly, thanks to covid, no such luck. Which is giving me flashbacks to 2018 when I was off work and my world was (most recently) spinning out of control. So, I’ve definitely spent more of this break sleeping more than I should and somewhat dissociated stringing beads on jewelry wire, which has become my newest obsession. So, I feel you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. individualmedley17 January 1, 2021 / 10:29 pm

    I’m really sorry it’s got so hard. I think you did the right thing to send it to A but I understand the sender guilt/fear. I’m glad she replied and it helped. Similarly to you I thought I was doing ok with the break and then woke up this morning and everything had changed. Your post has helped me recognise that another part has moved in. Perhaps we can both try and talk to those parts and ask them if there’s anything we can do to help them feel better until Monday? Take care, X



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