The radio silence this summer has mostly been me working my way through a pit of mental health issues that I felt too ashamed to write about. I’m probably not ready to do so yet, but perhaps it is more appropriate to start blogging again and allude to the ways I’m trying to manage them and change things to improve the quality of life I have been allowing myself in recent times.
CBT has been forcing me to confront some of the boundaries and fences I’ve built up around myself and take a look at the likelihood of the fears I have actually coming true. I’ve started to understand more about how it is anxiety more than depression that has crippled me though the years and how much I have to challenge that not to become a cage. Understanding myself better is freeing in some respects but immensely frustrating in others – but I’ve always been someone who will try to fix a problem I can see, so it is allowing me to view myself more dispassionately and work of the pieces of the problem.
One fix has been the phrase “but it probably won’t happen” every time I find myself fretting about something that could occur. It sounds simple (and probably ridiculous to anyone who doesn’t live life seeing a potential disaster in every scenario) but it has been helping.
One scenario that has caused me increasing issues in recent years is the London Underground, combining ‘underground’, ‘small spaces’ and ‘relying on strangers not to be insane’ all in one. There are certain lines I can’t go on these days and even the Piccadilly Line – which leads to most of my favourite places – has fallen into the ‘just too deep and busy’ category recently. Last week however I REALLY wanted to meet up with one of my oldest friends and since time for a visit was too restricted and both our cars were dodgy, London was the perfect place. The only problem was that it meant the Tube – and keeping control of 6 of us, including Bene, all day. It probably doesn’t sound like much, but it was a huge hurdle for me inside my head.
The day was perfect in all sorts of days; rain gave way to sun, we took our first ever trip to The National Portrait Gallery where I just loved seeing pictures from my school days, from the tableaux we used to perform at Christmas and Impressionist paintings I used to have as postcards on my student wall. Bene enjoyed communing with Alison and asking about all the naked babies and the superficially reluctant teens seemed to find things they liked too. (And I confess, being slightly irreverent about paintings is quite an enjoyable pastime. 😉 ) Also, the cafe provided the perfect place to gossip and catch up and I will be forever impressed at the old lady who resolutely stayed in one corner of a huge table so that she had to sit with our 7 noisy kids while Alison and I sat on the table for 2 she could quite easily have chosen to move to! 😆
Bene enjoyed being spooked and impressed by the street performers outside; the ‘scary skeleton’ is still a talking point.
After that we headed off to the London Transport Museum; they’ve invited me to a number of PR days I haven’t been able to attend recently but it put it on my radar and with a small boy in tow, we thought it would be the perfect place to go. And it was. The kids all went off together (hurrah for 17 year olds you can leave in charge of 3 year olds!) and Alison and I sat in the cafe to continue gossiping. Buying food in the cafe was made much more palatable by the entrance fee being only for adults; while it is £16, all 17 and under kids go free, so I called that pretty good value when you have 5 of them with you.
Once we finished, we perambulated around Covent Garden, where I sent my girls off to wander with minimal plans covering disasters and didn’t hyperventilate at all. We had a slightly horrid/quite funny moment where Bene got terrified by a man in a gorilla suit with a banana on a selfie stick, who ran past us chasing someone (for fun, I think!) Bene was so scared he actually climbed up my body and bit my cheek with fear and had to be carried away in a hurry wailing loudly and shaking. Once he saw E watching him (E being Alison’s big 14/15 year old son that Bene was idolising all day), he tried to reassert himself and a ‘big brave boy’ and cover his tracks with lots of manly pretend laughing and telling me how funny it had all been.
I was very amused 😆
I took Josie off to Build A Bear to buy her ‘bribe bear’, the one I promised her if she stuck at school till the end of the year. That was lots of fun, as it always is, though I still haven’t quite worked out how Bene managed to come home with one too!