Many times I’ve gone to write another blog post…many reasons not to – mostly because Uni work had to take priority and I was trying to resist procrastinating….and then most of the times I thought of good things to write was when I was trying to get to sleep – and as sleep is a bit hit and miss these days I didn’t want to interrupt the “I might fall asleep soon” process to write my ideas down…. So instead of several clever post ideas this will be a wish mash touching on a few things I’ve thought about recently.
I was going to write about empathy and emotional labour – I had a situation where someone basically got into a “my shitty time is worse than your shitty time” situation, and as they were saying how hard life was having a baby, it felt to me a bit like yet another situation where those of us without kids end up filling the gap and making allowances for those that do have kids. But then I also realised I was just in a really shitty space and hurting too, and really want it showed was just that at the end of the day everyone regardless of their experience, just wants to be heard and have their feelings acknowledged. Hard to give that to others when you’re struggling yourself though, and sometimes when you’re not feeling heard yourself it can feel like you’re the one doing all the listening to others.
There’s been a bunch of talk on social media about mental health and asking for help, particularly if feeling suicidal. Lots of calls for people to reach out, ask for help, speak up when they’re struggling. Personally I find this really hard – especially as a number of times I have tried reaching out the people weren’t able to provide the help I needed. Having been raised to be independent (number one priority for us growing up was to learn to be independent – can’t rely on anyone else!) and having had my emotional experiences invalidated almost constantly as a child, it’s hard enough to admit to myself when I’m not coping with the world, let alone tell someone else. I’ve even noticed lately that when someone asks “How are you?”, the worse I’m feeling the more likely I am to ignore the question – because I can’t bring myself to lie, but also I’m not always sure the other person really wants to know. And even if I know the other person is a genuine friend who does care, I get a bit sick of myself not being happy so I don’t want to seem like I’m always complaining/struggling so I just don’t answer…particularly easy to do if the question is in a message or online – just respond to the rest of the message and ask them about themselves. Not a particularly good way of coping with the world – logically I can see that. But the reality is, and I’d imagine this is similar for others when struggling with life, when things are shitty all energy goes on survival, so the best coping straggles aren’t always chosen. Which also means someone isn’t likely to be in a place to help at the time when they most need help. Especially if self-esteem is lacking and you don’t feel like you deserve help….
The problem is if we’re all so busy focussing on survival, yet we’re all expected to reach out for help when we need it…..we don’t end up getting the help we need, but we also end up more isolated and less connected. It’s a fine line between putting ourselves first, not spreading ourselves too thing, and helping others, checking up on them, and staying connected with each other (genuine connection not just a quick ‘like’ of someones Facebook post or tweet). I am not good at finding this balance at all – often the worse I feel about myself the more I try to look after others, and do kind things. Not a bad thing – but often means I don’t know how, or feel very awkward looking after myself. And this gets worse when I feel like I’m not good company….super easy to end up hiding from the world, which isn’t a great solution either.
Oh dear, now I’ve completely lost my train of thought and can’t remember what else I was going to write haha. I guess though that does remind me of something else….it’s really easy when recovering from a loss, to think you’re back to ‘normal’. The obvious grieving like crying all the time and staring blankly out the window get less or have mostly gone, physically things are as ‘normal’ as they’re going to be, and life keeps going on. And if you’re like me, you stick at things you’ve committed too no matter how shitty and tough things are. After previous losses, while it was hard I managed to keep going with my Uni work, and somehow managed to keep getting the grades I needed. However, after this recent loss it’s been much harder to keep going – I know some of it is purely the amount of stressors we had – we moved house around the same time as this latest miscarriage, I was trying to get used to a different university and a bigger workload…of course it’s going to be hard. But this time the effects of grief were more subtle…concentration was really lacking. I am so easily distracted – not helpful when you’re trying to prepare for some big exams. Getting irritated and overwhelmed by almost everything, also not helpful. I kept going and I completed the exams – time will tell whether I managed to drag out the grades I need or not….and I mean drag…it often felt like I had to tell my brain to work, and that it was like my brain was trying to climb up a steep hill…took a lot of effort to get anywhere. Acknowledging the toll this has taken on the rest of my life has been hard – I should have been able to cope…so the annoying part of my brain thought. But the reality is, we need to let ourselves be ok with making changes to life so we can do more than just survive. For me that has been making changes to reduce my Uni workload, so I have space to put in some more self-care activities…like exercising and eating better. Problem is, when you’re already feeling like a failure, this can easily add to those feelings. Logically I know I’m making the right choices, and doing what I need to do to look after myself. But the emotions don’t keep up with that. We’re still in limbo land, we don’t know if we’ll do any more fertility treatment or if thats us done. I don’t know if I’m building resilience and health to cope with another cycle, or if I’m rebuilding myself as someone who won’t have kids. Adding changes to the only plan I have for the future – my studies – to that, makes it even harder to know who I am and what future I’m creating…..and without these things, it can be pretty hard to get out of bed each morning.
I guess the point I wanted to make in a round about way is, be kind to each other, including ourselves. Practice good self-care, but also reach out to those around you – humans can cope with things a whole lot easier when we give each other a helping hand up. xx