Yesterday, I was having an average day. After a busy weekend, I had lots of household chores to catch up on and the kids were all riled up from the weather turning and being trapped back in the house again.
After hours of schlepping around the house doing jobs, looking after the kids, getting moaned at and breaking up arguments over whether they’re going to watch Paw Patrol or Hey Duggee, I started to get grumpy. Like anyone – sometimes I’m fine with these days, sometimes they take their toll.
But when you have a mental health issue, a standard grump can trigger something else, another, more extreme, narrative: what I call “spiralling thoughts”.
It might start with something fairly standard that everyone can relate to: “hmph, no one appreciates me… Everyone takes me for granted around here.” But it won’t ever just stop there, like it might for a “normal” person. It slips into “you’re not good enough; you need to be a better mother, wife, person; would anyone even miss you if you were gone??”
By the time the kids were in bed, I found myself tearing up that I have no talent, no purpose, nothing to be proud of.
You end up in a whirlpool of emtions, fears, doubts, problems and challenges that you’re struggling to process and resolve, from what essentially started as laundry and CBeebies.
This is a huge part of what makes these spiralling thoughts impossible to talk about – how do you even begin to explain this?
For those that think this sounds crazy – I think it sounds crazy too. Simplifying the process to explain it like this solidifies to me just how crazy. But spiralling thoughts are not a choice: they’re automatic, compulsive. And they are extremely difficult to get a hold of. By their very nature they are insidious, manipulative – they lead you so far down, you don’t even realise until it’s too late. Re-name them ‘demons’ and you’ve got a great horror film.
As a natural over thinker, spiralling thoughts continue to be a big test to my mental health. Identifying them, when they start to grasp at the little things, is key. I also really need to figure out how to say nice things to myself to try and end the spiral before it gets out of hand. The hard part is convincing myself to believe it.