I’ve written before about how the weather changes my mood, but this year, I’d been dreading the changing seasons even more than usual.
I felt the impending September like a lead weight, as the date was set for my first born baby to start school. I’ve been a stay at home Mum since he was born and, whilst that choice of path has had its ups and downs, it’s been the most incredible 4 years that I would never change. S and I have had so many amazing adventures together, grown together, learned together. I’ve been able to see him develop into the hilarious, smart and adventurous little boy he is now.
Thinking about how both our lives were going to change was a shot to my heart. I didn’t want that day to come.
I felt massive anxiety about making the most of our last few months together, and felt the Mum guilt intensify when things didn’t go perfectly. You may have read about some of the wonderful adventures we had this summer, but I couldn’t help beating myself up that it wasn’t enough. Nothing was enough.
The last week before school was due to start, my husband had taken a day off work and we’d asked S to choose something special for us all to do together. Everything was planned, and that’s when our youngest, E, was taken ill and admitted to hospital.
So alongside the fear and emotion for him, I was riddled with sadness and guilt that S had been all but pushed aside, his special plans cancelled – and that this would be all of our lasting memories of this huge moment in our lives.
When we knew E was OK and he was discharged from hospital, I began to feel very conscious that I was at risk of the fear, anxiety and sleep deprivation overwhelming me. I’m still very much a work in progress, but I’m doing my utmost to stick to the 2019 plan – to alter my go-to thoughts and reactions, work on self improvement, develop efficient coping strategies and just be happy.
I shed my tears, drank my wine and started to work on changing my mindset. I talked about reframing negatives and thinking about a fresh start for Autumn instead of a dreadful end to summer in my previous post, and that seemed like the best place to begin.
So we started making special Autumn plans. We love to go walking in the forest, so the first thing we did this weekend was to go out into the woods and hunt for the signs of the changing seasons. We spotted acorns on the trees, leaves already starting to turn and a few different kinds of fungi peaking out of the soil or gaps in the tree bark. We laughed, chased each other down the winding paths, came home and made hot dogs.
I remembered that even the simplest of days can have the ability to change your entire reality, especially when you’re working hard to tell your brain to get on board with it.
It’s my birthday next month so S asked me what cake I was going to make myself…! Cheeky. He loves Halloween (as do I!), so we’ve started talking about costumes, decorations and the scary films we’re going to watch. We’ve even talked about fireworks and marshamllows at Bonfire Night. (And I’m sure the C word won’t be far behind.)
Allowing myself to talk about the season ahead and make little plans, instead of doggedly resisting the change and ruminating on the challenges of the previous season, is really helping me to process those emotions and feel excitement instead of dread.
I find it frustrating when people imply it’s possible to just change your brain, and all of a sudden not suffer with mental ill health. But I am living proof that it’s possible, if you work on really understanding yourself, to identify key issues and triggers and slowly start to find better ways of dealing with them.
I’m in no doubt that it will be a lifelong journey, but even a shuffle forward is better than standing still.