For me, like many others, depression and anxiety are a constant presence in our lives; similar to having diabetes or asthma.
I’ve accepted I’ll never be ‘cured’; it is something I have to manage with medication, occasional periods of therapy, and self-care.
This third and central element is what has taken a blow during the coronavirus lockdown. No more chatting with friends over coffee, no more group exercise sessions, no teaching my sewing classes, and no… Zoom does not replace any of these things.
The loss of these activities, coupled with the fear, boredom and loneliness that’s come with the coronavirus pandemic, has resulted in low mood and the re-kindling of the inner critic. This voice, which has been quiet for some time, has returned with renewed strength and volume.
This inner voice, this inner critic, is now almost constantly whispering to me – distracting me from my 6 and 9 year old boys, my husband and my work.
It leaves me one step removed from my physical self, and those around me. The voice sucks me into its downward spiral and climbing out feels like wading through treacle.
Here’s a snapshot…
I’m exhausted, can’t handle another day of pushing through, trying and failing to home-school, trying and failing to work, trying and failing even the most simple tasks of getting the kids dressed… and feeling guilty, guilty for not doing enough, guilty for failing my children.
No one cares about you and your self-pity. You’ve got no reason to feel down: you’re not a key worker, you’re not ill… It’s your own fault you feel this way. You’ve only got yourself to blame.
I know, but maybe if I talk to someone…
I’ve already told you, they’re sick of you and your whining. You’ve no right to complain let alone expect sympathy. How selfish can you get?
You’re right, I won’t say anything. I’d hate to think of them rolling their eyes – her again, this again… just what we need.
Don’t you realise we’re all going through this? At least you’ve got a house, a garden, security.
I know, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything. Why did I say something? I was torn and either way I’d get it wrong. But if I’d kept quiet, if I’d avoided them they’d think I was attention-seeking and get fed up with me.
Why do you think everyone’s thinking about you and what you’re saying/not saying, doing/not doing? You’re always so self-centred: people have better things to do then spend time wondering what you’re doing. Just keep it to yourself.
Keep it to myself. Myself. I know, I know I should be able to dig myself out of this. Self-care they say, mindfulness they say, exercise they say. Why don’t I practice what I preach? If I did, I wouldn’t be in this mess. How hard is it to take a few minutes a day to meditate? It’ll help you feel grounded they say – are you mad?? Be alone with my thoughts even for a few minutes? Torture. No way.
But you’re with them anyway so what’s the difference?
I can cope with the whisper, the quiet nagging, but the screaming? No, it’s too much.
So you’ve talked yourself out of this – well done. Made your excuses. How do you expect to get better if this is your attitude? You like it, that’s the answer. You like the attention, like the excuses, like spending half the day in bed. Pathetic. That’s what you are.
And on… and on… and on…
No! I won’t get dressed
Don’t want to go out
Mummy stay here, stay with me
I’m hungry… not that … not that …
What can I do
Don’t want to write
Mummy do it …
I can’t fight it, I don’t have the energy. I don’t have the brain space: it’s occupied beating me up.
Fortunately, I have learned over the years not to listen to this voice all the time. I have talked and it helped. I am trying to exercise and have a few mindful moments during the day to help stay present: savouring my morning coffee; smelling the spring flowers on my daily walk. And it does help. I have been giving in to periods in bed when it gets too much – it’s pretty tiring fighting these thoughts – but I’m trying not to chastise myself.
And as for home-schooling … well I’ve heard colouring can be meditative and good for mental wellbeing, so that’ll do for us at the moment.