Something of a self-reflecting self-indulgent post today
I’m letting you know from the outset. It’s not an excuse and definitely not an apology.
We all have moments in our lives that we’d rather forget. Some are minor in the grand scheme of things and might shape our feelings or opinions. Others sit like icebergs in our Titanic lives. Albeit without a Celion Dion soundtrack or a soggy Leo DiCaprio.
For me, June is a challenge. Not so much an isolated iceberg, more a field of landmines as it’s the month that my family members seem to favour for leaving this world. So it is always a relief to get to the end of with all those I know and love still around me.
But 13 April 2015 is one specific date that is etched into my life that bucks that trend. For a start, it’s not in June. And nobody actually died. However, it was a day where everything changed for me. And whilst it was a sudden and traumatic end, it did also result in a new beginning, one which I count the anniversaries as if they were birthdays.
When it all goes to ****
My mental health has always had a rougher ride than my physical health, at least to date anyway. A combination of intense (and undiagnosed) perfectionism, imposter syndrome plus an ongoing belief that I was no good ultimately boiled over after many years of build up and I ceased to be able to function.
It wasn’t one thing but a culmination of a few major life events and a lot of minor ones. Ultimately, I remember sitting in a work “meeting” I was running with the increasing realisation that I didn’t know who or where I was or what was going on. I felt nothing, I was completely numb, mentally and physically. Thankfully a colleague was able to step in and complete proceedings.
But it was a situation where I went home that evening feeling like I had ceased to exist. As it transpires I never went back to work.
It sounds on the surface like this might be one of those “to hell with the system” things that happen in Hollywood films. The reality of a mental breakdown is a lot of emptiness, mostly because the mind has locked you out as it desperately tries to fix all the bits that you’ve carelessly broken beyond casual repair. So the whole thing was going with a whimper rather than shout.
It took 7 months to get myself to a place where I could make rational decisions. About anything at all, but particularly about the future.
To be honest, I have practically no active memory of that time although I kept a diary which at least confirms I was there, in body, if not in mind. Thankfully I lucked-out and was assigned to an amazing psychologist who helped me get back to the point of being a functional human being again.
Sometimes it takes something major to get you to properly re-evaluate what one wants out of the 3-score-plus-ten we hope to get. Hopefully more, but if this past year has taught us anything, nothing is really certain (except the staggering stupidity of many human beings). Having lost Mark three years prior one might wonder how many earth-shattering personal situations I need to have to wake up and smell the coffee….
I am 6
So it’s 6 years on from rock bottom. I’ve started trying to live the life that fulfils me, as opposed to doing the things that I believed other people expected me to do. Yes I do still have regrets about being unable to meet those expectations. But unravelling the best part of 5 decades of perfectionism will almost certainly take longer than I’ve got left.
- I’ve set up my own little business which has done alright, despite COVID-19s best efforts.
- I’ve done a lot of running, joined a couple of clubs plus set up a couple along the way (again COVID-19 has messed some of that up too).
- I’ve done a bit more education and qualified as a coach so I can help others tap into the world that has helped me over the last 6 years.
- Plus rediscovering my love for creating music, almost 3 decades after parking that hobby whilst I went looking for the things I was told I should be doing, well that’s the icing on the cake.
- And in all of this I’ve met a number of amazing people that I’m blessed to be able to count as friends.
13th April 2015 was a bad day. But it was also the start of something much better.