A little Insight
This week my mental health has taken a turn for the worse. This has been for a lot of different reasons, some of which are:
With all of this going on it’s been really difficult for me to be the person I strive to be for myself and my family. I’m the motivator, the cheerleader, the fixer of issues, the one who understands, the planner, the organiser, I take care of business. I’ve woken up each day with the best of intentions, I recently decided to not turn my phone on until I had accomplished the morning routine I wanted to start building. I take my vitamins and medications (It’s hay fever season and it’s not good for asthmatics) and then I have taken to journaling ‘gratitude’ and setting myself goals using self-awareness each day. I was doing really well and then around Thursday, I did the start of my morning routine but then I just stopped and realised that I was feeling really overwhelmed, nauseous and I was feeling very toxic. I was, what is known in the chronic illness community as ‘flaring’. From there my mental health took a really bad hit.
Black Dog Howling
I started to feel that all too familiar feeling of “What’s the f**king point?” kicking in. Imposter syndrome is a fickle mistress, one that you never really know as to when it will join you, it just appears, uninvited and expects you to entertain it. I started to feel like I was failing, I had a whole wonderfully laid out plan for my week, nothing too strenuous and I had so much hope and positivity going into the week but it just all of a sudden came to a screeching halt. I was shutting myself away and old habits I’ve worked hard to keep at bay started to creep in again; working in my bedroom, eating in my bedroom, getting annoyed at the slightest thing for no apparent reason, not wanting to be around my husband or my boys (for fear of upsetting them) and I ended up wasting most of my time scrolling on social media which, can we just be real, is the worst place to be when you are in a toxic mindset or when you’re having a crisis of faith. I almost became OCD like and eventually I just broke down.
With my body, mind and soul in complete disarray and overwhelm, I just went into a very mind-numbing level of ‘survival mode’.
I felt like everything in my life was wrong and a joke; I was focusing on the things that bothered me about my home and how I’ve failed in that area, I was thinking about how much I’ve been working my ass off for my writing and how I’m not where I hoped to be. ‘Mum guilt’ hit hard and I felt like I was the worst mum in the world for not spending as much time with my children and my beautiful dog ‘Dugpool’. I then spiralled down that dangerous rabbit hole of thinking about all that isn’t “perfect” in my relationship with my husband and that lead to anger which lead me to think of all the mistakes and hard times and asking myself how I let myself screw up so badly and I was on route to destination f**ked, up chocolate creek without a popsicle stick.
I got to a point on Friday afternoon that once the boys got home from school I slipped away back into my bedroom, closed the door, got under my covers and cried on and off for around an hour. I had hit rock bottom and had hit it hard.
Netflix to the rescue
After a good cry and share session with my husband, I managed to give myself a bit of a boot up the ass and reminded myself that the negative narrative isn’t who I am and that disrespecting myself isn’t any way forward. I decided that it was obvious I needed to make some life changes but that wasn’t going to happen at five-thirty pm on a Friday. I then decided that I needed to process and the best way for me to do that was to distract myself in a way that used minimal brain power. I knew just the place for the job…Netflix.
Usually in these times I would go to something I’ve watched more times than I can count, it is familiar and it takes very little for me to follow along due to how many times I’ve watched it, usually the likes of ‘Gilmore Girls’, ‘Dawson’s Creek’ or ‘Bride Wars’. To my delight however, there was a new series and version of a program I had watched last year called ‘Love on the Spectrum’ which was the Australian version but recently ‘Love on the Spectrum U.S’ has been released. No holds barred, I got myself comfy and knuckled down to watch it and I’m more than glad that I did.
What is ‘Love on the Spectrum’ about?
The series in both Australia and U.S are reality series following the journey of several individuals who are on the autism spectrum as they start dating, either for the first time or re-entering the dating world after a long period of absence from it. It shows how difficult it has been for many of the individuals in gaining confidence while dating and a few even tell of how they’ve been treated deplorably by people they were dating previously. It is however, one of the most heart-warming and epiphany inducing series you could watch.
The Turn Around
The program is done in such a fantastic way, it is not at all patronising to neurodivergent people and it really covers a broad view of the ‘stages’ of the spectrum. As I sat watching, I realised early on that I was invested in each and every one of the journeys and, being a parent and wife of someone who is neurodivergent, I connected with the parents and families of the individuals too. I saw the courage these wonderful people had, they had battled so many things in their lives, smashing milestones that some were told would never happen and to see the pride and joy on the faces of everyone involved went straight to my little black heart.
What struck me most though was, not in a condescending way at all, how simple and pure these people made love and life and how they reminded me of how the small and sometimes silly things are where the focus should truly be on.
The relationships growing between the dating couples was so truly charming, to see them make plans to travel and just enjoy everything about the world around them. An amazing young lady called ‘Abbey’ just wanted to be able to experience day trips to the zoo, waterparks etc with a companion, she wanted love in her life to feel safe and to always have someone to encounter joyous moments with. Her amazing boyfriend ‘David’ brought her little gifts at each date and you could see so much genuine care and adoration from him to her and when he said “Abbey is very special” it brought me to tears. The couples went straight to the heart of a person and that was prevalent in both series, the things they wanted in love or relationship were all of personality and no materialism at all. It got me thinking, especially about what I have with my husband and how sometimes I think it is we ‘neurotypical’ people who make it all much more complicated than it needs to be.
Staying in your own lane
I was truly rejuvenated after watching this series, it reminded so much of how I just want more simplicity in my life and where the complications, pressure and expectations enter. It showed me that life is beautiful when you focus on the right things, yeah life is never easy all the time but there is always something to have gratitude about and there is always the opportunity to makes changes. There is a quote I have loved since my early teens and it comes from poet E.E Cummings:
“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting“.E.E Cummings
It rings true for me, now, more than ever. It is so easy to get caught in the traps that can ignite the spirals in your mental health, the pitfalls are many and sometimes they come disguised but the most important thing to do for yourself is to stay in your own lane. To always remind yourself daily of your values, goals and have gratitude for everything in your life, not just the good but for the difficult and negative as they too can help you grow and learn. In fact, I think I’ve done more growing and soul searching in the darkness and in turn, made it the light.
I highly recommend for your mind and soul that you check out ‘Love on the Spectrum’ and‘Love on the Spectrum U.S’. You won’t regret it.
Love hard. Be fierce. Horns high.