Something struck me the last few days. Struck me hard, like a lash of a whip or one of those instantaneous paper cuts right on the knuckle. Or a slice from tin foil which oddly happened to me last week. I’ve been overly tired – emotionally, physically and mentally the past while. I’ve been crawling through the sludge grabbing for a rope to pull me up and out. It’s been a case of being hit hard by “the overwhelm”. You know those days when everything seems to need to be done two or three times before you can move on to the next thing. And the next thing and the next thing. I’ve had friends and family worry about me this week. And I can see in the back of their eyes, a little dancing Flamingo.
Jumping back a sec for anyone who’s a little bewildered by the Flamingo reference. A friend named my postnatal depression and anxiety my Fricking Flamingo. It stuck. But more importantly, naming the anxiety made it possible for me to disconnect with it a little as though its not truly a part of me. Which of course it isn’t.
I understand a lot about my self these days. More than I ever have. Dealing with anxiety and depression has made me look outside the box more than ever. I plucked my little petite self out of that box and stood her on top of a mountain so I could see the world and see my place in it. Sometimes I shivered on top of that mountain and jumped back into the box because it was easier to be overwhelmed and hurting than face up to what I was going through.
The world is damn big. And I am damn small. But when I hold out my hands and look at the veins stretching from my wrists throughout my body, I see how important every inch of me is.
I’m stronger, bigger, better and braver than I ever have been. And I will not let that Flamingo, who likes to swirl around my garden every so often, define me. I will not let those pink feathers shine brighter than the woman at the top of the mountain.
It’s so easy to get lost in the world of mental health. To be labelled and targeted and made never forget your darkest and most shittiest of days. We don’t wear our scars and our hurt and our fears like a badge of honour. We may salute it and shoot it off out of a canon so it can no longer touch us or harm us. But we don’t let it define who we are.
I am exhausted lately. I’m not sleeping. I’m worrying. I’m over analysing and over thinking. I’m living with regret and fear. I’m effing wrecked. I’ve lost focus. I’ve barely written anything and anything I have put on paper I’ve reread, rewritten, judged and hated. Including this piece.
I’m waiting. Waiting for relief. For calm. For my mind to be quiet. But waiting never helps because what we wait for usually manifests itself in different ways which, let’s face it, we’re probably going to miss.
The thought processes that zip through my mind are slowing me down. I’ve been finding my way out the last few days but I know I’ll probably end up here again and the worry is, I become the definition of my fricking Flamingo. I become the thing I’ve battled against.
I won’t let that happen. I’ve come too far to be put back in that box.
My mental health does not define me. Neither does my shaved head, the tattoos on my arm, or the fact I only wear skinny jean’s or that I live in jumpers even in summer.
I am so much more.
This post may have been another meandering of thoughts as such but if, like me, you’ve battled with anxiety, depression or been held hostage by other mental health issues, know that you are more. You are not the illness that sits deep in your head and heart. You are you. It does not define you.
Our mental health needs constant care and respect. Looking after you and your mind needs to take precedence in your life when you feel it is faltering. A counselor can help to keep you on track. Click here to find a counselor and the right support necessary for you.