Self care

One thing that any professionals involved with Isla’s care ask me is ‘what do you do for yourself?’ I always squirm and try and make something up. I have lots of great friends but we often find that life gets in the way… which is really sad. I chat to so many people on social media and have met some of them in real life, some truly amazing people from it but how often do I actually see them? Some of what I’d consider my closest friends are probably just online now because we have been through and supported each other through so much. This is a poem sent to me by my friend in Holland:

It translates loosely as:

In a world where everything is so different than you could ever have believed. In which everything works differently than you could ever imagine. It is sometimes so difficult to compete against everything and everyone. People who don’t understand you people who wave it away. People who don’t take you seriously at all. Sometimes even your own family. In his world it can be so lonely and alone. But with a bit of luck you have someone. Someone who is ready for you, day and night, night and day and is always listening to you. Is there for you when something else happens. Even if it’s on the web. Sometimes you may never have seen someone like him, but you met on social media. But the one is worth gold. It is someone you understand who is there for you. You don’t see many people like that. And it may be said that we are really happy with them.

I am to them as they are to me. That really struck me hard. The impact we can make, even just by chatting to someone every day. It’s so special.

It doesn’t make a friend any less of a friend because you don’t see them, I know they’re on the other side of the phone or message and if I was desperate they would be there. I have friends I go to the pub with on a Friday night, it’s most Fridays in fact. It’s a great escape even if I can’t handle my 3 shandy hangover in the morning. I’m really grateful for that time out of the house and to have that real social time. What else do I do though? Well, I used to go and watch Bury FC but Mr Dale put an end to that. Reading the Bury Facebook page it’s actually heartbreaking the impact that Bury folding has had on the mental health of some fans. For them, Saturday was *their* chance to get out for a few hours and meet with actually real people. In the end it didn’t matter how crap Bury were, what league we played in, what the weather was like; it was their social time. So now when I’m asked ‘what do I do for me’, I can only really say the pub on a Friday; however, I’m really trying hard to change that.

I have recently taken up archery on a Saturday morning. It’s a beginners course that I have to complete in order to join a club. I’ve only had 1 week but it was great… it’s a steep learning curve to start and you would think that I’m self-harming rather than partaking in self-care!

Archery bruise…

I had to focus so much on what I was doing that I couldn’t worry about what was going on at home and didn’t think about Isla’s appointments. I mean I obviously missed her but it was real time out for me. I’ve also booked in some days/nights out to the theatre and to comedy gigs and sporting events. I’m really trying to work on my self care because it is important and having things to look forward to with the special people in my life is a huge part of that; but also just taking time for me, just me. Doing what I want to do.

One thing in life I think many people my age struggle to deal with is adapting to adult life. That’s not just exclusive to becoming a parent; obviously that has it’s unique pressures too, but I think everyone has to deal with that shift in the status quo as they grow older. You can reminisce about the younger years: times at uni getting absolutely wasted, waking up pole-axed at the bottom of a flight of stairs, wearing underwear which definitely belongs to someone else… but that life isn’t your life anymore. It’s like it happened to someone else. Growing up is hard to do and letting go of the past is sometimes a lot harder than it seems. All of a sudden you find yourself in a situation where you’re looking to an adult to advise you on what to do, only to realise you are the adult and you’re on your own. I think that’s why it’s so important to book things in for the future rather than attempt to live in the past. Uni Dave is loooooong gone. Uni Dave couldn’t cope with a hangover back then, but current day Dave would be hospitalised with what Uni Dave drank.

I was meaning to write about self care since before I even started archery but today seemed a perfect today unload my ramblings, as today is World Mental Health Day. I’m in my green T-shirt to help raise awareness, as is Isla.

Self care is a huge part of having good mental health. I’ve talked about it before but while Isla was really poorly and when she was due her operations, I really struggled with my mental health. Everything was so overwhelming. It still is, but it’s not as intense right now and things aren’t scary at the moment. While at both Alder Hey and at Great Ormond Street I chatted to a psychologist. If someone asked me, ‘did it help?’, yes it did but not in the ways you’d think. For me it was an outlet to vomit my feelings on to a total unjudgemental stranger who would listen and ask more probing questions to help me either arrive at my own peace or come to terms with my own insecurities. Don’t get me wrong, they did an amazing job and I’m so grateful I had that support there at that time. It was a life saver for me. Maybe literally. However, all they did was listen, like really listen, to what I had to say. It was dedicated time for me where someone would listen to what I was worried about and they didn’t try and make things better, they didn’t tell me I was being silly and not to worry, they just listened and made me think about why I felt that way and asked appropriate questions. I’m not saying anyone can do that, they were professionals and highly trained and very effective at their jobs… but anyone can listen right?

So today, I’m giving everyone reading this a little nudge – if you’re worried about something and want to talk, find someone to listen to you. It doesn’t have to be a professional; they are great, but someone who will give you time to speak from your heart. I know I have a lot on with Isla but I love my friends and I’m always here to lend an ear so please don’t use that as an excuse not to talk to me. If you’re reading this and haven’t seen me or spoken to me for ages, let’s sort that out. Let’s care about ourselves and care more about each other.

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