Good health is something we all want — physical and mental health. I have never had any major illnesses in my life, but I’ve had several times where my mental health took a hit. Times where I felt I had lost myself and needed to find my way back.
A visit to my father
The first time I ended up needing the help of a psychologist to find my way back was back in 2007 when I visited my father in South Africa. What hit me squarely between the eyes was that my father had no photos of my kids and me in his house. There were collages of different photos of my brother and his family, as well as of my two step-sisters.
In the weeks after my return, I was constantly teary-eyed. Sad. Down. About six weeks after I had seen my dad, all I could do was cry. Master T ushered me to the doctor, who referred me to a psychologist. For the second session, I had to write a letter to my father. It must’ve been the third or fourth session when she lightened my load considerably. She said my father didn’t have any photos of me in his house, because he didn’t want to be confronted daily with what he had done wrong.
The reason she said that was because in the letter I wrote about things that happened when I was pregnant with my daughter. It helped. A couple of sessions later, I had found my happiness again, and had a bit more knowledge about myself.
Burning myself out
I’m a hard worker, whether it’s for my own projects or for my boss. I used to have problems saying no, which is why at my work, whenever new things had to be done, they landed on my desk. There came a time where I did the work of three people — running the admin department, doing the finances and taking care of human resources. At the same time, I got caught up between two bosses who didn’t really see eye to eye.
All of that was a recipe for a burnout. The first two weeks I was at home, guilty feelings consumed me. At the end of those two weeks, I was going to have a conversation with one of the external HR people. That was to happen on a Friday, and I decided to log in, check my mail, and go back to work on Monday. I opened my mail, and all I could do was cry. That was the final blow. I went to the doctor, yet again had a referral to the same psychologist I saw five years before.
Four and a half months later, I was back to work, but it took another year before I was finally done with my sessions at the psychologist. One thing I had learned then: I am allowed to say ‘no’. I never allowed them to dump any tasks on me, and I strategically extracted myself from the position between those two bosses.
Totally lost in grief
The worst shape I ever was in was when my mom passed away. When we learned that she was ill, I pushed all my feelings away to support her. I was with her 24/7 the last eleven days of her life. I watched her blow out her last breath.
I cried a lot in the months after her death, but somehow I didn’t get to my grief. About a year after my mom passed, I had very dark thoughts, and realized I needed help. I went to the doctor (we are not allowed to go for professional help without a referral) and he mentioned that with all I went through, I am suffering from PTSD. He gave me the referral, and I went to see a grief counselor, who by using EMDR finally ‘unlocked’ my grief.
Once more, after being lost, I found my way back.
Then 2021 happened
What can I say about 2021. So much happened. A brief summary:
- My son’s mental health meltdown started in November 2020. Before that, actually, but that is when I learned about it, when he ended up in a psychosis. He did numerous suicide attempts, of which thankfully the last was at the end of May 2021, when he ended up in hospital for two nights. His relationship ended, thankfully, and only after that I learned how abusive the girl was. Mentally, physically, and emotionally abusive. She has broken my son. He is a mess and has a long way to go to be as strong as he was before he met her. If he ever gets there again.
- Master T’s health. The stroke, the cancer. When he’s tired, his speech is still slightly affected because of the stroke, but it’s the cancer that’s keeping him tired always, losing weight, not in the mood for anything.
- My own health: My son’s situation already weight heavily on me, then Master T’s was added. My manager feared I was heading for a burnout, so I cut back on work, going from full days to half days. Then my back played up, leaving me crying myself to sleep for weeks. Thanks to the physiotherapist, the stress in my back is manageable, and my daily walks definitely help for that too.
- Finding my daughter’s father was the most happy event of 2022, but also unleashed a bunch of emotions, things I need to deal with, and which will find their way into my writing.
Working on finding my way back
I’m strong. I know I am. And because I know this, I know I will find my way back again. I have the help of a coach and she is teaching me a lot about myself. She helps me to find my way back to my child responses, as those help me to deal with things from the past too.
I have no idea what 2022 will bring us, but one thing is clear: I’m in the middle of all this, supporting everyone. It’s a lonely position, but as long as I stay mindful of needing help too, and accepting it, I will not lose myself again.
© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay