Tag Archives: socialising

This is a new day.

This time last week, I felt pretty rubbish. The counselling I’d been waiting for for five months had fallen through after I found out that my counsellor and I knew each other professionally. That evening, I told my partner (P) that I was thinking of giving up on counselling. I felt that that even if they found me a new counsellor who I don’t know, I may run into them professionally at some point in the future. I would find uncomfortable and compromising.

Our conversation went badly, to say the least. Given that I’d admitted that I’d also stopped my medication, P was anxious about me abandoning treatment altogether. He tried to engage me in a ‘rational’ discussion about pros and cons, and challenged me on whether it’s really such an issue if I know my counsellor professionally. I clammed up and the conversation ended when I burst into tears. I felt like he thought I was overreacting and that he was making no effort to understand how difficult the experience that afternoon had been. I felt isolated and alone. The discussion may have been helpful in a few days time, but a few hours after the abandoned appointment, I needed someone to listen to how upset I was.

The following day was a friend’s wedding, which was lovely, but socialising with lots of people I barely know is draining and at weddings I always drink far too much free wine, leaving me feeling even lower for the next couple of days.

I started the week with a plan to call Mind and take myself off the waitlist. I figured it would be weeks before another evening slot came up anyway and I didn’t want to risk the blurring of my personal and professional life again. But before I got around to it, the counselling coordinator called me with an offer for a slot with a different female counsellor, starting next week. It caught me by surprised that this felt like good news, and I accepted the appointment. I start my 12 weeks of counselling with Moira* on Thursday, and I’ve been feeling more positive since then.

And I got some more good news: a job interview. It’s a dream job and I’d submitted an application with the attitude of ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’, but not expecting to ever hear from them. But I’ve got an interview. And if I was successful, I would be much less likely to run into my counsellor in that role. I know it’s still a long shot, but it reminded me that there are other jobs out there and that abandoning counselling because of my job is probably not the most rational solution to my problems.

I walked out of work on Friday evening, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. I was listening to Sally Seltmann, and with this song, I felt like things might just get better.**

 

* Still not her real name

** On the borderline is a pretty problematic song. Seltmann says that she wrote it as an ode to Princess Diana, who apparently had BPD. Whether Diana had BPD or not, the lyrics suggest Seltmann’s complete misunderstanding of what it feels like to have problems with low mood, seeming to prescribe to the notion of ‘drag yourself out of bed by thinking happy thoughts.’ Nevertheless, for some reason, it worked for me on Friday so I’m putting it here anyway.

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#TimetoTalk

I few days ago, I posted a tweet that got quite positive feedback, using the hashtag for the Time to Change campaign #TimetoTalk.

Screen shot 2013-01-27 at 14.51.48

Over the past couple of months, the process of talking to my partner, seeking professional help and starting this blog has increased my confidence about talking to my friends.

The friend from my tweet, C, was aware I was experiencing low mood from a brief conversation we had back in August. She’d said that she’d also been feeling low, but neither of us had spoken about it since. Even though she’d disclosed, to me she always seems strong and able to cope and I felt embarrassed to tell her that I wasn’t coping.

C has been away for a few weeks and during that time I’d finally disclosed my mental health problems to a mutual friend, S. I didn’t ask her to, but I knew S would probably tell C.

On Wednesday evening, I’d just left my last meeting and was heading back to the office. C rang my mobile and I ignored the call. In the office, a colleague mentioned that C had popped by to say hi. Again, I ignored it. I was supposed to be going to an event but decided I couldn’t face seeing people and headed home. Halfway home, C texted that she had another commitment but would be coming for the end of the event and did I want to go for a cup of tea after? I started typing that I wasn’t going, but then told myself that I need my friends, forced myself to change my mind and texted back to say that would be perfect.

The event was inspiring, but most of all, a cup of tea with C afterwards was exactly what I needed. She gave me the space to talk, but left it open for me to make the decision as to whether I wanted to.

C: So how have you been?

Me: I’ve been okay. Have you spoken to S?

C: Yes.

And then she just waited and let me speak. And when I eventually moved onto another topic, she didn’t press it, but moved on with me and we had a laugh and a chat like we normally do.

C had sent me two emails earlier in the week that I’d ignored, and I later realised she’d messaged me on Skype too. I also found out that she wasn’t planning to go to the event at all, but my colleague had said I’d be there, so she went specifically to see me. I’d ignored her several times and yet she persisted. I feel lucky to have a friend who is secure enough in herself to not take it personally, and who cares enough about me to push the issue.

Which brings me back to #TimetoTalk. There’s a similar campaign in Australia, called R U OK?, which I’ve always disliked. People have asked whether I’m okay before and it always makes me defensive. It makes me feel that it’s obvious that I’m not coping. When someone asks, “Are you okay?”, what I hear is, “What’s wrong?”, and that’s never a helpful question.

Time to Change have created some films for the #TimetoTalk campaign. I particularly like this one, Isaac and Aronda. Aronda says, “I’d say, get the kettle on. Create a space where you can just focus on that person and ask how they’re feeling.” That’s exactly what C did for me, and it worked.

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