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Friday, 22 April 2016

Resetting. Resting. Not Writing. A First Blog Post After a Month of Work... And Rest

It's Friday night, when I usually write my blogs, and you may or may not have noticed that I haven't written here for a while. Give that I am a mental health advocate, I have to remember that I can't (or shouldn't) over stretch myself. If I do I can't write blogs anymore, or campaign, or go out for walks or whatever. It becomes too hard. Unfortunately it is the blogging and the walking and the 'whatever' that I need. I could replace it with the words 'work life balance'.

Instead of writing this I could be working still, but there has now come a time after four days back at work when I needed a break. And that's what I've been doing, by the way: working... And taking a break. Ever since I finished the whirlwind of Thoroughly Modern Millie I've been working and then recovering, and actually a month or so before that too. Some of what I have done at work recently has been particularly exacting on my energy levels, and I was out of the country working too. I don't know if you've ever worked away from home for long, but it gets easy to let working hours leech into what is usually non-working time. It gets even easier when you are in another country. Other people, people that you know and love, are thousands of miles away, for one thing, but for another thing, they're not on the same time zone as you.

I find myself working beyond my working hours sometimes, then, yes I admit it. I also admit that I can't then do other things always, like writing this blog. I don't want to give up on talking about my mental health and sharing what it's like to work and live at eat and sleep with it, while it's with me. But I have to tell the truth, and this is the truth: sometimes I am too tired and not well enough to do everything that I want to. I have to sacrifice something. And what can I sacrifice? I need to pay the bills. I need to keep my job, therefore. I need to complete my job and then I need to rest so that I can do it again.

It's not an interesting or a fun story, but it's the truth. I can sacrifice my blogging which takes time away from those two things - working and resting. It means I keep my job and that is one less thing to worry about, along with the ability to pay my bills.

But it does mean that I can't do this thing that I absolutely love the most. I love, love, love writing and writing about this. It's me time at the end of the week and it's not just 'me' time, it's reflection, it's creative, and it is active rest. It's frustrating not to be able to do this. I have felt angry at myself, these past four weeks while I haven't blogged. I didn't even write a blog to explain - because I was either resting or working. I didn't even say 'hello'.

Actually that's not true, I tried to blog a few times and wrote a few paragraphs here and there on this and that. I did that four weeks ago, and two weeks ago, and I'm determined that this one will be finished. Today, never mind if I don't fit in the pictures at the end - which is enjoyable but time-consuming. I will write.

I've been in India working and then in the USA 'playing'... actually resting and playing. Yep, I've been doing the Mars Bar thing. And now I'm back to work, and back to blogging and campaigning. I'm in the country. I am feeling a bit stressed at the end of the week, feeling like I've done quite a bit, which is just the tip of an iceberg of oncoming work, campaigning and other activities coming up. This is why sometimes I have to step away from it all and rest totally.

Pressing "reset" is sometimes the only thing I can try to do to keep going.

I am sorry that I haven't been blogging, but authentically, I had to not. I had to stop everything else because otherwise I would have been ill. I wouldn't have been able to rest (facing facts I've always been completely dreadful at resting and it is still a huge effort, and an accomplishment if I manage to relax). If I kept blogging all the time and never admitted that I was feeling the strain this wouldn't be a true blog about what living with mental health challenges is really like. So I stopped.

I started campaigning this week again, speaking yesterday evening and early this morning at Harvey Nichols to their head office and London store staff about what it is like to have depression and to say it out loud, and why the help that Mind charity provides is so vital - literally - to sustaining people through hard times, from the moment when they realise they or someone else is struggling through everything that comes after it.

Harvey Nichols has established a corporate partnership with Mind and will support them for the next two years. What makes me especially proud is that this super cool, classy customer service and consumer goods supplier par excellence asked its people which charity they wanted to support, and they chose Mind. Good choice! Thanks to them for having me to speak to them about my story and why it's important for us all to support ourselves and everyone around us facing mental health difficulties. It was inspiring to see the enthusiasm for getting involved and making a difference on people's faces today.

This is why I needed to rest. So that I can continue to use my voice. To speak aloud to one person or a room or a television camera, or tap my fingers on the keys and tap louder, to talk about mental health.

It's now twenty five minutes since I started typing and my heart and mind and body feel more relaxed and gladder, twenty five times more so. Next week I plan to write more - though some blog posts, if I finish the ones that are unfinished right now, will be out of sync with the timeline. I do have more to say, of course... But now it's time to rest again.

Stay in touch, and take care of yourselves. x


  1. This was such a good reminder to me! Balance. We work to support our passion, since our passions don't pay money. lol. You're doing a good thing. Not just for others, but for your own well-being. Thanks for posting on Twitter. That's how I found this.