I watched Casualty on Saturday night. One of the characters was a woman who was caring for her severely autistic teenage son and not getting much in the way of breaks from the full on nature of it all. She ended up abandoning him in the city centre. He got run over and she got drunk and fell down a flight of stairs. When she arrived in A&E she claimed to be a single woman until she was found out.
I have no intention of abandoning my children and pretending they don’t exist! I have no intention of getting drunk and falling down a flight of stairs either. But what stopped me in my tracks somewhat is the feeling of total identification I found I had with this woman. I found myself finishing her sentences for her. Nodding in total empathy. So much so that One, afterwards, said in a worried voice ‘You’re not going to run away from us, are you?’
No. No, I’m not.
I’m a very introverted person, ideally needing frequent alone time to recharge my batteries. In our current situation, that is simply impossible. I don’t mind at all, it’s just the way it is, and I love work and I love being with my children, caring for their various quirks and needs. But with a complete lack of the alone time my personality craves, coupled with a long series of late nights trying to do all the essentials to run a household, and never ever catching up, I can feel myself starting to break.
Last night I dreamed that I ran completely out of cope and had a breakdown. And I woke up feeling slightly wistful. Time for some serious insanity prevention!
I’m not sure how much I can feasibly do about the late nights at the moment. There really aren’t enough hours in the day to fit everything in. When I do finally fall into bed, head busy and full of the conversations I’ve just been having, worry about children, money, home, everything, feeling stressed and annoyed with myself that I still haven’t washed up, or made the next day’s lunches, and knowing I’ll have it all to do the next morning, and the alarm is going off at 5.30 and it’s already midnight, I can’t sleep straight away and let myself drift off playing games on my phone with podcasts in my ears. It’s often well after midnight by the time I go properly to sleep. I know I’m (mal)functioning on far too little rest.
However, I’ve come up with a cunning plan for the alone time. On Sunday afternoon I was so, so stressed, shouting at everyone, almost in tears over the state of the house, which as usual was a metaphor for the state of my mind, that I took matters into my own hands, took charge of myself and sent myself out for a walk. All by myself. I walked three miles, listening to the podcasts I usually only get chance to listen to at bedtime, putting one foot in front of the other in the fresh air.
Exercise, endorphins and alone time. Talking to nobody. Walking where I wanted to walk, in control of where I wanted to take myself.
It did me so much good.
After tea tonight I went out again. This time I did a much shorter route. I was out for 20 minutes and walked just over a mile. That’s something I can make time for most evenings, I reckon. In that space of time the children barely noticed I was gone, yet I had the much needed space my mind is desperate for, as well as the exercise my body is craving (I’ve never been so inactive since I started work. I drive everywhere now, because there is never time to walk. I’m putting on weight quickly at the moment and my knees are protesting even more than usual. And my clothes don’t fit. However, I’m far more bothered about my mental health than my physical health just now – any physical benefits are just an added bonus!).
Having blogged, I now see it is 9.15pm. Now I need to wash up the tea pots, make tomorrow’s lunches, do a quick audit of what we already have in the cupboards and freezer, and complete the supermarket order online to collect it tomorrow evening while I’m out taking kids to and from youth club. I have promised someone I’ll scan in some documents and email them, so that has to be done before bed too. I will fall into bed, mind racing, and wake up with the ridiculously early alarm tomorrow morning, mind racing immediately, to start all over again.
The prospect of another 20 minutes out of the house after tea tomorrow, pounding the pavements with my trainers, listening to my own choice of podcasts in my ears, and speaking to absolutely nobody, is already filling me with a tiny bit of hope.
I hope I can make this a regular part of every day. I’ll let you know when I start feeling the benefits! Till then, I can’t quite imagine when I will next have time to blog…