Welcome all, to the penultimate week of my What Makes You Happy? guest series. As I’m sure you already know, one of the reasons I blog about my mental health is to try and help others feel less alone. When I started this series, I hoped that we would hear from some people who have experienced depression and anxiety as well, as it can be those who find it most difficult to feel happiness, and it is those same people who can give hope to anyone suffering in silence who might be reading this series. As such, I would like to thank today’s guest for being very open and honest with us about their journey and what brings them here today…
I have a blog called The Improving Mum, a parenting blog which covers the daily joys and trials of parenting as well as talking about how moving to the Isle of Man earlier this year has changed our lives.
Ten years ago I was diagnosed with mild depression as a result of the abusive relationship I had with my father. I was prescribed antidepressants, which I took for a while, but despite my high school promising all kinds of support and access to a counsellor, I didn’t receive anything. Four and a half years ago, the relationship finally imploded, and my father and I haven’t spoken since. It’s been an incredibly challenging time. I spend months feeling fine about it all, but the feelings of pain, disappointment and guilt always take over again after a while.
In February we moved to the Isle of Man. The big move coupled with having a six month old baby and becoming a stay-at-home-mum meant my life changed dramatically in a relatively short space of time. I found myself struggling to leave the house, and when I did I would take a long detour rather than walk down a street where someone was walking in the opposite direction. I was scared of what people would think of me and became convinced people I met didn’t like me. I eventually went to a very sympathetic GP who diagnosed me with social phobia and anxiety. He prescribed some mild anti-anxiety medication, but most importantly he listened to me.
A few months on, the anxiety is still there but I feel much more able to cope with it on a daily basis. The big change, though, is that I’ve decided to finally face my demons and have been referred to counselling to work through my issues surrounding my relationship with my father. It’s taken a long time, and it’s been more difficult than I imagined to even get to this point, but I finally feel strong enough to deal with it and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to start working towards well and truly putting the past behind me.
So, what makes me happy?
- Music – I’ve always loved music, and actually worked in the music industry for a few years before we moved. I love how it can really set the tone for a situation, change the way your feeling or bring up memories from the past. I have a few go-to songs depending what mood I’m in to either help me remember good times or make me feel better.
- Family time – Any precious hours we can spend all together are amazing, whether we just play in the house, go for a walk or visit a new place. It doesn’t really matter, just spending time as a family makes me feel whole.
- My son – My goodness, I can’t imagine my life without him now. OK, he’s a typical toddler – awkward, stubborn, thinks he can do everything himself and can throw an almighty tantrum – but when he smiles and laughs or gives me a big cuddle or kiss, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Everything suddenly feels so much better.
- Good friends – I’ve moved away from all my friends, and I’ve found it very challenging to make new ones, but I finally feel like I have a couple of people here who I could turn to if I needed a friend. Especially now I’m living somewhere I don’t know anyone, I’ve realised just how important good friends are.
- A walk by the sea – I’ve only been able to do this for a few months, but I think it’s one of my favourite things about moving. The sea breeze can really blow the cobwebs away and help me think more clearly, and while some could view looking out to sea from a small island as being lonely or isolating, I prefer to think of the possibilities that are out there.
- Writing – I only took up writing a few months ago, although it’s something I always enjoyed. I’ve found it very cathartic and it helps me to arrange my thoughts and feelings in a way I can cope with them more clearly.
So, there it is. Even when it’s been a bad week, there are always good things to be found in the darkness.