Seesaw

Milhouse trying to use a seesaw on his own.

Not #weeknotes but a short interlude

Hi, I’m back. How are you? Did you do anything fun while I was away?

I’ve been on holiday (did I mention that I hadn’t had a holiday this year? A week in Cornwall at the end of August was my holiday, and let me tell you, almost nine months is too long to wait for a holiday — I don’t recommend it.)

Cornwall was a bit soggy, but it was still nice and involved pasties, cream teas (#JamFirst), fish and chips and ice cream which is all you could want from a holiday I suppose.

Pasty and chips. Cornwall Day 1

When I got back I took some time off to pack my little one off to school.

My little one needs extra care. What does that mean? Well I don’t really know, I just made it up.

I haven’t mentioned it up to now because I’m not sure how to say something that I’m not sure I really know. It’s also not about work, except, it’s totally about work because we are whole human beings with lives and families and other things going on, and it’s important to remember that.

This is a picture of a pigeon in what looks like a straight jacket attached to a parachute, it’s from a book called Weird War One and you can buy it if you want.

My little one loves going to school it but it’s clear that he is behind. We don’t have a diagnosis, will he catch up? What’s the problem? We don’t know. We’ve had appointments and referrals and services involved with him for months, but progress is slow. So slow. We fought to get him grommets to fix his hearing, but that wasn’t a silver bullet.

His going to school is the culmination of months of worry. The school are giving him extra help but at some point they need budget to care for him. So what happens next? I don’t know. Why am I talking about my child on Medium? Does that make me comfortable? I’m not sure I know.

(Milhouse groaning)

Our plans for childcare haven’t worked out because our plans for an after school club won’t work because he is exhausted and it seems unfair to ask so much of him. Why am I saying this here? It’s hard for me to pinpoint because it’s personal, but this is also my safe space, and my community and my support.

So what then? Well I guess this is all just scene setting. This is the background noise over which I’ve been struggling to hear for the past year. It’s the unspoken thing colouring all of my weeknotes up to this point, as well as some of the decisions I’ve made relating to work.

When you add more general life things (my other half having new treatment for a long term illness, changing jobs, moving from part time to full time, not taking a holiday for too long) well, it feels a bit like there’s been too much stacked on one side of my work life balance seesaw.

A huge wooly mammoth pokemon launches smaller pokemon on the other side of a seasaw high into the air.

I’ve also written before about my anxiety and mental health. With any luck you can imagine how some of this will have affected that without me writing too much about it. If you’re unclear here is a visual representation:

A woman being thrown from a seesaw which is one of those gifs that feels really cruel and I wouldn’t normally include here, except that it is perfect.

Even though I have every intention to be open and honest about my mental health and strongly believe that it’s ok not to be ok, I’m struggling to know how to write this.

I have, at times, cited mummy guilt, which is a pervasive and toxic element in all of this. If I hadn’t been working full time, if I had been at home, would my child be better, be ok? Is this because I’m really a terrible, selfish mother? How dare I go to work. Is it because I’m a woman?

Is that a helpful way of looking at things? Almost definitely not. But that doesn’t stop it being the persistent thought. Perhaps it nags me more than other people? And is it “just” mummy guilt, or a symptom of something else?

Ralph Wiggum trying to swim even though he’s tethered to the side of the pool.

In fact, I have felt like this for several months, but I haven’t done anything about it because I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.

A crunch came a few weeks ago when somebody said to me “The first time I met you, you seemed really sad.” I was thrown because it didn’t fit with my view of myself. Awkward, certainly. Anxious, sometimes. Lacking confidence, often. But never sad.

It was a reflection that I hadn’t expected because I think sad conjures up grief, or a sad event. I’ve never considered that the persistent voices I hear in my head that tell me things might be something else.

A budgie balancing on a tennis ball.

So recently I ran a google search for “high-functioning depression” to see if that was a thing, apparently it is, and there you go, I’ve gone from pasties to depression in a relatively short blog. Sorry about that.

The long and short of it is that logistically to make looking after my little one work I’ve had to reduce my hours drastically to part time. I made a request a week ago and my team have been really supportive and quick to help me.

I’m hoping that the additional time at home and space will help me to work through some of the above. I’m not sure what that means for weeknotes at the moment, but it’s likely I’ll return with a different structure and approach for a bit, to help me out with it.

Happy pokemon on a seesaw.

As always, if anyone out there is going through anything like this and wants to chat, I’ll do everything I can to be a pair of sympathetic ears for you. Please don’t suffer alone.

Thanks for reading.

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