In short, it is bliss – there is nothing I could want for, and to look at it is exactly as I had pictured it.
When I thought about this break, I let my vivid imagination work through all the details and I definitely did a great job. I am trying to practice positivity and gratitude on a daily basis, and so I’d conjured up an idyllic break away; on which I would sleep until I woke without the aid of an alarm before whiling away the days writing. I would then spend the evenings getting dressed up, and heading out for dinner dates with my gorgeous husband.
What actually happened was that I arrived at the resort and immediately I was on edge. I felt so clunky, but I couldn’t work out why. I was shattered, I didn’t want to write, I felt guilty, I thought I was being lazy, and I kept waiting for the moment when it would fall into place. All the time I was thinking “this isn’t right. This isn’t how it is meant to be. What have I got so wrong?”
In hindsight (as is always the case) it was unavoidable. I'd been extra busy in the weeks leading up to us going away – and I had been pushing myself. I lost track of the times I said things like “I just need to make it until our holiday” or “I’ll catch up with myself and rest while I’m away”.
In my attempts to be as I thought I should be, I’d forgotten that I can’t just “rest” or “relax” somewhere new. I hadn’t been kind enough to myself, or remembered that when I am in new surroundings I panic - I have a whole host of new things to take in, worry about and process. Without knowing it, my mind pings different thoughts and images around, and it is incredibly draining.
This is all text book behavior for me, and it’s interesting for me to now sit and reflect on why I hadn’t taken any of it into account. Perhaps I didn’t feel like I had the right to struggle when I was in such a lovely setting. Maybe I thought I could overcome my demons. The stark reality though is that my mental health challenges do not discriminate. They are not just part of my life when I am in some grotty threatening environment. They do not only show themselves in a situations that other “healthy” people may feel uneasy in. They are there for me to work through every single day, and sometimes they defeat me – even when I am sitting in the most glorious settings.
I read in one of the in-flight magazines on the way over that the average person takes 4 days to get into “holiday mode”, and once again with hindsight it is not surprising that I wasn’t able to effortlessly make the transition. Perhaps it's time to face that one of my biggest challenges is acknowledging that I can’t just “be” anymore.
One afternoon I was so tired of battling with my own mind, so I decided to lay down and listen to an audiobook. Having someone speaking at me for a few hours was the white noise I needed. I cleared my mind of “should” thoughts, and I was suddenly absolutely shattered. It was like I had allowed everything to crash down over me; the mental barrier I had been holding up was a floodgate for complete emotional and mental exhaustion. The impact was so extreme that I couldn’t even function in a conversation with my husband. We grabbed something to eat and by 7.30pm we were reading in bed.
This can be the problem with mental illness. What you consider to be “the norm” is never really normal. When you think you have it all figured out, a curve ball comes flying at you, and it can really floor you.
If one of us was on holiday with a broken leg, we wouldn’t think twice about discussing what helps to make it easier. We wouldn’t worry about having people help us, or putting people out. So why is it that we try to “make do” with a non-physical health complaint?
I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that the more we speak about things the greater the understanding amongst us can be.
I am not so naïve as to think that there will be some people who can’t help but think “what is there to complain about, she’s on holiday, she just needs to chill”, but that is why I want to put this out there. If it challenges that mindset in just one person, then it is worthwhile.
While I know that a simple blog post cannot change the world, or take away so many people’s pain; I do promise that I will keep doing what I can. No one out there is ever alone.
Sending lots of love
BuBakes is committed to reducing the stigma attached to Mental Health, and personally donates 25p for every order received to MIND. This is kindly matched by three generous supporters, meaning a £1 donation is made per order. If you would like to find out more about MIND, or make a donation you can do so here.