Last week, as I smeared natural yoghurt all over a sanitary towel with a tea spoon, I had a feeling my life had taken a somewhat undignified turn. I also have a feeling that this is only the beginning. A UTI led to antibiotics, which led to raging thrush, which, along with the burning sensation when weeing and the fiery sensation in my vagina, led to my knew life anthem becoming Alicia Keys’ “This Girl is on Fire”. With question marks over what a pregnant person is allowed to take for thrush, the overwhelming suggestion was natural yoghurt. Something which, I have to say, did not work and which also means I will never be able to enjoy eating said diary product ever, again. Ever. Again.
Since my last post I’ve realised that there isn’t a huge amount of dignity in pregnancy and childbirth, and from what I hear, childrearing too. I am now completely okay with carrying a pot of my own urine around in my handbag. Sometimes I forget it’s in there and if I’m buying a magazine to pass the time in the doctor’s waiting room, end up placing it on the newsagent’s counter whilst rummaging for my wallet. I don’t even stay embarrassed for long when that sort of thing happens. In days gone by I would spend at least six months recalling the moment at random intervals and groaning with unease about the whole thing. Now, it’s forgotten pretty quickly.
Yesterday I had my 20 week scan and didn’t really even flinch as the male radiographer attacked my trouser waist band, shoving tissue paper down there and exposing the shrubberies in my lady garden. I’d had no idea that a scan would involve needing to have one’s bikini line waxed. But whilst Chris was a little alarmed at the scanning process, it didn’t really bother me. I’ve let go of silly things like thinking my vagina is a private place, where private things happen – and I haven’t even gotten to the birth yet!
But it’s all worth it because seeing my baby’s beautiful face on that screen is something I’ll never forget. My heart was beating so fast for the rest of the day. I’ve seen feet and hands and lips and eyes that all belong to the little person I’m growing inside me. It’s the most remarkable feeling in the world. And if dignified behaviour can’t be the reason I walk around with my head held high then that feeling certainly can!
Dignity be damned, I’ve got work to do!
…Back into the World!
The timeline for recovering from a breakdown is not a finite thing. It’s different for everyone. For me it’s taken a good two years (and by a good two years I mean nearly three) to get fully back in touch with the real world.
There is a buddhist saying that new beginnings are often disguised as painful endings. In my last blog I mentioned that I had lost a contract. Whilst this was very upsetting at the time it prompted me to go out into the big wide world in search for new employment. For the first time in two (nearly three) years I found myself employed in a place that was not my house. I now have to leave my safe home office and venture into the real world at least two days a week and surprisingly enough, I’m loving it!
I’m actually almost enjoying the days I spend not in my sheltered little office more than the ones I do. Well not all of them…
Last Monday I arrived at my place of work and had to open up for the first time. To make a short story relatively shorter security alarms AND panic alarms were set off, a fundamental piece of security equipped became irrevocably lost, causing two call-outs from two separate security companies, a whole recalibration of systems and the arrival of some mildly annoyed/amused policemen. All this happened on the same day that a kind passer-by informed me that my arse had been generously displayed to the park during my walk to work. My large M&S skin-tone knicker-ed bottom. Knickers that would put Bridget Jones to shame. Needless to say that when I got back home I had a very large sherry, a big cry and was in bed and fast asleep by 8pm. But the next day I was fine again.
So that was not a great day and one that wouldn’t have happened had I been in my home office. However, I’d take one terrible day like that if it means I get all the other perfectly lovely days I’ve had working in a place where other people are. I actually like being round people now. Even the ones that I don’t know! I really never thought this would happen. I thought that I’d be cooped up in my home office for the rest of my working life. That this would be the only way I’d be able to earn a living.
Despite all this I am glad that I’m not working away from home full-time, the days that I am working from home are really good recalibration days. The down days are as important as the up days. My advice to anyone else recovering from any kind of mental health breakdown would be to take baby steps. Sometimes it takes people two months to feel ready for the world again and sometimes it takes people five years. The important thing is to take your time and do it bit by bit. I’ve taken a couple of big steps forwards only to have to take several back again. This time I took some tentative steps and now I’m pretty excited about all my work! It’s a lovely, scary, odd, fun, tiring, but most of all hopeful feeling.