Today in the monkey house: What you don’t see


Today in the Monkey House, I have been alone. Or to be truthful I have been without husband and monkeys. This week we have the lovely Lenny visiting (pictured above) but he doesn’t count because he is less stress inducing than the others.

Being alone is a strange concept to me these days and I am always with one or all of my family. At times this is suffocating and I long for moments of complete peace and quiet. Today I have had that for a couple of hours. Sun shining house (sort of) clean (ish) and tidy (again ish). I chose not to do jobs but lace up and walk the hound.

As I walked out in the sunshine, I realised that I couldn’t relax. I had a knot in my stomach. A ball of anxiety that, no matter how many deep breaths I took, would not subside.

I felt OK otherwise. Relaxed and grateful for the rest, but I was already subconsciously thinking ahead. Mr LMR is at boot camp tonight and I am on bedtime duty alone. There is always something. A disagreement about stories, BM will want feeding or facilitating to sleep while I wrestle the big monkeys into pjs and negotiate teeth cleaning. Someone will always want a drink or a poo.

In many ways this is every moment of my life. Meeting the needs of others. Don’t get me wrong I love my children and I love every minute of their tiny little lives. Even the extremely crap bits. However, many of my anxieties stem from my desire to be a better parent, demonstrate I can keep all the balls in the air, paper over the cracks so no one sees them. How helpful is that?

This week is Depression Awareness Week 2016. You might have seen my hat pictures. #whatyoudontsee is trending on social media. To be clear, I am not sad today and in every day, however difficult, I find joy. I manage my mental health well. I have learned to accept it as part of me and work with it and no longer fight with it. It is for that reason I am sharing this today. I took the time to listen to my knot of anxiety, understand why I felt like I did and plan my strategy when bedtime comes.

I am well, I am strong and I am capable. But what you don’t see is my anxiety. The bubble of fear, when my monkeys are around that they will present me with a situation I cannot cope with. That from nowhere, the monster will take over and I will fail again. However, by accepting this as normal I know that the monster mayhem is significantly reduced. I can take a deep breath and brace myself. Some days are difficult but they can be managed.

By looking after myself, taking a break, running and accepting what you don’t see, I am well. If we all talked about “what you don’t see” it stops being scary and just becomes normal. It would be less terrifying to think that anyone might find out and easier to seek help. How great would that be?

Now where are those monkeys. I miss them.

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