Sometimes (well most of the time) I write this blog to help me put what is going on in my head in some order. This is one of those blogs.
I knew this time of year was always going to be difficult after Mum died, granted also it has only been 3 months since she left us, so it was always going to be more acute this year. I also expected Foggy (my Black Dog for those of you who maybe new to my blog) to attempt to make a return. Saying that he still took me by surprise.
He made his dramatic return during my eldest son’s Graduation, a wonderful day celebrating his success in achieving his degree in Music Journalism. Myself and Lisa were so proud of him, we were all there. Lisa, Jack, Olivia (Ben’s partner) and myself. There was someone missing, someone who was so proud of all of her Grandchildren and burst with pride when he told her his results back in the summer. Now I was expecting to be very emotional as because of this, and that was fine, everyone expected this emotion and all of the family were waiting for my tears. My family are very well aware of my emotional nature, and will often anticipate this, especially Jack, who seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to recognising people’s emotions. Jack during the day stayed close to me throughout, just letting me know he had me, he is truly an exceptional young man. As I said this was expected by myself and my family, what I was not prepared for was my anxiety.
It started the day before when we were travelling to Manchester, I was wound so incredibly tight. Lisa was too we both felt nervous and worried. I was worried about keeping my emotions under check, I was worried about sleeping away from home, about being away from home, I was worried about Lisa, about Ben and about Jack. I was hyperalert, it is only now as I reflect on it that I realise how much of an impact it was having on me physically and emotionally. It was a glorious day, a truly wonderful celebration and I was so proud of Ben, not just for Graduating but for being such a fantastic young man. I just wished I was more relaxed and less anxious, so I could have enjoyed the moment more. What I do have are the photographs and video of a grinning super proud young man, that once the memory of my anxiety fades will remind me of what a special day that was. Ben, Gran would have burst with pride if she had been there, in fact I suspect me and her would have made quite a scene.
Since that day I have been on full alert, my shoulders, neck and hands have been tense, I have a constant background headache, and worried about everything. I have been waking up worried, not about anything in particular, just worried about everything, that might potentially be worth worrying about, like have I missed something at work, or had I upset someone. Any feedback I have received has been perceived as a personal attack, that Foggy has used to remind me how useless I am and how this confirms that I am not up to my job and I am a failure as a man. This is what I am waking up to every morning. Most of the time as my day progresses this starts to settle down, I try not to push Foggy away, I let him say his piece and sit with the pain it causes me. This will often be enough and Foggy will let then let me go about my day, without his interference, however he will make sure I am on full alert just in case. Anything that could be taken as a threat is either acted on by Foggy immediately or is stored for comment in the early hours of the morning.
I have been here before, Foggy for many years was a regular companion providing a running commentary on my life. It took me a long time to recognise who he was, and that he was symptom, a reaction to major events in my life, and it took me even longer to learn how to live with him and quieten his voice. Now he is back with a vengeance, this time however I recognised him quite quickly, not as quick as I would have liked but that is how he works, he is a sneaky bastard. He may be back, but I know I have the tools to manage him. The problem is managing him at the height of his powers is painful and distressing. I have to let this anxiety happen, I have to continue to allow myself to grieve, and understand the importance of this grief. I know if I do this my anxiety will subside and Foggy will fade back to his shadows.
So if you know me, be patient with me, expect I might be defensive, I might be slightly less sociable than normal. If you resonate with some of what I have said, if you feel something similar take comfort in knowing it is normal, but don’t suffer alone, talk to people you trust about how you feel. If you continue to struggle seek professional help from your GP or via NHS Direct