Recently I all but disappeared off of Instagram and most of my social media accounts. No biggie, I thought, I'll just go back to it in a bit. Cut to a week later and I still haven't managed a post. Alarm bells should have started ringing when I realised that I'd been managing to post consistently for a month - which just so happened to coincide with When I Was Feeling Good. Apparently, When I Start Feeling Bad, I stop doing the things I need to do for my business. This then makes me feel worse, which then spirals crazily into so many acts of self sabotage I can't even count them, from eating chocolate and sugar all day (when I know I hate doing that and that it leaves me disappointed in myself after), to leaving commissions until the very last minute (when I hate feeling like I'm not on top of things), to procrastinating all day long (check out this New York Times article on procrastination and why it isn't laziness, and can be linked to low self-confidence, self-worth, anxiety and bad mental health). Basically, I didn't notice it creeping up on me. I couldn't understand why I wasn't doing the things I needed to do. Then I read the NY Times article I just linked to above, and suddenly it clicked: I'd somehow managed to start spiralling back down into the Pit of Despair I swore I'd climbed out of a while back. Luckily, I've caught myself this time (rather late, but better late than never) and started trying to do something about it.
But how did this happen?
A few weeks ago I started panicking that I wasn't earning enough money. A small panic, but a panic nonetheless. This then led to me desperately hunting for a job. I couldn't find a part time job that was local to me, and I wanted one that would not be taxing, after all, keeping my business afloat is hard enough!
My CV looks pretty good right now, I've done a lot, and I'm not afraid to say I've done it well - I am proud of what I have achieved. However, this had resulted in zero callbacks for the types of small, local part time jobs I wanted. I like to think it's because my CV looked overqualified (I hope!).
Anyway, I panic-found a job. I'm not going to tell you what in. All I will say is that it was a Bad Choice. The job turned into a bit of an uncontrollable nightmare within 2 weeks. During those 2 weeks, my mental health, which was (now I recognise it) already declining a bit, began to spiral quicker and quicker. When I was at home I couldn't concentrate on doing my art, because I was thinking about this job, and because of this I made big mistakes. When I made these mistakes I'd beat myself up, my self-confidence sank lower and I stopped working almost altogether, barely keeping my commissions going, failing on Instagram and at the blog I'd sworn I was going to work harder on. This in turn made me feel worse: why was I so lazy? why was I making so many mistakes? Why am I so clumsy? My internal negative voice kicked in BIG TIME. I ate all of the chocolate and sugar to make myself feel better, I put on weight, I stopped exercising totally, and it made me feel a whole lot worse. I sank, I sank, and then I sank some more. Until yesterday, when I read the New York Times article, sent in the Hiut Denim newsletter (a small denim company working to save livelihoods in their small town in Wales). A small thing in their newsletter, a big change for me (Thank you Hiut Denim). I recognised myself in the article. This triggered a long look at myself. I took an afternoon of rest. I decided to write this blog and purge these negative emotions. I decided I would write a list. Get a couple of things done. Go from there.
I wrote 2 weeks ago that I was looking after myself gently, and over the last few weeks I've got into an exercising routine using the awesome Fitness Blender website. I wasn't feeling good at first, but it was because I was being so unkind to myself. (My internal voice demands perfection, and it is exhausting to fight against that.) Now this article has triggered something.
It's a small thing, to write a newsletter. If you care about it enough, it takes a long time (mine can take around 4 hours to write), but it's a small thing in the end. But this small thing: including a link because they want to give you more than just an endless bombardment of deals and BUY NOWs!, has made such a huge difference to me. I hope that my newsletters can do the same for just one person.
I hope that I'm climbing back up now, hand over hand, one step at a time. Recognising it has been so important. I hope that, if you're suffering, you have a way to recognise those triggers. And perhaps you need help to find them. Doesn't matter, go get help. There is no shame in it, no shame in talking. Being 'sensitive' (as people have so often disparagingly remarked that I am) isn't a bad thing (check out this TED talk on the gentle power of sensitive people.) Keeping it all bottled up inside isn't the right thing to do. Suffering alone is the bad thing. Find help. It'll get better, even if it takes some time, it will get better, I promise.