Summer was long. So, so very long. Six weeks of time. Time to overthink. Time to play out every eventuality to its worst possible conclusion. At my last counselling session in the last week of the holidays, I was told I probably wasn’t in a fit mental state to return to school. Mainly because I can’t seem to do school, home and everything else without burning myself out and really giving my critical inner voice real ammunition.

I argued that I need to be busy. School has long been my safe place. There is no time to worry there. It’s the best place for me to be. She’s not convinced. I have a review scheduled in a couple of weeks.

But, while away, I have rediscovered my joy for reading. I can once again escape my inner voice to travel with someone else’s.

I also had a day, one single day of pure, unadultered calm. Not a shred of anxiety clouded my thoughts or blight the memories of that day.

It wasn’t a happy high. It wasn’t belly laughs. It was peaceful, calm and restful. It was the kind of day I’ve come to dread, as that’s when my inne voice usually goes into overdrive to tell me I should be somewhere else, with someone else, doing something useful.

But that day, nothing. My inner voice was silenced. Maybe it was the sun. Maybe it was the sound of the sea. Maybe it was being with my son and partner. Maybe it was knowing I hadn’t added data to my phone, so noone could call me. Maybe it was all of that combined.

What I do know is the music I listened to that day now has the magical ability to put me straight back there. It can calm me when I feel a panic attack building. I have it on my phone, in my car and in the school library, which incidentally, is where I first heard it, last term, on a YouTube compliation I had playing.

I also had a day where absolutely nothing worked. Where I couldn’t stop the panic attacks, the pain building to the point I wasn’t far off thinking that maybe it was indeed a heart attack rather than physical anxiety symptoms. But I know what caused it. I understand it, and me and my inner voice had the biggest argument we have ever had.

So, while leaving the house every day terrifies me, I have loved being back in school, being busy, giving my inner voice sonething else to think about. School isn’t calm and peaceful, but it’s purposeful, fun and challenging in the best possible way.

What I do need to do though, is find balance so I don’t run myself into the ground. And that means I need to allow myself to say no without beating myself up over it.

So, I’m going to. I’m going to make sure that I don’t do things I don’t have to because I think I should. My spare time is just that. It’s mine. It’s a precious commodity. And, quite frankly, my inner voice can just shut the funk up. It’s time to hit play, find my calm place and get some balance.

It’s OK not to be OK, it’s OK to ask for, and accept help. And, it’s OK to talk about it. This year, my aim is to get me back. I’ve found the strength I need to start climbing out of the well. I’m going to find my new balance, and I’m going to be OK.


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