Welcome to a very delayed New Year post! With February just around the corner, I’m wondering how many of us are ready to say goodbye to a long and tiring January. I am incredibly happy to see the back of January. It’s one of my least favourite months of the year, and I find it draining on my mental health. But it’s also a month where we all get back into the swing of things, mix and mingle with colleagues again after the Christmas break and pass along all the latest coughs and colds.
If like me you’ve been struck with the 2020 lurge, I hope you’re well on the mend. I also wanted to say that it’s ok if your mental health has struggled while you’re feeling under the weather. Here are a few of the things I’ve been working through during this bout of physical illness that I haven’t experienced in a good few years.
When you’ve been in an office full of vibrant characters all day, living alone and having that peace is lovely. Take yourself out of the office, or away from physically seeing people, and the quiet isn’t quite as pleasant anymore. Usually being in my own company doesn’t affect me too much. I’m a creature of habit and like my space – but if I feel social, I’ll make the most of it. However, when you’re ill the quiet leaves you alone with your thoughts a little too much as you can’t physically do anything other than lie in bed and stare at the ceiling for days on end. The physical illness then becomes a mental battle too and raises issues of loneliness that might not be so prevalent when you’re functioning as a healthy human being. Your physical and mental health are very much intertwined and combating that loneliness and isolation when you’re ill becomes increasingly tricky. If you’ve got a partner, housemate or live with family – count your blessings. Having people around you when you feel so rough picks you up no end (even if all you do is sit in silence because it’s too tiring to do anything else). I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve felt so rough I’ve retreated to my mums for some TLC and cuddles.
January is always a tough month. It feels like it goes on forever. It’s no wonder that by the end of the month we’re struggling to do the things we want to do. Exhaustion is very much a physical illness; it’s not just all in your head. You can take the vitamins and supplements to boost yourself up and restore your energy levels, and that might work for some. But exhaustion is also a mental game. It comes from the never-ending cycle of overthinking, getting back into a working routine, life stresses and much more. So, if you’re feeling exhausted, you are not alone! Take that time out for yourself to rest and recoup. Sleep is your friend, but too much of it can also make you feel even more tired. There’s a balancing act, but it’s essential to do what’s best and right for you to take care of yourself.
That feeling of longing for what once was can creep up on you at any time. More so since my mental health relapse last year, nostalgia has been a real sticking point for me. Sometimes it’s easier to live in the memories of the past because you know the ending. Whereas the present and future are full of uncertainty. I’m nostalgic for the time when I believed I was where I wanted to be (turns out when you get everything you’ve worked towards your whole life, you end up wanting something completely different). I’m feeling nostalgic for the times where being an adult didn’t seem so hard; I was able to go with the flow. Now I’ve unlocked so much in therapy to find an inner peace it’s made me even more nostalgic for the times when I, quite frankly, didn’t care that much or let things affect me (but more on that in a future blog post, and perhaps a second book). Nostalgia is a strong feeling to shift. It’s safe and familiar. Even though those experiences, good and bad, have been and gone, sometimes you can’t help but miss the things that seemed all so simple.
There is no shame if January and you are not getting along. Go at your own pace, take things day-by-day and know that you’re not alone. There is always someone somewhere that will understand how you feel and make you feel comfortable and at ease with all that you’re feeling.