Moving to a new area, it took me a while to get a referral to see a new psychologist as I’ve been struggling with my mental health while adjusting to life as a working mum. After about two months, I finally had my initial appointment, to which I was more than half an hour late for (that’s a whole other story for another time). One of the exercises the psychologist recommended to work through was to reflect on what my perfect world would look like if I woke up the next day and all my stressors disappeared.
Initially I laughed and joked that not having to worry about money would definitely resolve my issues. You know, as you do. Then I started thinking deeper about other things I wanted from life. I listed things like having the flexibility to work on projects that inspire me, being able to spend more time with my family. Selfishly, I wanted to spend more time doing things I love like boxing, playing music, learning to cook and reading – things I used to do before I started working in academia. These days every spare moment in my day is filled by teaching commitments and pursing the next grant or publication. There’s never an “off button” and it’s exhausting because when you’re not doing it, you feel guilty for it. Even though you’re already putting in more than your contracted hours.
What struck me as interesting was that never once did I say that I wished I didn’t have diabetes. Living with diabetes, and its (literal) highs and lows, is something I’ve seem to have accepted as a constant in my life. If anything, its presence reminds me that of everything that is happening around me in life, I am the most important thing. Diabetes reminds me that self-care is not just a cliche but a necessity.
Perhaps this exercise was indeed worthwhile to remind to work harder on maintaining this balancing act called life. More importantly, it’s made me reflect on what living my life might mean and what that could look like. Of course, it will never be the perfect picture that I have idealised and that’s not what I would like either. Having some discomfort in our lives will push and challenge us to improve ourselves and situations. That being said we shouldn’t be constantly feeling overwhelmed, emotional, anxious and on the brink of exhaustion.
I’m looking forward to working with my psychologist over the next few sessions to workshop some strategies to get that clarity back and feel like I’m back on track. I’m tired of feeling exhausted and stuck (literally and figuratively). I’m excited to feel that flicker of hope of feeling back in control.