At various points in my (ahem) years I’ve tried all sorts of natural remedies for everything from spots, to cold relief, to headache treatments. When it came to my mental health however, and after decades of trying to manage on my own, I realised that I needed professional help. A combination of medication and counselling brought me back from the brink of a place I never want to visit again. A place so dark, so oppressive, that somedays it felt as if I was trapped under water, at that point between darkness and light. If I cried out for help I’d drown. If I didn’t, I’d drown. I was drowning.
It’s almost two years since I finally took a deep breath and asked for help and guess what? I didn’t drown. Instead a hand, several hands, handed me a breathing mask and I was able to tread water. The experience wasn’t pleasant — I put on weight, lost my enthusiasm for things that used to bring me joy, cut myself off from friends, family, colleagues — but then one day I was floating towards the surface and there was more light than darkness.
I’m learning to take control of my own happiness. As a people pleaser I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time worrying about whether the people around me are happy. To my own detriment. If someone tells me I’ve made a mistake I’ll typically mull that over for days, weeks even, allowing it to slowly consume what’s left of my ever dwindling self-esteem.
This weekend though I’m not going to let that happen. This weekend is all about me. Three days of natural remedies with just a little support from science and a small yellow and green pill. I’m spending time with people who love me — simply saying those words is progress — away from work and housework and parenting.
Away from negativity and reminders of how awful it’s been.
Three days of indulgence. Talking because I want to, not because I have to. Throw in a Take That gig with my best friend, meeting my great nephew for the first time and a trip to Ikea — judge me all you like, I always need tea lights — this is the kind of natural remedy that works. Like a buoyancy aid it will lift me in a way that no medication can. It will lift me to the point where I can see the surface clearly and feel brave enough to take off the breathing mask and begin to swim.