If a person has been forced to exist in a stressful environment for a long time, it takes a while for them to realise they’re actually tense. Lightbulb realisation out of the way, it takes even longer to convince your tired brain, and aching body, to let it all go. I’m not here to preach. This is just something I realised recently.

Relaxation, it almost becomes the enemy. I found every time I let myself wander a little, I would feel so impossibly sad. And guilty, somehow, for abandoning all the junk I’d been lugging about with me. I couldn’t cope with the emotions and thoughts that were rising to the surface every time I gave them a chance to do so, so I kept stuffing everything back down into the depths of my dingy mental holdall. (Bear with me, it’s a very visual thought). Eventually, the zip breaks and, you know, it’s not the nice cashmere jumper or the serious-intellectual-higher-things book that falls out. It’s unwashed pants, and a photo of you picking your nose. If only you had taken the shite out when you had a discreet chance to do so, instead of lathering it all over everywhere for an unadoring public.

After the snotty-horror-breakdown, I still have to remind myself to relax. Put the things down. It doesn’t come naturally. Sometimes when I think I’m relaxing, what I’m actually doing is diverting. I’m distracting myself with something else, so I don’t have to do any of the hard bits. Does that make sense? I have to work my way through the unwinding, so I can enjoy the easy bit on the other side for a while? I’d love some feedback on that idea. I think there are a lot of us like this.

And in conclusion? I’m sitting in the beautiful sunny garden writing this. The cat is asleep under my chair. (I’m wearing Factor 50 and a hat). When I had a breakdown, I lay in bed clutching the duvet, trying to wait it out. Now I can sit outside and actually feel the sun on my skin. Coming back to life, very slowly.