Mental Health Awareness week has rolled round again and, whilst last year I was particularly quiet on the matter, this year I didn’t want to let it pass by without acknowledging it. So, I decided to finally finish off a piece that began life as a trusty iPhone note way back in 2017.
A year ago I was in a really good place. Had been for a few months, and I was starting to feel quietly confident that maybe I’d managed to beat it this time. That, despite the few and far between moments of anxious thoughts or feeling a little low, I’d actually managed to – for lack of better term – ‘get better'. I’d broken up with my therapist, started a new job, met someone who I really liked and, for the first time in a long time, I felt truly happy. Mornings were just mornings. I was no longer waking up and wishing the day away. It felt great.
And then it came back.
You see, the trouble with sadness is that it doesn’t always have a reason. Sometimes it’s just there. It shows up uninvited, without warning, like an unexpected knock on the door. It doesn’t care for your plans. Have a big day ahead? Something you need to concentrate on? Plans with friends, or maybe a nice day to yourself? Sadness doesn’t care. It’s come to visit and it wants your undivided attention.
The trouble with sadness, is that it likes to linger. Especially the uninvited, unexpected, no real reason kind. You might have offered it a cup of tea – maybe a biscuit too – and indulged it for fifteen minutes, but that isn’t enough. Sadness wants to stay and chat for the afternoon and, before long, the afternoon has stretched into evening and you’re three cups of tea and a packet of biscuits down and it still isn’t getting up to leave. You can sigh all you like, look at your watch and make noises about how ‘it really is getting late now’ but… what’s that? Sadness has a sleeping bag and it’s pulling out the sofa bed.
Ok, some days it might fancy a fleeting visit. An hour or two max. But the thing is, sadness has away of making that hour or two feel like five, ten, twenty-four hours. Its visit engulfs the rest of your day and leaves you feeling vulnerable, on edge, and more than a little worse for wear.
Sometimes you won’t hear from it for a while. At first, it feels odd. Unsettling. You wonder where it’s gone, when it will be back, listening out for that all familiar knock. But then it starts to feel nice, as though a huge weight has been lifted. Everything seems brighter, more colourful, more worthwhile. Instead of waiting around for its arrival, you’re out there, living life without a second thought for sadness.
So if (or when, and unfortunately this time around it’s a when) it does come creeping back, you’re not always prepared. You’ve already blocked sadness’ number, moved house, changed the locks. But there it is, peering through the window, and it won’t stop until you let it in.
The trouble with sadness, you see, is that it’s never really gone. But it does need to learn when to leave and, this time, ,I’m not putting on the kettle.