Saturday 15 October 2022

October 2022 #TBCSmiles 98 Months...

It was World Mental Health Day this week, and I didn't write about it for 2 reasons. Firstly I always worry I'll become a one-trick pony. I can write about my own family's mental health for the next 30 years and not cover what happened in the last 9. Which brings us to the second main reason - my own mental health. 

By Young Minds UK. Globe with the words The World Is A Better Place With You In It
Absolutely I could write about everything, give you some deep insight into how young people keep going after losing a sibling to suicide, how I kept going after the death of my own brother, how parents keep going after losing a child to their own decisions, or how they don't, in the case of my mother. I could talk about the minefield you face when your own parent dies. How awful it feels to only really get to know them when it's too late. How you cope with that by focussing on what you now understand, and remembering you can only ever do your best at the time.

I just don't want to write about that though. I'm not in the mood, and that's because I'm trying to just keep ploughing on right now. 

My mother's house is a mess. I've been politely calling her a collector, but 3 months in and we've only just reached all of the cupboards. Thankfully she was clean, and very neat, but nonetheless kept everything. She liked things, and having them as 'just in case' back up made her feel safe. Tip runs, car boot sales, charity boxes, storage units and the kindness of her neighbours has got us this far. I'm shattered, and doing that thing where you just keep going and hope you don't run out of energy before the end. 

If you do ever find yourself in this position, take loads of photos, because looking at them sitting peacefully on a bed in 1 room of 4 which was previously full from floor to ceiling, so that you could barely open the door,.. it really reminds you that you're doing great.

When I'm there I just work at it, and when I'm home I catch up on housework, and feed my children vegetables, and take time out. So writing about mental health wasn't something I wanted to do. Time out is important. Knowing your own limits is important too.

My mum never recovered after the loss of my brother. She was an independent soul and refused any help. She hid how bad her house was, and minimised the effect on her. We tried to help with what we knew about, but she would just be annoyed and embarrassed that we'd mentioned it at all.

She shouldn't have been embarrassed. People already know you are struggling, that's why they're there, and you are far from being alone. My own home and that of my sister are full of things we don't really need. That's because of our own tragedies and resulting bad mental health, our own need to cling on to what we feel we can control. Eventually though, we all know you need to take control, or that mess drowns you.

Some things you need to hold onto forever, and that's fine. Some things you need to keep because it's too much to just replace them, and you will need them 5 years from now. Some things you will use regularly, and they need stored in between. Most of it though, unless you are actually using it now, it's garbage to you, and it stops you from seeing what's really important. 

Despite the fact I've spent most of the last month in Derby, I have still spent time with my family and made plenty of smiles. You guys have made smiles too, and thank you to everyone who has shared theirs on Instagram with the hashtag #TBCSmiles. The hashtag is currently very quiet, and my failure to be active is part of that, as is COVID, which has exhausted everyone, and maybe the whole money/housing/war/climate/state of the UK thing isn't helping either. This is the time when we really need those smiles though. We need to remind ourselves that we can do it, and we can still find joy. Each smile is hope. I'll keep going for as long as I get 9 smiles in the month, pop in and join in when you can. 

Anyone is welcome to share their smiles. Some come easily, and some are incredibly hard won, but they all have value. Here are 9 of the biggest for this month. You can find them all on Instagram.

Collage of smiley faces with 9 different photographs in a grid together

These smiles were shared by the following Instagram photographers:

Girlybones1978 / SuperBusyMum / GoingOnAnAdventureBlog 
Haylee_louise_ / Over40AndAMumToOne / TheStrawberryFountain
TheStrawberryFountain / MrsAmyLFox / SuperBusyMum

My family did make smiles too. We had some delayed birthday celebrations, and a family night out at an Escape Room - which we completed with just 1 minute 20 seconds to go... (and a lot of hints...)

Collage of smile photos featuring my own family

Never lose sight of hope, because it is always there.
Sometimes you just aren't looking at the right angle. 

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