Don’t Wait Wait Mister Postman

Hello, hope all is well with you, or at least getting better.  If not, let’s try to make it better.

I took a mini hiatus from here these past few days.  I could feel a relapse coming on.  The housework was becoming sloppy.  I was taking less and less interest in things around me.  I was frustrated with myself and self critical.  Exercise and trips outdoors were stopping.

I’ve no idea why things suddenly go like that.  It’s almost like a switch goes off in my mind and there it is, my self confidence falls through the floor, a feeling of uselessness envelopes me, and negative thinking kicks in.

It took a lot of determination to keep saying to myself “I won’t let this beat me.”  So I went and sorted out annual membership of a tennis club.  If I’ve paid for something I’ll damned well get my money’s worth out of it in my situation!

I concentrated a lot on job searching too, even applying for those I thought I had no chance with and had no experience of.  13 applications.  A couple have responded positively.  Including one that I thought I had no chance with.  Just goes to show.

I’m in a better head space mentally again.  Not quite as strong as I was before the weekend but definitely through that little setback.  There is one thing, however, that still makes me flinch, whether I’m in the depths of depression or on top of the world.

As I passed by the front door this morning, I shuddered.  There they were again, taunting me from the humble door mat.  Yet more letters.  My heart sank.  At least today I felt strong enough to open them.

Which, of course, had nothing untoward in them.  An acknowledgement from my uni that the degree course I’m on has been temporarily put on hold while I battle through the mental illness.  And a pin number for my debit card.

It’s something that Lesley touched on weeks ago.  She said it’s one of the first signs people are falling into depression or other stress and anxiety related issues when the post remains unopened.  I’m not so sure.  It’s been a fairly constant feature of life.

Unopened_mail

It first started three decades ago.  Admittedly it was when I was in the grip of a frighteningly deep depression that I let go untreated for years.  I was young, distressed, and spending more than I had coming in.

Letters started to arrive with alarming regularity from the bank.  At first, I went in to see the manager, who was surprisingly kindly.  He felt I was being taxed too much bearing in mind the gross income I was on.  He also was happy that a bonus coming in would cover the overdraft, which had run to over a month’s wages.

Soon afterwards, however, the ongoing vicious circle of depression meant I didn’t face responsibility or use common sense.  Those letters started arriving.  I was frightened of seeing the bank manager again, ashamed of being so weak and useless with my money.  I went down the route of the ostrich, and left the letters on the floor while I buried my head.

Inevitably, the account was frozen until I sorted myself out, and I’m pleased to say I have.  I don’t have any credit cards and no overdraft facilities on my bank account, at my request.  I spend only what I can afford thanks to a lesson learned all those years ago.

What has remained with me, however, is a real aversion to opening post.  When I see even one letter, a chill goes through me without even knowing what it’s about.

Looking rationally, it’s crazy to feel like that; as I said earlier, I have no overdrafts, only outstanding bills which I’m disputing, and still paying in instalments while the Citizens Advice Bureau fight my corner.  I’ve not so much as had a parking ticket, so there’s no legal matter hanging over my head either.

I can’t explain it.  All I can say is that over 90% of anyone’s post isn’t going to convey particularly nice news.  It will be mostly bank statements, bills, and junk mail though.  Nothing fun but not exactly life threatening stuff.

What I do know, too, which is where Lesley has a point, is that my mental health can be gauged by what I do.  Today, as a sort of “I’m not letting you win today, Ms. Depression”, I opened them straight away, after the initial surge of fear.  It’s what I also do when I’m feeling good and have no worries psychologically.  I confront my fear and move on.

When things aren’t so good, though, the fear overwhelms me.  They’re left on the landing, or on the bottom of the stairs, or in a draw, or in my bag.  Out of sight, not exactly out of mind, but out of the way.  It’s irrelevant as to what’s in it, too.  If I’m depressed but expecting some good post, it’ll be left unopened.

It really is significant too.  I truly feel if I can conquer the aversion I have to receiving mail, it will be a breakthrough to permanently better mental health somewhere along the way.  One day, one day, this WILL happen, too.  In the meantime, I’ll work on this little demon I have.

Second class of course.  I can’t afford the new first class rates.

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