Fortune & Cupcakes has been very quiet over the past few months. This hasn’t been due to lack of ideas and inspiration, but actually the opposite- I’ve been through so much it has taken me so long to process and recover from an exceptionally busy period in my life.
I think it would be easier to begin with things that haven’t changed. The list would certainly be shorter! I still listen to Bridge Over Troubled Water when I’m sad and Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes when I’m happy. But a few things have happened in the last few months. I spent the summer living at home and working as much as I could. This was to save money for a month long solo trip around Hamburg, Copenhagen and rural Northern Denmark as I finally completed the adventure I’d been planning since January. I moved back to Edinburgh, I started a new job and I bought a new bread maker. I am still adjusting to all of this change, but feel I am succeeding (new loaves pending)!
Resilience is a word I keep hearing over and over again. I am told to be resilient at work, and be successful in adapting to changes and stressful times. I am told that being resilient is a valuable quality to have, and something we should strive for.
Am I resilient?
Am I capable of bouncing back from adversity, trauma and difficulty? After a seven month period littered with serious bouts of depression, and occasional struggles with anxiety, as a result of a scenario I have mostly come to terms with, maybe I have to admit that I have never been that good at ‘bouncing back’?
I have thought about this a lot, and have come up with drastically different answers depending on my frame of mind, my ability to be rational and the ebbing and flowing of the desire to grow and become a good person. Sometimes I kick myself for not being resilient, and not being able to cope with things that (in the grand scheme of things) aren’t ‘that bad’. I constantly apologise for not being able ‘cope better’ or berate myself for not being strong enough to recover.
However, when I am rational I have a very different outlook. I talk to my friends about comparing experiences, and how things might seem worse for others, but that does not mean you have to adjust your reactions accordingly. Experience, trauma (however big or small) and fears are not relative. They are a unique combination in each of us, which are embedded into our conscious and subconscious and can produce an assortment of rational and irrational reactions, many of which we cannot control.
I also realised that my reactions to events earlier this year were heightened by a triggering of many other things that had happened over the course of my adult life, things that when combined in my mind as one whole single obstacle to overcome, made the whole situation overwhelming to a point where I couldn’t cope. Therapy began to help me untangle this mess, and in doing so trying to stop treating myself as the common denominator, which was previously leading me to blame myself and become increasingly self-deprecating. I acknowledged when I was falling, and found support in the short term, and I began to invest in myself (attending therapy since last year, but continuing to do so during very hard times). I finally began to acknowledge that sometimes my depression shows up uninvited, and the level of the depression I experience does not have to be directly proportional to whatever was the catalyst. It is not a failure on my part.
Am I resilient? I remember when I applied to university under a Special Access Scheme, and my Head of Year read out her statement about my circumstances to check if I agreed with the content. I remember listening to it, and stepping outside of myself, outside of the person constantly experiencing this, and trying to understand what I would think of the circumstances if they belonged to someone else. I got through it, and many things since then.
Nobody fails when depression takes over. It is not your fault, you haven’t let your guard down. Earlier this year I was able to slowly chip it away with many days on my parents’ sofa and gallons of tea in an assortment of mugs. I was able to push it down with the help of my family supporting me even though I was thoroughly miserable and grumpy, so that there was just enough of a gap for me to wedge in some further mechanisms or strategies to help me cope in the short term which enabled enough space for longer term help.
I’m adapting to this new change, and reclaiming the life I used to love. I am seeing my friends and am making room for new hobbies and routines. I am slowly learning to trust others again, and trust myself again in making the right decisions for me. I am, for the moment, indulging in looking after myself, and making sure I keep my wellbeing at the top of my priorities (followed by the Bake Off and books which make me cry, rather embarrassingly, in front of strangers on trains). When I am keeping aware of my own wellbeing I become so much more effective at work, at caring for and about others, and adapting to changes.