Mental Health - How I Cope With The Pressures Of Everyday Life

In this day and age we tend to live very hectic lifestyles and that in itself is enough to take its toll. Add into that a child with additional needs and you have an array of other problems and challenges to contend with.

I have always been as honest as I can around my own battles with stress and avoided labelling these difficult times, despite as a society the ever increasing need to name everything. That label doesn’t change the problem or the treatment in my particular case.

At the peak of my difficulties, I turned to counselling for help and on that occasion it worked. On later occasions when I have faced myself in a similar dark place, it hasn’t. Whether that’s because the counsellor and I didn’t gel or whether it was because counselling wasn’t the answer to my problem.

I’m lucky that I can now identify the warning signs and do everything within my remit to be able to adjust my lifestyle when I recognise the triggers. Unfortunately, some of those things I would like to be able to change are beyond my gift and at those times I feel lost.

Parenting a child with additional needs, almost always means that you never have enough time for everything and self-care is usually the last in a long line of priorities. I’ve learnt that Joseph needs me fighting fit and as much as that also becomes a burden of responsibility, it’s the harsh truth of the matter. I need to be well physically and mentally to tend to his every need. I scrap around for every second of every minute to ensure I have time for me. Whether that’s chilling out watching TV, meeting up with friends or.... running. Yes, that’s right.

Most people who know me, have known that I have had a love-hate relationship with running since God was a lad. I have the heart and desire to run like Mo Farah unfortunately the body doesn’t always agree.

Whether it’s the endorphins that are being released or the fact that it’s just me breathing in the fresh air, it generally makes me feel alive again. And I say that with a slight tongue in my cheek as there are many times that I fall through the front door, declaring myself a diabetic with low blood sugars and waiting for the offspring to dutifully pour me a large glass of water. At those times, I feel anything but alive.

wiping the beads of sweat!
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wiping the beads of sweat!

There are times that I run and I want to think something over in my head with no distractions. There are times when I go out running and I want to hear the music through my overused earphones, drowning out my thoughts because I want to do anything but think. It allows me to push myself and prove that I can achieve. It allows me to slacken off because I have already been pushed in other ways and all I need is to feel the gentle soothing rhythm of my feet hitting the ground, over and over again.

It allows me to be me

When it gets to winter and the darker nights, I can feel myself working up into a panic, wondering how I will be able to self medicate when it’s too dangerous to run alone. I need the freedom that running brings so I have a safety net now in that I run with a group. It doesn’t satisfy my addiction, but it allows me to have time away from those who need me for most hours of every day.

I fall out with running usually every time I have participated in a race. I don’t feel I have achieved the right time and I want to be better. Despite that, I keep going back for more.

I need it more than it needs me.

There are some people who will be reading this and thinking that the idea of running is the absolute last thing in the world they’d like to do and that’s fine. Find your ‘thing’ that makes you feel alive. Find that ‘thing’ that enables you to breathe and relax and ensure you have time to do it.

Whatever it takes.

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and in my spare time when I’m not writing about autism... I also write about... running