So yesterday I had my first day off in nearly 2 years!
I thought I would talk about what I did for me, the guilt I felt for having a day off after so long and a couple of realisations I had based on my own struggles with my mental health and general well-being.
I didn’t set and alarm. I should say alarms…I take Quetiapine which helps to stabilise my moods on account of the Bipolar that I live with. It puts me to sleep at night so I can rest rather than having a variety of racing thoughts whether I’m conscious or unconscious. It helps to lesser the thoughts but there is a constant dull feeling and the drowsiness doesn’t help when needing to wake up, so I usually have 12 alarms set, yes 12. Every 5 minutes from 6am to 7am. If I get particularly run down, I even sleep through all of them and wake up in a panic either late or completely missing the first meeting of the day.
So, I naturally woke up at 11, checked my emails. It is just and automatic thing but made me realise this day off was really needed if that is now the norm!
I washed up from the night before and twiddled my thumbs, itching to get some sort of work done. I have so much to do that I couldn’t stop thinking about all those posts, phone calls and emails I needed to do in order to continue pushing Arthur Ellis forward.
I have wanted to get out in nature of ages and thought about going to Salcey Forest for some time. So, I grabbed my car keys and set off, all by myself. I would stick on some music and go for a nice long walk.
As soon as I pulled up, turned my engine off and turned off the sat nav on my phone. Then guess what…I opened my emails before I got out the car.
NO SERVICE!! Dun dun dunnnnnnn!
My heart sunk thinking could I really be without service for a few hours???
After my heart began floating to the top of my chest…it was actually an incredible feeling. I was being forced into being present and enjoying my surroundings.
Salcey Forest has 3 levels of walk…a beginner’s short walk, intermediate and ‘NOPE’ level walk – it’s actually called something else but I can’t remember. I decided to go middle of the road, the intermediate, 1-hour walk.
Just 10 minutes in, with no music no signal and no one around I had nothing to do but to take notice of what was around, that flood of guilt for not working was still there but I came to the realisation that I am not at work, nothing is expected of me and even if it was, I can’t do anything anyway.
Then, I came across a log-see-saw. A huge branch of a tree you walk over to tip on the other side. A little look around to check no one was there and I went for it. Complete fail. The log rolled off the centre balance and I nearly fell flat on my face. Even though I was a little embarrassed, checking around to see who might have seen the disgraceful attempt, it was so liberating.
Feeling childish, I was then fully in forest mode, I began to take pictures of my surroundings and listening to what was going on.
For the next 50 minutes I didn’t think about work once. Not once.
When I arrived back at the car, I looked at the pictures I had taken and began thinking about work again, but not in a pressured way, not in a guilty way but in a constructive, positive way of what Arthur Ellis will become. How our branding, what our training materials could look like and how my freeing experience with natural is the feeling we want to provide people who are tackling mental illness.
Our new website is underway so keep an eye out for the launch.
After the forest, I went for lunch with my Parents. We popped to the local butchers for lunch and just hung out, nowhere to be, not a flying visit but just relaxing together.
We watched the BBC documentary about David Harewood’s battle with Psychosis and it opened a discussion about a few of my episodes. It was such an easy discussion. Usually, I get a headache when talking about my own experiences but because of the day I’d had, the healthy things I had been doing for myself, I didn’t get a single twinge of pain in my temples.
On the way home, I was excited to get to the gym with a friend. Finish the day to some activity and training even felt good. I wasn’t getting tired and could do more than if I had been at work all day.
I rounded off the day with a film, on the sofa, and I filled my diary with to-dos for the next day. With a fresh mind, I could think so clearly about what I needed to do.
I suppose the moral of this story is that with an abundance of technology around us, constant pressure to perform and a huge amount of responsibility we have in every aspect of our lives, sometimes taking a step back with accelerate us forward.
If I hadn’t taken the day off, I would have carried on becoming run down and eventually, not able to fight off the symptoms of my bipolar.
They will always be there; I will have the symptoms for the rest of my life in varying degrees but having that space and taking that step back gave me the clarity and ability to move forward clearer and faster than ever before.
If you are taking time off, take time off. Plan something to do like I did. My 1 hour walk in a beautiful forest has impacted how the next 6 months both personally and professionally will be.