I have been feeling overwhelmed. It doesn’t happen very often, but yesterday it did.
Feeling overwhelmed is a bit like being lost in the fog; I know there is nothing else for me to do but to sit relatively still and let it pass. I know it will. I just need to do nothing too much.
The truth is, I have a lot on. We all do don’t we. So yesterday I cried a bit, got hugged some, slept in the hammock and did nothing. But I did talk, and in the talking realised I was missing stuff:
It is GCSE time in our house and this means I am nagging, ignoring, cajoling, testing, reassuring, reading out loud, encouraging my son and I hadn’t factored in the time that it was taking.
Nor had I taken account of the time I’m spending in the garden or all the little things I keep in my head for everyone else; his football, his drum lesson, the dogs, the washing, the food…all little unending time snags which keep me from focusing on anything bigger.
A friend on a walk once referred to it as ‘white noise’, the back ground hum of things ‘to do’ which runs for most of the women I know. There’s an old joke: ‘What does a man do before he goes to bed’ and the answer is something like ‘turn the light out’. Then ‘What does a woman do before she goes to bed’…and the list goes on for ever.
I saw an article in a paper about a comic book called ‘Mental Load’ and bought it…(see below). It sums up perfectly that sense of having loads of stuff in my head which no one else appears to share. I showed it to my partner and he got it..and things changed for the better.
But what I hadn’t realised is that it’s going on with my kids too. I had already clocked that they needed to be doing more around the house, and so now they do, but I hadn’t spotted how now there are so many more social complexities and I feel like I am in the middle of it all…not only driving, but keeping calendars and remembering who goes where, when.
The final straw was when the kid’s dad turned up late to meet them and they unwittingly walked into a minefield by suggesting I should have reminded him. Once I had peeled myself off the car ceiling, and in private cried and ranted I have decided:
- If it’s their shit, they can remember it, organise it, be late for it, miss it, apologise for it etc. I am delegating that back to them
- They can plan times, bus routes, collection points etc and then run them by me for approval rather than vice versa.
- They can chase up the people who said they would do things with them and they can send reminders.
I just can’t do it all. And actually, they need to learn to do more for themselves.
As soon as I realised that, the overwhelm started to clear, and I am reflecting on what I know about overwhelm, and how knowing it helps the feeling pass quicker. I no long fight against it and try to do more, I go with it and remember these simple things, which I know and then so easily forget.
- Stop trying to do it all
- Say ‘no’.
- Set boundaries
- Ask for help
- Get hugs
- Talk it through with someone who can listen for long enough for me to be able to find my way through.
- Do things which don’t involve my head (I’m off to mow the lawn ..its mindlessly satisfying to see instant impact with no thought!)
- Know that it will pass.
And it does.
Until next time.
ps…If you are around Liverpool tomorrow evening pop into this event which I’m speaking at: https://www.wowfest.uk/events/