There are times over the six weeks summer holidays that I struggle. Despite being with my amazing children and living in a lovely friendly area, I often feel isolated and alone. Most of my friends go on holiday for most of the summer break, so suddenly I find that I lack adult contact and interaction.
We’re only three weeks in to the holidays as I am writing this and I’m already feeling a little lost. I’m missing the school runs, where I see a lot of friends every weekday. Yet I also enjoy the lack of interaction sometimes. It’s complicated. I’m complicated!
I am a single parent with mental health struggles. I’ve blogged about my mental health before, anxiety being the leader of the ‘trio of doom’ as I call them. Its evil sidekick being depression and PTSD being the villain that just randomly pops by without warning when it feels like it. It’s a very bizarre and sometimes terrifying never-ending circle of chaos. I miss people, I miss the company. Yet when I see people and get the company I crave, it’s exhausting because I’m battling or masking the trio above so I can be out there amongst people. I’m eye rolling at myself because it’s just bonkers, it really is.
So how do I get through the holidays?
Children! My wonderful, beautiful children. They need to go places and do stuff, be occupied and busy. We have arranged weekly meet ups with our local autism support group, doing various things from soft play, farm parks to cinema trips. My daughter is autistic, and she knows a few of the children that attend these days from her school. I know a few of the parents so I sometimes get the chance to chat and siblings are welcome, so my son gets to attend too. These days get the three of us out with other families. When home we tend to have free time (as in time doing what each of us wants or needs to) but also family time – watching movies, creating with aqua beads, water fights in the garden, making things from old cardboard boxes (This week we made a boat and a puppet theatre).
Social Media – I have a few amazing online groups specifically for anxiety and PTSD. We share stories, share art work we may have done in art therapy, or we just chat. None of us have met face to face as we are scattered all over the Country (and other Countries) but it’s a welcoming and supportive group. I admin in quite a few groups and pages too, it keeps me busy in the evenings when the kids are sleeping. Plus, no matter who is away on holiday or busy working etc, there is always messenger to chat on when the time allows.
Blogging – I often write blogs that I have no intention of publishing or sending anywhere. It’s a therapy thing. It allows me to express myself and how I’m feeling. I archive them, sometimes using bits of them for blogs but often just leaving them like diary entries, for another day.
Art – I’ve always loved art but for so many years I was encouraged not to do it as it’s a pointless career or a waste of time blah blah blah. After my therapy last year, I found an art class to join with the intention of pushing my comfort zones and getting out there to meet more people whilst doing something I enjoyed. After session one I realized art was my therapy, my release, my way of calming the trio of doom. As I got to know my art teacher more, it seemed clear that art had been therapy as well as her career. She’s also trained in mental health support and completely understands if I just can’t face being in class one week and doing my work at home. I’ve just registered for my third term of classes from September. Last night I was child free, the children stayed a night at their dad’s. Without warning, anxiety dropped by and I found myself alone and struggling. Instead of panicking like I would have done 18 months ago, I painted for 2 hours. Mostly moons, stars and galaxy themed creations as I was just going with what felt good. Painting and sketching calms my soul, as corny as that may sound.
These are just a few ways that help me cope with the feelings of being alone (that are often a trick anxiety plays on me anyway). Social media can be a brilliant lifeline if you find some amazing groups to join. Keeping busy as much as possible is the best thing for many. It stops the feelings of isolation kicking in, as well as keeping anxiety down.