I’m kinda cool, but I’m also not
The past week has seen me through five different hairstyles. It may have been prompted by my kids at school moaning about seeing grey hairs, my boredom with my hair or just my adventurous spirit. Changing my hair colour and/or style is about the only thing that doesn’t scare me shitless. Many people think it’s cool, but for me it’s just another thing to do. Hair grows back right? For every other crazy thing I do, bravado is usually the cause. For most part I guess I’m kinda cool but I’m also not, because what defines cool? And how cool is being cool?
You’ll often hear me tell the kids “Cool is for kids” when they say I’m it. They think that and any of my other sayings is cool too. That’s when I’m not being “savage”. Their words not mine, as they try to imitate my signature eyeroll and getting it oh so wrong. Teenagers are a constant reminder of why it’s great to be an adult especially on days when adulting is very hard. Imagine trying to find myself all over again. Falling for my first love all over again only to realise that he is a douche… Again. Nope, no thank you. We live, we learn. We walk into said first loves with their families and do the compulsory greeting with a smile, like adults do, while our minds are smirking thinking how we dodged a bullet there. Or am I the only one?
My husband and I started our family when we were very young and many of our peers are light years behind us on the parenting front. Not that we know everything. Every phase is a new experience with our kids and I have lots to learn. But while plenty of people are getting excited for first day of school, we are sitting worrying about girlfriends and boyfriends. I’m already eyeballing boys who look at my daughters and schooling myself on how not to be horrible to other mothers children when my son starts bringing girls home. Guys, I’m not ready! And I won’t ever be, but I’m working on it. So while everyone has smaller kids, I have teenagers and a tween who allows me to have things like hobbies. You know, those things you do for fun that provides relaxation and if you become very good at it then you can profit from your creativity? Or those activities you do to keep busy. Well that’s where I’m at and my hobbies does not include being cool. In fact, everyone laughs at what I do for fun because clearly I’m too young for such hobbies, yet I’m too old for other hobbies that are cool. The fact that I make a buck here and there is a welcome bonus and often sparks my creativity.
If you’ve been around here more than once, you may have noticed that I’m not afraid to speak about certain topics. Mental health being one of them. Sex being another runner up but not part of today’s discussion. Nor the fact that I share certain details of my life that people sometimes feel is intimate or inappropriate. Today I’m back on the mental health train because a few weeks ago I lost my cool but my anxiety levels did not flair. I didn’t go bat shit crazy by the blatant ignorance people still display when it comes to mental illnesses or how readily people want to diagnose others with having “issues”. More importantly, I did not die or commit a murder. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it louder for the people at the back… My name is Celeste and I suffer from Agoraphobia. It’s an anxiety disorder that’s best explained in layman’s terms as “my koppie haak soms uit”. Those of you who are educated about mental health/illnesses will know that I am a perfectly healthy adult woman with a sober mind. The same sober mind that relies on a brain with a chemical imbalance that short circuits every once in a while. Those ‘whiles’ being spontaneous and sporadic. It can happen often or once a year. The sober mind part of me keeps in check as I go through life with ignorant people who still believe that people with mental health issues belong in the looney bin and we’re obviously irrational.
My chemical imbalance is in my genes the same as my eye colour and hair strand.
I inherited it, and thank God I was diagnosed long after doctors discovered that “The Sad’s” is actually depression and not people just being moody or upset for no reason. Seriously, I thank God for it. Imagine not knowing what was wrong with you and having episodes where I literally feel like I’m about to die. Anxiety is real guys. I don’t decide that I want my breathing to fail because I want attention or drama in my life. Nor do I feel like the walls are closing in on me even when I’m in wide open spaces for fun. Piercing my skin so that I can feel something. Anything… Except for the numb feeling I have inside me. Not giving a flying hoot about consequences when I really should think things through carefully is not in my sober nature either. But. Shit. Happens.
So, almost a decade ago I went to a psychiatrist and psychologist to have my head checked. I legit thought I was crazy. Turns out I was crazy. Crazy to think I was crazy. I was assessed and they found I have anxiety disorder bordering on depression. Holy hell!!! I never felt depressed or extremely sad at that time. Truth be told, I still don’t feel that way most days. My emotions tend to be volatile and I do get extremely angry. It’s during those times that I shut down completely and remove myself from people, situations and if at all possible, circumstances. Over the years I’ve learnt to work through my anger and have realised that confronting an issue after distancing myself from my emotions works a charm. This has also helped me save relationships with some people or sever ties with others.
While I will not disclose what prompted me to take a stand and promote the heck out of mental awareness, I will say that we have to remember that we can all think what we want but we can’t always say what we want. You never know what someone else is going through. And as I told someone a few weeks ago, mental illness is just as real as influenza is. Someone with a mental disorder has not necessarily lost their marbles. We are quite sane and quite capable. And quite frankly, we have a bit more understanding and regard for other people’s feelings.
For the past few years I have been known to be busy. Everyone who knows me knows I’m always busy. Just last week a Facebook friend of mine mentioned it again because she sees posts of what I get up to with my kids. I get “you’re such a cool mom” quite often and sometimes it makes my day but mostly I think “if you only knew”. I am busy out of necessity. I need to keep my mind occupied most of the time which in turn means that my hands need to be busy. And to avoid my kids irritating the living daylights out of me with the “mom I’m bored!” speech I am proactive. I keep them busy and think of activities and buy every thing we’ll need long before holidays and winter weekends when they are most bored.
Being busy was recommended by my therapist. I’m fairly certain she didn’t mean for me to be busy all the time but it’s a coping mechanism and keeps me in check. I cannot afford for my mind to wander. Ever. What I can afford is to buy decadent coffee and a selection of teas because my hobbies, as not cool as it is, ensures that I have extra spending money for the items I crave. So what do I do for fun and to keep busy? What is so uncool for a woman of my age? And why do I not care one iota about what people think of it?
Some of my favourite pastimes are:
- Knitting (needles and looms)
- Crochet (which I suck at)
- Making creams and essential oil blends
- Online courses in just about anything
- Other courses where I have to attend classes on Saturdays
- Experimenting with my hair
Many people I know personally wouldn’t be caught dead doing one or all of these. Grannies knit and crochet. Doing a course for the heck of it doesn’t seem like much fun either if it’s not financially rewarding. As for the hair experiments… I promise you it looks hideous at times but I always maintain that I don’t look into a mirror the whole day for it to irritate or embarrass me so I really don’t care what it looks like. I can always change or cut it. Easy peasy. What is not easy is recovering after a trip. Having to explain your illness to someone who is hell bent on diagnosing you with a spell of the crazies. The worst is having to shield a loved one dealing with worse from people insisting on voicing their opinions and making said loved ones feel worthless. That’s not cool. Having the chemical imbalance is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing being that I have the ability to walk away and not care about plenty of things that doesn’t benefit me while I choose not to dwell on negatives.
If this last few weeks have taught me anything, it is that being cool is overrated. And cool really is for kids. Knocking someone else down is not cool nor is cool a compliment for a person struggling to hold it together for the sake of themselves and their families. Don’t get me wrong… It makes my heart smile when people think I’m cool because silently we all want to be cool sometimes. You don’t know my struggles and I don’t expect you to be sensitive to it. It’s my daily battle and I cope well with the ‘normal’ crowd. I guess I’m kinda cool because I have to be. What I don’t expect from people is to be insensitive idiots in general to anyone whether someone is facing battles you know nothing of or not.
Being a decent and considerate human is uber cool though. And most days I’m that human. Except for when I’m not 😉
I’m trying to think of the best way to promote mental health awareness, so if you have any suggestions please drop me a line.