I’ve had a week of highs or lows, with not much in between. In all honesty, this is often the case when you live a chronically stressful life like I do.
My week started last Saturday with going to BML17 (formally Brit Mums), one of the biggest annual blogging conferences here in the UK. I only managed about four hours of the conference in 2015, and gave it a miss last year for one reason and another. When my ticket was first booked by my lovely sponsors Fantastic Services, I was super excited about the day. If nothing else, these events are always a brilliant opportunity to catch up with blogging friends.
As the day rolled around, however, I found myself wanting to find any excuse I could to cancel. Suddenly the idea of being in a room with hundreds of other bloggers (at varying levels) felt overwhelming and unappealing. Day to day I try my hardest not to compare myself with others, but kind of knew it would be inescapable at BML.
When I was at my worst about it all, I received an email asking me to be one of five keynotes speakers at the end of the conference. It was a massive honour, and huge confidence boost. I was asked to read my Open Letter to Autism Mama’s, and saw it as a chance to stand up and represent those like me, who lead chronically stressful lives.
To say I felt sick with nerves would be an understatement
I tried not to think about the task at hand too much, because every time I did it made me want to run for the hills. I started a Twitter conversation with the other keynotes speakers on the Friday, and it seemed that everyone else felt this way too. Which I admit, did make me feel a bit better.
The day itself was lovely, catching up with friends. Some I meet up with regularly, and others I’ve been chatting online to for over four (!) years without ever properly meeting in the flesh. It was fab to finally meet Tim and Julie, among others. I also attended a few of the sessions*, hosted by other bloggers.
Unfortunately, familiar pangs of self-doubt, and inadequacy reared their ugly heads for me. So many people who set out blogging at the same time as I started this blog in 2013 now have Sunday Times bestsellers under their belts. Or uber successful YouTube channels. Or are making a small fortune from their blogs. Not usually one to fall foul of the green eyed monster, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t allow those feelings to get the better of me.
They totally did.
So much so that when it came to reading my blog post out, I wanted to do anything but. I did it though, and know I should be proud of myself for it.
Here’s the video, just in case you’re interested.
When you don’t have a sad story, but a sad life
I’ve come to realise that most people can’t handle those who live a chronically stressful life. It’s not a tragic event to ‘get over’, or a sad story to tell. Most people just don’t have the time or inclination to fully comprehend the challenges you face, after the stress becomes chronic. Who can blame them really?
When the stress is every day.
Day in day out.
It gets boring doesn’t it? People need a happy ending GODDAMNIT!
I’ve made no secret of the fact that this year has been brutally hard. Some weeks tougher than others, of course. This has been one of those weeks. Anyone who saw my Instagram post on Tuesday will know that it was especially troublesome. Clara’s hand got trapped in the door, and I thought at first that she had broken her fingers. Fortunately they were just badly bruised, but it shook me up beyond belief.
I don’t have the capacity for another one of those weeks. They are breaking me, and destroying my soul.
Thankfully though, mostly through blogging, I’m lucky to know many other people who are also in my position. Who live chronically stressful lives, and are dealing with seriously challenging children. They have empathy, they are supportive, they don’t leave me feeling empty after being in their company.
TRIBE ALERT! ♥️ I am very lucky to have the support of several wonderful groups of blogging friends. This particular gaggle photographed here are from a foodie collective, and we understand each other on a totally different level. ♥️ We get what it’s like to parent exceptionally challenging children. We know how it feels to exist on four broken hours sleep a night (for years and years). We support each other’s blogs, champion each other and pick each other up when we’re crumpled in a heap for whatever reason. ♥️ Yesterday some of us spent the day on an MSC Cruise ship, being shown around and learning about what a cruise holiday would entail if we were to come onboard. During the Q&A with the senior management team we were the ones with the awkward questions. ♥️ “Are your kids club teams epi pen trained?” “What’s your policy on dealing with diabetic hypos?” “What provisions do you have for autistic children?” “Do you have options for those on strict exclusion diets?” ♥️ We are the mums who’ll always have the awkward questions. Being those mums can feel isolating more than words could articulate, but knowing that these wonderful ladies have each other’s backs certainly takes the edge off. ♥️ Big thanks to Sally and Co, and the team at MSC for organising such a fab day!
I guess my main thoughts from this strange week, are things I’ve known for a long time
- don’t add to your plate when you don’t have the capacity to handle it
- which means not being afraid to say no from time to time
- take comfort from your smallest of wins
- don’t compare yourself to others, no matter how tempting it might be
- know when to step back from social media for the purposes of self-preservation
- always be true to yourself, and never compromise your integrity
- work out early doors who your real friends are
- take my own advice and read Become the Best You when needs be
- know when to admit defeat, call it a day and have a gin
- give less fucks, as advocated by Louise and Emma in their fab (and funny) YouTube session* at BML
What are your tips for winning in the face of a chronically stressful life? Get in touch @mummytries