Updated: Jun 4
This year was already a bit kaotic for me when I decided to start doing a part-time Social Science degree with The Open University while still studying the Scottish level 6 NC in Psychology and Criminology at my local college full time.
I was hitting 40 and decided that waiting until the college course ended was wasting precious time after spending 4 years in full-time education.
It seemed to make sense at the time!
The previous year had ended with our epic Christmas in Barcelona so I was feeling rather positive, even excited about what 2020 would bring.
We had our first family trip together to see my Nanna, Aunt, and family in Kent which was booked for April 2020, where previous visits had been myself taking one or two of our children at a time.
This was another exciting family milestone!
One we needed with the court case against my daughter's abuser, an ex-family member, looming over us in the unknown distance.
I later compiled a visual emotions journal of 2020
Therapeutic Photography is a powerful untapped tool of therapeutic self-expression in a world where each individual struggles with their individuality, emotions, thoughts and their place in the world. Though I am a qualified photographer, you DO NOT NEED TO BE A PHOTOGRAPHER or have fancy equipment to benefit from Therapeutic Photography.
NB; [The following visual emotional journal was done entirely on my camera phone, using a simple Photo editing app downloaded from Play store, I simple chose a rustic filter and framing to present each visual emotion consistently through out the weeks so the focus is on the emotion of the image rather than distracting detail. Any one can use photo's in this way to express themselves.]
New-year was a nice social event with a friend and my adult kids, some crazy hairstyles and a little alcohol, all in all, my emotions were content and relaxed, even hopeful.
The positive emotions continued, the highlight of which was our trip to the theater to see the Circus of Horrors. The theater atmosphere is always an experience that creates a positive bubble of emotions and for an empath, it is quite a buzz of positivity!
Adjusting back to the routine of family life entwined with study while contemplating the madness of the Social Science degree workload starting in a week.
Trying to balance out the study, family and some self care like reading to ensure I did not burn myself out so quickly, whilst also attempting to get a head start on the university work while the college workload was slow. At this point, I was still feeling relaxed and positive about 2020.
The week I turned 40.
As a person, it doesn't feel as if age has impacted who I am, other than time and experiences creating life lessons that adjust how I perceive the world. Though I had begun to struggle with the idea of celebrating the anniversary of my birth when the biological beings involved in it couldn't care less. My daughter wasn't having any of that and threw a surprise party!
I spent most of the week musing in my spare time about the perceptions others have of me, how my exploration of self-awareness doesn't fit into these multitudes of little boxes of the perception others had. It had started to feel quite exhausting, and I expressed the concept that who I am does not fit into their boxes. After a birthday lunch and deep chat with one of my close friends, I began to feel more at ease.
In the background of the appearance of daily life as a mum and student, there was a lot of stress creating friction at home, these struggles had become a regular undercurrent in life over the past few weeks resulting in me going through one of my reclusive phases where 'peopling' just became extremely exhausting and my empath struggles were in overload.
The highlight of this week had to be that same close friends 50th birthday, she is always the life of a party, I had really missed the bliss of load music, dance floor, fabulous atmosphere and the encouragement of friendship to dance your heart out and not give a damn who is watching or judging.
When things were normal and talks of the #coronavirus on the news seemed like a distant problem
I was hashtagging #studentmumlife and sorting my study corner in between trips to college and uni work.
Outside problems like talks of the #coronavirus on the news seemed like a distant problem, whilst drowning in the emotional crisis's one after the other and hash-tagging things like #itsokaynottobeokay
The first few weeks in March just flew by as I juggled college work, Uni work, family life, and all the complexities that are involved in a family household where half are abuse survivors.
I started to become aware of the Corona Virus as other classmates started to debate its seriousness and the details surrounding the outbreak in China. At this point I honestly felt worlds away from the problem and based on the W.H.O. figures I concluded that panic was completely unnecessary.
Things started getting a little crazy in the world, talks of the #coronavirus on the news were about WHO declaring it a #pandemic and people started #panicbuying so everyone else not panicking had to go hunting if they wanted toilet-roll to wipe their backsides and soap to follow the guidelines and clean their hands more regularly.
In-between ranting about the panic
I was hash-tagging the usual normal life stuff still blissfully hopeful for our family trip to see our family down south.
Things started getting real, talks of the #coronavirus on the news of #socialdistancing large groups already banned, college and universities had sent their students home and schools closed at the end of the week, it was the first weekend of #coronaviruslockdown.
"My world just wobbled beneath me...
#firstweekend of #socialdistancing during this #coronacrisis I was doing my #openuni work #socialscience like every weekend this year. I look at the time and like every Sunday I think... "crap better get my arse in gear and cook dinner kids have school tomorrow and I've got college"
Week 13 #firstweekoflockdown
Talks of the #coronaviruson the news were becoming series, numbers and statistics were rapidly increasing.
I was posting...
"The #SUREALNESS out there is like a blanket over everything‼‼ It was not the #emptiness that got me it was the almost #apocalyptic silence, it did not feel like the #concretejungle, it felt like #wilderness.
That in itself leaves weighty anxiety!
Don't get me wrong the people I did encounter were friendly and respectful and all doing their part with the #socialdistancing and the shop staff are just amazing!
I was in tears after canceling our family trip south to visit family and I started phoning my Nan regularly as a result.
Week 14 #secondweekoflockdown
Talks of the #coronavirus on the news were serious. Infection rates still rapidly increased, deaths were getting high, figures in Scotland were getting substantial.
I was posting ...
"I disappeared for a few days
But after two weekends and a full week...
The walls felt like they closed in
My anxiety levels had increased and I had requested a prescription of the doctor for it, the first time since 2008.
My study motivation completely disappeared and it was my #therapeuticphotography that got me through with some little conversations with friends and family.
Week 15 #thirdweekoflockdown
Talks of the #coronaviruson the news were becoming too emotional, not just the horrible statistics and stories of death or that our crazy-ass PM was in intensive care, but the stories of kindness, courageous acts of key workers, it was becoming all too #overwhelming
I was posting ...
Week 16 #forthweekoflockdown
Signs of Spring, blue skies, low noise pollution. Days blend.
Week 17 #fifthweekoflockdown
Realizing the sunshine helped make the days easier and boost mental well bein for a while, I willed myself to lounge in the sun reading escaping into fantasy novels to ensure a balance of self-care to prevent burning out from the raw emotions, the stress, and the business of life and studying college & uni work.
Week 18 #sixthweekoflokdown
The tears flowed freely whilst the lump in the throat never budged. Didn't matter whether it was good news or bad news, the raw emotions broadcasted on the news was overwhelming. Complete emotional overload. I swapped my study corner for the garden in the hope of improved mental health. Every raw emotion from every person surrounding me or on the news just kept flooding over me in a rush or torrent I struggled not to drown in. Being an empath really sucked right then!
Week 19 #seventhweekoflockdown
Some distractions with Star wars day and photography expression. Photography truly is therapy!
More distraction, bike rides with my Amsterdam style bike that had been sitting in my husband's shed since summer 2019 when I got it after our Amsterdam trip. My husband's complaints about it taking up space and not being used spurred on a week of cycling every day, taking a child out each time. I had forgotten how soothing the air rushing by and the repetition of cycling was, another coping mechanism to remember and utilize as I dealt with the onslaught of emotions and thoughts whilst unable to fully communicate like I normally do to deal with life problems and worries that torment my racing over-thinking mind.
Week 20 #eighthweekoflockdown
I had to stop to visually express the frustrations and posted the following on social media with a series of images...
There are two very contrasting emotional reasons why I avoid the news right now the first is as an empath I cry and melt into a puddle every time I hear both good and bad stories about the #coronaviruscrisis and SECONDLY as an empath (I don't care how contradictory it sounds) I want to punch the TV every time #thatmanmoron speaks, I say as an empath because his #politicalbullshit just oozes from him and not even the TV screen protects me from it!
I am now halfway through my first Uni module and enjoying the "sports" section better than I expected. It's about the #embodiedself and the #inequlities emphasized in the sport which is #fascinating. I was even enjoying working through the specific examples of the #2012LondonOlympics, all the promises and effects from it positive and of course negative... that is until I had to watch a documentary that has #interviewclips of #BorisJohnson.
Motivation to cycle continues, the fine weather helps allot!
Week 21 #ninthweekoflockdown
Just words, a list of words to explain this week's raw emotions...
Again the days blend, taking each day as it comes
#study #read #cycle #cookdinner #watchbuffy #sleep #repeat the repetitiveness was drowning the hope and optimism. The past four years I used to being active and doing stuff that I believed was productive, the home study was all that kept me from withering into the despair of feeling I was suddenly going backward in life!
Week 22 #tenthweekoflockdown
More words, my communication reduced to just lists of one-word descriptions reflects the lack of communication and how that inability impacted me.
The same repetitive behavior and thoughts were re-occurring like a crazy mantra...
At this point, the worry about certain victimized family members drowning in the toxicity of my ex-family hit a full time high. Though not talked about anywhere but in my private diaries and an occasional text conversation with the very select few who I felt able to say anything about it, it had been one of the many overwhelming raw emotions bubbling over in the background. With each new campaign of awareness about the correlation between the Lockdown and the rise in domestic abuse, the nerve ending of all my raw emotions was becoming numb. All the other million-to-one complication's from the family's mental health, maintaining relationships in this complexity with those in the household never mind loved ones, not in the house, overwhelming was the biggest understatement.
Can someone really think that much, that many different things all at once? Hell yes!
Can you really feel so much emotion, positive and negative that what is left is a contrasting abyss of neverending dark numbness and the overwhelming blinding explosiveness of emotional sensation? How does one even begin to compute that contrasting complexity?
I was switching off, withdrawing from the world, losing hope in the positivity I thought I had and could give. I had distanced myself from a lot of social media for a month already, not that it made a blind bit of difference to myself or anyone else!
The outside world prepares to slowly relax lockdown, the political conflicts, and mess of disagreement and judgment makes watching the news repulsive. I try to prepare. It doesn't really feel like it matters at this point.
The world outside is Kaos, gone mad! World leaders playing dangerous games of deception, gas-lighting, misdirection, and pure prejudice that infects the everyday persons.
I come out of my social media hiding to campaign against the latest inequality that makes the world news and regrets it immediately when surrounded by the extremes of humanity. Prejudice, judgment, hatred, and control. Another wave of overwhelming emotions my own and the worlds.
My own predicament within the social world becomes another glooming burden, studying sociology both a fascinating distraction and foreboding anxiety. The desperation to no longer be in this financial position, to be working but the despair of the financial instability the shift will create.
"Captive of socio-economic imbalance
Longing to make a difference in a world that is thunderous with noise, is one tiny voice ever going to change anything?
At that moment the existentialist philosophy of each of us being alone suddenly becomes clear. The burden of empathy, self-reflection, emotional smarts, and sensitivity meaning whilst The past four years have been a path to self-discovery that aided understanding of how and why I think and feel as I do in turn helping to understand the same in those around me, yet rarely able to find that same understanding.
I expressed myself publicly for what felt like a final time before disappearing from the virtual world, or at the very least disappearing the virtual world from my phone, preventing the mindless scrolling and tapping.
For #selfcare purposes, I am going to drastically reduce my social media usage.
If anyone needs support related to my Abuse Survivor page and @fortitudeprojec please do reach out, alternative contact is on the various social platforms and my website