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The terrible fantasy that rescued me from myself

The terrible fantasy that rescued me from myself

A story about learning to love the kinder, calmer you.

"I view the world through a softer, gentler lens. I’m kinder to myself, and I no longer feel like I need to fix everything around me."

A story about learning to love the kinder, calmer you

At first, the noises in my head were small and soft.

“Yes, this is pretty hard, and it sucks,” they would say, but I’m okay. We’re okay as long as we stay home and stay safe.”

But as the months rolled by during lockdown, the noises grew louder and more debilitating.

I’ve always found it easy to fall asleep and remain asleep until my alarm – or Thomas in his infancy and toddler years – wakes me.

But by mid-2020, I was fretting myself into a ball of angst. I was sleeping fitfully and waking up, filled with dread, at 4am.

After ‘surviving’ 2020, as well as nine years of living with my husband’s rare, terminal lung disease and its associated loss, grief, and trauma, I was at the end of my rope.

I had started therapy to deal with Elton’s diagnosis in 2019, and it was great to be able to talk to someone.

Then 2020 rolled into town and my therapy stopped. The money needed to go elsewhere.

When I saw my therapist again in January this year, I told her I was feeling overwhelmed.

I told her about my fantasy of leaving a goodbye note for the neighbours, after duping my husband and son into a Sunday drive off the edge of Chapman’s Peak Drive.

She promptly asked if I would consider medication. If it deals with the noise in my head, I replied, then I’m all in. And that’s where I am now.

I’m on week six of what I call my ‘noise-reduction meds’, and I think I’ve hit the sweet spot.

I asked a friend how I would know if the meds are working. Pick a fight with your husband, she said, and see if you can still fight.

Before starting the meds, I asked Elton to sound the alarm if I became a zombie. I didn’t want to lose my spark.

In my ignorance of mental health medication, I assumed you become a ‘zen zombie’ when you’re medicated.

Elton said that having a wife with a little less spark would actually be a nice change, so he’s not sure he can be trusted to sound the alarm!

But the noise-reduction meds have put paid to any final Sunday drive fantasies. I view the world through a softer, gentler lens.

I’m kinder to myself, and I no longer feel like I need to fix everything around me.

Being on meds mean I know I can only give out of excess. I need to make sure I have enough to power me and my family before I take on the world’s problems.

What’s with this saviour complex? It’s tiring and unnecessary.

I can be me. Fully me. I have more time for myself. I’m able to be more rational. Level-headed.

I can make better decisions as they’re not coming from an overwhelmed, irrational brain.

And when I fall into old thinking patterns, I am able to extricate myself in time.

I’m loving getting to know this calmer version of me. I’m less impulsive and anxious.

I’m loving being able to scroll past and ignore problematic people and situations, virtually, and in real life.

I’m looking forward to more of my worldview being covered by this softer lens. It’s an energy-efficient state, and the uninterrupted sleep is priceless.

I have the wisdom to know what I am able to change, and the courage to say, “No, I’m not able to right now.”

Rochelle Barrish

Change expert, Rochelle Barrish, believes that the big change equals big opportunity.

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