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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

Birthday Reflection

I recently had a birthday, and as in the last few years it was a quiet and simple one; because I need it to be. But, there's been some very cool things this year that I wanted to look back on, so here we are.

This year I have felt a huge sense of achievement at work, with both my individual and team accomplishments. It has also been a time to reflect on how my work life has evolved, and consider what I most enjoy and where I add the most value. For over a decade looking forward has been something I struggle with and at times it even felt painful. There just wasn't a future to look too, so why consider 'what could be' or how I could grow and develop. And I didn't have the self value to believe I could do more.

I don't believe self worth is something someone else can give you, but they can support you to find it for yourself. As we come towards our second wedding anniversary, a time I thought I would really struggle with, because it's around this time my first marriage ended. It's been the opposite. It's a time when I haven't thought about it. I have been mentally busy either working or being in awe of Laura. How she has coped with, enjoyed, managed, and celebrated pregnancy has been a thing to marvel. She has managed work commitments, social pressures and expectations with elegance and kindness. Knowingly or not, Laura has provided me with everything I needed to best support myself. I can only hope I have provided the same care, love and support she has given me as we ender this new stage to our relationship.

It's not just been my birthday, we are looking forward to a new birthday and meeting our baby later in July or August. It has been tricky for my depressive mind at times (see the other recent blog posts). But I can feel that beginning of joy, the celebration of love and possibilities. The feeling of love and connection very much reminds me of the beginnings of my relationship with Laura, but it also highlights the very noticeable differences in where I was and where I am.

We had a conversation a couple of weeks ago about our differences, our life experiences and where we were when we first met. Looking back now, it feels so remarkable that we worked, we had such difference life experiences and where in very different places. Yet, yet, there was that connection, that interest, that desire, that kindness, that possibility.

I like to think/ hope we have helped each other. But looking back now at the place I was in, regularly experiencing depression related episodes, similar to panic attacks. That was such a big thing for Laura to accept and support me to manage. It's not until you can see outside of the tunnel you realise how dark it is in there.

While I still feel the senses of those attacks every so often, they happen so rarely now and are nothing like the intensity they used to be.

I recently heard someone say "time is a healer". I think that gives time way too much credit. Time is a luxury, it's something not everyone has. Recovery, whatever that looks like, it's work. Sometimes passive, sometimes active and often it's hard, but there's always effort. It doesn't just happen and (for me) nothing is a given or guaranteed. Being ok today doesn't mean I don't have to work to be ok tomorrow.

That work and effort has helped me to be here today. To be in this privileged position, to have love, to be able to love, to have 3 pretty cool cats and to be the recipient of love from kind, intelligent, funny and beautiful Laura.

This place, today, sat on the sofa opposite Laura, listening to music while writing this blog feels so far from where I was when this blog started. It's actually another world, it feels like multiverse stuff! How did that me, in that place get here?!

This year has been great, it's included more time with Laura, our pregnancy, time with friends, more self care, some amazing running achievements. Including last weeks birthday 13.3 mile (half marathon) run! Something I have wanted to do for so long. Admittedly, I didn't image doing it on a treadmill, haha. I think that's an added accomplishment, because I haven't had the fun of the changing scenery. This is kind of linked I think to the recent efforts to be more mindful of my body and how I look after and maintain it. Something that's impossible when your depression brain is in control.

This year I also made the Vuelio Top 10 UK Mental Health Bloggers list again, something I am so humbled and excited by. It's such as honour to be included in the list recognising mental health blogging and the important impact we can have; supporting, informing, celebrating, championing, campaigning, advocating, signposting - just sharing our lived experiences.

To be here personally, and for the blog... to see what has been achieved through sharing my thoughts, experiences, struggles and successes... wow.

Thank you to everyone that has read and shared blog links, and to everyone that's supported and engaged with the linked podcast and event engagement, it's been and is a joy and a privilege.

Who knows what next year will be like, there's no guarantees or expectations. But there is increasing more opportunities for happiness, and that is something I do not take for granted. I *takes breath* look forward to the next year, and what it may include.


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