Is it FOMO, JOMO or just missing out?

There has been this saying bandied around for a while “FOMO” which when I googled it turned out be “Fear Of Missing Out”. This got me thinking, do I ever actually experience this feeling anymore? And in all honesty I think the answer is no. I have definitely become a home body – not that I ever was a massive party animal. But as time has gone along I have found myself just wanting to stay at home, declining invitations or spending night outs thinking about when I can go home. Not all the time I hasten to add but being out out fills me with a considerable amount of anxiety – real physical, palpable anxiety. 

Anyone who has experienced the physical side of anxiety will tell you that it’s an extremely unpleasant feeling and not something you would actively go out of your way to reproduce. Much like banging your head against a wall or shutting your hand in a door. It hurts the first time so you wouldn’t then repeatedly do it again if you could help it.

I am pleased to report that there is now “JOMO” “Joy Of Missing Out” which definitely sits more comfortably with me. But the problem is this idea of Missing Out. For every 10 opportunities I am offered, 9 of them won’t be that big a deal to miss but there is always 1 thing that I will want to do, 1 thing I won’t want to miss. So then I am in a quandary about whether to suck it up and experience the pain or to miss out on something great. 

I don’t want to live like this forever so I push myself out of my comfort zone as much as possible. I believe that in doing this I will start to learn that things aren’t as bad as my mind would have me believe. It’s also essential in preventing me from becoming a hermit!!

Take this very moment for instance, I am currently sat alone on a train travelling to London for the weekend. I have plans to spend the weekend with a group of ladies, only two of which I know, one of which is a family member. We are off to see the Strictly live show tomorrow afternoon and as a dedicated strictly fan and for a variety of other reasons, I couldn’t turn it down. 

But as I sit here on this train, living what many would see as a mother’s dream -(a whole weekend of adult time, no arguing kids, no demands, no bedtimes, pure luxury) I am a huge mess of emotions inside. Hopefully on the outside I look perfectly normal and none of my fellow passenger will notice. But my insides are being churned up by anxiety.

I have walked away from everything that keeps me safe. I am going to somewhere far from home without my family, without my husband even without my dog and not for work purposes. All things that give me an identity and act as my safety blanket. At this very moment I am just me – not a mum, not a wife, not an employee, not a dog owner and to me that is utterly terrifying!! It’s only when they are stripped away that I realise how much I depend on those safety nets to keep me going.

Everyone’s instant reaction when you tell them what you are doing is to rave about how lucky I am to be getting away, to be experiencing something so great and to be having a break from my family and routine. I am not an ungrateful person in anyway and I do realise how privileged I am but that doesn’t unfortunately take away how difficult I find this. That family, that routine, that purpose is literally what keeps me going and whilst it is exhausting in itself and I do often want a break, being away from them is a bit like losing my lifeline. So I smile and nod along when people say it, but inside that’s not really how I feel.

My rational head knows that I need to do this, I need to break away from those safety nets for a short amount of time. My rational head knows that this feeling of discomfort is important. Consequently, I have put on my game face, I have forced myself to do this even though I have wanted to back out so many times. I have suppressed my anxious feelings and I will push forward, and I will do everything in my power to enjoy myself because otherwise this has all been for nothing. But the irrational and anxiety riddled part of my head is waiting to pounce on me at the very moment my facade drops.

It’s going to be a tiring old time and I may well go in to hiding when I get home. Don’t underestimate the physical and mental exertion required to live in a constant anxious state. I may not attend the next 9 things I am offered, but hopefully every time I push my limits it will actually increase my capacity and it may only be 8/10 things I turn down. Maybe that won’t be the case , but I won’t know unless I try and try is all I can do. I am coming to terms with that and that in itself is growth.

If you need me after tomorrow, this is where I will be.

Poor visibility ahead – best put your fog lights on!

An honest update on how January 2019 has panned out. I had such high hopes at the start of the month but it has not quite gone to plan.

My head is in a total mess at the moment. I’ll be honest that I am not in the great place I was hoping for at the start of January when I wrote my previous post (The start of a new year – A time for reflection or just another day?)

As the month has gone on, I have felt this fog descending and I have fallen head first in to a huge funk!! Life has become disheartening, frustrating and it feels like I am wading through treacle.  Every day I wake up hoping that I might feel better, the fog will have lifted and each day will feel a bit easier. But so far that hasn’t really been the case. I do try most mornings to be more positive, but invariably by the end of the day I have been ground back down. It almost feels like I have no control, I want to stop this feeling, I want to come out of the funk but I just don’t seem to be able to do it at the moment.  But it’s not making me a very nice person, I am not behaving the way I want, I’m not parenting the way I want and overall our family life is suffering. I need this to stop and I need it to stop now – but I don’t know where to start!!

I have some idea what is fuelling the funk but no idea how to work a way forward. The things that are triggering this feeling do not seem to be easily fixed. I don’t know what I want in all honesty, and anything I do want has constraints and limitations wrapped around it. But deep down there is a bubbling pot of aspiration, longing and desire. There are things I want to do and they do give me energy. But it feels like that is buried under hard layers that it can’t penetrate. Its like there is a bustling buzzing energy laden down by a wet blanket of misery, indecisiveness and lethargy. A need and desire to do something but no clue what to do or where to start!! The constant internal conflict between want to be productive, not knowing what to produce and despair over failure to produce anything.

I am suffering from a lack of drive due to a lack of direction. I need to find myself a life sat nav, put in the destination post code and see which route comes up as the quickest. If only such a thing existed!!

If only there was a sat nav that could help us navigate life, getting us to our destination as quickly and painlessly as possible.



But until such time as that dream technology is designed, I shall have to navigate through the old fashioned way – some kind of map and blind faith.

At this point I will add the disclaimer that I am fully aware there are people in the world with far greater problems than this. But this is my problem and it is within the scope of my life and currently impacting on it more than I would like. So whilst it would pale in significance to others fights, it is relevant to me and my struggle.  

I feel huge amounts of resentment building up inside of me, I am fighting this constant battle between wanting to do more with my life but being stuck in a job that I don’t enjoy that takes up my time that I could be using towards something more stimulating and exciting. But needing to stay in that job to earn money because stimulating and exciting won’t pay me a monthly amount from the get go. So in turn I feel resentful of the children, because when I am not at work I am with them. They also take up my time that I could be using elsewhere and they also don’t earn me anything. But I don’t want to feel resentful, I want to enjoy my time with them and not feel pressure to do other stuff – not just life goals but all the other regular life stuff like cleaning and cooking. Stuff I could be doing if I didn’t have to dedicate my time to the unstimulating, joy draining job whilst they are at school. That leaves my Fridays, which are job and child free but which I mentally cram a million things in to and achieve, at best 5 of them. Leaving me feeling frustrated. So I look at how many of those other things could be done outside of my Friday therefore reducing my to do list. So I try to shoehorn them in to my family life or work life and then feel resentful of the job or the family stopping me from achieving anything on that list.

I am in a toxic cycle, and I haven’t a clue how to get off. Do I leave my job? Well I already did that once and it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be! what if I get another one but that isn’t any good either? I don’t want to be a serial job leaver. What if the problem isn’t the job? What if the problem is me? What if I am incapable of being happy? How do I solve that problem?

Do I stop wanting to do all the other stuff? So I just focus on work and my family? After all when the family is grown up then I can pick things back up? Truth is that would be the easiest option, give up my goals and aspirations for now because I am being pulled too many ways again. But selfishly I don’t think that is enough for me, I feel like I have so much more to give than I am. I don’t know what exactly and I definitely don’t know how but I think to give that up would crush my soul. It could do more damage than good. After all I am still a person, not just a mum and not just an employee, and I can’t let that go!

I am lucky to have a supporting husband, who would help me and support me to make changes. After all he did once before, but we both thought these changes would make things better and they have in so many ways. The childcare stress has significantly reduced. I like that I don’t have to worry about covering the school holidays. But there are limitations to the support that he can offer. His job is very demanding, we rely on it for financial survival. My salary in comparison is a drop in the ocean, although it would be noticeably missed. His job has zero flexibility in terms of helping out with childcare Monday – Friday 9-5. He is around sometimes but that is sporadic, unexpected and unreliable. Any changes I made would have to factor in the care of two children. Whether it be me or wrap around care. But wrap around care for two kids on a smallish salary seems frivolous. Jobs with more responsibility that will offer more stimulation seem to need to be done over more hours and I could end up back in a non-family friendly environment desperately paddling to keep up with everyone else and being stressed as a result. Jobs that fit round my children that I could walk in to now don’t seem to offer me what I need for me.

I’m not sure what the answer is at the moment, I don’t know how to solve this problem. I don’t know how to make these feelings go away so that on a day to day basis I can feel happier and healthier. I would love to go back to my counsellor to thrash this out, but counselling whilst worth its weight in gold does not come cheap. So for now I am going to have to continue to plod along as I am, taking steps to try and improve things where I can. I feel lucky to have the insight that I do, that I can see what the problem is and I can recognise the symptoms that there is something wrong. I may not have the tools yet to tap in and solve the problem, but from the outside looking in I know there is something going on. Two years ago, when I felt this way I just carried on plodding and pretending it was all ok. I genuinely believed that these feelings were part and parcel of my life and I just needed to get on with it. I now know that not to be the case so I can tangibly see the progress I have made. That in itself is hugely reassuring and if I can make that kind of progress from my darkest times, then I am sure I can climb out of this pit of misery and sort myself out.

I am just going to have to do it slowly and methodically, giving myself the time and compassion required to work this through. There won’t be a quick fix, I don’t have my life sat nav yet. I just need to keep reminding myself that this too will pass. I’m all about the big picture thinking, and I will get to the big picture eventually by whatever means necessary. The path travelled may not be the straightest or the most direct, but it will be worthwhile and filled with life lessons along the way. I’m sure of it.

But in the meantime, I may go and patent the life sat nav, who knows that could be my answer to everything!!

What is this self care you speak of ?!?

I was casually indulging in a spot of kitchen cleaning, specifically the oven of doom!!, and to stop myself from losing the plot entirely I was also indulging in a bit of an Instagram story catch up sesh at the same time. So, there I was elbow deep in the oven pride and listening to the fabulous @Natashabailie talking about self-care.
If you aren’t familiar with Natasha, and I would urge you to change that, then you may not be aware that she is a great voice in the Instagram mental health community and speaks very passionately about the use of self-care in managing mental health difficulties. She can be found on Instagram or at www.mentalmutha.com
During these particular stories, Natasha was talking about the fact that whilst she strongly values self-care not everyone feels the same. She was questioning why this may be the case and this in turn got me thinking about my relationship with self-care and my take on what Natasha was saying.

Self-care hasn’t always come easily to me, in the lead up to my illness my life was completely full with work, kids, family and a never-ending stream if time filling commitments with little value. I viewed taking care of my self as selfish and it wasn’t what good mothers did because good mothers put everything in to raising the family and keeping the home.
(Disclaimer 1: I am not saying this is the case at all, it was simply a warped perception I held for some time. Disclaimer 2: despite what it sounds like, I was not raised in Stepford during the 60’s. I am not sure where this warped perception stems from)

It wasn’t until I broke that I realised I needed to work a bit more on me to be able to look after others. This is the tag line that is so often used and is absolutely right. But I’ll be honest, even now I still struggle with self-care and I don’t think I am alone in that.
So why is this the case? Why do so many people shun what seems like a dream situation – a genuine excuse to make time for yourself and do nice things?

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Self-care doesn’t have to be a mountain, don’t be scared by the idea.

In reality I think that a lot of people either don’t truly understand what self-care means and they have a very tight definition of what counts as self-care. For others it just feels too big, too scary and too time consuming. After all, if your head is full and you are feeling the stretch, the idea of trying to factor something else in to the mix can be overwhelming. Consequently, the things that are easiest to remove are the ones we take out the first. After all it is not that easy to take out work or family commitments so we sacrifice the things that will help us the most.

Even now when I have worked very hard on trying to rebuild myself, and when I have changed so many of the negative things from before, I still struggle with having the time and the headspace to tackle self-care.

Yoga for example – My friend keeps telling me of the virtues of yoga for my physical and mental health. I know this is true and I do really want to get in to it, but I don’t feel like I have the time or the headspace to start it yet. It sounds crazy but I think it is a bit like addicts admitting they have a problem before they will seek help. I need to feel ready to commit the time to yoga before I can contemplate starting it. I had the same thing with counselling. I knew I needed it for a long time, before I was really ill but I didn’t have the headspace to commit to it. Counselling is a long and hard journey. One that is worthwhile no doubt but not something you can jump in to lightly. Obviously, yoga is not the same level of intensity as counselling but the principle is the same and that I think also applies to self-care. You have to be able to commit the time to it before you can start the process. You have to believe in the value and you have to recognise the benefits.

But I do think there is a lot of confusion or presumption around what is meant by self-care. It isn’t always about finding time to go to the salon or the spa, although these things count and are very valuable to some. It can be about doing something that makes you feel good, whatever that may be and recognising its value.

For me, and this may well sound lame to some, it is making time to do some life admin or some cleaning admin. I definitely didn’t enjoy cleaning the brown gunk out of my oven but my god did I feel good afterwards. That box of oven pride had been in my house for more than 2 months and sitting beside the oven for at least a month (minus the days when people came round and I didn’t want to highlight the state of my oven) to try and encourage me to do it and simultaneously making me feel guilty for not doing it. So, to have actually had the time to tick that job off my to do list made me feel amazing.
Having a clean house makes me feel like I have my sh** together, it makes me feel like I am top of things and that I’m not completely failing at life. That is important to me but it isn’t necessarily important to others and that’s fine.

Find what is important to you and try to make some time to do it. It doesn’t have to be the glamourous stuff that is so often publicised, it may be stuff that you don’t want to admit to or that isn’t “instagrammable” but that’s ok. You don’t need to justify to anyone else what self-care means to you.
Its really not a case of “go hard or go home” either, it can be small things leading to big things or it can just always be small things.

Self-care is not an insurmountable mountain, it is stepping stones towards making you feel better. Those stepping stones can be as close together or as far apart as you need them at the moment. If you only manage something for you once a month or less frequently than that, its ok. And as ever with the world of social media, don’t be driven by what others are doing or feel bad because others seem to be doing it more or doing it better. People only post what they want you to see. Self-care is just that, something for yourself. Do it to make you feel better and only you. If you want to, please feel free to comment and share what you do or have done. Perhaps it will help others to identify something they could do for themselves to make a positive change.

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You don’t have to go from 0-60 straight away. Take small steps, even tiny ones will make a difference.

I’ll start you off with a few ideas that work for ME:
1) Keeping on top of the cleaning (I used the Organised Mum Method – see Instagram, facebook or this blog if you want to know what I mean www.theorganisedmum.blog)
2) Having lists of all the things I need or want to do. This stops them swimming around in my head and making me feel overwhelmed or forgetful.
3) Painting my nails – I use gel/shellac but do it at home because I can’t afford the time to make an appointment somewhere. For me having nice nails makes me feel a hundred times better.
I would love it if you could share your ideas with me.