Well I kind of failed on my decision to write in here once a week but I decided not to feel guilty about it. Well after a bit of a slump for a few weeks after my work contract finished, I’m back to “normal”, “average”, whatever it’s called.
I don’t know if my three week slump would be called “depression”. I honestly don’t know. When I have episodes of endogenous (the fancy word for biological depression caused by brain chemicals being off), they are very obvious. They are severe, they have a clear cut beginning and a clear cut end, and there is no questioning they are severe. When I’m sad but not “depressed”, it is also very obvious. Whether that sadness is grief, such as when I lost my grandmother at the beginning of the year (which kind of feels like a decade ago in some ways), or just the sadness of something else bad happening, it is very different from actual clinical depression, even when it is strong sadness. It is exogenous (the fancy word used for sadness or depression caused by life circumstances). I know some people are plagued by clinical depression caused by their life circumstances, but even when I have suffered a huge loss, my sadness has been simply that – sadness and not depression.
So I guess my post-work “slump” has taken me a bit by surprise. It doesn’t feel like normal sadness, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like the horror of biological depression. Maybe it’s situational depression. I don’t know. Just hadn’t felt like that before – more than “sadness” but less than my usual depression.
But anyway, I guess even though I feel old, there are always new experiences to be had and new feelings to be felt, even if that sometimes means ones that aren’t so positive.
Anyway, one of the uncommon effects I have of bipolar, is rather than being someone who has mania/hypomania and then crashes into depression, my personal experience is that when I’ve been down, I thankfully bounce back to a period of energy. So I’ve decided to turn my (hopefully not too long) period of unemployment into an opportunity. Other than now not being too tired (mostly) to enjoy my days at home with Rose, I’ve decided to try to start the home business I’ve always wanted to.
While it’s complicated being mentally energetic while being physically exhausted and in a lot of pain, but that’s the joy of mental illness and physical disabilities combined. I guess though, if it means I can achieve something I’ve wanted to do for many years, I’m certainly not complaining. I wouldn’t go as far as saying how I’ve been feeling the last few weeks even qualifies as hypomanic (let alone full-blown mania), but I would say I have been very passionate about it. I’ve finally had the energy to start clearing out a section of the house that has been cluttered since literally before I moved in with John. (My possessions “moved in” about a week before I did). It’s still a work in progress because of my physical limitations, but I feel like I’m making progress for the first time in nearly 3 years.
I’ve probably stayed up too late a few nights doing the decluttering but it has been worth it. I’ve been putting together my “supplies” for my business. (sorry for the coyness, but I don’t want to share about my business plans on this blog as I still want to stay anonymous). I’ve even managed to make a few sales. Not of things that I plan to sell in the long run, but selling off my excess business related items.
Despite my excitement and mental energy, I am being realistic. The reality is, I may never turn a profit. Something like 80-90% of businesses fail in the first year. Ultimately though, I’m not doing this to get an income (although that would be nice). I’m doing it because it’s something I enjoy, and as much as I love my wonderful daughters, I need a purpose outside of family. While I think motherhood can be a career all on it’s own (it certainly is a full time job!), there is a really danger for stay at home parents to end up not having a life outside of their children. And then what happens when the children grow up, move out of home and move on with their own lives?
I have seen it in my own mother. The unhealthy desire to live one’s own unfulfilled dreams through one’s children. And it’s not healthy. I know some people would argue against this. In fact there are some people I know who would argue that a woman’s sole purpose in life should be 100% on her kids (or kids and partner). And I understand this view – I truly do. But I still believe it’s not healthy. If a woman spends her whole life focused solely on her children, then there are a multitude of unhealthy outcomes – if she focuses on her children at the expense of her husband, then more often than not, it costs her her marriage – and this is not only not healthy for her (or her husband obviously) but it’s not healthy for the children. If a woman spends her whole life focused on nothing but her children and her husband, then when the children grow up, she is left with very little else in her life as her husband has his own interests and doesn’t want to spend 24/7 with his wife.
It’s why I focus on being someone like my mother in law, rather than someone like my own mother. I can’t remember if I’ve talked much about my mother in law, but despite being a full time mum to quite a large number of kids (at least by modern standards), she has found time for her own interests. Never at the expense of her kids, but in a healthy way. Volunteering at church, volunteering in other capacities, helping out extended family and friends, and having hobbies of her own. It’s a healthy balance – when the kids need her more, she cuts back on her outside of the family activities, and when the kids need her less, she cultivates her own interests (pretty much always things helping others, but that seems to be her passion and joy in life so if that’s what makes her happy….).
But to me, that’s what trying to set up my own business is. So I can show my children how to have a healthy balance of family life and other activities. It also hopefully will give me the opportunity to teach them practical skills as I work on my business. It hopefully will give me the opportunity to show them healthy ways to meet new people too (something I struggle with greatly due to the aspergers and social anxiety). And if nothing else, it will hopefully show them how to be industrious and useful in life (no just sitting around doing nothing and expecting society to hand you everything on a silver platter) and to follow their dreams, to not just have ideas but be passionate about putting those dreams into practice.
And the thing is… even if I fail, which knowing the odds is highly likely, I hope it will teach them resilience, to not give up on life just because something doesn’t work out. As well as the practical skill of never investing in something more than you can afford to lose. While I must admit, I have been putting everything I can spare into setting up this business, the point of it being “everything I can spare” is that I’m not putting into it anything that I can’t spare. If things don’t work, all I will have lost is time and effort – and even then, I will have had fun along the way and if I’m doing something for fun, who cares if it never makes money.
It’s funny – when I was growing up, everyone around me, even close family mistook me for this ambitious person who would do anything to be the best at everything and better than anyone else. While I must admit, I did take some pride in being the best when I was the best at something, but it was never my driving motivation. My “desire” to be the best was simply a desire to get my parents off my back – because I knew if I wasn’t the best, I would be punished for it. The only way to make them happy was to be the best. Actually not even being the best was good enough – I had to be perfect. And the reality is, that’s not me. I’m not perfect. I wouldn’t say I’m a regular human being (I’m very weird and different and proud of it!) but just like a regular human being, I have flaws. I always push myself to be perfect (although I’m trying more and more not to push myself too hard) because I still have that driving fear of all the times my parents told me I wasn’t good enough, what a failure I was etc. And even though I can forgive them and it stop hurting a long time ago, that is the one impact they still have on me – feeling like I have to be perfect.
But wanting the best has never been my motivation. I tried explaining it to a family member not that long ago. My driving force is to try to be the best *I* can be. Not the best compared to other people, but just the best *me*.
Those who are driven to be the best compared to other people often suffer three great flaws – they often seek to be the best at the expense of those they see as competitors, once they have become “the best” they stop trying to be better, and unless they are the best (which is rare as nearly always there will be someone “better” at any particular activity), they feel like failures. Whereas those who seek to be simply the best they can be personally, they are the ones who usually build others up to be the best they can be too, they are the ones who even if they do become the best at something, they keep striving to be better if they can do better, and if they come last/fail miserably etc, they are the ones who are happy because they know they did their best.
I think in some ways, even though I would never say it to the person I talked about it with, I was a little hurt when discussing this when the person they are glad that I “now” see this way because the reality is, I have always been this way, even from a young child. I was always that kid that entered every event in the athletics carnivals, knowing I would nearly always come dead last. And why? Well for several reasons. The first being is in school carnivals and interschool carnivals, every participant got points. 1st, 2nd and 3rd would always get more points, but every other participant got one point. And I have forgotten the interschool cross country run that I ran in for primary school. There were 21 participants, the first 20 got points if they finished the race. I not only finished dead last, but I think I was at least half an hour behind the person who finished ahead of me. But I finished! Two other people didn’t. Which means I got a point. Sounds like nothing? But it was that single point that allowed my school to get a place. Without it, we wouldn’t have.
And the truth is, even if the other two had not dropped out, and I had come 21st and not got a point. I still wouldn’t have quit. Because running that race was about two things only – supporting my team, trying my hardest for them AND simply trying my HARDEST. I finished that race because I knew if I put everything I had into it, I could finish it. And even though no one noticed nor cared the effort I put in, it didn’t matter. Because I know I had done the very best I could do.
And that has always been my motivation. It has never been about beating others or caring about being better than others. For me, my motivations have always been the same motivations that kept me going, even when I could barely walk, let alone run, in that cross country race – to support “my team” (whether that be my family, my friends or just humanity in general) and to be the best person I can be.
Of course I’m still plagued at times by feeling not good enough when *my* best isn’t *the* best but I know those are only the thoughts of my parents imposed on me, not my motivations.
So anyway, bringing that back to my business… the reality is, the business may fail, but as long as I’ve tried my best and had fun along the way, *I* won’t have failed. And I hope to show my girls that. I hope to show them that as long as they try their hardest in life, where they place in a race, how much they earn, what type of work they do, what they look like etc…..none of that matters. Life is not about winning – life is simply about being the best person you can be. Especially in the areas that matter most – what type of person they are. I want my girls to grow up to have values and being a loving person to be the area they most want to be the best person they can be.
Anyway, what started as a simple post about what I’ve been doing in my new life of being a full time stay at home mum (albeit temporarily I hope), has turned into a philosophical discussion about the meaning of life. Welcome to the many thoughts of my mind 🙂
I will leave it there, but if I forget to post for a few weeks again, I have not disappeared. The truth is, I think I’m more exhausted than when I was working. Between trying to start this business and often being kept awake by Rose waking throughout the night coughing (I’m 99% sure she has asthma but she can’t be started on a preventer until she turns 2 as doctors won’t officially diagnose asthma until then according to all the doctors who have seen her, but I’ve been down this path with Sammie’s asthma starting the same way, and seeing my younger brother go through the same at the same age). At least thankfully winter is officially over, and the weather is finally starting to follow suit.
In the words of Arnie…. “I’ll be back” 😉