‘Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning…'
Just a little reminder to be kind to yourself
Last week I received a message from a friend I haven’t been in touch with for almost a decade. We lost touch not due to a fall out, but because she moved away after she got married (sidenote: her wedding was one of my absolute faves) and I fell into a destructive pattern of partying through life to offset the devastation of my own divorce. In sharing updates of our new lives, I learned that my friend now had two young boys. She described how, having spent almost two years in strict isolation during The Pandemic, she now found herself battling various viruses that the boys were picking up at school. An accountant in her day job, she was exhausted and sleep deprived. I empathised with her and before we signed off for the night, I sent her a message that said: ‘Be kind to yourself.’ and she shortly replied: ‘That almost made me cry. “Be kind to yourself” is something I am sadly not familiar with. I think a lot of women are conditioned to keep going regardless.’
I was sad to read this, and yet glad that my words had been somewhat comforting to her. I’ve been (supposedly) off work for the last week and yet I’ve found myself substituting my paid FT work for other projects I’m trying to get off the ground. Worries about finances, keeping on top of social engagements (often failing and upsetting friends in the process) and making sure I’m in line with God’s plan for my life have taken over mentally and I had a couple of “down days” last week when I felt like I was drowning. Last week I wrote a piece for Woman Alive about what is known as “functional depression” and had feedback from people who said they felt, or had felt, similarly. Personally, I know that when I begin to feel overwhelmed, for lack of a workable solution, I start to shut down and because I am usually so “capable”, this often plays out in the extreme. After a more serious episode of depression earlier this year, friends asked me to let them know when I was starting to feel low so that they could help me. However it’s difficult, when you’re in it; when you’re drowning, to know how to lift up an arm to raise the alarm. Much easier to sink into the metaphorical tub and admit surrender. I realise this metaphor won’t work for those of you who love baths (LOL), but I hope the sentiment is clear nonetheless.
As a writer, one of my most comforting practices is writing, and journaling has played a big part in much of my healing - from any and every trauma. However, when I can’t pick up a pen, I have tried to return to a simple practice of reading the Bible (or/and listening to the audio version on the free Bible app). Even if not with any strong intention, if we can recognise that the words in the Bible are powerful, then we can take comfort in knowing that we can be soothed by them, even if our circumstances don’t change straight away. Today I came across a scripture I can’t say I’ve ever seen before (or at least am unfamiliar with), and it seemed to speak directly to my situation. It reads: Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” [Isaiah 30:21]
The thing is, when you’re trying to live a certain way, it’s all too easy to condemn yourself if you feel like you’re going off track. This scripture feels like a soothing balm for my otherwise ever-chastising inner voice of perfectionism. The excellent author and speaker Cathy Madavan writes in an article planned for a future issue of Woman Alive that we can get into a mindset which suggests that the path God has for us is a tightrope, and that life is a balancing act to get to the end without falling off. But the scripture above reminds us that there is something of a buffer; perhaps a little like the ones you get on the lanes in bowling alleys. Maybe life is more zig zag than linear, and maybe that’s ok. So while we don’t want you drowning in the bathtub of life, maybe a little soak is good for you - now and then. And when you feel ready to get out, God in His gentle kindness, will lead you back on to the path He has for you.
PS - I have a printed copy of Desiderata up in my home. I find the words particularly soothing and hope they do the same for you.
A bit about me...my full name is Tola-Doll Fisher (known to my friends as "Doll"). I’m head of brand for Woman Alive, a writer and model. In 2020, my first book Still Standing - 100 Lessons From An Unsuccessful Life was published by SPCK.
I want to inspire women (and men, but particularly women) through accessible faith and focus on finding joy despite not winning at life or being a "girl boss". Among other things, I am most proud of skiing in a bikini at the end of my ski season and being able to do dancer's pose in 5-inch heels. More from me…