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Thank You

Thank You. Such a simple phrase to utter and yet we ofttime forget to offer our thanks when a colleague has gone that extra mile, a friend has texted a heart emoji to let you know they are thinking of you, a small child says ‘Thank you’ when you bless him after a sneeze, or a neighbour brings in your empty bins, just because they can.

I recently had a string of emails that were headed Thank You, Re: Thank You, Re: Re: Thank you. It was from a colleague whom I had not seen for some time but who had popped in before Christmas to look at our sensory room and have a brief chat about many of the challenges working with young people with additional support needs. This colleague and I caught up again recently and tempted as I was I had to gracefully decline the kind gesture of a milky coffee and muffin.

The muffin was taken home and B gratefully devoured it after our walk in the freezing wind on a bright yellow, gold and reflected blue beach during which he complained of sore cheeks rendered pink by the cold, as we dodged and ducked the patches of wet sand playing Tig.

When I first started learning to drink coffee aged 14yrs it was very milky and very sweet, in fact I think we used to heat up the milk and sugar and then add instant coffee, but for more years than I can remember I have taken my coffee black and very strong. Strange to think back at how desperately I wanted to drink coffee – it seemed so grown up, and I certainly had more interest and curiosity to get it right than I ever did about learning to drink alcohol. I maintain to this day that if I had to choose between alcohol and coffee I would choose coffee.

I have recently engaged in a number of chats about alcohol with my daughters and colleagues and there are times I can honestly say that I wish I had never been introduced to the stuff. I drink sensibly and mostly only in company but so much time and money is wasted getting even slightly inebriated.

I was quietly alarmed when on the Mental Health First Aid training session a few weeks ago we were asked why alcohol wasn’t an effective self-medicating remedy for even mild cases of depression. Several suggestions were offered, including not being able to drive, the cost, possible interference with medication, but few realised that alcohol itself can be a depressant when consumed regularly and in quantity. Conversely alcohol also gives us a surge of energy and I suppose that’s where the confusion lies. We get a surge of energy which increases dopamine and thus momentarily boosts the feel good factor, but as soon as we start to come down from excessive alcohol consumption we crash.

Guilty as charged, m’Lud. I have used alcohol to self-medicate when my moods have been low, self-esteem dragging far beneath me, all confidence shot to pieces and wearing paranoia like a broken Australian corked hat. I have cajoled myself, convinced Me that I’m alright Jack, mind your own back, but the reality is that there are probably more cringe-worthy moments lost to being under the influence than I would care to recall.

Is this some build up to saying I will never drink again? Hell, no, I love wine, but I have started an inner dialogue with myself which is working and that is to slow down in company, be mindful of exactly how I’m feeling and how I’m presenting myself. Prior to Christmas I hit un unexpected low and supped a little most nights in the lead up to the seasonal holiday. Certainly not even enough to be getting drunk but a wee swallie of vodka or wine, just to numb the dread of the looming festive season. It’s been a while since I felt like that but there it was and so I gratefully absorbed each and every excuse to indulge, resulting in meaningless cross words and hours of inactivity. Since then I have regained control and aim to pursue other sources of release – walking Jilly, reading, taking photos and writing. How easily I can lose a few hours indulging in my creative interests and look! I have a positive result…this blog.

So Thank You to all of you who have started to read my blog and your incredibly kind and encouraging words, that in itself is motivation enough.

I have been reading Ten Traits of Resilience and answering the reflections as I go along and when asked how I would explain Resilience wrote the following: ‘Resilience is being able to to recognise that self care is as vital as offering comfort to those in distress. We have to put on our own oxygen mask before attending to the needs of others”.

We have to learn to walk well in our own shoes especially if they are brand new and scream ‘We’re going on holiday!’ And so the half term begins and to celebrate I am meeting some dear friends later for a drink or two, but no more than three! Be kind to yourselves.

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