Space to ‘just be’

“I feel as if I wanted to be quite alone by myself”
Bobbie, in ‘The Railway Children’

When I have periods of being unwell, I don’t want to do anything. I want to be away from everything, everyone. I want to be alone.

I recognise that an important part of getting better is engaging, doing things, being active. But I also think that the importance of doing nothing, or giving yourself time and space to ‘just be’, can’t be underestimated. This is hard to see sometimes though. Especially when it seems like everything is demanding your time.

During this last bout of depression, I lost myself. I stopped having opinions, I refused to even acknowledge my feelings. Instead of listening to myself, slowing down, taking a break, I tried to do what everyone else wanted, and pushed myself until I couldn’t keep going. Physically and mentally exhausted, I wanted everything to stop, and instead of saying no to people, relieving the pressure a bit and allowing me space to rest, I felt like my only option was to make everything stop by ending my life. This is a scary place to be, and one that’s difficult to navigate your way out of.

It’s difficult to say no. In our personal lives, we don’t want to let down the people we care about. At work, we want to be seen as capable, reliable, and hardworking – ‘team players’. So saying no, that we don’t want to do something, or that we can’t or don’t have the capacity, is difficult. But it is important. I’m realising more and more that feeling able to say no is essential when it comes to my own mental health. I’m not saying that we should refuse to do anything we don’t fancy – compromise is a really big part of relationships – but setting limits, and sticking to them, means that you’re not sacrificing your own health and wellbeing in order to keep others happy.

A while ago, I was talking to a friend about this. She said that, very often, when someone asks her to do something, instead of saying yes immediately, she asks for time to think about it. I think we all need that time, sometimes, but we are afraid to ask for it. Maybe it’s time to be brave though. What’s the worst that could happen? The world will not end, people will not hate you. And the best? You get time out, to ‘just be’. And that is a very good thing.

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