It has been a week since I returned from the British Transplant Games and it would seem that it is only today that I feel content to be at home. Once again the change from one lifestyle to home has led to a period of depression that is centred around feeling lost of purpose. I say “once again” because I knew this was likely, and I would probably say it always happens but I struggle with the clear cut nature of such a statement.
I find it difficult to capture my experience at the games and to be honest, I am not sure this is the place to do it. From a practical point of view, I woke up each day with a focus on a particular event. I usually had breakfast in the hotel at 9am. Most of my events were in the afternoon, so a couple of times I had time to kill before finding my way to a location. I only had to once find an event by myself. There was only one evening when no social event was organised but generally I was a team player and went along to experience the activities so that next time I could make an informed choice.
I returned home, spending most of the day on a cross-country train (this means it covers both east and west coast places which takes a lot longer than going along the coastal main-lines). I had a slight tear in my right quad from the sprinting I had done on Sunday. I also had a gold medal from the archery competition on the first day.
Back home, I struggled to find a focus. For many weeks I had pushed myself to keep exercising three or four times a week and now I didn’t need to do any. In fact, I had to rest my injury for a few days before trying to exercise. In a sense I was actively doing nothing. This is not good from a low mood point of view. I was also mentally drained. I met so many people, hung around in noisy places and experienced swimming and running in a competitive environment. I was completely out of my comfort zone in so many ways. I also had little energy to process the experiences. I needed a rest after a month of writing everyday and aside from jotting down a few notes on the first day, my creativity was firmly confined to reading a book. I guess you could say I was mentally numb.
So I’m back home doing no exercise and struggling to get words written down. Not good. Then there is the fact that our long term lodgers have returned from their trip early. I don’t think I am complaining but it is a fact that I find it difficult to relax when there are other people in the house. Add in more people and the likelihood presence of others increases, which I react to with more anxiety. Then there is the transitioning of routines. Are the chores and cooking rota back to where they were before my friends left or not? Do I really need to go shopping immediately? Does the bill really come to that much? Yes it is a burden to me to have more people around, but it is also next to have the support they give too.
So now I have no exercise, no creative output, and more people around without settled routines. I am also reminded during the first evening back that the child still living at home is getting their exam results the next day. We are apparently pretending that the results will come through the post first but it turns out that they will arrive by email before that. My partner and I are focused on our child first. Will one of us be in the house when the results come in? Though that turns into, will I be in when the results arrive? It depends. I have my Late Diagnosis Group on Tuesday morning so maybe not. As it happens the group is cancelled at the last minute so I have time to contemplate what to do. I tried to think through what to say if the results are not what my kid wants but I decide to wait to see what happens. I think I need to see their reactions to know how to respond.
I am sitting on the sofa reading when they finally get out of bed. The door to the hallway is wide open. Looking sideways, I can see the computer where my child normally sits. The bedroom door opens around 11am. They switch the computer on before padding off to the bathroom. A few minutes later, they walk back to their room and get dressed. A few more minutes and they are sitting in front of the computer. A flurry of mobile phone messaging seems to be going on in front of the computer. I see my child in profile. They tap away at the keyboard and click the mouse. The focus shifts to the mobile, then back to the screen. I see a half smile and their eye seems to sparkle. I am guessing it is good news but I don’t feel able to interrupt their thoughts. I wait. More mobile phone usage then back to the computer and so on. The minutes march on and I try to be patient. There are no tears or frustration that I can see. Would it be okay to interrupt? They get up and seem to head into the kitchen for something. On their return I am noticed. The results are nearly perfect and certainly good enough to head off to university. I disseminate the scores to the family via my mobile phone.
I sit there relieved that I don’t have to comfort my kid, if anything the opposite is true. They are checking all the entry requirement for their chosen course throughout the Scottish universities. I guess it’s nice to see the enthusiasm. I am aware though that this is my last child leaving home. I acknowledge the sadness that seeps out in me and I flag a note of concern because I know this is probably going to a tough experience. The leaving of my first child was hard. The leaving of my second child was worse. It was this that encouraged me to confront my depression and do something about it. I decided to write to help support my mental health and through this, I finally recognised that I was autistic and pushed for a diagnosis. Children leaving home have a powerful effect on me.
I have tried to be gentle on myself this last week. I always find it hard to get back into the home routine with all the many responsibilities it has but this time it has felt rather long. I am not sure what has changed today. This morning has been rather nice despite the heavy rain we’ve had for the last 36 hours. I have enjoyed the company of the people in the house. I got around to taking some cuttings and potting them on. I also have a sense of appreciation over my plant management skills in general which was reinforced by the chance discovery of a 15 cm flower on a cactus. I am even planning to go swimming in an hour. It’s rather nice to have written something too. Strange how things turn around.