When Stress Silently Creeps Up On You

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Something happened on Saturday morning that made me feel a little alienated from the version of myself I’ve always known.

Chris and I had been walking back to the car after a morning of yoga, coffee and cinnamon buns, and whilst I lost myself daydreaming about what I could do with the rest of my day, a new sudden thought whipped to the forefront of my mind.

I hadn’t declared my sponsored Instagram post from the day before. I knew without even checking my phone that there was no hashtag ad.

And I know what you’re thinking. WHAT AN ABSOLUTE FOOL.

It hadn’t been a conscious decision to trick you.

My mind had completely, well… forgotten.

A bit like when you do your make-up and head out for the day and you’re like hang on hun, where’s the blusher? There’s no blusher on your face. YOU LOOK RIDICULOUS.

The first thing I did was obvs go and edit it, and the second thing I did, was cry.

I cried because a) PMS is a right hoot of a hun, ain’t she? and b) because I’ve never done anything like that before. It’s not part of my personality. I’m not a forgetter. I’m not ever late. I’m precise. I am a Virgo and us Virgos do not do shit like that.

I felt like my brain had betrayed the person I’ve known for the past 27 years. It had failed us both.

Y’see, this probably wouldn’t feel like such a big deal if it was the only weird and ridiculously stupid thing I’d done in the past week or two.

There was of course the smashed phone screen. The entire cup of coffee I dropped across not only the car dashboard, my seat and the floor, but my face, my hair, my dungarees, my coat and my camera. There was the morning I drove out for an hour before I suddenly realised I’d left the back door wide open. Hello kind burglars plz help yourself to my Macbook and TV, or not. The time I banged my head on the roof of the car. The bottle of wine I knocked over whilst trying to get to a chopping board. The bag of seeds that fell out of a cupboard and scattered across the kitchen floor. The tripod I snapped in two.

These things might just sound like your average week, but they are not my average week. They are not me.

Sure, I’ve always been a bit clumsy. I walk into door handles sometimes and get my handbag caught on my hand brake every ruddy week. But this, this flailing person is not me.

These things are not the things the Hannah Gale I know does.

These are the things, the actions, of an imposter.

After I’d cried, and had my release, I stopped. I took a bath and lit a candle and listened to a Harry Potter audiobook and I thought of all the things that make me feel calm.

And whilst Chris went off to uni to spend the weekend working on his dissertation, I drove to Tesco and bought a couple of novels, and the ingredients for a really kick-ass cheese toastie.

And then I came home, and I curled up under a blanket on the sofa in my softest pyjamas. I made a cup of tea and a hot water bottle – not because I was in pain or cold, but because I so desperately needed the comfort. And I switched off. I immersed myself in a world, in a life, that wasn’t about the internet, or work, or even about other people. Just about me. About Hannah Gale.

I sometimes forget that I exist on my own.

That actually, work, blogging, the fact I like to host, friendships, my cats, even my relationship are all extensions of me, but that I exist outside of those things.

And that person, that girl, behind all those things, needs to be stripped back sometimes so that she can actually switch off on the most basic of levels.

I like to promote this image that I’m good at self-care. That I’m good at treating myself. That I’m good at knowing my limits. But the reality is, and I’m sure this goes hand-in-hand with self-employment, is that I’m also very, very good at getting carried away.

When you genuinely enjoy what you do, and your office is also your home, the line between work and down-time often gets very blurry.

I think sometimes we don’t realise that actually, even if we love something, it can also be stressful and capable of completely wiping out our energy.

As Chris has been working so hard on his dissertation (he works full time – and does uni work in the evening and at weekends), it’s left me with a lot of time to occupy myself.

And sure, sometimes I’ll organise weekends away to see friends and family, or spend a couple of hours in the evening catching up on Grey’s Anatomy and Teen Mom 2, but more often or not I’ll just resort to picking up my laptop to fill the time.

And so, I know I’ve said it 473857 times before, but I seem to have forgotten it myself recently, so I’m going to say it again.

Life is not about working yourself to the ground. It is not about continually seeking more. It is about good health, it is about happiness, it is about people.

Don’t let your ambition blind you. Let it guide you, push you and challenge you, but don’t let it blind you to everything else around you.

And on a final note, if any of you did see my spon Insta post on Friday and were like hey hun this looks paid for, whatcha playing it? Big apols from my side. I wasn’t going to address it because I didn’t want to draw attention to my failures, but honesty is always, always the way forward…

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