I get up at 7.00 am, Monday to Friday and perform the same ritual daily.
I go downstairs, half fill the kettle, prepare the teapot with fresh Earl Grey teabags and then see to Cassie, a recent family addition, a rescue border collie.
Finding my wife’s car keys, I open the French doors and let Cassie (not my wife) soil or urinate and ruin another part of the lawn, returning to brew the tea and lay the table for breakfast.
Cassie saunters in as the oven timer beeps two minutes; I pour the tea; and make her breakfast.
It’s Groundhog Day, every day is the same, as I’m self-employed or prematurely retired. The only difference is at weekends when time scales shift.
I sort out breakfasts and pack lunches, whilst Cassie eats.
This is auto-pilot stuff, not listing and rehearsing, this is the subconscious operating.
Just as when I drive on the school and college run, I change gears, brake and accelerate without a guide, without thinking, with my conscious mind operating elsewhere – I need to send that press release to Rob, those exams need marking, parents’ evening with daughter tonight – these occupy my conscious mind; the rest (making Earl Grey, packing lunches, feeding the dog, driving) are all in my subconscious.
I realised today too in a phone call I took (handsfree) from Richard what had really informed my battles with depression, anxiety and stress: it was the subconscious.
The subconscious that was formed between the ages of zero to seven, some 46 years ago.
I had a Homer Simpson epiphany at the end of the call when I said to Richard “Hang on, I’ve got it. I know now what made my mental health like it is, because of what happened repeatedly in childhood.”
I had the equivalent, you see, of waking up daily to the routine I repeat in different ways now and the penny dropped.
Me seeing most bosses as idiots, me seeing education as toxic, me being unable to get past a physical point en route to work all made sense.
Crystal clear sense.
My subconscious dictated that I couldn’t get beyond that Travelodge without a paroxysm of fear and anxiety because waiting for me daily in that workplace were a pack of sabre-toothed tigers, and I needed to survive daily assaults on my mind and wellbeing.
It makes sense now.
Those headteachers, those bosses who lied, distorted, exploited, manipulated and abused staff, including me, for many years, offering little support, were simply reinforcing the triggers I’d developed in childhood as fight or flight.
I was told back in 2013 that my reaction was irrational. It was. I wasn’t thinking straight.
My mind was broken because of daily assaults and I had a breakdown.
I left that workplace, slumped into deep depression, anxiety and thought I’d never ever recover.
But I am doing.
I want to share my journey: my subconscious, my new script, my reactive nature now.
I’m not fixed.
But I’m not broken.
You aren’t either – and don’t let any colleague, partner, boss become that sabre-toothed tiger.
You want to know how to mend your mind?
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