My Mental Health Monitor Lives in a Peg Basket
Could monitoring your own metal health be as simple as hanging out a load of washing?
I know, it sounds ridiculous. What could hanging out a load of washing have to do with mental health? Well, there are some benefits if your really think about it. Vitamin D, fresh air, and the meditative qualities a banal task can bring are all proven positives for mental health. But that's not what I'm here to discuss. I came across something that, for me, seemed to mirror the progress of my recovery from some mental health issues - pegs. Yep, pegs!
Upon arriving in Cooma and commencing my housedad duties, I began to notice that when I hung the washing out I had a strange compulsion. I couldn't tolerate using different pegs to hang an item. They had to be the same type of peg, the same age (if one was faded, the other had to be), and the same colour. Unless, of course, the item I was hanging had a theme or colour that lent itself to visual splendour with different coloured pegs - e.g. my son's Superman t-shirt had to have one red and one blue peg! It didn't stop there, however. Certain items of clothing had to be hung with particular types of pegs. I even began to notice little nicks and scrapes, fades in the printing, anomalies in the mechanisms, and these I began to tie to certain items of clothing also. Obsessive compulsive much?
Now, tendency towards obsessions and compulsions (Os&Cs) is nothing new for sufferers of anxiety and/or depression. I believe they give the sufferer a semblance of control, however minor, and with control comes a level of comfort. Obsessing over seemingly trivial things also gives the sufferer a distraction, little fireflies in the suffocating dark cast by the insurmountable peak of their woes. As long as they're not impacting your ability to function, or affecting others negatively, I believe they have another purpose. They're a notification and a measure. Now, I want to be clear here. I'm not saying that everybody who has curious Os&Cs has a greater underlying depressive or anxiety-related illness, I'm simply referring to the Os&Cs some people develop when they do have one. Also, I'm not using the term Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as OCD is a diagnosed illness and is much more severe than what I'm discussing. It's worth noting, though, that it is an anxiety-related illness.
Ok, where was I? Ah yes, when I first noticed my peg peculiarity, I wasn't seeking regular treatment for my mental illness, believing the treatment I'd had to that point, and the tree-change, had placed me in front of the wave. All I needed to do was kick and paddle a few more strokes and I'd be cruising into shore. I was in denial. I was actually getting worse. This is stupid, I thought. I can use whatever friggin' pegs I want to hang whatever friggin' clothes I want. So I tried. And I did it! ... for about one item, whenever I tried. I would leave that item, but I hated it. I would look at it and wonder if that one act of rebellion would bring about a series of horrible events. It was a broken mirror, a black cat, a sacrificed virgin ... an invisible force compelling a celestial hand to drive that pin into my voodoo doll likeness! AAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!
I knew it wasn't, but I couldn't control the panic within me, and at times I would weep. And, while I set about selecting the correct pegs, I would feel weak, pathetic, lacking in all traits of masculinity, and ultimately helpless. After this happened a few times, the fortress of my denial began to crack. It wasn't long before I experienced some other incidents that made it clear I couldn't continue to function reliably day-to-day without further treatment. And I needed to. I've got a family and they need me. So I sought help. Effective help which I resisted initially, of course, but ultimately saw was my way forward to peg puffiness (yeah, I just made that word up). And as I have journeyed the trails and fails of my recovery and drawn closer to full health things have abated. I can now pair a Hills Soft-grip with a classic Reva Plastic and not even blink. Oh yeah, I'm now a veritable peg psycho ... I just don't care!
So what am I saying, because I may have lost some of you, if you're even still reading? As I complete this post, on 'R U OK? Day', it's a perfect time to be honest with yourself. Are you ok? Or are you in denial? And are there some Os&Cs you have that could signal just where you're at. If so, reach out and seek effective help. Be the best version of you again. And, if you're lucky, you can become a peg psycho just like me.