One of the mental health professionals favourite questions when conducting any kind of assessment is to ask for a description of a typical day. I understand that they actually want to know if you stay in bed all morning, only getting up when your bladder really can’t wait any longer and then sit around in your PJs aimlessly scrolling through Facebook. They want to make a judgement on how isolated you may be, how much motivation you have, whether you do anything to help yourself feel better (in any small way), if you’re eating, washing, dressing, if you have shut off from life completely…
But what counts as typical? What would they perceive a normal day to entail? Get up, shower, dress, go to work, come home, watch TV, go to bed. Is that the normal that we should be aiming to achieve?
I have written before about how I structure my days to minimise stress and to maintain a sense of calm control over what I do. I actively work my A.C.E. activities (Achieve, Connect, Enjoy), well maybe not so much of real world connecting. I am content in doing what I do during school hours and the rest of the time I fit around the boys. But I’m acutely aware that how I live my life is not my perception of a normal way of living life.
Take today as an example. I got up around 7am, came downstairs in my PJs, chatted to hubby and younger son while browsing stuff on my phone until they left for work/school. I went upstairs, advised older son that he needed to get up and dressed and went to get dressed myself. We had breakfast together and then he went to school. I then prepped some veg and added Cajun spices to the Quorn chunks ready to cook later.
All sounding very normal up to now. Ordinary, day to day life of a mum.
Around 9am I went for a run, I was out for around 1.5 hours, got home, checked my run stats on Garmin and Strava, posted about my run on Facebook, had a drink and a snack and then soaked in the bath for ages. By the time I was out and dressed it was lunch time. I know that spending 3 hours on “going for a run” is a luxury that many working people may be envious of, but to me it doesn’t seem like a normal way to spend a morning. After lunch I did some laundry, replied to my messages, read and commented on some blog posts, and wrote half of my daily prompt poem before having to do the school pick up.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am actually happy in filling my days like this, in describing a typical day as including some kind of physical activity, and writing. If I can add in any essential chores and cook (real food) then I feel like I’ve achieved way beyond expectations.
But is this enough?
Is this the mark by which recovery is measured?
With our children having additional needs, it’s doubtful that I will be returning to the workplace any time soon, even if I was cognitively and emotionally able. So, I will continue with my low stress, self-care approach to life. Continue with exercising and writing and simply doing my best with the other stuff. And as to whether it meets professionals expectations of typical, well… I guess that, until they tell me otherwise, it’s good enough.