Updated: Jun 16, 2021
A: "I've put some butter on your toast for you"
B: "But I didn't want butter on my toast. I want peanut butter and I don't like normal butter and peanut butter together". Storms off in tears and launches onto sofa.
You'd be forgiven for assuming that the above exchange was between a parent and toddler. But no, "B" in this case was me, and "A" was my other half (OH). And this took place at the in-laws' house. With other family also visiting. Oops.
It was a few weeks after OH had been signed off work with stress and I was feeling drained, exhausted and emotional from worrying and giving additional support and trying to remain positive, and I just not able to deal with that one tiny little thing.
An early warning sign I can laugh about it now, but looking back I realise it was a sign that I wasn't looking after myself well enough. Other signs are getting angry and irritable at things that I would normally let pass over my head. What are your signs that things are getting on top of you? Let me know things that have tipped you over the edge by e-mailing me with subject “Tantrum” to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a result of the tantrum my in-laws understood the strain I was under and started looking after me. Not just on the day, although they rushed to make sure I was ok, prepared fresh tea and toast, even putting the peanut butter on for me, and coddled me for the rest of the time we were there. And once I knew that they understood I was able to open up and talk to others too - my own family, friends. And each time the strain was relieved a little more, I felt more supported and able to face each new day. Who do you have that you turn to?
What do you do? It took a while longer for me to start looking after myself, but once I was did I was better able emotionally and physically to support my OH – to be there and to give the love and attention that was needed, and that I wanted to be able to give. For me, looking after myself was going for walks, reading, watching what I wanted on TV, eating the nice food, as well as allowing myself to talk to others. What do you do to look after you?
When my in-laws started to need care, I knew how to look after both them and myself – because I’d got it so wrong in the past, when my other half was signed off work with stress and my life was turned upside down too. These blog posts are based on the things that helped me, the lessons I learnt the hard way and what I realise with the benefit of hindsight would have helped. I’ve collected some of the other key learning points and tips and made these available to download at https://www.fionagillies.co.uk/pivot-pointers.