This week I have had a very happily received “study week” on my Counselling Masters course. Overall, I have been enjoying the last few weeks where I have been able to actually put my counselling skills into practice, been set my first essay and have even started to think about an idea for my dissertation/independent research. Now that I am only in uni two days a week, things do feel a bit better. However, there is still a lot to do and think about which can quite easily overwhelm me. This “study week” came just at the right time for me to gather my thoughts.
Although I am lead to believe that this week was for cracking on with my essay due next week (shit), I have instead spent a lovely, relaxing week in Cornwall. St Ives to be more specific. If you haven’t been before, GO. It’s beautiful. The sand is a golden yellow and the sea is almost tropical looking. The pace of life is slower and if you enjoy a good pasty or Kelly’s Cornish ice cream (I thoroughly recommend toffee fudge) then this is the place for you. I have been holidaying in St Ives for as long as I can remember, every year almost. When I do a bit of Mindfulness or I can’t sleep, I always imagine myself standing on my favourite beach there. It helps every time.
This has been the first time I have holidayed in my fave seaside town where my mental health hasn’t been at its absolute best. Before I came, things had been getting a little bit difficult for me where my OCD felt like it was taking over my rational thinking space that I try so hard to protect. It was very busy up there and waking up every morning knowing I would spend another day battling the thoughts felt exhausting. However, armed with two new prescriptions from the doctors to give a whirl, my excitement levels for heading down to St Ives were almost on par with those on Christmas Eve. ALMOST.
I have had the loveliest week. I have read loads, avoided social media as much as I could and eaten so much crap. I have walked on every beach in St Ives collapsing back at our holiday cottage with sand in my shoes and sea salt in my hair. I have gone rock pooling, seal spotting, cider drinking, arcading, and treat-yourself-shopping. I have been kind to myself and this week has been my time for self-care. You don’t realise how much you do things on autopilot at home until you go on holiday. I’ve even enjoyed doing the monotonous tasks like washing my hair and brushing my teeth! I’ve looked after myself and it’s made me happy to be me. There were days I woke up and I just felt that everything was OK in the world, so different to my attitude before.
The highlight of my week has definitely been seeing my family who live down in Cornwall, in particular a gorgeous, bubbly 3-year-old (2nd if you want to get technical) cousin. I had only met him two, maybe three times before when he was a baby so this was the first time I had seen him strutting about and chatting away. When I was spending time with him, I just wanted to make him happy, keep him safe and give him all the love and attention he so deserves. Spending the hours completely focused on him seemed to block out the obsessive thoughts that are pretty much always in full charge of my brain. That’s an amazing thing for a 3-year-old to achieve without even realising the impact he’s having. He helped me to have fun and take pleasure in the everyday things. We hunted for stones to throw in the sea, giggled at a long stream of fish poo and ate a roast dinner side by side after he exclaimed ‘I want to sit by Beth!’ That still makes my heart burst now. Plus, on one occasion he wore a knitted jumper with a little hood that made him look like a dinosaur. NEED I SAY ANY MORE?!
I don’t know if it’s down to my new medication, being on holiday or a mixture of both, but I have felt happier. Calmer. Although my ‘OCD thoughts’ are still there, my head seems quieter. I’m slightly scared to be back home where I will be surrounded by real life with a quicker pace that I just find too much. I’m hoping I will be able to keep being kind to myself, reason with the distressing thoughts and just generally be more present in everyday life. I’ve seen from this week it can be done and I’m now striving to have that again for the long run. Oh, and to find the willpower to finish my 3,000 word essay for next week’s deadline…