Into the darkness early: just a clock change, or a deeper social problem?

The clocks have been reset to a timewarp that ushers out the daylight at 5 p.m.

When I would normally still be in thinking mode the darkness outside the window is telling my brain to slow down and to relax into the comfort of the evening: to swap the paperwork for a good book, to close the door on chores and open another onto craft activities, to stop thinking about what I have to do and settle down with what I’d enjoy.

It all sounds incredibly simple. So why isn’t it?

The reason is simple too. Frustratingly so. The social pressures that we succumb to never seem to let up. Sometimes they become habitual, perhaps a product of our fears. Would we be welcomed by our social group if we did not conform to prescribed ways of acting and being? The consequences of stepping out of line might be something not to contemplate.

And so we may continue with our busyness in order to stay ahead of this destructive game. Forever answering the call to be better, do better, appear better; like altering selfies to create the appearance we envision for ourselves. Seeming failure escalates stress, stress increases the sense of failure. And round and round it goes, spiralling down into an abyss of self loathing.

What to do?

I seem to have come an awfully long way from thinking about the clocks changing. But willingly going backwards into a premature darkness sparked this analogy in my mind.

I totally accept that the thought of losing a space in your chosen social network comes with a palpable fear. Especially when you are vulnerable or lonely, for whatever reason. But I also believe that the people you crave acceptance from are probably feeling equally vulnerable or lonely. It doesn’t make it any better but there is a truth in the notion that bullies have quite probably been on the receiving end of the negative behaviours they put out.

I admit I have no answers. I know what works for me and these are the things I write about regularly: the poetry and drawings that express how I react to and cope with my world; the craft activities that keep me busy; my ‘time out’ sessions when I sit in my shiatsu massage chair or walk around outside delighting in the sights and sounds of nature.

I admit I have faltered massively. So many breakdowns and hospital admissions that I’ve lost count. So many pills, and alcohol, and ‘inappropriate coping strategies’.

But I am still here because way back down the line I came to the realisation that I don’t care – for artificial social mores, for artificial people, and for the artificial me I could have become.

That is the message I give now. I hope you can take it if you are struggling, or endorse it if you are a survivor. There are other messages out there in the media that I would recommend:

  • the affirming poem I read yesterday, ‘Phenomenal Woman’ by Maya Angelou
  • the fantastic film about a teenage school bully, ‘A Girl Like Her’
  • the brilliant book that sums it all up: ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***’

Many of you reading this – and I thank you for that – will have experience of these societal pressures, or know someone who has struggled. This modern day problem will not go away any time soon.
If you know of any books, films, poems, anything that you can recommend please share below.