Good Friends are like Hot Chocolate for the Soul

The journey to a happy healthy mental state is a slow, ambling one, one that can take years, perhaps a lifetime, to refine. It’s an intriguing exploration with no destination in mind, allowing you to delve into life as if it’s a cavern containing doors that lead to more doors. A journey of both teaching and learning, allowing you to carve out your own personal path, curiously noticing the delicate strands of your life and how each one makes you feel. It’s the balance of letting go, enjoying and embracing life’s surprises whilst simultaneously observing it all from a position of gentle self-awareness. (Simple, right?!). It’s a journey of plodding, not of sprinting. A journey to be enjoyed.

On my plodding journey, I’ve slowly started to notice what helps me and what doesn’t a little more each day. The people I spend time with affect my mental state as powerfully as good food or exercise does. It’s all about what you are feeding into your soul. If you are around negative energy and people who treat you badly, you will feel low and down in yourself. If you are around people you trust, who genuinely want you to be happy, the good vibes cleanse you from the inside. When others care about you, you start to care about yourself; love is contagious!

I recently spent a beautiful weekend away in deepest Wales with a group of close friends, some reasonably new and some I grew up with and have known for up to 25 years (25 years!!!! How old?!). No phrase is more accurate for me than describing it truly as hot chocolate for the soul. A weekend of laughter and good vibes, long chats, lighthearted teasing, walks in the countryside, cups of tea. In the evenings we huddled in farmyard cottages, set deep into the countryside in the heart of the Brecon Beacons, drinking wine and eating hearty meals. There is something about friends you shared childhood/the teenage years with that just brings a sense of familiarity and safety. Both grounding and nurturing, it’s a beautiful and unique thing. These friendships are as authentic as family ties; stripped back and raw, honest and open.

As I settled back into the clutter of London life the day after the trip, I felt the familiar pull of home in my heart, something that can hurt but also represents a fierce sense of belonging. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t long for home, my roots and my family from time to time. It brought a sense of appreciation of just how lucky I am to know such wonderful, loyal, funny people after all these years and to be part of such a special friendship group that I know, after this long, will never change ūüôā

Notice the friendships you have in your life and embrace those that build you up and help you blossom and let go of those who flatten you or bring you down. Good friendships are key to a happy healthy mental state. Nurture yours.

Wales

(photos courtesy of D Farley)

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Shut Your Facebook

When we use the word ‘addiction’ we imagine drink, drugs, smoking, gamboling; things that lead to what we call “serious health issues”. But being addicted to something is simply experiencing the impulse¬†or desire to do¬†something even if, ideally, you would rather¬†not be doing it. It’s that need factor. Big or small,¬†many of us have addictions of some form, eating chocolate, texting guys we know aren’t really good for us, our phones, making lists…they’re not all terrible.

For me, Facebook was exactly that. I didn’t enjoy it particularly, it was just about ensuring I had covered everything ‘new’ since I’d last been on. I needed to keep updated (or what?) A bit of¬†boredom, or feeling unsettled: open Facebook, scroll scroll scroll, put it down again. And for me, it wasn’t even so much the content that particularly affected me; it was more the monotonous, depressing action of opening the page¬†to scroll through in that repetitive way, through pictures and words, none of which particularly interested me. It wasn’t that it made me feel super low, it just never made me feel particularly good. Then reaching the post that I had already seen in my last visit, bizarrely left me with another sort of disappointed lull (oh I’ve seen this already, I want something new). A seemingly harmless addiction, but an addiction all the same.

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Or is it harmless? It’s not harmless when you consider the time lost. It’s not harmless when you consider what you could be doing in that time. It’s not harmless when you consider the mode your brain switches into when you start scrolling, which, however short term, is not a healthy, happy mental state to be in.¬†For me, the mindless scrolling and clicking numbed my mind and gave me a mild sense of anxiety, I think partly because I felt like I had very slightly lost control once I started. Sounds mad, but it’s true. Add to that an insecure day you may be having and you’re inevitably going to gaze at somebody’s tanned, toned bikini body (however filtered) and generate negative, self hating thoughts of some form.

When I made the decision to leave, it was after many failed attempts over the previous year. A halfhearted effort became a committed effort to end the brain numbing. I’d also started to see fewer and fewer¬†benefits to it. When I was a bit younger, showcasing everything that was great about my life seemed to make sense; it was all¬†an ego boost, a confirmation that I was doing ‘well’. After I went through a very depressive/anxious period, I realised just how pointless it is to post this stuff. It’s like throwing something out into a vague conceptual space we call our “Friend” group or perhaps more accurately, our captivated audience. When in fact there’s no one there is there? In truth what we are reaching out for is some kind of validation,¬†wherever it may come from. Our own¬†mental state reflected back at us, our egos feeding our egos.

I’ve got¬†news for you people, no-one cares¬†what you had for dinner, or what your new haircut looks like. Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves and their own lives.¬†And they care less and less the more you thrust it in their face. It’s a hard lesson but a good one to learn because when you let go of the belief that anyone cares, your priorities become much more healthy. You start looking after yourself more rather than¬†trying to appear in a certain way.

It’s not really our fault, it’s just something that has become the norm so it’s very difficult to spot how utterly pointless and egotistical it is. And it’s not that being egotistical is wrong or bad – we all love a boost – but it just doesn’t bring us long term happiness. And that is not an opinion, that is the truth. Nobody gets long term happiness from these things, they’re temporary highs. That’s why we have to post again and again, and if we have 20 Likes we are high for a few minutes but then we want more Likes. Just like any addiction, we need more and more each time because we become desensitized to the buzz.

When I left Facebook, gradually my world became both smaller and more spacious at the same time. It was magnificent. A whole load of clutter just dissipated, totally and utterly fell away. People I was hanging onto through the medium of Facebook suddenly didn’t exist to me in day to day life and they fell into the bank of memories that faded in a healthy way, as they always should have done. Ex-boyfriends I would look up dropped out of my mind as I had nothing new to cling to and the old images became boring. The truth is, these people are MEANT to fall away when the natural progression of a friendship or a relationship leads you in different directions. If you break up with a guy, you’re MEANT to not see him anymore, you’re meant to start forgetting his face, the sound of his voice (violins…). That’s how emotional healing works. Painful but necessary.

Having access to an update of his life via Facebook is like having him walk into your house once a week with a different outfit on, or him sitting in your lounge cuddling his new girlfriend, or to look out to your garden and see him partying with new friends every weekend.

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Of course you wouldn’t get over him because he’d refresh in your memory every time. It’s just not healthy. Every time you see him in one of these updates, the emotions rush back and you experience the hurt all over again, coupled with new hurt at the thought that he’s happy without you, meeting all these new people. Whilst you’re scrolling desperately through a computer feed…

So I left and the effect was much bigger than I thought it would be. It wasn’t just time that was gained, it was psychological space, acceptance of what is, new ideas, inspiration, creativity, a sense of peace. What also happened was in those moments where I was bored or quiet – because I didn’t automatically reach for Facebook – the part of my mind numbed by the scrolling came alive again and I started to feel fresh and more energized,¬†inspired by little things I noticed around me or¬†people I spoke to (face to face). I started writing again (my book will take some kind of sensible structural direction at some point….) and I slept better, exercised more, found other more productive things to do like scrap books, cooking, reading.

And bigger than anything, lots of people dropped away. And I just let them. What was left were my real friends.It may shock you how few there really are.

Work on those, because it turns out true friendships require hard work and commitment. Things like proper Birthday cards in the post and phone calls / regular face to face time spent together. Takes more effort but real friendships and the fulfillment and happiness they bring are so worth it ūüôā

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Two Year Anxiversary – Riding the Unplanned Life Diversion

Like what I did there??!

So I’m sitting in the office pretending to work, whilst counting down the minutes before I can get the hell outta here and get on a train home to the Devonshire countryside where my parents live! Woooooop!

And I thought, in the reflective way we all do around Christmas time, how am I doing in life and general health, and how am I compared to my Life Diversion two years ago? (This is what I’m now calling it instead of ‘mental breakdown’, as of 10 seconds ago…). I think Life Diversion is quite fitting because I think when your body steps in and tells you to Stop, Stop and Stop again, you have no choice but to take a different direction. It’s not even a choice, the choice is taken out of your hands.

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Up until that point, I was¬†living a life, prioritising things that I thought¬†mattered (they didn’t), ensuring I¬†ticked the social boxes, dating men with the expectation of¬†eventually settling and getting married, doing well in a career in order to achieve a certain status / pay check ?, saving a weird thing we call money so I¬†could buy stuff, and acting in a way we¬†are taught is socially acceptable. I was so buried in these concepts I had not looked up to see what it was doing to my mental health, my happiness and my wellbeing. Nature, the natural spin of the earth, the truth of what is, whatever you would like to call it, will never let you get too carried away without alerting you to the way you are hurting yourself. Whether it be immense physical pain, mental pain, suffering in some way, you are being notified of what is hurting you, the wrong direction you are taking, the pressures you are building for yourself that do not exist anywhere but in your mind.

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Now I am on a new route, a total road diversion. I know nothing about this route, it scares me, I don’t know where it’s heading and I don’t recognise the scenery.

But all I know is that it’s the right one. That’s all I know, because my gut tells me. And my God, I had to do a lot of reading, seeking advice and sharing with others to learn and understand. But slowly it’s become very clear to me that the old controlling route hurt, and was making me hurt more the further along it I went, but this new route feels right on a health and happiness level. Scary but right.

I have no idea what my future holds anymore, I think I’ve almost completely stopped caring, and do you know what, it changes nothing. I just feel healthier. I genuinely don’t care if I meet a guy to settle with, if my career moves up (I have enough money for everything I need), if I recover from anxiety completely, none of it matters, I have everything I need¬†in life and more. If I feel like shit today or tomorrow, or even over Christmas, who cares? I’m here and alive. I always thought I’d get to a point where everything would come right for me, that everything I wanted would come to fruition, that my anxiety would go, that I’d put¬†loads of weight back on and that external things would come to me. But that was never the way. I have none of what I thought I wanted, but I realised I don’t need any of it to be happy. In fact I’m happier than I was before the Life¬†Diversion.

Happy Driving All…

P.S Don’t put pressure on¬†Christmas time. It doesn’t have to be good. It’s just a day.

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Cos’ you’re just a boy…and you don’t understand…that I’m mentally unstable…

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Yes! A boy! Men. Relationships. Dating situations. What a HEAD F*CK?! I mean, could there be more uncertainty packed into one single situation?! Not only is the entire situation based on emotions, unless you‚Äôre part of some kind of arranged marriage (would that be easier?!) there is the uncertainty around how the other person feels, which they intentionally do not reveal¬†straightaway either due to an effort to ‚Äėseem cool‚Äô or because they are not yet sure. (PLEASE tell me exactly what you are thinking right this second…*knife to throat*).

Then there‚Äôs that war zone you dare to enter, that highly charged space of ‚ÄėHow do I feel?‚Äô

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HOW DO I FEEL?! Are you kidding me??! How long have you got?

That space that only a guy or girl you like has the ability to bring to the surface in milliseconds.

We all have the remnants of a war zone within us, but for most we keep it delicately tucked away in our day-to-day life. It’s a careful balance but we perfect it well, cover it up with crap that lacks substance; throw some flowers at it, pretty things, attention, alcohol, social media, some new clothes, an ego boost. A hint of the war zone is revealed from time to time, when we are vulnerable, perhaps low on external boosts, you’ll get a bit of smoke filtering through, or you’ll trip and fall into a trench (Oh shit, get me out…). But mostly, we manage to cover the scene over with with our own form of absolutely massive tarpaulin made of tacky cheap material and meaningless, quick-fix, rubbish.

Then bam, a guy or girl¬†is on the scene, a real human being you connect with and you like, and there it is. Tarpaulin whipped away, disintegrated into the sky (meaningless things are not durable). Now it‚Äôs just you and your immense expanse of scary eery sireny (yes, I’m making that a word) space where bombs are flying around, exploding off other explosive emotions, fears and leftover decaying debris, issues buried deep for years, pieces of old metal littered about in the post-battle scene with ‚ÄėRemember what happened in your last relationship‚Ķ?‚Äô etched across them. Your own feelings. Feelings you‚Äôve just spent the last two years making light of in this weird minefield of thoughts and emotions we call Anxiety. So something that has sort of been loosening its hold on you the last few years has now obnoxiously taken centre stage as the most important factor in this whole decision making process. How do I FEEL about this man / woman? How do I feel?! All my emotions poke their heads up out of the mud:

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‚ÄúBoys, it‚Äôs our time. Go wild. Nope, don‚Äôt worry about order, just all charge at once‚ÄĚ.

They all whoop in agreement as they join the stampede, shoving Reason and Logic to the ground as they go. Emotions, non tangible things, nothing you can pin down or grasp hold of. Excitement flies by from behind you sending a fizz through your blood, then a fear explosion goes off all around you and you leap in the air. Attraction strides by, the war zone dims in lighting (oooh, I like…). And just like that, it’s gone. Confusion (do I fancy him?). Another crash of fear and you’re being pelted with bullets (What if he doesn’t fancy me?!!!) Take cover!!!!

Which part is actually to do with him? What do I keep to myself and what do I tell him? Which part is me?! Which part is just my Anxiety?! What’s going to happen if I let all this confusion of emotion gush out (in his direction, most likely). He’ll either be washed away by the tidal wave, never to return. Or he’ll stick around the war zone, and probably develop shell shock, nervously uncertain of when the next disaster is to hit. Add to that any issues HE might have which could potentially conjure an entire new war zone to combine with mine, then you have war zone + war zone = complete and utter population wipeout?!

OK, so I went on a date…

He’s nice!¬†

 

 

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Treasure the tiny pieces of your jigsaw

I have had some lovely comments of¬†appreciation¬†lately, either through Paul David or friends of friends, and it inspired me to write again. I haven’t written anything creative in a little while. Let’s see what comes along today.

I seem to have reached a welcome sense of balance once again over the last week or so. After a lengthy painful fortnight of resistance and fighting, I have finally started to let go once again. I got myself so low and depressed¬†and although I recognised the cycle I could do nothing but be swept downwards into it. And as we’ve learnt, this is the only way to¬†survive…

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But wait, after I wrote that sentence, I paused and stared at it for ages, because this is exactly the point that always flummoxes me (Google says I spelt this correctly but it still doesn’t look right). If the right way to deal with this¬†is to get swept downwards, then I should feel more at peace with the pain¬†when I get swept downwards, but I don’t. So in fact, maybe I wasn’t actually doing nothing, I was in fact resisting it with every part of me.

It’s interesting what writing does to you. A sort of slow unfolding of your thought patterns, of your views, of the way one tiny piece of the jigsaw fits in¬†to another. My views on this are so deeply entrenched that I can’t even spot resistance myself when it’s staring me in the face.

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I looked back at that paragraph I wrote. “Low”, “Depressed”, “Downwards”, “Survive”. What do these words even mean? I put a negative connotation on every single one of these words. Something Paul said to me has just made total sense:¬†“It’s not good or bad, it’s just an experience.”¬†Suddenly that makes sense on a much deeper level.

The very way I write in fact emanates resistance. The way I view these feelings as low and bad so that every time they come back I feel once again ‘low’ and ‘depressed’. How can I NOT stay in a cycle when I create this cycle so beautifully for myself?

I think that’ll do for today…

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On Daydreaming

I think this is such a beautiful post that resonated with me so deeply, that I had to repost to my page. I could almost see the fields and smell the coffee as I read it. Absolutely, when learn to just BE, we reach such a peaceful state Xx

Life Lived

Forget colouring books and yoga. What happened to the practice of good old-fashioned daydreaming?

We all remember times at school when the teacher’s voice became no more than background noise to our own imaginings and wonderings, when we doodled idly or gazed out of windows and thought of anything and nothing.

Lately, I’ve been re-finding that long lost art of daydreaming. Instead of grabbing a book or phone or switching on the television, there is always the option of just sitting and letting your mind wander, even if just for a minute or two.

In a cafe, hold your mug with both hands, sip your coffee, smell it, really taste it. Look around, let snippets of other people’s conversation drift in and out of your attention. Be aware of the music that is playing.

On a train, notice the rain on the window, take in the weathered trees, notice the…

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The Bad comes with the Good

I feel like I should write what it’s like when my Anxiety is bad. I’ve suffered Anxiety badly for the last year and a half and I wouldn’t feel I was filling in all the gaps honestly if I didn’t share how I feel when it gets bad, rather than just the distanced, slightly one-sided view that I have up to this point. It’s not realistic to only write joyful peace filled posts. It’s not like that all the time, that’s the truth of it. And that’s just life, it’s OK.

So the last two weeks I have crashed, reeeeeally crashed. I could feel stress creeping in during the first week, but I pushed it away and pushed it away, kept ignoring it. I became detached very slowly and started to notice I was feeling dreamy but again I thought ‘Nah this isn’t happening to me again’ and ignored it. Then a week of late nights, social things most evenings, one or two glasses of alcohol, no exercise, some stressful family events and the balance was just tipped. THWACK. I fell into a bit of a frenzy by the end of the week and my mind was churning up every possible thing it could. It feels like you’re back to ‘Square One’ whatever that is and for me I feel like a total failure, like I am doing something wrong, I feel inferior, all those things. The worst bit is that I know those thoughts make me feel worse but there’s nothing I can do about that either. It just happens.

My appetite dropped and I had to go back to the basics of pasta, tomato sauce, nuts, crisps, anything that can allow me to graze without overwhelming my taste buds / stomach. I tend to get lightheaded and dizzy, my focus goes, I can’t see straight and looking at a computer exacerbates it, but I have to go to work, being at home generally doesn’t help as I feel overcome with guilt at missing work. Hmmm, what else? I wake up in a frenzy and sometimes in the middle of the night I get up and wander round the house like a moron checking the front door and the oven. I overthink things, like, REALLY overthink things. I get REALLY sensitive to what people say, I snapped at my Mum about a dinner venue during the weekend which should have been a huge sign that something was wrong because there was no need for that at all. Then I got a sore throat and blocked nose which also often happens when I’m low, this adds to the fuzziness in my head, which adds to the negative thoughts…I get BEYOND exhausted. I get restless. I make silly mistakes. I blush a lot in social situations. I get obsessive over my phone, checking it for nothing. I feel like everyone is against me.

Gosh the list goes on.

I think everyone has different ways of dealing with this, but for me Anxiety is a reaction I experience when I push myself too far in some way, try to over control life, force things, set expectations. Some people get a rash, some people get headaches, I get Anxiety. It’s just what happens. So all of the above sounds bad, but in fact I’ve realised that the reason it comes back so strong each time, is because I try to deny it in some way, try to say that¬†I am on some kind of recovery schedule where one day it will be ‘cured’. I don’t agree. I think Anxiety is something that will always happen to me when I’m under stress, when I push myself too hard, whether mentally or physically.

It’s just who I am. And that’s OK ūüôā

I feel if I am going to share my Anxiety journey then it is only fair to share the WHOLE journey honestly. This is today. Tomorrow will be tomorrow and everything could be different. The day after that will be different again, but that’s how life goes.

Never beat yourself up, or let your ego dictate how you should feel. The potential to admit vulnerability is one of the greatest gifts you possess.

 

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So…How’s Life?

Just thought I’d check in as I haven’t written in SO long.

I kept doing the whole ‘I must write another blog!’ and then ‘Nahhh I’m having too much fun doing X Y Z…’ and off I went distracted absorbing (yes, absorbing!) myself into some activity I enjoyed. I also found that as I was feeling better I was able to write creatively in other ways which I hadn’t properly in so long and that sort of took away my desire to blog. I was writing in my diary, to friends, opening up to people on other topics encouraging that flow of creativity again. I even started writing the book which I had had going round in my head for so long. OK, it’s difficult to find time to keep going with¬†it but the ideas are all there and I’m hoping I build on it over time.

If you asked me how I felt regarding Anxiety, I would sum it up by saying I regularly have to pinch myself.

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That is honestly how I feel. I am so happy and at peace now that I get little shivery moments of appreciation at how good and healthy I now feel. There was a point where I 100% believed I would never be better. Now, I feel better and happier, more at peace, and more healthy, than I have ever felt before. The memory of how bad it was does not blot my life anymore but has only served to reinstate this appreciation of what I now have. In honesty, I could not be more thankful for the experience. Anxiety has shaped my life for the better, without a doubt.

If I look back at posts from around a year ago, I remember feeling and saying then that I had recovered, or rather was ‘close to recovery’ etc. etc. But now, I see that really, once you are on this road, things only get better and better. I am no longer trying to ‘recover’ because I don’t feel ill anymore, but despite myself, I am continuing to feel better and better. I wonder if there’s ever a plateau? I don’t think so and if there is, bring on this blissful plateau…

This looks more dry and hot than blissful but I liked the sign…

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As Paul always said, when you stop looking for recovery, recovery comes to you, and I can advocate personally for how true that is. 

The thing about psychological and emotional awareness and knowledge, is that once you get onto the right road, you really only open up your world to a happiness that improves your¬†life in more ways that you could have imagined, almost as if there is no limit to the depth nor to¬†the¬†understanding that is available to you, on people around you, situations, expectations, behaviour, thoughts, reactions. There is a multitude of experiences¬†that trickle through your consciousness, so slowly and subtly that you won’t notice them at the time. It’s only when you look back or you’re faced with something similar, that you realise you have knowledge on it. You find out things about yourself that you would never ever have known any other way.

I believe you have to suffer in order to see. I truly believe that. 

I have to clarify, as always, that I am not saying I don’t get Anxiety anymore. It’s just that I don’t really care anymore. And because of THAT it never gets that bad. Isn’t the human brain incredible? It basically adapts to accept things. The shock factor wears off. Anxiety can sometimes still grip my jaw, my head, my chest, make me shake, take away my appetite (and sometimes I still wonder why) but the difference is that the reaction does not shock me anymore, so, as a result, the Anxiety goes through the motions and dissipates much more quickly.

I still get Anxiety. But I no longer get Anxiety about Anxiety. And this, for me, is all I need. 

Random things I like….

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I am no expert on Anxiety. I am only an expert on myself. And these are the things I have learnt which may or may not help others with similar problems:

  • Find your own groove and stick to it. Your opinion is the only one that matters. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you should be doing.
  • Be honest about who you¬†are, with yourself and others. Accept¬†the good and the bad. Forgive yourself for the bad and the bad becomes not so bad…
  • Find in your heart what makes you truly happy and fill your life with as much of this as possible. I’m not talking about a means to an end, like dating to find a boyfriend or working to make money or posting a photo to get as many Likes as possible. I’m talking about happiness right here in the moment…for me, these are stroking a¬†dog, walking in the countryside, helping others, DANCING, grooming¬†a horse, cups of tea with my Mum, planting flowers (new, but LOVE it?!), catch ups with¬†my best friends, reading a book, swimming in the sea (warm), the sun on my face (sun tan lotion), writing with no preconceived idea of where it’ll go….
  • Appreciate the small wonders in your world. Look around, they are everywhere. I really love how this¬†lovely lady writes about¬†appreciating the small things. This is one of many on her blog:¬†Small Things.
  • Empathise with others, however much they appear to have. EVERYONE has shit going on and the way they act as a result is not personal to you. When you can soften to¬†others, you soften to yourself.

I’ll stop there but the main message I wanted to share was that anyone suffering with Anxiety, have no fear, you will feel better. This awful experience¬†will pass, and when it does, a YOU you never knew existed will emerge. Don’t try and rush¬†through the bad days. The bad¬†days¬†are the important days, the days that carry the greatest lessons and hold the greatest¬†potential for change.

Different things help different people but there is one sure thing that helps every single person without fail and that is very simply: Time.

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Comment and share any time….

 

 

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It’s OK to be lost in a loin cloth

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I’ve seen little trinkets and gems about myself over the last year and a half. Suffering Anxiety and the ups and downs that come with it has led me, at times, to feel more lost than I’ve ever felt. When I felt lost I would begin to battle my way through the undergrowth blindly, with no idea of where I was headed. Sometimes I still do it a little; it’s a natural reaction; to want to move away from pain. It didn’t matter where I went, as long as I could eliminate this feeling. At times I definitely felt like Castaway (above), loin cloth and all…

Sometimes you try so hard to find your way that you end up even more lost. Until you get to a point where you have no choice but to throw your stick on the ground and sit on a log and scream, because there’s really no more searching you can do. You have to just admit, I’m f**king LOST!!! Get me OUT!!!” Joyous no?

WELL, in fact it is joyous, because it is only by getting this lost and eventually sitting on that log in your loin cloth and screaming that we can ever really find our way home. It’s not a step you can skip annoyingly. So many of us resist this feeling, push it down, cover it with something else, run from it. Understandable right? No one wants that feeling…Why would we? It’s awful. Confusion, attempting to work things out, things feeling wrong, for whatever reason.¬† Perhaps something you placed all your importance on has disappeared or been taken away from you unexpectedly. Perhaps who you thought you were has been taken away somehow. It can be something as “big” as losing a loved one or as “small” as gaining a stone or a best friend moving away. Perhaps you don’t even have a reason, or you can’t see one. Perhaps nothing has changed in your life but you still feel lost.

The way to learn about yourself and to find your way off the island isn’t to search incessantly, or to cover up the issue or to remove the thing you think is causing it. Why not just be lost for a little while? Sure you need to stay alive so stick to the basics – food and water –¬† but otherwise, just be lost? Amazing things are seen when you’re lost on that island; it is only when we look up from our log and accept our surroundings that beautiful things reveal themselves to us. Things we never knew existed when we were comfy and safe on the mainland…

It sounds like the biggest cliché in the world and I do hate a cliché but you really cannot be found until you get totally utterly lost.

cheese

It’s ironic as well that we think we’re alone in this feeling…”Everyone else seems fine?!” “Look how great their life is? They always look so happy…” “But Facebook says…”

Actually, when you take the focus off yourself and your own ragged loin cloth, and look around that island, just for a moment or two, you realise that so many others are also lost, battling their own way through the woods unsure of where they’re meant to be heading. Your suffering feels unique to you but in fact everyone suffers, it’s all just for different reasons. Look up for a second, really look and listen, and actually there’s people everywhere on logs near you, in their loin cloths, screaming out for help.

Go join them on their log for a few minutes. You don’t have to sit on their log for long and you’ll doubtless be travelling different routes off the island but you may well cross paths along the way. Stop and acknowledge them. Don’t be proud or patronising or pretend to be fine, or offer them obvious advice, it’s just not cool: “I’m FINE, you just have to keep going mate” or “Well you just need to find an alligator, catch it, eat it and build a tree house, it’s easy…”. It may make you feel stronger for a few minutes but you’ve made them feel worse about how they’re feeling and you’re lying to yourself too. Don’t sit on their log and wallow about your own issues or about theirs – just sit down and empathise and be proud and honoured of what they are sharing. And be proud to share your own experience. When you admit to someone that you feel lost, you receive back the most incredible things. Once we empathise with others we are able to empathise with ourselves and with that peace comes new vision and clarity on our own journeys, but that’s a side effect, not the purpose, of empathy.

It may only be a 5 minute pause for you to acknowledge someone else’s journey (“What happened mate? That sounds tough…”) but we’re all on this island together, and that’s one certainty that won’t ever change so we may as well share…

Being lost. It’s both a painful but wonderful thing. But one day you’ll look proudly back at the day you sat screaming on a log in your loin cloth, and realise it was the day that made you who you are, without a doubt. And all of a sudden, you’ll realise that that island you thought you were on, was actually part of the mainland all along. You just couldn’t see it back then.

Be Lost. Be Proud.

lost and found

 

 

Posted in Acceptance, Anxiety, Anxiety disorders, At Last a Life, Breakdown, Confidence, Depression, Develop, Dignity, Emotions, GAD, Growth, Journey, Learn, Mental health, Mindfulness, Panic attacks, Paul David, Positivity, Strength, Uncategorized, Unpredictable | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

It’s not Behiiiind youuuuu, it’s Insiiiiiiiiide Youuuuuuuuuuuu!

Something hit me, as I was lazily scrolling through an Excel sheet at work on Tuesday. This search, these posts, my opinions, it has never been about finding the right advice. I’ve been talking about what works and what doesn’t, what to read and what not to, what’s right and what’s wrong…and when I came across Paul David’s site I was convinced I’d reached the end of my search and had my answer. For so long, I was calling this the solution.

I was so wrong?!

This site and book wasn’t the end of my journey, it was the start. The single most wonderful thing this advice did was encourage me to stop searching and with this, the true answers came to me of their own accord, in their own time. This experience of anxiety and suffering has never been about finding solutions; it’s been about giving up on finding solutions. The best thing Paul did was give me the confidence to start seeing the anxiety through without legging it and through this I started to meet this new person that I never knew was there.

She taught me more than any book ever could. She’s my best friend and someone I know I can always, unconditionally, rely on.

Suddenly it was OK to feel anxious so it was OK to listen to myself; anxiety isn’t a separate thing that happens to you that needs curing, nor is depression or any other labelled ‘condition’. It’s all a part of you, it’s a part to love and listen to, accept as part of yourself and from there everything unravels.

Paul’s book doesn’t cure you of your problem, it leads you back to your problem, and only from there can you see it was never a problem at all. He leads you to the start post, not the finish post, but you start by giving up. My words may not mean anything to people right now but I stand by my original advice….if you are suffering with ‘Anxiety’, read this book.

And know that you can give up the search because the answer is a lot closer to home than you ever thought.

Right

Smack Bank

Inside you…

No where else.

Journey

 

Posted in Acceptance, Anxiety, Anxiety disorders, At Last a Life, Breakdown, Confidence, Depression, Develop, Dignity, Emotions, GAD, Growth, Journey, Learn, Mental health, Mindfulness, Panic attacks, Paul David, Positivity, Strength, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment