Monday, 13 April 2015

It's still okay not to be okay

Just over a year ago I wrote this post about my battle with negative mental health, something that I struggled with for the entirety for my first and second years at university, as well as spilling over into this year. It helped me make sense of what I was feeling and what was happening to me and so once again I turn to this space of the internet to untangle what is going on in my life and my mind.

It has been two months since I was discharged from counselling and when I began proudly telling all of my friends I was 'fixed', because in my eyes the problems I'd had were all gone. I had spent a year discussing and working on myself and my issues and being told I didn't need to do that any more was surely the sign that I was finally okay, finally happy. And for a while I guess I was. But slowly the cracks I had sealed shut started to break and those feelings started to come back. Not all the time and not quite like before but they are most certainly there.

I guess the reason I've found this so hard to deal with is because I have spent so long telling myself 'I am a happy person. I am a lucky person. I have so many reasons to be thankful.  I am surrounding by many loving and amazing people There are people who would kill for my bad days.' And yet I have these unsettled and unsavoury feelings that I can't shake. I had to remind myself that yes those things are true  You are incredibly lucky. But equally everyone has problems and it is wrong to compare them to anyone else's. As I always tell all of my friends 'if it bothers you its a problem, and that's okay.'

Sadness is a natural emotion We all feel it. Some very rarely, for others crippling and preventing them from leaving their beds. I'm lucky enough to have never suffered with depression but for me there is just a horrible unsettling feeling. Sadness comes in a wave and knocks me off me feet, sending me into a spiral that makes it really difficult to steady myself again. I've never had the greatest self confidence and as I become more unsettled this becomes worse. Not wanting to go out. Crying because I can't bring myself to put on any of the clothes in my wardrobe. And so I stop myself from doing things I love and hide away. I've got pretty good at forcing myself to get up and out and put on a smile but the crippling sense of discomfort remains. As I try to deal with that emotion and shield it from those I come into contact with, the loneliness emerges. I don't mean a fear of being alone, but a feeling of isolation from those around me through no fault of their own. The thought that perhaps if isolate myself slightly then no one will see the cracks. But then you're too removed to go back in. With my feelings of loneliness comes paranoia. A fear that I am a nuisance to any person that I come into contact with. That no one really wants to be around me. That everyone is laughing at me and making jokes about me. (Yes sadly my paranoia is that self centred). And when jokes are made taking them to heart and leaving everyone else lost. Then finally the thought that if I'm alone, I can't annoy anyone. Then the wave of sadness crashes again and the cycle continues.

But with all of these emotions comes an overwhelming feeling that I must hide them, for fear of being judged or becoming the part of harmless jokes and the implications of that. But someone once told me that sometimes all you need is 30 seconds of incredible bravery to do something amazing and to me nothing is more amazing that accepting yourself and telling everyone else to piss off if they don't like it.

My time in counselling has taught me how to recognise these feelings and although I still don't feel completely equipped to deal with them effectively, and I still make bad decisions about how to deal with them, they aren't totally debilitating any more. I get good days and bad days but there is always a slight 'buzz', like an annoying fly or a little dark cloud following me around a room. But most days are manageable and those that aren't... well I am still working on that but I have the tools to at least start. As with most negative health issues it can become easy to hide them from people, something I know I am definitely guilty of, and that can make it so much harder to deal with. And knowing that now has never been a more appropriate time to take my own advice: 'So next time someone asks you if you're okay, be honest. Don't say what you think people want to hear. You have nothing to be ashamed of.'

What I really want to say is that slowly I have come to learn that there is no 'fixed'. Whether you suffer from a diagnosed mental illness or simply a mental health issue it is okay not to feel 100%. And it's okay to admit that, even if you feel like you shouldn't feel that way any more. Take a deep breath and say 'you know what, I am just going to do my best today and that's all I need to do'. Although I don't feel it every day, and I've got pretty good at hiding or dealing with it, I've come to realise that negative mental health is something I am continuing to battle with and that is okay. And even after all the progress I have been able to make I've begun to accept it's STILL okay not to be okay.

Big  ♥,

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Final Year: What I Wish I'd Known

My whole time at University I've listened to final years complaining about how much work they had and how easy we had it. And you know what... they were definitely not exaggerating. Final year is a minefield of deadlines, trips to the library and pre-exam all nighters. With my final semester at University starting tomorrow (WAAAAAAH)  there are a few things I wish I'd known or should have listened to when people told me.

♥ Not knowing what you want to do with your life is completely normal. Even if you've just spent almost three years trying to work it out.

You can't do it all. Something has to give and you have make sacrifices.

♥ At the end of the day you are there for your course. Don't let anything else get in your way.

♥ Getting a 2:1 is great but getting a 2:2 won't end your life.

♥ Organisation is key.

♥ Going out is a treat and a rarity. Mainly because a hangover as a finalist is far worse than the ones you had as a fresher.

♥ Do allow time for fun or you'll drive yourself mental

♥ Apply for jobs early. Most grad scheme applications close. 

♥ Start thinking about your Dissertation early. It catches up on you.

♥ In fact just think about everything early. That way you never get stuck behind.

♥ But most of all... It's your final year. Your final chance. Use it well.

Big ♥,

Thursday, 29 January 2015

What to Write?

I love blogging. It has always been something that has brought me so much happiness and really focused my thoughts, but I found that as I student I just don't have the time to put into it that I used to. You get so caught up in life and making the most of your student experience that sometimes there isn't any time left for anything else.

But yet I still have all of these views and opinions that I want to share with people. (And sadly my flatmates don't always want to listen to me rant about all of the things that anger and upset me in the world around me). Sometimes I feel like I have so many things I want to say that I don't even know where to begin. My drafts box has hundreds of blog post titles I've typed and then left empty because I've been so overwhelmed at the thought of trying to process my thoughts, and turn them into something worth reading that I can't even start. But more than that, quite simply put: I compare myself. I look at what others are writing and how eloquently they put across their views and it makes me shrink back and eventually decide that what I am writing isn't worth anyone else reading anyway. Not when someone else is doing it seemingly better than me anyway.

So I thought write a diary. That'll be the answer! But I already know my own opinion and how I feel about all of these issues. How am I meant to try to change all those big issues that I dream about if I keep all this knowledge to myself. No one can read my mind and pull those thoughts out onto a page but me. And no one else will have an identical view to me. Our thoughts are all unique and that is why it is so interesting to see what others have to say. Because we know that no one is exactly the same as us.

It would be wrong to let an opinionated nature be wasted when everyone has something to bring to each debate or discuss. And it would be wrong to let yourself get in your own way and make yourself feel inadequate. We are limited by the walls we build around ourselves. So this is me knocking down that wall and letting myself know I can do whatever I want and write whatever I want, whether that's about politics or lipstick. It just takes a bit of belief.

Big ♥,
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