- You can hide away in a cabin in the woods all you want but your problems will be waiting for you when you get back. The best thing to do is face them.
- Anxiety cannot and does not last forever – that fear you have before a compulsion cannot last for the rest of your life. It will subside.
- Mental health comes in waves. You’ll have ups and downs
- Medication alone will not fix you. It’s an ingredient in the recipe.
- Progress is not linear. Progress is not linear. Progress is not linear.
- That “fright” we get sometimes when we see something that confirms our fears is hormonal, not heart-related (ie, you’re not going to die. not yet.)
- No one is as obsessed with you as you are with yourself
- Our self critic sometimes paints us in a way that is the opposite to who we really are – you think you’re stupid, selfish and ugly? Nah.
- Small steps are important no matter what direction you’re going in.
- Instead of engaging in a compulsion – write down what your OCD is telling you in order to engage with it. Review at the end of the week. Find the similarities.
- Success is not a zero-sum game. Just because someone else has “made it” doesn’t mean you can’t make it either.
- Social media is mindless – people like things because they like things, there is no deeper or hidden meaning
- Object permanence – just because someone isn’t giving you attention doesn’t mean they no longer like you
- Don’t take on emotional responsibility until you know you can handle it
- Food is food – there is no good or bad. It’s there to fuel you and you choose how to fuel yourself
- Society is terrified of successful women and thus, some women find it hard to reconcile the success of other women. The patriarchy like pitting us against each other.
- Approach things with a sense of wonder – not defeat
- As an OCD sufferer, trusting yourself is the single most difficult thing to do – start small
- Journal – you don’t have to write down the difficult stuff – no one is forcing you to write about certain topics. Just write what you like.
- The less OCD compulsions you take part in, the more the OCD grip lessens
- Feelings are not facts. Thoughts are not fact.
- Social media delivers a dopamine hit and is the reason why you might feel drained after prolonged use with nothing exciting happening.
- Stop basing your self worth on what other’s think
- The “better self” you continually aspire to is bringing you down – what’s wrong with who you are at the exact moment
- Being jealous and comparing yourself to others says far more about what you think about yourself than about the other person.
- Stop punishing yourself doing things you know will bring you anxiety
- Give yourself permission to do absolutely nothing
- Stand up for yourself – let people know it’s not ok to walk over you
- Block him
- Stop trying to control your emotions
- People don’t always see you the way you think they do
- Stop projecting how you feel about yourself onto other people
- Humans are programmed to search for danger in all interactions
- Social media exploits your brain which is programmed to scan for threats and rewards
- Your pain is personal but not unique – lots of people get it
- Pinterest is the devil for people constantly striving to better themselves and getting disappointed in the process
I want to talk about medication.
The big taboo, the elephant in the room.
And it’s a shame that it’s treated as so. We happily share the different medications we’re on if we physically injure ourselves so why not with our mental health?
“I’d rather take something and have a chance of being happy than be miserable for the rest of my life” is what I said to my mum when my doctor recommended I start a course of Citalopram when I was 19, though part of me was scared. I didn’t actually know anyone else on anti-depressants (spoiler alert: far more people than you think are). I thought it was something to be feared, something you kept a secret because “what everyone else would think”. So for a good while I hid it.
As I ventured through college, more and more people would announce either directly or discreetly like it was nbd that they were on medication for their depression/anxiety/OCD/bipolar/BPD etc. I started to feel a bit more comfortable sharing with others my experiences on them, just like I had shared my experiences with therapy and how that convinced some of my friends to go.
But one common misconception is that medication cures you. It doesn’t. If it did, the anti-depressant industry would be bankrupt.
It’s been one of those years (TM)
A year I wouldn’t have envisaged at the end of the last one. A year where certain places are deemed too heartbreaking to return to yet. Where certain songs can’t be listened to. Where frosty mornings bring more flashbacks than fresh starts.
A year where for each good thing that happened it was compounded by a worry, a fear that it’ll lead back to where I was before.
A year of grief.
A year of gut wrenching truths that even now I’m too proud or naive to admit to but I know they’re there.
It was a year of endings.
It was a year most unfair and cruel.
I’d love nothing more than to be able to turn the dial back and redo it all. Maybe things would have been different but I can’t and instead I’ve chosen to look at what things help with recovery.
I joined Galz Gone Wild after a Thursday evening crying to my mother about how miserable I was as a result of this year. I was worried, terrified, deeply unhappy with myself and very lonely. I had a habit of bailing, of going silent in fear that no one really gave a crap about me anyway – so I cut ties before ties could be cut on me. I couldn’t trust myself to make a single decision no matter how big or small.
Yeah, I know it’s been a while but the truth is is that I had nothing to say. Out of all my lists of “post ideas”, all my scouring on the internet for inspiration, I couldn’t find one topic that drove me to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).
I’ve become very comfortable with hiding away. The idea of being unreachable, uncontactable or just generally *not there* has become so attractive that I find myself going days without talking to my friends or engaging with other people aside from work and home. I like to think that I’m wiping the slate clean and starting from scratch but in actual fact, I’m just getting lonelier.
I started seeing a new counsellor who I’m making great progress with – she suggested that my need to hide away is product of my inability to express anger at what has happened this year and instead I turn it on myself. And wow, it kind of started to make sense.
I was never originally afraid of change. It always seemed very attractive to me when it was pushed into the near future and I didn’t have to really worry about it much. In other words, I wasn’t afraid of the idea of change. But the next few months are a period of change for me and yes, I’m afraid.
Stevie Nicks sang Landslide on Thursday night and I cried. Not only because that song was a big one in my childhood but because it makes sense to me right now. I’ve become quite comfortable with how my life has been the last few months and now that things are changing, I’m afraid of how it might change me.
I’ve stopped telling people how I feel. It has almost become a competition on who has it worse which doesn’t help anyone. I know it’s hard to remain objective when you feel like what’s happening to you is the worst possible thing but just like someone else’s beauty isn’t an absence of your own, your problems existing doesn’t mean others’ are trivial. So in order to deal with what’s on my plate, I’ve stopped sharing it.
I think that the best description on how I’ve been feeling lately is despondency. I am overwhelmed the point of being downright disinterested. The things that make me happy, don’t. The people I find comfort in, I can’t. I struggle to get up and go to work, to eat well, to get any kind of exercise, to read, to write. The only feelings I do feel are anxiety and frustration. And extreme fatigue.
Part of that is the medication I’m on, it kind of sedates you. I know if I take it in the morning, it knocks me out completely. Part of it is the emotion of the last number of months. Part of it is subconsciously knowing I have to move back home in a few months. Part of it is the constant managing of my finances so that I have enough to live on.
It doesn’t matter how much sleep I have, I will wake up tired.
So, in other words, it’s just the stress of life. But that doesn’t make it any less difficult to deal with.
There are many things in life we take for granted. Especially the small things. And as things in this world are not exactly wholly positive, it’s now more than ever that we should celebrate the small things. And yeah, it’s a bit of an erroneous list to write but why should we not do things for the fear of other people finding it cheesy?
I’m making a better effort to celebrate the small things in life like…
When the crowds and stragglers finally clear and you can take a photo you can be proud of
When you get onto the train just seconds before the doors close (or when the bus driver waits for you). Bonus points if you get a seat upstairs at the very front.
When the sun comes out on a cool day and warms your face
When you finally have that chance to overtake a slow car and have endless empty road in front of you
I turn 25 on Friday.
I don’t think I’m as horrified as I could be (or should be). I don’t mind birthdays but they were never really a huge focus in my life. I’m not a “it’s my birthday month” kind of person, I honestly just want to get on with my day.
It took me a while to realise that your birthday is just another day in the calendar. You’re not supposed to (or expected to) magically feel anything in particular. Things aren’t meant to be miraculously different. You won’t discover the meaning of life or find enlightenment. It really is just another day. So I’ve stopped having massive expectations for my birthday and allowed it to just be. And for that, I am much happier.
But classing myself as being in my ‘mid-20s’ is a little frightening. Here I am, 24 going on 25, with a handful of achievements and dreams of a couple more.
I share my birthday with Reese Witherspoon and William Shatner (v cool) as well as my best friend (medium cool) who was born in the same hospital on the same day in the same year just hours apart. He and I only met in college but our lives ran pretty parallel to one another until then.
In those 25 years, I’ve done a lot. As much as anyone would really. There’s nothing particularly extraordinary about my life. I haven’t achieved anything massively spectacular or survived any enormous amount of trauma (aside from mental health struggles) but I have learned a few things; things that have helped me, things that I wish I knew before I learned them, things that have been difficult to come to terms with and things that have more or less saved my life – both metaphorically and literally.
So I thought it’d be fitting to share twenty-five of those things here and maybe when I hit fifty, I’ll have another twenty-five to throw at you.
We experienced (and are continuing to experience) a traumatic event this week, something I wish with all my heart did not happen, something that none of us could predict.
You never think it’s going to happen to you. That bad things happen to other people, that you are immune from the horrors of the world and then when something heartbreaking strikes you, it’s completely overwhelming. You feel as though you have been knocked off your feet, that the world has suddenly become this cruel, unforgiving and unfair place. That all the things you tell yourself to comfort yourself do not seep into your bones like they used to, that you are immune to the good things.
I know I feel numb. And completely in denial, hoping tomorrow I’ll wake up and it would have been just a horrible complicated dream. Those few people I told, I asked them to act as if nothing had changed. I wanted as much normality as possible but even that couldn’t shoot down the reality that our lives have changed.
We all want to be a better person. Unless you think you are the *best* person and if so, you probably need to work on your humility.
I often find myself wishing I was better but better at what, I don’t know. Sometimes I get frustrated that even when I’m trying my absolute best, I’m not improving and nothing is changing, whether it’s with work, friendships, family relationships or things I do day to day. I have an image in my head as to what I want and immediately lament that I’m too dumb/stupid/lazy/incompetent to do it. And then I wind up with low confidence which feeds the circle of “I want to be better” and we start all over again.