Look Back

Look back, look forward, stay present.

I love a good motivational quote. I’ve expressed before how Pinterest is one of my coping tools. There is one that comes up a lot which is “don’t look back, you’re not going that way”. Now, I get it, I do. There is another quote about living in the past is depression, living in the future is anxiety and living in the now is peace. (Definitely didn’t quote that right and can’t remember who it was).

Over the last few days I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past and dreaming a lot for the future. I don’t feel depressed and no more anxious than is my normal level at the moment though. I feel inspired and strong. 

I have been dreaming and planning for building the future of my dreams. I am grateful for what I have now but I have big dreams and big plans. Sitting purely in the now is not going to get me there. I believe I can, so I will. I have to get out of my own way.

There is such power in looking back. Living in the now is great, I truly believe this. Changing your mindset and focusing as much as you can on the positives can have tremendously great impacts on your mental wellbeing and your life in general.

At some point though, you have to look back. 

If you have experienced trauma of any kind and it is unresolved, you can sit in your present and work on happiness all you want, but it will likely come back to bite you. It will be holding you back in ways that you wouldn’t even have known. Only when you look back can you process this trauma, find forgiveness, peace and remove the limitations you have put on yourself as a result. Do this yourself, journal, scream, dance, meditate. Get help from a therapist, a life coach, a friend, or family. However you do it, believe me there is power in healing from these old wounds. 

There is also power in looking back to see just how far you have come. Since I started this blog in May 2017 (5 years ago!!!) so much has changed. I have faced so many challenges while healing and even added some new traumas. I have recently been receiving coaching in work to help with my personal development. I’ve also attended a “Play and Create” retreat day with @jennygilescreativerebel which was so eye opening to some of the reasons I’ve been feeling stuck. These have highlighted for me some of the big things that hold me back. Imposter syndrome is a huge one, but why? Finding the why of this and realising the root cause is helping me to process it and move on. I am living in the now and practising gratitude for everything I have. I am also still looking back though. No I’m not going that way, but if I ever want to move freely in the direction of my dreams, I need to break the chains that are weighing me down. To do this, I must look back.

I have in the last couple of days been having conversations where I’ve reflected on the journey so far. I’ve looked back at the old version of me and seen just how far I have come. I have been feeling a little stuck and lost lately but ooooosh this reflection is helping me. First to heal from some shit that is keeping me locked in place and also to see just how far I have come. I am a different person to who I was then. Another quote I love is something along the lines of “If you knew me before my healing, you don’t know me now, I put back my pieces differently” I have come a long way and I am so proud of the person I am now. I still have some healing to do and I believe we never stop learning, growing and changing, a fact that I love. I am healing, I am growing, I am building the life of my dreams. 

Don’t stay stuck. It’s ok to be sad and to hurt, just don’t stay there. It is possible to heal and move on, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

Stay strong warriors

Procrastination

Hello fellow warriors! Just checking in đź’ś

Is anyone else feeling like a big barrel of ‘I don’t know’ at the moment? I feel like my brain is going at 1000mph and there are so many things I want to do or need to do, but instead… I do nothing. I get so overwhelmed with all the big things, that even the little things don’t get done.

At this moment in time, I am sat in my living room having spent time mindlessly scrolling social media, researching new hobbies like I will actually try them, online ‘window shopping’ and well, here we are. Procrastination central. I’ve thought about the two baskets of washing that need to be put away, the dishes in the sink, the fact that the bedding needs changing and generally the house could use a little clean and tidy. Not to mention the empty fridge so ideally I should do a food shop but that means I definitely need to shower first, which means washing my hair and finding clothes in the baskets… all this and I have also a few bits I need to do for work as I’m off on leave next week and I was too tired to finish it all yesterday. Alas, what did I decide to do instead? Write a blog.

I know what you’re thinking… next comes the motivational “you can do it, we’ve got this” well, sorry to disappoint, this is simply a procrastination post to distract myself from the fact that I don’t want to do the things I ideally should do, but I don’t know what I want to do instead. If you’re reading this, are you also procrastinating? Is this a club now? Should we have a support group? I’ll set one up, you know… later.

I hope that whatever you are doing, you are feeling good. If you’re not, that’s ok too. If you’re procrastinating like me, sod it, there’s always tomorrow. 

I’m thinking I might start doing the things after I post this. Or I won’t, who knows. This motivation roller coaster is wild.

Peace out! Stay strong warriors đź’ś 

You don’t have to be grateful that it isn’t worse.

Hello lovely readers! I know I’ve not been consistently blogging, but I also know that people are still reading my old blogs. I occasionally get asked if I’m still writing, so I know when I say ‘hello lovely readers’ that there are in fact a few of you still with me at least!

As with my last post, I will admit that I’ve tried to write many times for this blog, but nothing felt worthy of sharing. This world has become a real scary place at the moment and I find myself frequently saying “stop the world, I want to get off”.

Every day I feel a sense of helplessness, with so much going on and each day trying to limit reading or listening to the news for fear of what will be next. People around me struggling, experiencing tragedy and heartbreak and loss. I know that much of what is happening is outside of my control. I cannot help any more than simply donating, listening, supporting loved ones and friends where I can.

The last couple of years has pushed mental health to its absolute limit in most people I know, myself included. I’ve had too many conversations with people who feel like they should be able to cope, like they should be fine now. We are all just trying to keep going, to keep pushing through.

I’ve been pushing myself to breaking limits. I’ve been working too much and too hard at home as well as in my job. Up until recently, I’ve been saying “If I just don’t stop, then I won’t have time to break”. Now, I know, I know this is not healthy. Years of recovery, years of blogging and talking and healing… I know that is not the way. I also know that I wasn’t ready for the other way. I wasn’t ready to let myself stop, to let myself be, to feel and to open up publicly. If I did that I knew I would have to sit with that pain and let it in. Even as I write this I know I am not fully feeling it. I’m still planning in my head what I am going to get up and do when I finish writing. So I guess I should say I am not ready, rather than wasn’t ready.

I feel a heaviness in my chest that just won’t lift. I feel a deep sadness trying to get out. I’ve had days where the dam that I’ve built to hold it all in, cracks. The water works start, the darkness creeps in, then somehow I build that dam back up and keep going. People keep telling me I’m going to burn out, but I’m pretty sure I did a while ago and now I’m just running on muscle memory.

(I’d like to pause here to say this is not the blog I intended to write, but this is what is flowing out of me so I am going with it)

Over the last few weeks I’ve been taking steps to get myself back. They’ve been baby steps and I’ve fallen backwards a few times, but I’m still trying. I’m trying to work more reasonable hours, to make time for loved ones, to take better care of myself. Writing this blog has helped ease some of the weight.

I just want to say to anyone who may be feeling like this, you are not alone. We are not alone. Its ok if we’re not ready to feel it all yet, but we can’t stay here either. Life is too damn short, we deserve to heal and to feel joy.

It’s ok that we don’t feel ok at the moment. With the things we’ve all been through over the last few years, it’s completely justified.

I also want to reiterate to myself and to others, we don’t have to be grateful that it isn’t worse. I know that with everything that has happened and is happening, there are people far far worse off. My heart goes out to them and I am very aware of the privileges I have. I also know that my pain is real, its justified and it is ok.

For anyone who is struggling, please know that you can reach out. Keep going because we can get through it. This may not be the super positive blog I intended to write, but its honest, it’s real and it’s me. I’m with you, I’m fighting, please keep fighting too. You are not alone.

I’ve added a page on this site for mental health resources. I’ve currently only listed those in the UK, but I’m also aware that people from other countries read my blog sometimes. If anyone knows of reputable mental health resources in other countries, please feel free to let me know and I will update the page.

Stay strong warriors.

You are not alone

I haven’t written a blog in over a year. After writing so much (even if I didn’t always share) this seems so odd.

It’s not that I suddenly got all healed and didn’t need to. I actually stopped writing because honestly, with everything that was/is going on in the world, I never felt like my words would be worthy. So much pain, so much loss, so many voices fighting to be heard, when they should never have had to fight at all. In all of this, I kind of lost my voice. My mental illness never left me, but I had some good things happen. Big life things that normally, I would have wanted to shout from the rooftops… but with all the pain and all the loss, I also felt like I didn’t deserve to celebrate. How could I celebrate my happiness when there was so much suffering? Then, when I have struggled, I’ve subconsciously thought, who am I to add my voice to the masses? There are other people that need to be heard. Even though I’ve had moments of bad depression, raging anxiety, I’ve hurt myself, I’ve slipped on my self care and I’ve not listened to my needs. Even with all of that, I still have this deep feeling that I should only be grateful and I don’t deserve to feel this way.

How funny is that? Since when did mental illness only apply if everything is bad. Since when is it only justifiable if my life sucks? I may have had some good stuff happen, but I still spent months unable to see or hug my family and friends. I still felt isolated, scared, lonely and trapped. I also still have mental illness that doesn’t give a crap if things are going good or not. 

Another thing I’ve noticed is how much I am apologising again. Apologising for speaking out, for taking up space. I saw my mum and actually felt guilty for talking about me. The good and the bad. I felt bad, because I feel like I’m too much, that I am not worthy of the space to talk. I’ve been struggling a lot with stress and often feel like I am a burden to the people I talk to about it. I have felt like I am a poison, infecting everyone around me and that I just need to shut the hell up. I have felt like a failure that I’ve needed to ask for help in work. Felt like nothing I do is ever good enough. I’ve felt the weight of my imposter syndrome crushing me every day. I don’t feel like I’ve been silent, I feel like every cell in my body has been screaming but nothing is happening. I need to take better care of myself I know this. I also need to share. I need to share because I know I’m not alone. I know other people are feeling this way and I know that my voice can help someone. Knowing that I can maybe help even one person, that gives me hope and lights up some of the dark.

I stopped using my voice, my experiences and my hurt for good. I’m not saying I’m some sort of saviour, but I know full well it helps to know we are not alone. 

You are not alone.

You are allowed to take up space.

It is ok to feel crappy sometimes, even if from the outside it looks OK.

It is also perfectly OK to cry, to be real and raw. It doesn’t make you a failure it makes you human.

You are not alone.

Stay strong warriors đź’ś

The Importance of Sharing

Yesterday I had a difficult mental health day. I woke up later than intended, so that was a great start. I quickly showered and started to get ready for work. At the moment I am not feeling confident enough to go to the office without make up, so the getting ready part takes longer. This is odd considering that many of the people I work with have seen me without it. I share my bare face on social media often, yet right now, I want a mask. Even as I write this, I am wondering if it’s because I started a new job. I was feeling nervous about it, because I’d have staff to manage and a lot of challenges. I felt unworthy and like I was going to fuck it all up. I worried that my staff would wonder how I ever got the job. Somehow this has transpired into “if I wear make up I will look more professional and ‘together’ so they won’t question how I got there”. As much as I know this is crap, I still intend to put my make up on today. Maybe next week I’ll go bare face…

I am also struggling with my body image, so after what felt like 27 outfit changes. I finally just put on a baggy jumper. I am always boiling in work so jumpers are usually a no go, but right now it is all I feel comfortable in. Needless to say, after my clothes meltdown, my hair taking ages because it was so knotty and applying way more make up as compensation, I was late. I missed my first meeting and barely made it for my second. I felt awful and this fed into my feeling of not being good enough for my new job. 

I wanted to hide away in shame, but instead I apologised to my line manager for being late. I was honest about the reason and she accepted it without question, only asked if I was feeling ok now. When i went back to my desk, one of my staff members looked at me and said “are you alright, are you having a bad day?”. All I needed to say was yes, but I’ll be ok. The relief here was incredible, I was able to then just get stuck into my work and forget about my bad start. This was possible because both my manager and my staff are aware of my mental illness. I told them straight away and explained the signs and what I would need. I didn’t feel worried about my manager knowing, I’ve already experienced how much that can help with previous managers. Telling my staff was what made me worry – what if they perceived me as weak and unworthy?! Well that did not happen. If anything I am perceived as strong for sharing. I am able to just say “yes, but I will be ok” and there was no need for any further explanation. I had already explained that on a ‘bad day’ it didn’t mean they couldn’t ask for my help, I am still their manager and I will still support them, I just may look a little more frazzled doing it.

Yesterday was not a great day, but it was made 100 times easier to still function and go to work, by sharing. I told them upfront and on a good day, so that I wouldn’t have to explain on a bad day. There should be no stigma around mental illness, it is an illness and can be managed. Some days sure, it requires staying in a duvet fort, you know, like a cold. Some days you can function, it just hurts a bit, like a headache

This is a perfect example of why I am totally open about my mental illness. It helps. Don’t ever feel like you have to suffer in silence and alone. I didn’t need support yesterday, I just needed understanding, and that is exactly what I got. Nobody walked on eggshells around me as I had told them not to. Nobody asked me repeatedly what was wrong, because they already knew. 

Consider this when you feel like you can’t tell people as you may be perceived as weak. There is nothing weak about mental illness. We are warriors for fighting with our own minds every day. Yesterday was a battle, but today I am stronger for it.

Stay strong warriors đź’ś

Knowing, Respecting and Loving Yourself

A huge part of my recovery and my growth as a person has been learning all about myself. I have a greater understanding of myself today than I ever could have imagined possible previously. I am far more able to understand and identify my feelings, triggers, emotional blocks. I am able now to acknowledge that perhaps something I am saying or doing is unhealthy, but to also recognise the growth I have shown. In this way I am able to find something positive to focus on, rather than negative.

For example, a couple of days ago, I was having a particularly low day. I was looking back through old photos and admiring my body at the time my eating disorder was at its worst and I had lost a lot of weight. I have been feeling really unhappy with my current body and having been fighting a lot with the urge to lose weight through unhealthy means again. This includes dieting and ‘healthy eating lifestyle’ plans like slimming world.

(I will not even start a rant about diet culture/diet industries and how evil they are. I would just recommend that you follow @bodyposipanda aka Megan Jayne Crabbe aka my favourite account on Instagram and the reason I am still trying to love myself. Also read her book. It’s incredible)

So anyway… I’m sat there, looking at these photos, hating on myself. I was considering how I would be able to hide my ED from my family and friends, especially my partner. Then it occurred to me… when I was in full ED mode before, my hair sucked. Like super unhealthy, didn’t grow very well at all. Right now, I LOVE my hair. It has taken me years to grow it out and it is finally looking and feeling healthy. It is the one and only thing some days that I can honestly say I like/love about myself. So I decided then and there, I probably would have to try loving myself again instead because I don’t want to ruin my hair.

I went to my partner and proudly told him what I had been thinking, adding in that actually nails get brittle too and that was a pain. I was also stood unashamedly admiring my hair in the mirror. He was shocked and said “so, you’re telling me that the reason you decided against it now, was not for how it affects your mental health, what it will do to your insides, how it would affect your family or friends etc. You decided… because of your hair?” I actually laughed out loud and acknowledged completely how potentially fucked up that was. How to a normal person that is still super unhealthy… but to me, that is so damn grown. I decided not to hurt myself to change my body because I focused on something I loved about myself. I didn’t even have to consciously do it. I made the choice out of love for me. Maybe not love for all of me sure, but that seemingly small part, that will grow (like my healthy hair!). I was able to, in a very dark moment, genuinely love something about me and my appearance. I used that and chose love for myself over hate for myself. That. Is. Growth.

It’s January, it is the month of “New Year, New Me” diet and fitness ads are everywhere. It feels like everyone is talking about their diets and how fat they are or how bad they were over Christmas. I have been actually dreading going into the office because that place is rife with diet talk. For someone fighting an eating disorder mind, I can tell you it’s pretty damn triggering. It is not going to be easy for me to stand up for myself and politely ask my colleagues or friends to not talk about their diets in front of me. I am afraid of the reaction I will get and the judgement in people’s eyes. The look of “you don’t look like you have an eating disorder, you look like you need to diet”. I am going to have to bite my tongue to avoid a rant about diet culture and how bad it is. I am going to have to remind myself constantly, why I am fighting this, even if right now it’s only for my hair.

I am politely asking anyone reading this right now who knows me personally: I do not want to hear about your diet. I do not want to hear about your new healthy eating plan. Or food based lifestyle change. Or your plan to lose weight. If you post about your diet or constantly talk on social media about good food vs bad food and how “eating this is going to make me so fat” respectfully, I will unfollow you as it is not healthy for me. I do not want you to comment on my weight in any way, even if it is meant as a compliment. If your goals for 2020 are image related I don’t want to know about them. I am asking this in order to respect my mental health and to aid my recovery. I am also asking because maybe it will make someone think. Not everyone is as open as me. There may be someone struggling, as I am and they also don’t want to hear about your diet. I don’t think it would actually be wrong to ask, if you are not sure, if someone is comfortable talking about your diet/food plans. I consciously bite my tongue and aim to be respectful of other people’s views when it comes to diets. I only ask for the same respect when it comes to my views and my mental health.

If you are also feeling the pressure of diet culture and the pressure to obtain the perfect body (as decided by who!?) I’m with you. I have told many people to try this and I feel it is even more important now. In the comfort of your own home by yourself, get naked. (This isn’t about to get weird I promise) stand naked in front of a mirror – those small make up mirrors don’t count! Then I want you to pick at least one thing that you love about yourself, even if it’s just your hair. Do this every day, really take in your body but do not get sucked into hating it.

Even if you don’t love your body, your body loves you.

Even if your body is not perfectly healthy or doesn’t look the way society tells you it should look, your body loves you. Your body works every single day just to keep you alive. You are alive because your body loves you. When you look in that mirror and start to notice all the things you hate about your body, remind yourself that your body loves you and then try to love it back.

I have just started doing this again today. Today I love:

  1. My hair… obvs!
  2. My waist and the curve of my hips
  3. My big Greek booty
  4. My eyes

Stay strong warriors, I see you, I’m with you, we’ve got this. đź’š

First blog post

me2

First ever blog post! Now this is scary. At any one time there will usually be what feels like a million thoughts buzzing around my head. Sometimes I write them down, sometimes I type them on my phone, just to get them out of my head. Well now I’ve decided to put those thoughts out there in the world. I’ve decided this because I am a warrior in the battle that is anxiety and depression, I am stronger now than I have ever been and that is from being open about my feelings. I figured that if this helped me, it could possibly help others.

 

I know I am stronger now because there is a voice in my head as I type this saying “nobody cares Jade, people will just think that you are attention seeking and that you are stupid and weak” well to that voice I say FUCK YOU!!! I am NOT weak. I am NOT stupid. People DO care. The people that don’t just won’t read it and if me being open about my feelings can give even one person hope, then I have done what I set out to do.

 

So just in case anyone who doesn’t already know me reads this, I figured the first post should be a little bit about me.

 

My name is Jade, I am 26 (almost 27) and I have battled depression for most of my life. The anxiety came later and about a year or so ago, the panic attacks decided to join the party (who said three’s a crowd?!) Depression is different for everyone, there are similarities in the feelings, but it is still different. For some it is reactive to a situation or a trauma, it has been that for me at stages in my life. Three years ago I hit the lowest point in my life, I had felt depressed before, felt suicidal before but this was the worst it had ever been. What made it worse for me was that it was completely unreactive, not what I was used to. I can pinpoint the exact time the tsunami washed over me. I was in work, I was having a good day, it was a slow day so my friend and I had been chatting and laughing all morning. I went to the bathroom and it was like someone pulled down a blackout blind and switched off all the lights. There was no warning, no trigger, no reason. I went from smiling and laughing to an overwhelming feeling of sadness, loneliness, emptiness. It was a long road from that point, I tried to fight it for a while, I only used to talk about my feelings to a select few back then. I can tell you that the most exhausting part of depression is pretending to be ok when you are not. It led to a breakdown, I was signed off work and for two weeks I didn’t even leave my flat. It was the closest I ever came to suicide, thankfully I stopped myself. I called a bunch of my closest friends and family and nobody picked up since it was the middle of the day and most people were in work. I was desperate and fighting the urge to just do it and end my pain. My sister saved me, she picked up or called me back, I don’t remember. I just remember starting the conversation trying to be normal because that was my go to, I couldn’t help it. She knew though, she could hear the pain in my voice, she stopped me and asked me if I was ok. Well I opened the floodgates, I burst into tears and spilled out all the ugly feelings. I don’t even remember exactly what we said on the phone that day, it was a blur of emotions (plus I have the actual memory of a fish, for reals!). I just know that my beautiful sister reminded me that I was not alone and reminded me that I had people that loved me and cared for me and would help me turn on the lights again. Sabrina I don’t know if I ever really thanked you so I am taking the opportunity now to tell you, you literally saved my life, thank you, I love you.

(I have actually starting shaking and was crying writing that so moving on to the recovery process)

I spent a year on anti-depressants, something I always considered a weakness in the past. Well it is not a sign of weakness, going to the doctors and asking for help, then making the choice every day to take those happy pills, that took more strength than I could ever describe.

I changed jobs, because I no longer felt fulfilled there and at the time it was the best thing for my mental health as I needed a fresh start. I made the decision to not hide my depression any more, the happy pills were balancing out my feelings so my bad days were fewer anyway. I eventually came off the pills and finally experienced joy again. Fast forward to now, I still get bad days, I am human and the depression, anxiety and now panic attacks are with me always. I described how it feels to a friend once: I feel like I am walking on a tightrope, spinning a bunch of plates over a tank of sharks (I have a very irrational fear of sharks). Some days I barely notice all of that, I am a plate spinning, tightrope walking master, the sharks are like those ones out of finding nemo (fish are friends not food!), I GOT this. I move forwards, might even do some tricks, laugh, smile and enjoy it. Then other days there is a freaking storm, shit gets real and the sharks get bloodthirsty. I wobble, I might end up going backwards, I drop some plates and I start to panic. The difference between the me now and the me three years ago is now, I remember to look up. I look up and I see my tribe, my tribe is made up of family and friends, some friends I have known for years, some only months but they are my tribe. They are my cheerleaders and my biggest fans, they remind me that I’m not in this alone. I remember that I’ve been here before, I survived it then and I can survive it now, I am a badass after all! I understand now that it is fully ok to not be ok all the time, I don’t fight the feelings, I let them out. I tell people that I am having a bad day but I will be alright, and I believe it! I have read a quote on Pintrest (also one of my saviours, seriously, I use it when I need to read some positive quotes to pull me back. Pintrest is amazeballs) this quote is:

“Don’t forget that you’re human. It’s ok to have a meltdown. Just don’t unpack and live there. Cry it out and then refocus on where you are headed”

Well that quote is life! It is exactly right, you are allowed to feel shitty, whether you have depression, anxiety, other mental illness or you’re just having a bad day. It is ok to not be ok. Once I allowed that I found that the bad days got fewer, sometimes it isn’t even a whole day anymore, hallelujah! I have accepted and embraced my feelings, the good the bad and the ugly and I am stronger than ever. I love myself and I am not ashamed to say so, I love even the bad parts of myself because they make me who I am. My scars are on the inside but they shine through my skin, I wear them with complete pride now. My scars are a beautiful reminder of the battles I have won. I am a warrior!

To anyone who has felt, or feels the same way I have or the way I do now, you are an absolute BADASS! You are not alone, not ever. If you don’t have your tribe yet, don’t worry, you’ll find them. You are not the only person who feels this way, you are not crazy. There are people in the world who feel the same way, even if some don’t, there are people who understand and accept you exactly how you are. You are a warrior too, wear your scars with pride!