Firstly I apologise for the tardiness of late in posting anything at all on the blog. Without wanting to sound like a bore real life has been throwing an absolute shed load of aggro at me lately and in true ‘me’ style I’ve buried my head in the sand, retreated into my little hole and pretended that the world is absolutely fine, and my anxiety has been in full swing.
That’s the thing when you suffer with anxiety you can have days where you are literally floating along like the heroine in a Disney movie and then all of a sudden everything, even the smallest of things, becomes incredibly overwhelming and crippling.
Many people to this day still are unaware of the fears, insecurity and extreme anxiety that I’ve suffered with over the last few years. Mental health still has huge stigma attached to it, and even with many mainstream celebrities speaking out about it – many people still don’t understand how to help when someone they know is suffering.
For me I don’t believe in medication or pills, I don’t like the way they make me feel detached from the rest of the world (although some say that the feeling of total numbness is better than the feelings of despair you go through when having an episode).
I struggle to relax and wind down as my brain is just too busy and I also have extreme guilt at taking time out for me when my sole purpose in life now is to be a mum. What I do find works for me is reading books on how to help me cope when things get too much.
Finding ways to regulate my breathing, slow down the car crash of thoughts going through my head and anything to get rid of the hideous nausea and chest pains I can experience has to be a good thing and lately I’ve been reading Blake Bauer’s fabulous mindfulness book ‘You Were Not Born to Suffer’.
Blake is an international best selling author who is all about self-healing, mindfulness and meditation. He describes suffering an a result of ‘us never learning how to love, value and be true to ourselves on a daily basis.’ That in fact our struggles and negative thinking are causes by us rejecting our true self and constantly trying to please others.
Sound familiar yet?
For me that last statement is incredibly true. I am a ‘yes’ person and will put myself out and go above and beyond to help someone if I can, often at the detriment of myself, because I crave love and acceptance and approval from a wider circle. Deep stuff.
This is nowhere more true than in my love life. There is only one setting for me in a relationship and that is ‘extreme’. If I love someone then they are the centre of my universe and I will constantly look for ways to show them this, from tiny gifts, text messages, picture quotes and anything that gets me a message back reminding me that they feel the same. Quite frankly any man who dates me needs a medal and currently I am working greatly on patience in my latest relationship because, well, I don’t want to fuck it up.
Blake’s book is by far the easiest and for me the most realistic book on self-worth that I’ve read. In just a few chapters I had identified the things that cause me my biggest fear and shortly thereafter began to put in place a plan to change that and at least reduce the anxiety that was causing me. He breaks down the ways you can free yourself from destructive behaviour (negative thoughts, over thinking, self-critical care) and gradually build healthier relationship that is based on acceptance, kindness, honesty and self-worth.
So what were my worries? I’ll share them with you because I suspect my worries are much like yours
- financial worries; I have a torrid relationship with money but am putting in place measures to learn to respect it, clear my debt and build a future for myself
- loneliness; the thought of never being someone’s person absolutely crushes me. I have a huge heart and yes I want the fairytale relationship but now realise that you can’t just have all of that overnight it takes work. So right now I’m working on it and adjusting my expectations in a new relationship.
- guilt and failure; these two are so closely linked for me. I have huge guilt about being a single parent and not doing enough or being there and equally failing my daughter at every level. This also stems into work where I was recently in a very unfulfilling job that left me feeling like a failure on a day to day basis. I’ve made a change to my working pattern though and the environment and hopefully this is the first part of a new more fulfilling journey.
I am only three quarters of the way through Blake’s book but the style of writing he uses has for me been so effective in shrugging off the negativity that was in my life and showing me how I can take better care of myself, allow my heart to heal old pain and move forward as a stronger woman.
For the first time in a long time I am passionate again about design work and someone has given me the opportunity to shine on that front for them with some projects, I want to get up in the morning. I have a relationship I am absolutely absorbed in which makes me happy and most importantly at 39 years of age I’ve decided to stick two fingers up to those in society that don’t accept me for me.
The first part of the healing process was three weeks ago when I made the decision to get my first tattoo. Something I’d been putting off for nearly 7 years because I was worried about the reactions of those around me. I’ve had it done, I love it and for me it symbolises commitment and a new healing journey. I am sure that there are those that don’t like it but remember your purpose in life is not to please everyone else.
I have learned to self regulate my breathing when having an anxiety attack, whilst some times it is more successful than others, knowing that I know a coping mechanism is massively reassuring and I can now recognise the signs and triggers and attempt to mitigate the fall out when I do have a temporary breakdown.
You may think how can a book help you change your mindset, I thought the same before reading Blake’s book. Ultimately you have to want to help yourself and change the way things are. When you are at absolute rock bottom as I was six weeks ago you will look for any coping method possible to get through the day.
If that’s where you are now please find someone you trust a friend or medical professional and ask for help, also get Blake’s book and read it and do what I did. Get a piece of paper and write all the words that come into your head when you think about yourself. Surprisingly for me there were more positives than I thought there would be. It was this simple moment of self-discovery that helped me to put tiny bricks in place to start to change things.