NaNoWriMo I’m Going With The Flowowowow

I like making quick spur of the moment decisions, in case you hadn’t noticed with my last project (please, check out my soundcloud bits on the side or click HERE to listen to my mental health podcasts for mind!) HOWEVER I’m now doing something else entirely out there. Some of you may think ‘Nat, for gods sake, what are you doing.’ And you’d be entirely right. What possessed me to decide to take part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? And what the hell am I doing back in the UK?

Ok, so calm down. Let me answer the latter for you. I’ve just had the most incredible three months of my life. I’ve been an English Language teacher for refugees in Serbia. I met the most incredible students and entirely motivated and passionate individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. I did not want to stop, and I did not want to leave them. But life has other callings, sadly. Firstly, my bank account started screeching at my in my nightmares and told me I needed to get a job to support myself, which sadly could not happen abroad nor in my volunteering experience for various reasons. Secondly, my family like to bother me every five minutes and criticise what I’m doing or subtly hint that they would prefer me to be doing something else (doesn’t everyone’s family do this?). And finally, I am unwell. Quite, unwell. So it was about time I got home to refresh myself, find some job to give me some money even if it isn’t as rewarding as teaching English to refugees, and make my family happy (for now).

So while I’m bed bound recouperating on a tonne of tablets I can barely pronounce, unable to eat, barely able to sleep, staring blankly out of my bedroom window wondering what happened to how awesome my life was before I came back to the UK, I’m going to write a novel. Now, I should be looking at jobs. In fact, I’ve actually had job offers, and have got so cold feet about them I’ve been unsure as to whether to take them. But I figure, I’ll leave that for when I’m feeling my proper self again. To be a boss, you just need to be better. So far my diet of soggy cornflakes, tomato soup and plain pasta isn’t exactly making me feel or look the part for scoring some mother of a graduate job. So, I’ll stick to my passions to stay as motivated as possible during this dreary existance. Writing.

I won’t lie, my mental health since being home and being this ill has been questionable. I’ve barely spoken to my family, and I’ve barely smiled or laughed (also because it physically hurts to do so) and for the first time in a very long time, I’ve felt pained and sad. Which is not good at all. But I won’t let myself feel too guilty about it. My body needs time, and it needs to rejuvenate and recuperate, and it’s ok to feel a bit down and sad when my bod is feeling so gross. So, I’m writing a novel during the space of the month, for the banter, and also because my younger brother told me I should write a book because all I do is write and I have virtually nothing else to do with my life now (apparently I’m even good at it, but the claim is questionable, considering the only things he has ever read of mine have been funny children’s stories).

So, what is my novel going to be about? Well, of course, all about mental health. With a twist. It wouldn’t just be a normal book with me, obviously. I don’t do normal. I’m not very normal. In fact, aside from my younger brother telling me to write a book, my younger sister told me I should become a unicorn hairdresser “because working for a shop is what normal people do and you’re not a normal person, Nat.”. Touche. If I wasn’t aware of that before, I am now. I digress. The book is called ‘Mindfulness for the Utterly, Ridiculously, Positively, Undoubtedly Useless’, because I’m so, so useless. Like I literally am probably one of the most useless human beings any of my mates know, for sure. Not only that, but being useless and suffering with mental health issues do not go hand in hand. You need to be able to manage it, and not be useless towards it. Why do I not take part in intense yoga sessions every day and meditate every other minute? Drink avocado chicken smoothies and thank nature for blessing me with the autumn leaves and take baths in the wind? I just don’t. I just simply, get lazy, and would binge watch Corrie in bed if I’m sad and eat biscoff biscuits. And you know what, I’ve come to realise in my time away from home, that it’s totally ok. It is totally ok to not be so great. It is even totally ok to deal with it in that way sometimes. t is ok that I am not perfect. But have I been managing my mental health in other ways? Why is it without the down facing dog pose I’ve been able to be happy? How have I come accustomed to managing my happiness, and how have I been thinking differently that has been positively impacting my mental health?

And so, there you have it. I’m writing a novel all about how you are entitled to happiness and can still be happy even if you are not some rainbow guru. It might even be a little bit funny if my bizarre humour comes through clear enough. The point is, don’t beat yourself up for not being on form with stereotypical mindfulness when you suffer with low moods. Let’s see how this goes, and let’s see if this even makes sense. It’s just for a bit of fun, but I’ve got a word count target and everything. If the amount I write in these blog posts continues I’ll for sure have it done within the month…Screenshot 2017-11-01 12.14.50

Stay Smiling,

Natter-tat-tatter

 

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The Ultimate Mental Health Handbook

And so, here is the end with my podcast journey. (If you didn’t know, I’ve been podcasting all about mental health for 10 days!) Quite frankly, I never want to touch social media again after being on it so much for 10 days! I may just have to take a bit of a break! I want to say, yet again, a massive thank you to everyone that got involved with this project (and yet to get involved, as yes, there will still be a few more things uploaded in the coming days!) You have all made me so proud, and not only that, but from what I have seen and heard in the last ten days, and everything that I’ve seen in social media, I have every hope and belief that the good fight will be won one day. I love you, forgive you, and understand all of your quirks and irrational moments. There is no love like self-love, but the love I’ve felt and the love being spread in the past 10 days has left me speechless and getting all emotional. Everyone that has got involved is an absolute force. I’d like to also thank my sick podcasters that chatted to me all week long for hours all about mental health to get the discussion going. Even if this helps one person, this will all have been worth every single moment. Stay tuned as the whole podcast is up for review on iTunes to make listening a little easier. And finally, here are some really useful links!:
 
FIRSTLY: IF YOU’D LIKE TO DONATE, DONATE: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/wordsonawhim
 
Check out my blog for more bits n bobs: https://wordpress.com/view/wordsonwhim.wordpress.com
 
Supporting and understanding/volunteering:
 
Men and Mental Health:
#dontbottleitup
 
Narcotics and Mental Health (for addiction help and education):
https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline (addiction in combination with mental health hotline)
 
Someone To Talk To:
 
https://www.7cups.com/ (online counsellors)
 
Koko App for iOS – I worked with Koko when they began to develop the app, and it is still one of the best ways to keep on track of your mental health. It’s an anonymous, super positive advice app where it trains you to be positive about situations as well as providing positive ‘there is always a way’ advice to your own situations.
 
https://www.relate.org.uk/ (more online counsellors, I have specifically used Relate in the past and they really helped with some of my darker moments.)
 
http://www.turning-point.co.uk/mental-health/services-for-you/talking-therapies.aspx (I was also a turning point CBT user earlier this year, and believe it was an aid in getting back onto the right path!)
 
Even if it’s just saying it out loud to yourself, writing it down, telling a friend, a cuddly toy, or a family member – saying it out loud is the first step into admitting something isn’t right, which brings you closer to being diagnosed and seeking help.
 
If you are a University student, you should have a wellbeing leader for the faculty, or for the uni, disability support ALSO deal with mental health issues, please do not forget this! They will check up on you, and see fit that the right support is in place so that your journey can continue.
 
Mindfulness:
 
Forest App for iOS (if you didn’t see me rave about this where were you?! blocks all social media for a while and grows a tree for charity)
 
Headspace (online and app) – These guys were my godsend. Absolutely could not recommend this enough.
 
The Book of Happiness – Something I made whilst in my 2nd year of uni, a book where I write down the positive parts of my day, even if I’ve had a crap day, to try and pull out the best bits is all worth it to make you realise things are ok. Next time you feel a bit crap, give it a look through.
 
Hobbies are vital. Hence the ukulele, writing, reading, belly dancing, baking and constant obsession with exploring all kinds of music. Take the things you love doing, and do more of it, and double that! When you feel a bit crap, resort to something that is connected to making you feel happy.
 
Exercise is proven to help, even just a walk somewhere or to refrain from taking public transport unless you have to.
 
Things to make you feel better about yourself and your surroundings:
 
Surround yourself by positive people, and things that make you happy (and purge the people who make you feel bad in yourself, or judge the things that make you happy. Those are friends not worth having.)
 
Tell a friend. I know it’s a habit to think you’re a burden or get on people’s nerves, but honestly, I’d rather a friend came to me and told me if they felt they really needed someone there in that moment, or if you are concerned for your wellbeing or are having dark thoughts than to never know.
 
The Love Yourself List – something off the blog which will get recalled, when feeling especially self-conscious in yourself, write down a list of all the things you don’t like about yourself. Then try as best as you can to write down the positives to each of those things.
 
Allow yourself the odd indulgence. I have a treat fund in my bank account (just don’t go overboard!)
 
To keep track:
 
Write down when you have panic attacks/bad spells/episodes. Helps diagnosis.
 
Keep a sleep tracker to monitor when you wake up, what state your body is in during being asleep, how deep your sleep is. Helps diagnosis. Also good for tracking progress with medication and therapy, and whatever coping mechanisms you fancy trialling out and seeing what works for you.
 
Keep a note of when you have your medication. Use a medication reminder if you have to. Especially for when you plan on weening yourself off the medication or to monitor if the medication is actually working for you in case you need to trial another one.
 
When you just don’t quite know what to do anymore, or understand what is going on with your mind:
 
https://www.samaritans.org/ (dark thoughts helpline and emergency contact)
 
There is ALWAYS another option. I hope I’ve helped. Time to take a break from social media for a while, phew! Happy World Mental Health Day everybody, stay smiling. X

Men and Mental Health, and the Other Podcasts In-Between.

My blog actually has a number of posts set to ‘private’. Sometimes I just like to go through them, because documenting my mind in those times actually helps me to see exactly how far I’ve come, even when I sometimes feel like I haven’t progressed at all. You know, the one that scared me though, was this:

“I cried when I got home. I think that says it all really. I’m no good at lengthy introductions to a class of new people on demand.

All I could think of in that space of time was “I can’t wait to hide.”” – October 2014

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read that I got absolute chills. I remember the exact encounter. I have that memory like it was yesterday, I couldn’t believe I’d even documented it. It may read pathetic, and childish if you will. But I remember every sweaty little moment itching to just run home the second that introduction in that class was over and escape being around people I didn’t know. Which is absolutely something that never happens to me at all anymore! I thrive from getting to know new people!

But I’m pointing this out here, in relation to my podcasts. You see, I write this blog, open up about what I’ve been through and decided to do this project, because that girl in 2014 sat in that seminar room pooping her pants over saying her name and being questioned about it, would have felt over the moon if she found a bunch of podcasts discussing mental health. To even properly talk to anyone about it in that time was alien. I even hated my first counsellor, I thought she was super Freudian and intrusive. I couldn’t even process what was happening to me, because I’d spend so many days locked in my room in a fit of anxiety wishing I could just puff up into a ball of smoke and not feel like that anymore.

I’m making podcasts each night from the 1st to the 10th of October for World Mental Health day, having amazing discussions with some interesting and informed people all about mental health. The first three have already been released! What you waiting for!?

Men and Mental Health with Matt – Podcast 3

And if you wanna know more about what I’m doing and why, check out my last post here.

In the first couple podcasts I did with Luke…

…We chatted about supporting and understanding. Which was great, because it meant hearing from the ‘other’ person’s perspective, the helper, the support network, you know. The pea to your pod. The fish to your chips. And it was nice hearing that someone could be so supportive and understanding of what someone is going through, and focus on ways in which not only him and his ex-partner could work through their health and happiness, but solve a bunch of issues within the relationship.

However, in today’s podcast with Matt, we focused on men. I wanted to get someone’s perspective of being a young guy, and living in a world where suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. Not only that, but whether the stereotypical hunky man image and sadly at times, an expectation, affects the actions and mental health of young men.

All the discussions are all done barely scripted. Just casual conversations with people about life, to see different perspectives and be open about one another’s opinions in the hope of understanding the world of mental health a little better. And hey, hopefully, reach out to those that don’t quite know what to do with their heads right now.

Do enjoy the next few days! Don’t forget to donate, don’t forget to read up, and don’t forget to keep up with all my social media platforms if you want to keep in the loop!

Stay Smiling,

Nat

Going Mentally Mindful For Mind

So a lot of you know the basis of my story, and have probably seen me go on about mental health and mental health awareness on my Facebook page and my blog. But why do I do it? I do it because when my mental health journey kicked off, it became a big part of my life that still to this day I have to maintain and control. It’s a part of me, I have struggled shaking off, time and time again. But over time, I’ve learnt to accept that it’s a part of who I am. My experience with anxiety, panic attacks, and recently my depressive relapse spell, has shaped the person I am today, in both good and bad. The truth is, life just isn’t about the things that haven’t even happened yet. They’re about things that have already happened, and dealing with them in the present. After all, you can’t change what you refuse to confront. Simba found that out when he needed to scoot back over to Pride Rock and challenge his evil Uncle Scar, even with Hakuna Matata in his life (yes I did just say that). Happiness is just not linear. I’m slowly learning to accept, that I will go through huge ups and sometimes huge downs. But over this time, I’ve developed what a good friend of mine called recently, a toolbox, of things to get my feet back on the ground. Sometimes, I’m great at it. Sometimes, I’m useless at it. The latter I discovered when I relapsed over Christmas with a feeling of dread and distress, that had me contemplating my whole life.

I’m currently in one of the happiest places I’ve been in. My return to Belgrade was based on my happy connotations with the city and my time here, and my desire to help others who have also had times of distress, and have been in, undoubtedly, worse situations than I could ever contemplate. But in helping others, I’ve once again been reminded what real, wholesome love feels like, and I’m learning about life in yet another perspective.

So I thought the timing of this couldn’t be more in tune! Hear me out, let me introduce my idea. For those that don’t know me, I’m Nat, and I’m one of the most useless beings on the planet. I’m lazy, imperfect, like my bed, like a few drinks, and like eating burgers. And that’s ok. But in a bid to do what I should be religiously doing to prevent mental health relapse and inform others about ways in which we can allegedly keep our mental health at bay…I’m going to be going T-total, exercising around the gorgeous Ada Ciganlija each morning, leaving happiness notes across the city of Belgrade, eating ( a tonne ) of decent meals, attempting to get enough sleep, but most importantly, TALK. And the talking part is where the next exciting bit comes in…

So, I had this really mental idea right. Usually, I post a video or poem or post or whatever all over this blog and social media to raise awareness. But some of you already know a lot about my story. Some of you, are probably sick of hearing me ramble on. So this year, I’m going to be having discussions with some of the most influential, awesome, inspirational people in my life, along with (hopefully) some psychologically aware experts in a series of videos and podcasts over the next ten days. Different topics are going to be discussed in each video/podcast, so hopefully you can all check them out and feel extra aware about the depths of mental health, and why we should fight the stigma in simply opening up about what we have been through, how we feel, and what we have experienced as a result. And specifically, learning about the ins and outs of mental health you may not have thought about before!

This time round, I’m also posting this just giving page (CLICK ME!) so that if you happen to watch any of the videos/podcasts I’ll be making over the next ten days, it would be cool if you could also make a donation. I didn’t really know how much to set as a goal, or if this would even be a good idea, but hey! Why not! So please donate on the page. All of this is for Mind (Because when I first started having my panic attacks, I had zero clue what was going on or what even mental health issues were, until my Mom gave me some awesome booklets made by Mind which started my journey in learning more about mental health. I figured since they were so vital in educating me to begin with, why not make them a part of this!)

I hope all this makes sense (and doesn’t fall flat like a pancake!)  and as per, congratulations for getting to the end of this post. I’m aware I have a lot of words….

Oh, and of course…I need people to discuss things with! So if I haven’t already contacted you either before this post or in the next half an hour or so, pleaseeeeee don’t be shy and send me a message! I’d love to hear from you, the more, the merrier! Even if it was a short video of something you’d like to say and for me to share on one of my videos or podcasts – JUST DO IT! It would be really, really awesome.

So, here’s to the next ten days, and here’s to continuing to fight societies stigma regarding mental health and the expression of emotions.

Stay Smiling, Nat

 

Big Fish Little Fish…What’s The Difference?

I’ve had the opportunity lately to say the words “I have bigger fish to fry” and “I have bigger problems I need to deal with first, that make these problems seem like nothing at all” and to explain both of those phrases, tonight is a perfect example of what my bigger fish is.

So I feel like this is the best opportunity to both chill myself out through writing about it (because, that helps!) and to give a little insight into separating legit anxiety over “oh shit I’m freaking out over nothing” anxiety.

So Nat, what the EFF have you done now?

I’m currently freaking out, rubbing my eyebrows and scratching my skin like I’m itching all over. Serious, I’m having a moment. I’ve started about 5 unnecessary arguments in the last 8 hours and I’m attempting an early nights sleep just so the day can be over with because I’ve had enough. But why Nat?! What’s wrong?

Are you ready? Drum roll please…

I’m staying the night at my granddads, and my passport is in my quadruple locked apartment on the 6th floor in the centre of town (which is an hour and a half bus journey from where I am), and I’m nervous about spending the night away from it in case someone breaks in and steals it.

*Crowd begin to boo and throw empty sprite bottles at the stage*

I’d like to add, to break into my apartment, you’d need to be a strong burly man capable of not waking up my neighbours and barging in. You’d also probably need a drill, which my neighbours would also notice. You’d also have to somehow get into my apartment building without the key as well, which is full of CCTV. I’m also on the top floor so you’d have to get all the way to the top first, wasting a tonne of time. (all this worrying could come in handy one day if I decide to make a drastic career decision to become a high profile thief)

Ridiculous ennit. I mean most days my passport is at home and I’m out somewhere, and I never worry about it. So there you have it. I’ve been researching taxi prices, late night busses, asked all my family members if they can drive me home at way past ten at night. All because of the potential that someone well skilled with either a drill or axe is able to get into my apartment and steal the passport of a 20 something female with a useless debt ridden identity. I mean I do need a new passport photo anyway…

And I get these moments where I worry so much about these things, that I actually start panicking, maybe even crying. All for a situation that hasn’t even happened yet! This isn’t even a serious situation. It’s not even the end of the world. I mean, if that happens, it’ll be pretty crap and I’ll have to apply for a new passport. Woop de doo.

But in my head – this situation is currently bigger than most. I’m not worried about being technically unemployed. I’m not worried about my budgeting for living abroad in a foreign country. I’m not worried about relationships. I’m not worried about most “important” things, because my head, has moments where it worries about ridiculous scenarios that haven’t even happened to the same extent as an “important” scenario.

My biggest fish is sorting out my own head, so that I spend less time freaking out over rubbish, and more time enjoying my life to the fullest.

So in perspective, everything else isn’t so important. When my head is neither happy or healthy in moments of huge anxiety over nothing, that’s when it’s time to step out and look at the bigger picture. Why am I thinking like this? What have I been doing that has lead to my brain tripping balls over a securely locked flat and passport?

The answer is amongst many factors. Hormones. New start. New life. New flat. New job. New country. Old friends. Too much black coffee and alcohol (doesn’t help with palpitations, and hangover anxiety is a thing) Not enough to eat today. Hot weather.

Ultimately, a nervousness in general that builds up and up until it explodes in a crap made up problem, that hasn’t even happened.

Really, what I’m trying to say is. How many of your worries, are things that have already happened? And if they haven’t, why are you worried about them? Why waste that time and energy?

Something my CBT counsellor advised me a while ago was to have a “worry list”. I have a few hypothetical worry questions she gave me, printed out and stuck to my fridge door. So basically, whenever I worry about anything at all, it allows me to assess whether or not it is something I should be worrying about. My mashed up brain thinks that little things are just as much worth worrying about as the bigger things. Truthfully, everything is on a scale, and sometimes we devote too much of our time worrying about little or potential scenarios, that it either prevents us from fulfilling our own lives and enjoying feelings and situations no matter how terrifying they seem, or merely wasting time, diminishing our happiness as a result.

So with that ladies and gents, I’m off to attempt to shut my eyes and pray I’ll get back to an untouched flat tomorrow and passport. But you know. If I don’t, then I’ll panic.

If it ain’t happened, why worry about it?

 

#1in4

You know life sometimes is like a video game,

Each day comes as a new level, nothing is the same.

Aside from a secret underwater kingdom portal,

A chance anyone could take in a bid to be normal.

And I know where it is, I try getting through every time,

To try something new, I just want to see the excitement that’s behind.

But it doesn’t always last.

There’s something in my mind,

And it causes me to glitch,

And I’m not one of a kind.

I press X 61 times,

hoping for resolve,

Wild Dog mode comes on and my brain doesn’t do as it’s told.

To the point where I shout and tear everything apart,

Shit songs pour out my ears and I’m sent far away from the start.

The screen turns black.

I’m in curled in the corner and I’m crying,

Watching the countdown screen,

And here come the options to sort out my wiring.

Press circle they say to go off and cower,

Search for one way tickets to Canada for an hour.

Press triangle they say to go right off the mark,

Go out with no phone all alone in the dark.

Press square to cry until you can barely breathe,

So much you drift off into a sleep hoping when you wake the thoughts leave.

Press X to teleport to NHS tower,

Go see the wizard for potions for a happy hour.

Press UP and travel to mindful mountain,

And a parrot over 10 weeks will stop you from doubting.

Press R2 to talk to a friend,

Then constantly worry you’ll drive them round the bend.

Press R1 to commence battle with your twin,

About all the mistakes you’ve made only to never win.

And the final option,

Is to press nothing at all,

Countdown goes to zero,

Watch as the black screen falls,

And then you realise you can’t just press pause.

I’ve tried every option,

I even let the countdown get to 3,

Before things got in the way and I internally screamed what was the matter with me.

And everyone always says never wear your heart on your sleeve,

Because when you do they’ll take advantage of you,

They’ll grab your throat the second you’ll close your eyes just to sneeze.

Please tell me what’s so bad about being free,

To say how you feel if any of you have ever felt like me.

Anxiety depression and panic disorder,

When are we going to discover a new outlook is in order?

And I’m not just talking about guessing games when your heart is involved,

I mean when your life is on the line and nobody has been told.

I call bullshit and it makes me angry,

When somebody doesn’t show they cry because it looks more “manly”.

They say it costs us our identity and our pride,

If we ever bother to show what we have inside.

Well I say just take mine, and serve it up hot,

I’ll say exactly how I feel when I feel if it means I’m here, and that’s all that I’ve got.

One day I hope society can see the bravery,

Behind breaking free from emotional slavery.

I hope when someone says they are looking for a “man”,

The answer always is if that means I’m open and honest then I am.

So here is to being one of the 1 in 4,

And hoping that next time they tell you suicide is the number one killer of young men,

That it’s only to say there’s been a change in the score.

Saving our lives is more important than our prides.

Last thing we need is another death to suicide,

The more we talk about it the more we stop letting it slide.

How Far I’ve Come…

Now realistically, I should be in bed. Actually I should have reheated my Chinese takeaway by now too. But, I just couldn’t help it, I had to write a blog post! Final year is taking its toll, but I’m keeping rolling, and applying to a few jobs so I kind of know what I’m doing with myself. Anyway, this lead me onto making a few more of my previous posts public instead of private! So have a mooch and see if you find anything new you fancy reading! But specifically, I came across my original ‘List’ post. OK OK…I’ll slow down here.

So back in 2015, I made myself a list. Yep, I fail to complete most lists these days and never really do, and then wind up up at 10 to 1 listening to Jamelia wondering when I can be bothered to reheat my dinner on wordpress…But this list was to do with the steps I wanted to take to improve my life, and start living it! A.k.a. kick anxiety in the teeth and tell it to leave me alone! It was all part of my self-help journey, and I couldn’t believe it when I came across this list just now. Because, honestly, I actually (in a way) completed the list…

“Note to self, to change yourself, you need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

1) Join gym (Check). Make sure you swim twice a week (I barely have the time!), Zumba once and Belly Dance once. (One hour a week, and now I’m Vice-President of the society!)

2) Make a happiness diary (Check).

3) Walk more. (It’s the only way I get anywhere nowadays!)

4) STAY organised. (To an extent…)

5) Get into meditation. (All the time, with the addition of aromatherapy…mmmmm)

6) Read more (much more.). (Are you kidding me? I haven’t put these graphic novels for my dissertation down…but seriously, since this post I’ve read a tonne!)

7) Learn how to combat caring about what other people think. (To an extent, but in comparison to this point in my life, I have definitely had a fair few ‘I will do what I like and I am entitled to feeling how I feel and don’t really care what you think!’ moments.)

8) Don’t compare yourself to others. (We are here to lift each other up, not put ourselves and each other down. Everyone is drastically different in so many ways if you take the time to notice. Nobody is perfect.)

9) Try wearing your brighter lipsticks, it’s time to feel more confident step by step. (But are you kidding me?! Brown is my favourite!)

10) Don’t dwell on the negatives. (Sometimes, I do, and that’s ok. I’ve relapsed since this moment, but it’s important to know that sometimes you can slip into these ruts. But it’s always possible to get back out of them. I feel like I’m better at finding the rope that gets me out of the rut.)

11) Don’t dwell on the past. (I try not to, but see above.)

12) Learn to stand up for yourself. (I’m sorry, there was a caterpillar in my desert and you haven’t taken 10% from the bill?!)

13) Eat better food, continue to avoid lactose and cook well. (Those who know me well, will know that I do eat much much better food now, hoorah for vegetables and finally eating egg yolk. However, avoiding lactose…)

14) Try to be less angry. (I use that anger to fuel things with positive outcomes, and address that I am just incredibly emotional and passionate.)

15) Try to think more before you speak. (Certainly. Although not after a few bevvies…I need to work on that one…)

16) Get to sleep earlier. (This one still needs working on.)

17) Avoid negative people. (Drain the swamp!)

18) Embrace positive people. (They are my closest friends, and they are the reason I feel so incredible and supported right now in life.)

19) Remember that it is a long tough journey, but Frodo managed to throw the ring into mount doom so it is always doable no matter how unfavorable the odds. (Damn right!)

20) Remember dreaming big is ok, but if you want it to be a reality you have to work for it. (Hence why I’m here at 1am, attempting to make my short-term dreams a reality.)

And working towards my dreams can only begin once I’ve started applying all of the above to my life and improve my anxiety.”

Here is to hoping my big dreams come true once I do officially master that list! Definitely recommend digging out an old list, and checking out to see if you set yourself up for a big task, and whether you eventually managed to achieve it all. And years down the line, I’m pretty pleased I made this list, because I can see how far I’ve managed to come after being so low. Starting the ball to self-help was by far the best thing I ever did, even if I was useless at times, even if I did eventually relapse. But don’t give up! Everything seems so daunting when you first tell yourself all these changes you’d like to make. But be open to any ideas you have, and take on that list one bullet point at a time, and more importantly, don’t give yourself a time limit! Hey it’s two years later and I still sneak lactose heavy goods into my gob! (shhh.)

Keep going!

Whim xoxo

The Beginning

You made a choice to click on this and give this a read, right? Course you did. Something in your head was like “Yano, I’m gonna give this blog a bit of a read.” or maybe even, “I’m gonna search for happiness on the web and see what comes up.” or, “I’m gonna give anxiety, mental health and depression a search and see what pops up.” Now – for the latter, personally I’d rather you be here than the other places of your mind, and I hope this blog gives you some solace.

So. It’s 2017. People say new chapter, I say new book. You can’t fit a year into a chapter. But besides that, it’s a new beginning, right? Starting all over again. New year new me, and the remainder of what hashtag trends online to let people believe that we are all starting afresh. Life doesn’t work like that. There are elements of 2016, which will in one way or another impact on 2017. There are things that we cannot shrug off. But nonetheless, a new year is a moment of motivation for all of us. We feel like because it’s the start of a new year, we can become motivated to be a new person. Go to the gym. Go vegan. Get up earlier. Get a new hair colour. We feel like we can reform. I like the beginning of a new year, because of that sense of motivation. Because motivation otherwise, especially in certain scenarios, can be difficult to find, when the outcome feels so big and impossible.

To get motivation to feel like you can manage your mental health takes time. It doesn’t come out of a new year, and just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean it automatically washes away. It stays, niggling away, and you may feel motivated to go get a new hair colour, but who is to say you won’t come home and have a heart to heart tear sesh with yourself and your stuffed gorilla.

There are times it feels impossible, or too big a thing, to manage your mind. We wind up in dark, horrible, irrational mindsets, that persuade us to think that what we have become, or how we feel in this moment will be like this forever. But I did not want to live like this anymore. I still don’t now. It’s a completely consuming illusion, and it can make you forget about all the things that you still have, despite feeling like you have already completely lost who you are. That in itself is what eventually motivated me, to want to try and change what was going on with my mind and my life. I want to feel like I have the power and control to recognise and escape the illusion, and I want everyone else to feel like that too. And it’s what is motivating me now to try again.

But aside from hating how I was living, and who I’d become and wanting it to change, I wanted to get myself off of tablets which at the time I relied on to make me a ‘normal’ functioning human. I needed to work out my own way of self-management. Here is the first thing I did to get me started on finding other options in managing myself, which I am now repeating based on my relapse phase.

‘My Favourite Moment Of The Day Journal’

Now this is just food for thought. You might be thinking, that’s probably the cheesiest, instagrammable thing you’ve ever heard. It might be. But I feel like it works. You see, when I’m stuck in my dark bubble, it’s because there have been crap parts of my day and they manifest into this big ball of ‘argh’ and then I end up in a complete meltdown moment. So, what I used to do, and what I’ve started again, is the journal. Write a thing, or a couple things, that happened in your day that made you feel good. It can be anything, whatever you can think of that brought a smidgen of positive stuff into your day. But it means, next time you hit a meltdown moment, you have a selection of memories and things to read back on to remind you what keeps you going, or you can try extract those moments from the terrible day you may have just had.

It’s a book that reminds you to keep going, and to begin to see positive bits in your life, when you feel like you don’t so much anymore. It allows you to remember to appreciate the things, and be grateful. It can potentially begin trying to manage your mind. 

Begin with small steps. It may feel like the end. You may hate yourself, to your absolute core, because of what mental illness makes you feel. But it’s those moments I tried reminding myself of the reasons I should stay, not just why those irrational illusions made me want to go. Just because it might consume you now, doesn’t mean it will consume you forever. It’s a battle that you have to somehow, be motivated enough to win now, to win in the long-term.

You don’t need a new year, to tell you that you should be making huge, impossible seeming changes to your life. Motivation is hard to find, and I may also find it hard to find myself, and be writing this all again now because of that. But once I found it, I managed myself. I am desperate to do that again. Not just for myself, but so I can potentially in any way possible help someone else. And I can tell you, that once you have found it, things will slowly but surely start rolling.

I think, personally, you deserve to go out and treat yourself to a book, to end each day with a grateful heart, to prepare for future meltdown moments with just that tiny step. And maybe, this can be the beginning of learning how to outsmart the illusionist.

Stay Smiling,

Whim xoxo

 

 

Stay Smiling

This is the first, of what is soon to hopefully be, the first of many podcasts in link with the posts I write on my blog. Think of this as a kind of draft/pilot before the real seriousness begins. I’ll give you all some extra information in the next few days, but enjoy the first one, and have a very Happy New Year! – Nat xoxo

Mum said to me this week, “You’re the one that never plans anything, you never want to have expectations and this is how you wanted to live your life, what has changed?”

As a rare hobby, I have fortune telling cards. I tell the fortunes of my friends using cards, though In my beliefs tell me it’s something more psychological than real, maybe in the eyes of others something more believable.

It’s been some time since I’ve told my own fortune, and today was the first time I’d done it in some weeks. My main card was a snake. They say the snake, if speaking about you which is what the central card does, is it demands wisdom. It explicitly suggests, in relation to the other cards I pulled out, that I must be cautious and to abruptly turn around onto a new path. Though this is all really, to me anyway, a psychological way of deciphering my thoughts and getting me to use these cards as prompts, in my mind I know it’s gotten to that point in my life where something must happen, now.

You see, we might believe that there is a destiny out there for us. We might set ourselves up to getting certain grades to getting onto the supposedly right path, or the path we want, or the path others want us to be on. Well, what happens when something interrupts the path? What happens when we are forced to go a different way to the way we thought was destiny?

I stopped believing in life having plans for us, and my way of life in living with no plans in mind came about from all the times I was disappointed, and all the times my pathway diverted completely. Every time my plans didn’t go to plan.

I was going to be a graphic designer, and use my mild skills in drawing to create characters for the gaming world. I was going to go to a good college with an amazing arts department, study graphic art. I changed my mind, in hindsight based on a boy, and ended up dropping graphic art from stress in the first few weeks of it. I found my passion in English, which I naturally always seemed to do decent at, and wanted to go into creative writing. My obstacles in education meant that I was rejected from my dream course, and English with Serbian became an accidental option. I got in, with the idea of working in the education system, to become a teacher after a PGCE year and combat the struggles I had with teaching in my own education. Then it got to the second year and my mental health collapsed from an unexpected situation, and I lost passion for everything, and my plans. I didn’t want to do it anymore, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do either. I focussed on the time, and I focussed on finding myself and being better. When that eventually happened, I went onto my year abroad, and stopped blogging, something I also thought I’d go into. Life changed again, and someone I thought I was going to spend my life with became an acquaintance, and I began living more so by the no plan rule. Subconsciously, making plans the entire time. With the constant desperation of “you should find someone and get married” being shoved down my throat every five seconds and “you don’t know what you want to do with yourself? Why are you living like this?” though I was content, I’d made plans still, too close to the time that hadn’t gone the way I’d liked. Which has lead to this podcast.

I subconsciously decided, I was better. I was better mentally and I planned a life of fun, friends and an easy final year of university where I would be going out most nights, discovering new places and studying hard. And though it’s taken me far too long to admit, the denial has ceased. I expected I would never reach this part of my life again. I told my own future, despite telling myself it would be ok to do so because I wasn’t thinking as far ahead as when or whether I’d get married and to who, or what job I’d have, it turns out this planning comes into other baskets as well.

I don’t plan, to avoid disappointment, because when it happens I have something of a breakdown. Sounds bizarre, but that’s really why I don’t plan. I don’t allow myself to dream, to think ahead, to imagine the things I could do with my life. This idea got worse, the worse my mental health was getting this past couple months. It made me angry, and frustrated, the more I regretted my life, the more I thought what if, the more I regretted what I could have done or said better. What’s worse is I didn’t expect to get this low again, which has made me feel like I failed.

A great inspirational guy called Robert, told me this was something called approaching anxiety. I am anxious of what is or hasn’t happened yet. To the point where the worse it gets the more I restrict myself in how I can think, all because I want to save myself the emotion.

What I am yet to understand, is that just because planning upsets me, expectations upset me because I often face disappointment, that I shouldn’t restrict myself to dream or punish myself for doing so.

But it’s in times like this, at my lowest, that I realise it’s time to do something about it and pull myself back up, instead of handing myself the cord.

So I can’t tell the future, so I can’t predict my fortune with a bunch of cards. I can’t make plans because usually it doesn’t work out that way. Things go wrong, mistakes get made, and sometimes it seems and feels like all that ever happens are a bunch of plans that get thrown out the window. Just because destiny may or may not exist, doesn’t mean we should restrict ourselves in saying we have control over the path we take.

This is me, taking control. So I was thrown curve balls, all the way, and I have entered so many new paths I feel entirely lost, scared and unsure about what my future and fortune holds. I don’t want to make plans, or at least I don’t like making them for now. Maybe that will change one day, maybe I can overcome that to not be so scared of when those curve balls happen.

But today, I plan on being here. And today I plan on being here until it naturally comes to me. I do not plan to give up. Though I don’t know where I will end up, I won’t let the story end up here. Not this time. This time I was ready to recognise what was going on, despite the denial because it was going against my plans. I’ve been given this curve ball. But I won’t let it tell me what my destiny is, based on the past.

This isn’t how I planned my blog would be, after all this time. This isn’t how I thought I’d be feeling. But to feel like a failure for it is wrong. Failure, is not talking about it, and not trying to turn something horrific and traumatic, into something strong, positive, and beautiful.

Stay Smiling,

Whim xoxo