Being OK With Not Being OK -Day 60 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

its ok to not be okSelf-care is knowing its OK to not be OK

 

Allowing myself to not be OK is never easy for me. This is especially true when l have good things in my life, like now with my new partner. I think to myself, “why am l sad? Things are good!” But just because you are sad about one thing doesn’t mean everything else in your life can’t bring you happy feelings. It’s not black and white. I am very sad about mum, and that will be the case regardless of all the other lovely stuff in my life.

I think I also worry that, being in the early days of a new relationship, I don’t want him to see me low. I worry that it might put a downer on our time together. This was one of the reasons for not wanting to introduce my new partner to my mum. I knew that with mum having dementia, she wouldn’t really be able to comprehend my happiness. This on its own was upsetting but I also worried that having my partner with me at mums, would make me completely fall apart and I also didn’t want him to see that.

I am so glad I share in the way that I do, on here and on YouTube, as it gives me the chance to reflect on these things. When I uploaded my recent vlog about my dilemma about whether to take my partner to see my mum, I had some really kind and helpful comments. In the end I realised that seeing me upset is seeing the authentic me and that is what I want in a relationship. I also realised that I would be more upset if mum passed away having not met my partner. The sadness of that would far outweigh the sadness of her meeting him but not comprehending who he is.

As it turns out, it was a lovely meeting. Mum was quite out of it, she has been for a few weeks, but we got a few words from her. On asking her what she thought of my partner she replied, “He’ll do.”

We laughed a lot in that hour and both myself and my partner shared some damp-eyed gazes at each other. The meeting certainly wasn’t what it would have been pre-dementia days but it was special in its own way.

I was OK with not being OK, and it was OK.

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Learning To Let Go- Day 57 And 58 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcarechallenge

LET go of the things you cannot control.jpgSelf-care is learning to let go of the things you cannot control

When I began my recovery from mental illness and addiction, letting go was not an easy lesson for me However, I was helped to realise that my constant need to control everything was the cause of my pain, not the the thing itself. Learning this was a revelation that completely changed my perspective on control and letting go.

My life is in a huge period of change and is suddenly full of things I cannot control. Some of these things are positive, some negative, but in all life changing situations I currently find myself in, I have very little control of the actual outcome. I have a new relationship, a second party in my life to consider, my mum is slowly leaving us via the cruel hand of dementia, and I am at the beginning of a new career as a writer.

On top of this, I have been given a date for surgery.  This should be my final stage, if all goes well. However, I have had many issues so there is a chance I will need further surgery if my last fix didn’t succeed. This has now been made even more complicated by the fact that I have an under-active thyroid, discovered only a couple of months ago. I found out last week that without my thyroid levels being stable, I will not be able to have surgery.  I have had to cancel events this week, in order to get blood tests and run around liaising and emailing between my GP and Consultant. Its frustrating because I am cancelling events that I might not need to cancel if surgery doesn’t go ahead. If it doesn’t, on top of the disappointment at not being able to have surgery it will be hard not to be annoyed at missing a holiday with my best friend and a music festival.

This frustration however, is a complete waste of my energy and is not going to help improve anything. These events are simply out of my control. My energy is much better spent in controlling the things I can, like reorganising things so that I can get the necessary tests done. Letting go of what I can’t control, gives me the ability to better manage the things that are in my control, and allows me to be kinder to myself.

 

Believing In Yourself – Day 53 of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE YOUR POTENTIALSelf-care is not allowing yourself to underestimate your own potential

Today I attended a  business start up course. It’s the first “official” thing I’ve done for starting my freelance writing business and I had a severe attack of impostor syndrome this morning. That little critic in my head prattled on about me not being good enough, what the hell did l think I was doing etc. I sat down, took some deep breaths and reminded myself of all the reasons why I’m taking this path and that l have potential and worth like anyone else. The day was amazing and l now feel even more empowered to push ahead. Thank goodness I am now more able to shove the inner critic to one side and champion my own ability and potential.

Embracing New Beginnings-Day 40-43 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is allowing yourself to trust in new beginnings

2018-06-11_09.17.49-01At the beginning of this year, I decided to start dating again. This was for two main reasons. The first was because l really needed to get my own life back after being so focused on looking after mum for the last 7 months. The second reason was that l still hadn’t had a significant intimate connection with a man and l really wanted one. My thoughts about my being attracted to men were still a theory. I felt pretty sure that these feelings were real, but they were still largely untested. You can think about strawberry ice cream all day long and imagine what it would taste like, however, until you actually taste it, you really can’t know for sure, can you?

I wasn’t looking for a relationship. Neither was l purposely not looking for a relationship, but l certainly wasn’t expecting to find one. To be honest,  I wasn’t sure l was ready, what with everything in my life presently being incredibly physically and mentally challenging. I also didn’t think l was ready to share my life in any significant way with anyone, and l wasn’t sure l wanted too either. I’ve been burnt too many times now and it is not easy putting your hand back in the fire. More than anything, I just wanted to date, to meet people and explore my sexuality.

My first venture back into the world of dating was with Chris. I was attracted to him instantly and after the first date, he made it clear the feeling was mutual. Even more than that, it quickly became apparent that we both felt very strongly for each other. This has continued to grow in strength in the 5 weeks since then, and we’ve even been discussing a future together. This is something that has surprised us both.

I feel wonderful. He makes me smile. He makes my heart feel like its going to burst out of my chest. Alongside that though, are a bundle of nerves, as is the case with new relationships. l am afraid of being vulnerable, of opening my heart and laying myself open to the possibility of being hurt. Additionally, as l have mentioned previously in my blog entries and my videos, my mental health and recovery cause extra concern, as being hurt can really set me back.  However, as l have also discussed, l refuse to let my mental health stop me from enjoying life, l just need to proceed with balance.

This week, l experienced an abrupt and distinct internal shift in these early nerves. Chris and l were sat having a coffee on the seafront, and l suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of acceptance of the intensity of my feeling for him. I moved into a wonderful feeling of trust, in both the way l feel about him and in my belief that this really is turning into a relationship with a future.

This is what has made me decide to break my silence around his identity and publicly share who he is. Despite it still being early days at 5 weeks into seeing each other, I know I want a future with him ,and I am fully trusting this very promising and magic beginning.

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Remember to Breathe-Day 17 to 19 Of #365daysofselfcare.

This Blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is remembering to breathe

2018-05-18_23.39.22-01I have slipped behind with my posts as I have been rather distracted by my new dating adventures! Sometimes life gets in the way, and that’s OK, as long as we remember to come back home to ourselves as soon as we notice our attention has slipped.

I have still been practising good self care. Doing this challenge is helping me to stay aware which is a really great thing. On day 17 my self-care was in reminding myself to take breaks throughout a long day of writing. Day 18 was being firm with myself and not cancelling my driving lesson even though my anxiety was screaming at me to pick up the phone and do so.

Today, day 19, has been calming myself down after last night’s amazing date! I gave myself permission to have a quiet duvet day, just doing a little writing in between grinning lots! It’s important l enjoy this lovely feeling but stay grounded in looking after myself.

Day 16 Of #365daysofselfcare

This Blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge
2018-05-15_21.52.12-01It has been a really tough day today. I had an appointment with the Mental Health Team this morning as I have been referred to them for further support.
I find these initial appointments so hard. The anxiety of meeting someone new is bad enough and then there is the demoralising discussion of my  mental health history how I am currently  struggling. It is never nice discussing past issues and being open with a stranger about all that’s going on, even when you know it’s for a good reason.
Then this evening Yang, one of my gerbils,  passed away. It was his time and it was peaceful but it was still sad to see him go.
The desire to self medicate with food was huge this evening. It can be hard to know when its OK to allow yourself that treat and when its actually not in your best interests. I decided that it would be better for me to compromise with myself and have a more healthy treat instead, choosing sorbet and fruit rather than Ben and Jerry’s.
It tasted amazing and I felt good for making the right self-care choice for myself.

Coping With Stress When Your Scale Is Already Off-Balance

balance.jpgThis week is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is ‘Stress’. Sadly, stress is a common affliction in our fast-paced world and it is something that each of us need to be mindful of. However, when you have existing mental health challenges, being mindful of stress becomes even more critical.

I experience my own mental health as a set of scales which are always off balance. My various challenges and addiction history, mean I own a set of scales which are incorrectly calibrated. It’s almost impossible to get them to level out dead centre. I have learned to be okay with this, and to find ways to get them to balance and stay stable in their offset state. This works as long as my life remains fairly consistent and stress free. However, life is life, unexpected or upsetting events will of course occur. When they do, like many of us with mental health challenges, I’m affected far more by stress than people whose scales are more accurately calibrated.

In experiencing an additional stress, I find I am triggered in all areas. The shock of a stressful event can knock me for six, my physical health begins to suffer, I can start feeling ashamed that I am falling apart where others around me are coping. If I am not careful, this can send me into a spiral and put me at risk of a crisis or relapse.

Over the last few years in my recovery, I have learnt how to better manage a stressful event so that I can look after my mental well-being until the event passes or is resolved. These are some of the things that I find helpful, in order to reduce the impact of the additional stress.

Remind yourself that it is OK to feel whatever you are feeling

Enforce your personal boundaries – clearly state your needs and your limitations

Drop anything from your life that is not important – make things simple

Use your coping strategies to administer self-care to yourself

Contact a friend or support agency for extra help

Evaluate your well-being on a daily basis – it may take a while to re-balance

Stress is often unavoidable but with careful management, it need not compromise our entire well being and we can return to own definition of balance in good time.