‘A’s Easter twist

Happy Easter to you all!

Its a weird one isn’t it? (she says munching on a hot cross bun with a chocolate egg for dessert……)

Everywhere you look today there are people posting pictures of their chocolate on Facebook or Instagram. Since Boxing day we have been surrounded by sweet treats, bunnies and chicks.

It’s made me wonder how celebrating Easter became more about the Easter bunny delivering chocolate eggs and not the crucifixion of Jesus and his rise from the dead?

Easter this year is uncomfortable for me but i am trying to stay positive. The mind is such a powerful part of us and it can easily lead us down a dark path, when infact the sun is shining brightly around us.

Good Friday of 2017 (what an asshole), I was saying goodbye to my mum and its ironic because every year at Easter i would ask my mum about Jesus;

“Which day was he crucified again mum?”

“Why was he crucified again mum?”

“Which day was it again mum that he rose from the dead?”

Every year she would roll her eyes, tut at me and tell me the story all over again, it became a routine. For some reason i always forgot…

Last year on Good Friday i was praying she would rise from the dead on Easter Sunday! No such luck. Was it my mum having the last laugh? I’ll never forget it now that’s for sure.

Now i know Easter changes so its not exactly the same time as last year but i still feel sad and ‘A’ wants me to re’hash the memories and overthink the details. Instead i am trying my new approach of thinking. In my previous post ‘A’s mind games i detailed this approach and the cause and effect of our mind games.

Today i have the power to waste my day obsessing over the details of last years Easter, getting upset and spiraling down a negative thought pattern or i can take a moment and let the thoughts come and go. (The importance being – of letting them go!)

Is it uncomfortable? Yes but it doesn’t have to engulf my whole day and the rest of my life.

At the moment I have the upper hand with ‘A’ because I have spotted its pattern of destruction therefore eliminating the element of surprise it normally has on me. (HAHA IN YOUR FACE ‘A’!!!)

I’ve previously mentioned that i have been journalling all my life! i have hundreds of diaries spanning my life time and its probably one of the best decisions i ever made.

Are a lot of them full of trivia? Oh gosh yes!! Its a great read!!

They also provide me with a huge release; sometimes the only way we can rid ourselves of intrusive thoughts, overthinking and ‘what if’ scenarios is to write them down. I looked back at this day last year, not the date, but Easter Sunday, (which was a risky move because it could have fueled ‘A’ into overdrive) and what i read has really started to make me think about how amazing our life is…

It seems more relevant today than any other day.

I will share my journal entry with you……
” Sunday 16th April 2017
There are no words, there is no pain, I feel nothing.
I am completely numb.
Everytime i close my eyes I see you mum, or is it everytime I wake I see you mum? Which is reality?
It doesn’t feel real, I don’t feel real, is this my life?
How am I surviving this??? “

I felt numb for a long time, I literally felt nothing. Everyone around me was waiting for me to break but I didn’t. (I was clearly fueled by Duracell batteries…)

How incredible is the mind and body, that they can go into survival mode without you even realising? How it can protect you without your say so?

I watched my mum die, I lay with her body afterwards for 5 hours (in the hospital, nothing weird) and then my body walked me home.

The inner strength we have is incredible.

Don’t you think so?

I then spent the next 4 weeks organising my mum’s funeral, sorting out all her paperwork, finances, house etc. I picked new clothes for her to wear, I contacted everyone she ever knew to tell them and then I stood up at her funeral and read out a poem I had written for her. Not once did I break.

Yet since reality hit me ( new years eve 2017) I have felt like a bus has knocked me down, followed by a steam train and then a heard of elephants for laughs. ‘A’ has been telling me to feel this way now even though its been so long, people around me and telling me it cant be because of my mum as that was ages ago! (Idiots!!!)

I would not have survived this feeling this time last year. My body now feels ready to accept reality and here I am.

I will never be the same person I was before 2017 struck but that’s okay.

I don’t want to be, I am re-born into a beautiful survivor and I am proud of where I’ve come from.

We are amazing. Our mind and body is incredible.

Have you ever sat back for five minutes and thought about it?

With Easter being about the celebration of Jesus and life itself, i wanted to dedicate this post to all of you….

YOU ARE AMAZING!

Ignore the demons, ignore the negativity and remember that within you there is strength.

I thank Jesus Christ for my inner strength and I trust that God’s plan will guide me to happiness but it starts from within.

You have to let the love in first, go on, I dare you to!

Learn to praise yourself, learn to see the good and train that brain to erase the bad. Its hard work, ill be honest with you, but its so so so so so worthwhile!!

You can do it.

One breath at a time

One step at a time
One day at a time

‘A’s mind games

Throughout these past few weeks of reflection I have been journaling A LOT. (The majority of the time is when my unwanted hitch hiker is casting a spell of anxiety over me.)

I wanted to try and breakdown some of ‘A’s mind games so I could spot them in the future and be able to defuse a situation more effectively.

If you suffer from any mental health disorders I really encourage you to journal. It’s so helpful to be able to get your thoughts out and onto paper and it’s an awesome point of reflection where you can start to see some patterns emerging.

Journaling doesn’t come easy to everyone so stick with it. I spent my childhood keeping diaries so I have been conditioned to journal from a young age. (I’ve always been a sucker for a nice writing pad and pen!)

You can journal at the end of your day as reflection or during the day, at the time of an event. I find writing when I’m anxious very therapeutic and it helps to calm my mind.

My unwanted hitch hiker has many sides and I thought it might be helpful to list some them and how I break out of ‘A’s spell.

  • Can you relate to any of these?

All or Nothing

You see everything as black or white – no in between.

If something isn’t perfect or something doesn’t go exactly to plan, ‘A’ starts telling me:

“I am a complete failure”

I can’t blame ‘A’ solely for this as I think its part of my personality to be an all or nothing thinker. I am either all in or all out. This isn’t a bad trait to me, I love having the all in passion and determination and I think it’s a beautiful strength to have. Its only poisonous when ‘A’ starts telling me I am a failure because I got 87% on a test and not 100%, but I still passed, so I should still be happy of my achievement, but I’m not.

What I have taught myself to do with this one is simple. I reflect on why I think I am a failure and turn it around to focus on the good points and reasons why I am not perfect but I’m not a failure also.

For example:

Yesterday I had a call to say I wasn’t successful in securing a job I had interviewed for the previous week. It was extremely close; I scored 2 points less than someone else who effectively got offered the job. I was told the company felt like I would be an asset to the team and would fit in well and to keep a look out for future job vacancies. They would love to have me; it was just unfortunate that someone else scored slightly higher on the day.

‘A’ wants to focus on the fact I didn’t get the job, so again it tells me:

“I suck, I am a failure, no-one will employ me, and I will be unemployed forever”

Normally that’s where I focus my attention; I would spend the day beating myself up over it and hating myself but because I am aware of this mindset now, I challenge the thoughts.

“Okay, I didn’t get the job and that does suck but I came very close to getting that job. It was my first interview since quitting my job and I went to the interview, I managed my anxiety and I interviewed well. They want me to apply for any future vacancies and they think I am an asset. I am a strong candidate; I just wasn’t the strongest on the day.”

Instead of feeling rubbish, feeling like a failure and beating myself up all day, I congratulated myself on the achievement and the experience. Did I feel sad I didn’t get the job? Of course, that’s natural; it’s the unhealthy negative frame of mind that’s the poison.

This brings me nicely onto my next one…..

Mental Filter

You pick off a single negative detail or event and dwell on it exclusively, and then your vision of all reality becomes darkened.

Keeping with my job example, if I had continued down ‘A’s darkened path of the all or nothing thinking:

“I didn’t get the job, I am a complete failure”

‘A’s mental filter would dwell on the fact, “I lost out on the job by 2 points”. ‘A’ would obsess over this detail.

” I didn’t get the job because I scored 2 points less than someone else, where could I have gone wrong, where could I have gained those 2 points, what if I had written that instead of that, what if I had said this as opposed to that.”

It would have clouded my reality for the rest of the day. The world would be a darker place because of this. My frame of mind would be negative and poisonous.

However, I didn’t succumb to ‘A’s evil spell, I spotted it before it was too late and I flip reversed that bad boy and therefore I spent the day feeling positive over the situation and didn’t fall under the mental filter trap.

Disqualifying the positive

If I had been hooked into ‘A’s all or nothing thinking of “I am a complete failure” and fallen into ‘A’s mental filter trap of “I didn’t get the job because I failed by 2 points” then I would have rejected the positive experience of being placed second and of interviewing well, by insisting it doesn’t count because I didn’t get the job. This then spirals a negative frame of mind of that experience which had positive elements.

By focusing on the positives;

” I went to the interview, I was successful, the company feel I’d fit in well, I was only 2 points away from being offered the job. I did so well for my first job interview since my breakdown”

I congratulated my efforts. I felt a sense of achievement and I praised myself for a job well done. I didn’t disqualify my efforts because I didn’t get the job and dwell on that fact and only that fact and allow everything else to be discounted.

  • Can you see how my unwanted hitch hiker’s mind games can affect an outcome so drastically?
  • Can you relate any of your own experiences to these frames of minds?

It’s so easy to fall into this trap without even realising it. I spent months spiraling downwards because of this and didn’t even notice. It felt like a normal, comfortable, go to mindset which I was use to travelling down.

By simply journaling my thoughts every day, then reflecting on them, I was able to spot this pattern and it has helped to change my way of thinking.

It has prevented dark days of negativity and allowed me to love myself a little more, to focus on the good points in situations, instead of the bad.

I can spot that some of ‘A’s mind games go hand in hand. If i can successfully beat one at the start of the thinking pattern, the rest will fall like dominoes. (Very satisfying!)

One step at a time

One day at a time

YOU CAN BEAT THIS!

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Springing into action

A few weeks have passed since I went *under construction*, a time where I have tried to celebrate the awesome parts of myself and ignored the negativity coming from ‘A’.

Throughout the past couple of weeks I have seen a HUGE improvement within myself.

This has been as a result of a few changing elements:

  1. I went back onto medication
  2. I went back to therapy
  3. I quit my job
  4. I attended church

All massive elements that impact your life 100%, wouldn’t you agree?

Here’s my journey so far……..

1. Medication

I didn’t make this decision lightly, if you have read any of my previous posts you will remember I was on medication for a long long time and decided I was ready to come off at the start of 2016. This went smoothly and I was living a medication free life, the happiest I had ever been (even with a few moments of anxiety). My plan was to be able to manage my anxiety symptoms by myself, as they arise, and get stronger and more like Wonder Woman after every attack. (I didn’t quite master the Wonder Woman part…)

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I lost my mum very suddenly in April 2017 and for the most part of 2017 I was coping, I was surprising absolutely everyone. I was a strong machine of numbness and denial and I thought I was winning the grief battle. (hahahahahahaha as if right?)

Que New years eve 2017…..10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…….HAPPY NEW YEAR……….WAIT……WHAT………..

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

I went crashing into 2018 with a hard hit from reality, a realisation that I wouldn’t have my mum by my side. After that everything was a massive blur of sadness, tiredness, isolation and guilt. I tried to carry on for a while but I simply wanted to die.

My unwanted hitchhiker was attacking constantly, I feared everything, I couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t wash, I wanted to die but feared death at the same time. One Sunday evening in early February I stood in the kitchen holding a knife having visions of killing myself…Monday morning I was at the doctors.

Since then I have been battling with the side effects, one being increased anxiety, suicidal thoughts and crazy vivid dreams. I preserved and stayed strong and have finally come out the other end.

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I am on the lowest dose possible and I’m starting to feel a difference.

I know it was the right decision to make now I am here.

Why do we torture ourselves?

Why do we listen to others instead of our own bodies crying out for help?

Everyone around me was saying:
“don’t choose medication”
“it will just mask the symptoms”
“it will pass”
“just think positively”
“chin up”

….blah blah blah…..more like…………

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2. Religion

All my childhood I grew up surrounded mostly by Atheists, I knew no different. I even got dumped by a boy in school because I had no idea who Jesus was. (abit harsh I thought). My mum was Catholic and started attending church when she split up with my father but I wasn’t living with her at the time.

It was during one of the side effects of my medication – vivid horrible dreams, that I found religion. I was having a very emotional dream about my mum, she was crying and saying her goodbyes to me, telling me how proud she was of me, how she loved me and never wanted to leave me (a moment I never got when she died). In my dream I was crying my eyes out and awoke with a crash and a sob, it felt so real. Whilst dreaming I had managed to knock over my bed side table, at the time I was so emotionally raw I got out of bed to get some water. I was sobbing uncontrollably, I felt so sick. when I returned I put my bedside table back where it belonged and noticed a book had fallen out and opened up. I picked it up to discover it was my mum’s bible and it had opened up at the start of John. So i read it.

Just from reading the book of John I felt stronger, I felt as though there was hope for the first time in 12 months. I was interested to learn more so I visited my local church and have been attending bible study ever since.

I know religion isn’t for everyone, but it seems to be helping me. I ignore the remarks, the smirks and the talking behind my back from my atheist family. God has reached out to me and I welcome him into my heart.

3. Therapy

As a person I am better at helping others, I get strength from being needed and being helpful. I can listen and offer encouragement, I can guide and offer support. Easy Peasy.

I can’t however lean on others for the sake of myself. I cant reach out, I cant let others in and I keep everything close to my chest and in my head. It’s just how I am made. I have realised that although i don’t want to be a burden to anyone, not talking about what i’m going through has only set me back further, and only damaged myself more, so I decided to give counselling a go.

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It’s tough, my goodness it’s tough. The first couple of sessions I was like one of those old shaky dogs waiting outside the supermarket for its owner. It was uncomfortable and emotional and it brought horrible sensations along with it. I haven’t given up though.

I am learning techniques to be able to manage my anxiety and my grief side by side and after 8 sessions so far I am starting to see/feel a difference.

Again people around me told me:
“counselling wont help”
“it will make you feel worse”
“why would you want to talk about it?”
“it’s a waste of money”

They are right, for some people, counselling doesn’t work, makes people feel worse and wastes their money but for me? It is helping.

Did it make me feel worse to start with? Hell yes!

Did I want to talk about it? No!

It’s helping me and that’s all that matters. I choose to ignore people’s comments and opinions because they are not me and they do not know what is right for me.

We are the only people who know whats right for us. Don’t let others opinions manipulate you into not doing something you want to do.

ITS YOUR LIFE.

4. Jobless

It’s pretty scary to quit your job without another job to go to right? Most people are unhappy in their jobs and just get on with it right? Some people spend their days wishing their weeks away until the weekend right? Wrong.

If your job is making you ill you shouldn’t have to endure it just because everyone else apparently hates their jobs but they get on with it. You don’t need to pull yourself together and you certainly dont need to get a grip.

My job made me ill, I was a ball of anxiety from the minute I left the house until the minute I got home (sometimes longer…), I was constantly run down, constantly negative and I hated everyone around me. I spent hours in the toilets trying to hold it together, trying to calm anxiety attacks and get my breath back. If you can deal with that everyday and still go to work and live your life fine, then good for you. I couldn’t.

So I quit. I have re-evaluated my life and what’s important to me and realised i need to be kinder to myself, i always try to do too much and it comes crashing down. I am always way too hard on myself to prove to everyone that I can succeed. Do they even care? Probably not! So I’ve decided to look for part-time work instead, this will give me a chance to work on myself more and build myself back up to the awesome person I once was.

I will never be the “2016 happy girl” I was striving to get back, she’s gone, but I can be the “now girl”, a new and improved wonder woman machine. I cut my hair, us girls know what that means… I’m ready and serious to change my life!

Baby steps though….

One step at a time

One day at a time

I’ve spent way too long trying to prove to others I am ‘normal’ that I can succeed the way they want me to. Well screw them, not any more, I will strive to be my weird and wonderful unique self and the only success will be for me.

Who wants to be ‘normal’ anyway?!

Don’t ever let others dictate your happiness, or try to steer you away from a decision that you feel is best for you (unless that decision is life threatening!!)
Be yourself

You are unique, You are powerful, Your are beautiful

Find what feels good and stick with it.

Even if it does turn heads and start people talking….

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