Letter to my mum

This time last year I was laying next to your bed, in intensive care, being told that your kidneys have failed, your lungs were in respiratory failure and there was nothing more they could do for you.

Crying hysterically at your side as my body started going into shock to protect my heart from exploding. I couldn’t begin to image not seeing you everyday, not having you in my life for many many more years to come. I needed you. I was not ready to be without you.

The 14th of April 2017 was officially the worst day of my life. The day a piece of my heart died with you.

I miss you mum with every beat of my heart,

The pain i feel is indescribable, i hate being apart.

What i wouldn’t give to have one more hug,

One more kiss, one more moment of love.

That feeling of being safe,

Of feeling like you have a homely place.

To see your name pop up on my phone,

To hear your voice; happy, sad, angry or just for a general moan.

You never judged me,

You helped me to see,

A world of love and memories.

Always there to hold my hand,

To be my strength when i felt i was sinking in heavy wet sand.

You were my best friend,

My angel god send.

I hate life without you,

Its a lonely place without my mummy Sue.

I love you mummy with all my heart, i hope you are ok even though we are apart. i hope you have found grampy up there and aren’t causing too much chaos.

Thank you for showing me what strength and courage are and for the upmost love you gave me everyday.

You were my best friend, my pillar of strength.

I miss you deeply everyday mum!

I’ll try to keep making you proud.

I’ll take you with me on all my journeys and together we will take no shit!

I am so lucky to have had a mum like you, so caring and understanding.

You were taken from me way too soon 😦

‘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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‘Under Construction’

Ever since I lost my dear mum, I have been striving to get back to that person, the person who had her shit together, the person who was strong,  the person who felt happiness in her life.

With Mother’s day looming, what I have finally realised is that I am being too hard on myself.

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I am never going to get back to the person I was before the loss, how can I? I have lost one of the most important people in my life, I have lost the only person who cared for me and the only person who was there for me day in day out, through good times and bad, through stupid decisions and great ideas, through the I told you so moments, through the come here have a hug and let it all out moments.

There is never going to be someone in my life whose whole existence was to take care of me, who I wanted to make proud every single day. There is never going to be someone who I love as much or who loves me unconditionally; even when I am being an utter monster.

I need to stop trying to get back to what I think is normal me, erase that idea and start building a new me.

A me I am proud of

A me that I love unconditionally

A me who will always be there for me

A me who is a survivor

A me who is a fighter (even at times I didn’t want to fight)

A me who has somehow still managed to live my life without my mum

A me who is strong (even at times when I have been my weakest)

I don’t give myself enough credit for going through such a sudden loss and still being here today.

Is my life a mess? 100%

Is my mental health shattered? 100%

Am I an emotional wreck all the time? 100%

Have I given up? NO. – I don’t give myself enough credit for that.

Have I been able to do this without the help of medication? NO – but I tried my hardest for months on end and I couldn’t function.

I know my mum would want me to take medication to pick me back up because she knows it will only be temporary, she knows I am strong, she knows I am the most stubborn MOFO to exist and will want to conquer this. I get all those amazing traits from her. Even at the end she fought so hard.

I miss my mum every single second of every waking moment, I even dream of her when I am asleep. It’s never nice dreams at the moment but I know with time it will ease, I know with time the feeling that my body is splitting into two will ease also, I just have to weather the storm.

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Last mother’s day, my mum was too unwell to celebrate it, a week later she was taken into hospital and never returned home.

So to all who are reading this, don’t wait for Mother’s day; ring your mum, go visit your mum, tell her you love her, hug her that extra second longer because one day who’ll think back to those last moments and wish you’d held on. I never got to say goodbye to my mum, I never got to tell her it was ok and that I loved her very much one last time and that will forever stay an unfinished chapter in my life.

Did my mum know I loved her? Yes, I told her all the time

Did I hug my mum one last time? Yes, but I wish I had held on longer.

I shall begin my new chapter, a chapter of me, a chapter of reconstruction.

One step at a time

One day at a time

In the words of Sylvester Stallone “Keep Punching!”

 

To my fellow readers out there, who are ‘under construction’, take your time, reconstruct yourself with love and kindness and remember to enjoy the ride.

You are awesome, you are strong, you can do this.

 

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Me, Myself & ‘A’

Happy New Year.

I must of said this like 15 times over the last day and everytime I’ve said it I’ve struggled with the ‘Happy’, it regurgitates inside of me.

I went into 2017 very optimistic, having experienced a pretty difficult, whirlwind 2016; It had some crazy low points but some absolutely breath taking highs too.

I had HOPE, I had POSITIVITY, I had STRENGTH.

I was 100% ready to make 2017 the best year I’d ever had.

Little did I know on Jan 1, 2017 that it was going to be the hardest year of my life to date.

Little did I know that mid way through the year would I be at full war world 3 with my hitch hiker ‘A’, the asshole hitch hiker who isn’t worthy of a name (I haven’t published my post on it yet) and a newcomer.

In Jan 2017 I was starting a new job. First job I’d been excited to actually get. I couldn’t believe I got it and they were excited to have me.

ME? Runt of the litter, damaged goods…

I broke up with my boyfriend of four years in 2016 and decided because I had nothing else; no friends and only two people I classed as family (mum and sister), that I would finally throw myself into committing to a career and becoming successful. (Came off my medication end of 2015 so I wasn’t numb or brain fucked anymore…)

For three whole months I was excelling and loving my job and finally felt some happiness after years of feeling like a numb failure.

In April, very suddenly, my mum died. I stood and watched her take her final breaths

  • without the opportunity to say goodbye
  • without the opportunity to tell her I loved her one more time
  • without that last hug where you hold on even longer
  • without achieving something and making her proud of me

I spent the last 10 years looking after my mum in everyway. My life evolved around trying to make my mum happy and she was gone.

I had nothing. I was no-one.

Que the return of ‘A’, the asshole and the newcomer….

Two days after my mum’s funeral I got sacked from my job. I was suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (the new comer) and they didn’t want me anymore.

The doctors tried to put me back on medication; the flashbacks were crippling me, the anxiety had imprisoned me and the depression had formed a warm blanket around my grief riddled frame. 16 months without medicatiom and I didn’t want to go backwards, i didnt want to be numb.

I wanted to feel every ounce of the pain.

I was prescribed a sedative instead and for the next 5 months I slept and cried myself threw everyday. I had no-one checking up on me so I hid away from the world.

Giving up. Giving in. Retreating.

‘A’ was back in the driving seat, the passenger who directed ‘A’ was grief and I was tied up and gagged in the boot being tormented by PTSD.

I had no money and funeral bills to pay, i was about the lose everything including my home and then something in me clicked…

I got up, i flushed the sedatives and i washed the last 5 months off.

I got a new job. I suddenly didn’t want to lose my home and only source of security so I dug deep and pulled every reserve to the surface.

The mask was on, the ice queen activated.

I went through the motions everyday in this new job either a ball of horrendous anxiety or uncontrollably emotional. Everyday once I was home and safe I praised myself for making it threw another day. Thanking my mum for being by my side.

I now don’t want to go back, I feel nothing for this line of work anymore. I used to love it but it’s so hard to pretend you are ok, pretend you care about your work. I don’t anymore and it’s exhausting.

I feel lost, lonely and afraid

What’s the best thing I did in 2017?

SURVIVED

I’ve spent the majority of the year crying. I miss my mum terribly and the thought of 2018 without her makes me feel sick.

Every New Year I always had hope that the year would be great, I would achieve my goals, I would feel happiness.

This year I don’t feel that, I am petrified of 2018. I have no idea what the year has planned for me.

I stand before you – HOPELESS.

On my knees, begging for 2018’s mercy, pleading with ‘A’ to be kind.

My strength is depleted, I have zero resources for another hard year.

The only power I have is my mind. I used to think it was my weakest point, that one day I would crack and break. I should have broke in 2017 but something held me together when everything else was falling apart.

  • What if I am falling apart now?

I am a completely different person going into 2018 than I was going into any other year.

I am a survivor.

I’m still fighting through my biggest ‘A’ war yet without any long term medication. (I did use sedatives to avoid what felt like a heart attack and sweat attack all day long! Seriously I’ve never sweated so much, not just my armpits either. Bum cheeks, behind the knees…you name it I sweat from it!!!)

If I can survive this ongoing war, I can survive 2018, right?

All I know is I won’t go down without a fight.

I will continue to stay as strong as I can and make my mum proud.

What’s my goal for 2018?

SURVIVE

I can’t ask anymore of myself.

  • One breath at a time
  • One step at a time
  • One day at a time

I feel like I am at a crossroads and I have absolutely no idea which road to take.

  • Carry on day the same road that I am surviving? It’s familiar I know i can do it.
  • Take a risk, go a different route, re-invent myself?

One thing I do know? ‘A’ won’t be driving, whichever road I take.

Send me prayers (or maybe weapons)….im going to need them!

Goodluck on your 2018 journeys.