Be More Cat

One major factor of mental health issues is the loss of interest in things that matter most to us, more importantly, the things that usually contribute to our happiness and sanity.

Take this blog. It keeps me doing something, it helps me spread awareness, share my story, it gives me something to look forward too.

And I lost interest.

My posts have been slacking and my motivation has made up the structure of a downward spiral, heading toward the pit that is my own self-destruction.

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I would call this lack of determination a symptom of depression but I don’t like giving it the satisfaction of labelling it as a disease, like there is something horribly wrong with me. Sure, our head’s are pretty messed up but making me seem like I am a walking illness sure as hell does not make things better.

Rather, this lack of interest is just an effect of feeling shit. It makes sense too. Why would someone, who feels tired, sad, who lacks self-esteem, who can’t find any good in themselves or the world, want to sit down with a guitar and start singing about how great life is?

Why would someone, who feels like nobody understands them, then want to spend a night out feeling anxious and worrisome whilst these ignorant humans dance around because their lives are so great ?

Why would I want to do anything when all my head is telling me to do is stay in bed and convince myself that life is one big lie and at the end of the day, we are all just trapped in this thing we label as ‘life’ when all it is is us working at a job we grow to despise until we eventually lose our minds and die?

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And then the spiral has taken over. Everything you contemplate doing spins itself round and gives you a reason not to do it.

And the best way to overcome it?

Just do it.

No, I’m not a typing Nike advert.

It is the only way to beat the shame and guilt that wants to implode in you when you decide not to do anything. The hardest part is straddling over that hurdle stopping you from beginning your adventures. Even if that adventure is going downstairs and cleaning the toilet. Even if it is planning your next shopping trip. Even if it writing a blog…

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As I sit here writing this, the passion becomes apparent. This rage, this anger, this emotion inside of me about the expectations of those who suffer from mental health issues takes control of me far too easily and way too often.

My cats are sleeping peacefully at my feet, their paws interlinked and their heads resting upon one another. They love each other. They love their life. They sleep, eat, drink and play outside and that is enough for them. They make the most of what they are given.

I have sympathy for those who struggle to get out of bed in the morning, like myself. Not because their alarm has gone off and they want 5 more minutes, but because they don’t see the point. We get up, go to work, come home. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

One step at a time can change it. I still struggle with my mentality in certain aspects. I still contemplate how things would be if it all just stopped. I still put off plans because I just can’t face them. But this is okay. The first step is allowing yourself to feel this way.

One foot in front of the other, work towards something you have been putting off. Make the most of what you have and find the positives in it. Love yourself, love your family, love your life whatever you make of it.

Be happy in what you do. Be more cat.

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Me Time

Putting people first. Being selfless. It’s all something we aspire to do. It’s something we aspire to be. 

I don’t want to generalise but the community of those who are experiencing or have experienced mental health issues seem to all have the same thing in common. Helping others. So much to the point that they neglect their own self-care. Others happiness is put before their own happiness.

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I am one of these people. You probably are too. But now, I see things in a different light since seeing myself breakdown and witnessing myself lose interest in my own self-care.

There’s nothing wrong with being selfless. Don’t get me wrong. Don’t misinterpret what I am saying.

But there is a difference between helping others and helping others to the point that you do not help yourself.

I met a woman at work who was stressed with her job. She has anxiety, depression and is on anti-depressants. She explained to me that she feels the need to help others, and not herself.

She feels guilty if she has ‘me-time’. 

At first I thought “Wow. This lady is me”.

I explained to her how similar of a situation I was in. As I was giving her advice, I realised why do I not follow my own advice?

I advised her to carry on helping others if it made her happy, but for every two or three things she does for someone, take some time for herself.

The problem is not helping others, it’s the guilt we feel when we do something nice for ourselves. We are programmed as humans to feel bad when we treat ourselves.

This is how the cycle starts. We feel like we are restricted to being all work and no play. How can we help this?

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  1. Help others whilst helping yourself.
    It may be that a friend is in aid of some cheering up but you’ve already had a really stressful day and just want to relax. So, relax with them. Watch a film, go for dinner, paint your nails, go to the gym. Do something that will not only cheer them up, but will also contribute to helping yourself and your mentality.pexels-photo-919436.jpeg
  2. Work hard, play hard
    We hate having time to ourselves because we always feel like there’s some job that we should be doing. Work hard, get your jobs done in the day and leave the evening to relax. Earn your time. If you cannot sit there without thinking of something you should be doing, then treat it as a transaction. You’ve given your time in the day to be productive, your reward is relaxing. pexels-photo-544117.jpeg
  3. Say No
    This will be hard for some people. It is probably one of the hardest things for us to do. When we are overworked, stressed, or tired, we still feel like we have to keep going. Someone asks us to do something and we feel like we have to do it because we owe them as their friend. Sometimes this may be the case, and we want to help them, we may get a reward of feeling good after we have helped them. But when we just want to be by ourselves, this just feels impossible. Know that it is okay to say no when you don’t feel up to something. Just like you want to be a good friend to someone, if they are truly a good friend to you, they will understand if you are burned out and just not up to doing anything other than getting in bed with your favourite TV show. You need to remember that your mental health is just as important as others. We need to break this obsession with not allowing ourselves time to relax.

Never feel bad for putting yourself first.
Work hard, play hard, and love your life.

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How to be happy.

So the title of this post may be a bit misleading…

In my opinion, there is no real way of being happy.

Personally, I don’t think anyone can always be happy. It’s impossible. There is not one person in this world that is constantly positive every minute of every day.

There is not one person who never thinks of giving up, even if it is for a split second.

There is not one person who wants to just stay in bed and feel sorry for themselves, even if they do end up going out.

It still crosses their mind.

Being happy, for me, is different than being positive. 

Thinking positively contributes to your state of happiness. Right now, I would not say I am happy. I still have days when I wake up feeling like absolute shit and bad thoughts cross my mind and I don’t want to do anything. To me, things like this do not scream happiness. But I can wake up, think all these things and still remain positive.

This then takes away the overcrowding negativity that is trying to creep in. I still would not describe myself as happy, but I am not letting these things control my life.

I used to be a pessimist. One bad thought, that’s it. The world’s over. Done.

Now? That’s changed. It’s crazy how much your mood can change just from changing your mindset. You are in control of your emotions and your thoughts.

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  1. THINK POSITIVELY
    I know how hard this seems, especially when the world is going to shit. But try it. Just give it a chance. Bad grade on a test? It’s a lesson, a chance to improve. It does not make you a failure. It is allowing you work on your skills to become more successful. Let’s try another. This time a bit deeper. The loss of a loved one. 2017 saw a huge amount of my loved ones be taken from me. This is the hardest thing in the world to try and remain positive about. How can you possibly find a way to make this a good thing? First things first, cry. It does not make you weak, nor does it take away from your capability to be ‘happy’. Cry and let your emotions out. Show your grief and your love for this special person. Then, instead of mourning the loss, celebrate their life. Make them a memorial garden, a memory box, write a song for them, whatever you want to do to honour and remember them. This way we are minimising the negativity of the situation and turning it into something inspiring and positive. Little things like this will really help improve your mood.pexels-photo-374101.jpeg
  2. WALK, RUN, DANCE
    It doesn’t matter if you’re walking at 0.1 mph, just do something. Get up and exercise. It will boost your endorphins, automatically improving your mood, and if you are working towards a goal, such as losing weight or gaining muscle, you will automatically feel more productive. Not only this but if you are starting to become fitter, you will see these improvements and therefore feel better about yourself anyway. There are so many positives that come out of physical activity, so get out of the house, or even off the sofa and do something.pexels-photo-257360.jpeg
  3. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE AND INTO NATURE
    I cannot explain the beauty of nature. It is mad how one view can change your mood. I have recently been leaving the house and getting outside, going for long walks and appreciating the environment around us. I am lucky enough to live in the Peak District, surrounded by gorgeous views and tranquil walks. Once you step foot outside, just keep going. Don’t stop. Stick your headphones in and walk. Walk away from everyone else, walk away from your problems. Once you find somewhere to sit and just take in the world around you, you will automatically relax. It is so peaceful. It is the only time I like to be alone with my thoughts. They become positive thoughts. It shows the world is good. The world is beautiful. Life can be beautiful.pexels-photo-89909.jpeg
  4. TAKE UP A HOBBY
    Work towards a goal! This cannot be emphasised enough! Pick up an instrument, learn a language, start doing Pilates, start baking. Whatever it is, working towards something greatly improves your mood. You will feel like you are accomplishing something, little by little everyday, proving to yourself that you are capable. It is also a great way to take your mind off any shit going on in your life. Check out this article on further help and ways to keep your goals.pexels-photo-922702.jpeg
  5. LAUGH AND SMILE
    Laughing is infectious. Smiling is infectious. Instead of deciding that you are feeling shit today, choose to be happy. Someone says something funny? Laugh. Someone says hi to you? Smile and say hi back. Say good morning to someone, be that lovely customer when you order a coffee. You never know what someone is going through, being happy on the outside not only makes their day, but you know that you have contributed to that. Faking a smile is different, and will probably make you feel worse. Try and find the authenticity in yourself, there is a smile waiting to spread, you just need to let it out.pexels-photo-433495.jpeg
  6. GIVE, GIVE, GIVE
    Donations, charity, volunteering, even a good morning text to an old friend. A little goes a long way. There are others going through so much, just like us. They may be feeling the same and need a little pick me up. I get such a buzz out of giving and helping others. I participated in Sober for October, and raised money for those suffering with cancer in honour of my auntie. I regularly travel up to Wood Green Animal Shelter to give donation boxes to the cats as they are short on supplies, I surprised my Dad coming home from university and then told him I am taking him to see Foo Fighters. The joy out of helping others is a feeling you cannot describe until you experience it yourself. I must say however, never do a good deed expecting it in return otherwise you defeat the point of even doing it. You will end up back at the start ‘I gave them a lift to their house but they never offer me one’. I used to have this mind frame before realising, don’t do something if you are expecting something in return. Otherwise you make yourself miserable overthinking about why they haven’t returned the favour. Do something good for the reward of feeling good.

As I said, we are always striving to be happy. It is a journey, not a destination. Make these steps different rest-stops during your journey of positivity and happiness.

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Happy to be drinking or drinking to be happy?

February through to March seem a blur to me.

The only real thing that seems to stand out is partying.

Everyone was turning 18.

Yay, let’s get drunk.

Yay!

Let’s drink and absorb this magical liquid that seems to improve my mood for about an hour before I wallow in self-pity, start arguments over nothing and end my night hating myself.

I began to feel blue everyday. Then it turned very dark each morning that I woke up until feeling ‘blue’ for me was actually an improvement compared to this dark, dull grey storm that was occurring in my head.

I hated waking up. I hated going to sleep.

I didn’t want to be. 

I didn’t want to do anything, I felt like I was just floating in space, kind of like an out of body experience.

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Each Saturday it was someone else’s 18th birthday party at the same place, same people, same music, same thing every week.

I struggled to make it through work, somehow I did. Now I look back I really do not know how I did.

Usual routine:

  • Eat carbs to line your stomach
  • Shower and tan
  • Off you go to your mates house feeling like Christmas has come early with the amount of sacks of make-up you have.
  • Get ready, pre-drink, take some bomb-ass selfies and go to the party.But for me, my usual routine became…muddled.

My intentions for pre-drinking  were no longer to spend less money later on that night.

The intention was to get absolutely smashed that I forgot about how shit I felt about my life and myself in general.

“You’re so funny when you’re drunk”

I love you when you’re drunk”

Positive reinforcement for drinking alcohol… and so it became a habit.

No one knew that my reason for consuming so much of this drug was to put a guard up, to make it even less obvious that something so worrying was going on inside of my brain.

My friends just saw me as the happy, silly girl having a good time.

What they didn’t see was the self-disgust I felt the next morning on why I let myself get so bad. 

What they didn’t see was this happy, silly girl curled up in her bed every night crying and wishing she was no longer walking on this planet.

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I was drinking every weekend, my liver was probably screaming but I was taking advantage of the fact I never got hangovers, and so I carried on.

In that moment I felt good, the music was good, I was having fun with my friends.

Then the party would end and it would hit me in the stomach and drag me back to Earth.

4 hours of fun does not make up for the way I have been feeling 24 hours a day.

Back to reality.

Wake up Sunday morning, grey skies both outside and inside of my mind.

Then you get this feeling of contemplation. You stand there and just think about life and question why you did any of the things you did.

 

Looking back, I do not regret drinking. I regret why I was drinking.

It wasn’t to have a good time, it was to drown out my emotions and make myself feel numb from the pain that was going on.

One thing, if anyone reading this was to take away from these posts, never try to numb your feelings.

You end up thinking things and doing things that are irrational, and do not help your situation.

Use alcohol as a way to relax, but never to drown yourself in.

It may seem like the best thing to do at the time, I have been there. And it sucks when someone tells you what to do, one thing I hate is how people tell me how to feel.

But one thing. One very important thing.

Feel your emotions. 

Hit rock bottom. 

Feel like the world is crashing down and going to shit. 

 

Because then you know what it feels like to be lifted back up.

Sometimes you have to feel so bad that you know you do not want to feel like this anymore. 

Don’t use alcohol to numb these feelings, it really does not help. Express your emotions.

Cry. Scream. Just feel.

When you are contemplating turning to a drink to forget the world, just think: is it worth it?

You will be back in that same situation tomorrow night, and the next, and the next.

You are going to have those days, we all will.

But we are strong

It is stronger of you to breakdown and face up to your emotions rather than washing them out with alcohol.

And when you rise back up, because you will rise back up, you will look back and realise that you are human.

You have emotions, and you will fall.

But depression, anxiety, bipolar, any mental health disorders do not control your life. 

You are in control.

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Bath, Spas and Cocktails

One thing I’ve learnt since coming to university is how to be more positive.

I surround myself with people that make me happy and ignore those that bring me down. And this really makes all the difference on your mood.

Once you get rid of negative people, you feel so much more free and in control of your life. You can start living your life for yourself and stop living it through someone else’s desires.

I visited Bath with my classmates and lecturers and it was honestly one of the most fun experiences I have ever been a part of. It was just like going on holiday with your friends for a week, not once did I stop and think I was on a university trip.

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I visited Macdonald Hotel Spa and Thermae Bath Spa, toured the Roman Baths, visited Bath’s most famous sites, somehow managed to spend hundreds of pounds in and around the millions of shops they have, as well as going for dinner and drinking cocktails every night.

It sounds unreal, right? Too good to be true.

When I say it out loud, yes, it sounds too good to be true.

But why can’t it be true? 

We have set ourselves up to expect the worse. Especially those of us who suffer from mental health issues.

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When something is going good, we are are so happy yet so scared at the same time. It’s like we cannot enjoy it because we feel like it is a dream, like someone is messing with us. Why would life let me be this happy for nothing?

But it was real. No catch. No unexpected turns.

I drank, I laughed, I socialised, I toured, I relaxed, I shopped, I was happy.

And it would not have been the same without the people I was with.

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I see everything I do now as a lesson, an experience.

Sure, Bath was like a holiday, it was fun and made me happy. But I view it as a way of showing me that good things can happen, you can have nice things for nothing, as long as you make it a positive experience.

I could have chosen to sit in my room all day but I didn’t.

I got out and explored. I decided to treat myself to that cake, I chose to add that extra pair of shoes to my basket, I wanted to go out with my friends, my lecturers, to meet new people.

Always say yes to new things, even if you do not feel up to it, or you’re scared. Sometimes it is okay to have time to yourself, but never miss an opportunity, it could be one of the best decisions you make.

Surround yourself with good people, make memories, take pictures, appreciate the views, admire old buildings, walk the ground that has been standing underneath your feet for so very long.

I am so very grateful I got to see such a historical and beautiful place, but even more so grateful that it has enhanced my view on positivity.

Bath has symbolised a way of living for me.

Go out. Explore. Laugh.

Positivity breeds positivity. 

Get rid of those negative people and start fresh with a new group that brings you up when you are a down and appreciates that life can be beautiful.

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Happiness?

February 11th.

On my way to Disneyland for 5 whole days but I wasn’t as excited as I thought.

 

No, I was so excited.

 

But I wasn’t.

It was weird.

It’s like I mentioned previously. I was sitting on the Eurostar knowing full well this time in five days I’d be sitting in this exact position on my way home and back to reality. I don’t know what got to me more, feeling this sadness or the fact that my brain wouldn’t let me control this feeling of sadness. Maybe if I knew I was in control, it wouldn’t have such an impact on me?

Just take a moment to imagine feeling so down and dark and trapped inside your own head, with your brain telling you all the worst things you think about yourself. Then imagine your brain telling you that all the people around you think them too. Then imagine this feeling of claustrophobia because you know  no matter what you are stuck with these thoughts forever and nothing can stop you from thinking them and no one will understand and

Then it started to hit me, I arrived at the station and heard the screaming kids, the fairy-tale music and saw the tip of the castle roof in the horizon.

Okay. I’m here. I’m here.

I am away from reality.

I am away from everyone and everything. 

One thing about me, I love to hold on to memories of the past. I have trouble with change and moving on. I am obsessed with Disney because it represents my childhood, no cares, no worries, no depression, no anxiety.

So now I’m here. In a land dedicated to childhood, to having no worries, to having no cares in the world.

I’ll never forget my boyfriend’s words.

“You’re like a completely different person here, I’ve never seen you so happy”

This was happiness. Wasn’t it?

I seemed happy to him, so did this mean I was? I mean, I was.

I was very, very happy. 

But it was a different happiness. I was happy in this moment, I was happy because I was here. I was happy because something good was happening.

Was it true happiness?

Happiness is defined as ‘the state of being happy‘. So yes, in that moment, I guess I had happiness.

But what about when I came home? I wasn’t. I wouldn’t say I have happiness in life because my day-to-day life is not filled with princesses and castles and candy apples.

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The reason this is so significant to me is not to brag that I got to go to Disneyland.

It was the start of me realising I wasn’t normal. Something wasn’t right. I came home and dreaded everything. Maybe I had realised what I was like when I was happy, and now I know that I don’t have that in my life.

It wasn’t me thinking that I can only be happy if you whisk me away to a far away land.

It was the fact that I now knew how I felt when I was happy, confident, positive blah blah blah.

It was the fact that I now knew I did not feel this. Ever. I hated everything. It was the fact that Disneyland showed me what I should aspire to be like in my life.

I should view my house the same way I viewed that castle.

I should adore my boyfriend the same way I adored Mickey and Minnie.

I should be grateful for every step I take on this earth the same way I was grateful for each step on those tiles I walked everyday.

But I just couldn’t.

I went to work the day after I returned home. No one really likes work, we would all much rather stay in bed. But I got on with it. Yet, that day was unusual. I felt very exposed. People were looking. My confidence was down. A lot.

I didn’t want to serve customers. I was scared. They intimidated me. I felt alone with a shop full of people. I felt like I forgot everything to say, to do.

Writing this now still brings back those feelings. That is how strong they were. I cannot explain how vulnerable I felt and I had never felt like this before.

I’ve been singing for ten years. I’ve performed in front of hundreds of people, all eyes on me, yet this was the most exposed I had ever felt. 

I had been working there for two years, why did I feel like I had only been there for two hours?

The day ended.

I went home.

I decided,

I hate my life.

Sweat, Smile, Repeat.

Exercise to energise!

When I’m feeling down/blue/spaced/sad- whatever label we want to call it, one thing I love to do to lift me up is exercise.

I know many people hate this word, the thought of working out makes them fatigued before they have even started. But it can be a fun and effective way of lifting your spirits immediately.

Not only does exercising release endorphins (our ‘happy’ hormones) but it is a way of allowing you to feel productive and good about yourself, which all in all will lead to a happier you.

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I hated exercising. I was always the one person in P.E that would try and get out of anything that involved moving. Now? I love it. Once I became in control of what activities I wanted to do, I felt like my goals were so much more achievable.

I go to the gym two to three times a week with my best friend which is great to socialise and get out of the house as well as working out and having a goal to try and reach! When I am not at the gym I love to do Pilates and yoga. Yoga relaxes my mind, it is a way of being with yourself. A time to love yourself and think about how far you have come and what you want to do to reach the next goal post.

Pilates is also a great way to tone up your muscles and become fitter and stronger. One thing I have learnt along the way is that it is not about the vanity, but seeing improvements in yourself both mentally and physically. I cannot explain the joy that you feel when you can stretch that little bit further, or do that one extra push up that you couldn’t do yesterday.

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(C) blogilates

If you are looking for a plan to stick to, I could not recommend Blogilates enough. Cassey Ho, the founder of this amazing channel, started out as a small scale YouTuber, posting Pilates and yoga videos. Now she has her own clothing range, exercise classes all around the world as well as millions of subscribers. Not only are her videos amazing but she is a prime example of how far you can go when you set goals and never give up. It doesn’t matter about the scale of your dreams, as long as you have goals to aspire to, you will be so much happier.

Cassey is an immensely positive person, so if you are looking for someone to get you motivated, check her out straight away.

If you are going to do anything today, do ten minutes, even five minutes, of some exercise and you will become addicted.

You are in control of your life and remember you can control how you feel. Do not let anything or anyone tell you otherwise. As soon as you realise that you have power over your own actions, you will be on your way to living a happy life.

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