Everything I wish I knew about Mental Health…

well, it’s a ride – that’s for sure! it feels apt that i’m writing this one this week as we’ve just had World Mental Health day (n.b. this was when this was written in my notebook, not published online) and i’m in the middle of my fourth round in the ring with depression in 10 years.

my god, how am i still here?

there will be so many days that you think you can’t survive. there will be so many days when you think you don’t deserve to survive. you do. please stay.

your depression will give you ‘fake news’ – it will make you feel like a burden. it will make you question why people choose to have you in their lives. it will make you feel unworthy, unloved and alone. it will be painful. there will be many, many nights where you cry yourself to sleep and wonder when the pain will go, if there will ever be anyone that truly loves you, if there will ever be a day where you don’t feel such an incredible weight on your shoulders, tears in your eyes and pain in your heart.

you will fight with these intrusive thoughts, it will take all your energy to remember it is fake news. when you can’t, just focus on the next ten seconds. if you can get through those, you can get through anything.

accept help. and know that accepting help will look different on different days. there will be days when it looks like your sister brushing your hair for you because having a shower took all your energy, there will be days when it is someone sending you an instagram post reminding you that the sun will shine through the clouds again. there will be days you break down to your therapist. that’s okay. when you have calmed let him give you a new perspective. try. help is all around, accept it. on the days you feel like you don’t deserve help, accept it – that’s when you need it most.

when you are really poorly it will be, or feel, impossible not to let the dark thoughts eclipse the positive ones. you don’t want to die, you just don’t know how to live with ‘all this’. it will get better. you just need to hold on. don’t pay attention to those that tell you ‘you have nothing to be depressed about’ or ‘other people have it worse’ – these people, luckily for them, do not understand depression. it is a reflection of them, not you.

it will get better. you just need to hold on. there are so many things worth staying alive for. stay.

you are so much more than your worst days. so much more than the loneliness that eats you from the inside. you might feel lonely, but you are not alone.

stay to see your nephews born.

stay for all the places you are yet to travel too. for all the adventures that are waiting.

stay for all the cups of tea you’re yet to have with your best friend, whilst you nearly pee your pants laughing at something ridiculous.

stay to watch your friends become mamas.

stay to see you rediscover your love for education and working with children.

stay for all the songs you’re yet to sing.

stay. you won’t regret it. i promise. it won’t be easy but, like most things, the stuff that isn’t easy is always worth it.

stay for all the sunsets and sunrises you’re yet to see.
stay for all the flowers you’re yet to smell
stay for all the joy you’re yet to feel
all the coffee you’re yet to drink, the books you’re yet to read, the poetry you’re yet to inhale,
the minds you’re yet to touch.
the cuddles you’re yet to have from Mason.
the tickle fights with Oscar.
the shared laughs with Arlo.

the hard days will be hard but the good days will more than make up for it.
you’re stronger than you think.
you can do this.
stay.
you are not the titanic. yes, you will hit icebergs, but you won’t sink.
stay.

xoxo M

everything i wish i knew about…success

if you ask Siri what success means you get this response “success means the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”

i guess the thing, the biggest thing, i wish i knew about success is that it looks different to different people. i know that probably seems obvious to some but it’s taken me a minute to really let that sink in and i still have to remind myself of that regularly.

when you’re young and at school success and progress looks pretty much the same to everyone. it’s being smart enough to pass exams, cool enough to be in the ‘popular’ crowd (or at least cool enough to not get bullied), it’s having ‘cool’ labels in your clothes.

once you leave school the road to success looks different to everyone. it can be really hard not to compare yourself to everyone. you’ll get to 30 and wonder what you have achieved. it will seem like everyone else has all, or some, of the markers of a traditionally successful life. some will have kids, others will be married, own homes, have their dream job, found their forever person.

when you’re surrounded by these people it can be easy to feel like a failure. it can be easy to forget that success is different to everyone. if there is one thing i hope you remember it is that success really does look different to different people depending on their priorities. when you’re surrounded by people like this and fed this narrative of success by the media (especially the social kind) it is only natural to compare yourself and achievements. it is only natural to question your success and what it looks like.

success is personal, it can only line up with your own goals and aims. these will change over time. truly, being honest, your success is always under construction because of this. it can be hard but you need to get to a place where you can accept the pace of your own journey. it might take you ten more years to buy your own house or have a baby – that won’t dull your sense of accomplishment when you do it, when it finally happens. that’s if that is what success looks like to you, of course.

success is not a straight line or linear. there will be set-backs, road blocks and challenges. there will lessons of their own and, hopefully, you’ll consider the fact you’ve made it over these a success in itself.

you just need to stay focused and keep going. you will get there. i promise. it doesn’t come without effort and commitment but you can get there. think how different your life can look in 5 years. how your life feels to you is more important than how it looks to others.

once you’re happy with how it feels in your gut (or where you’re headed) then you’re finally on the path to success.

xoxo M

letters to younger me: everything i wish i knew about… grief

when you think about grief you think about death. well it’s where your mind goes generally. but there are so many more forms of grief that you will experience over the course of a lifetime. they won’t all hit the same, or take the same about of time to recover from, but they are all grief, they all hurt and will leave you feeling crippled.

the best piece of advice, well not advice but the biggest lesson learnt is probably that no one will tell you there is a limit they put on how long you can grieve. after a period of time be it a week, month, or year/s , all of a sudden everyone decides you should be ‘over it’ or ‘move on’.

the thing is, with any type of loss, you never really ‘get over it’. you simply learn to move forward, because you have to.

you learn, you will learn, to put your hurt and pain in a box, in the corner of your mind and heart. you’ll pull on it sometimes when you want to, or need to, remember what it is to feel on that level or that you deserve to be hurt again.

something to remember is this: we might lose people but we will never lose what they gave us. the memories. the love. the laughter. the lessons. this goes for every type of grief – including death and break-ups. the guy who told you you deserve the world – that he wanted to give it to you but couldn’t – he reminded you of what you deserve and that there are good guys out there. i know you still miss him – maybe you always will – but he reminded you of your worth. that can’t be a bad thing.

the thing with loss and grief is that it’s never going to be okay. it’s never going to be okay. it’s always going to hurt. your heart will always be broken but it just gets less debilitating. the cracks will heal but you’ll always feel the break. you’ll just learn to live with it. you learn to get out of bed, you can eat again but it’s always going to hurt.

somedays the heaviness will be unbearable. other days, you’ll remember little things about them that make you smile. like whenever you see a rainbow, you’ll think about grandad. it will be bittersweet; the happy memory of them tinged with sadness.

in the early days you’ll see them everywhere, hear them in every song on the radio. over time this will get easier but you’ll never be fully prepared for those moments where the grief hits you out of nowhere. when you think you see them in line at the supermarket just to realise that it is impossible or improbable. when the radio starts playing a song that reminds you of them the most, or that has a lot of memories attached to it. you’ll feel like the grief has hit you fresh all over again. the ground will feel like it’s opening up. it’s not. you’ll be okay. you made it through the first hour, first day and week. you’ll make it through this. if you need to run out the supermarket, that’s okay. if you need to excuse yourself and go to the toilet to cry, that’s okay too. crying yourself to sleep again is okay.

we all deal with grief in different ways; we all process it differently. we all have different timelines. when it really seems too tough just tell yourself ‘if you can get through the next 10 seconds, you can get through anything’. be kind to yourself through it. try not to isolate yourself too much; being around people can help. i say ‘can’ because some people are not going to be productive whilst you grieve and heal, whilst you get to a point where you can function day-to-day.

grief teaches you a lot about people. about yourself and those around you. your strength will surprise you. remember, as mr sheeran sings, ‘a heart that’s broke is a heart that’s been loved’ – and that ain’t a bad thing at all.

xoxo M

a letter to younger me – everything i wish i knew about…

life.

life is a funny thing, isn’t it. it’s frustrating, yet exhilarating. it’s simple, yet complex. it can’t really be planned but somehow also requires a plan. in a word: it’s complicated.

there are a million different cliches when it comes to talking about life. too many to write here. everyone has their own that, at some point, they repeat to their friends, family (and social media followers). one thing that we can say is true is “the only certainty in life is death”. everything in between when we are born and when we die… none of it is certain. (i feel this is taking a slightly depressive turn but bear with me, i’ll pick it back up).

life is brilliant in so many ways, there will be days where you feel light as a feather. there will be moments when you’ll sit with your best friend, watching your nephews play and think ‘life is great, how did i get so lucky?”. you’ll see friends marry the loves of their lives. you’ll have moments in your career, something you have always put 110% into (yes, you’re work pissed, the sooner you embrace that, the better), that you can’t quite believe happen – turnarounds in stores -that everyone had written off – and teams that you influenced and led. moments when you finally make a breakthrough with a child when teaching them and think YES they got it, finally and know that it was your teaching skills that got them there. there will be moments when you’re in love, or heading that way, where you feel so happy your heart could burst. a word of warning though – don’t be too smug. you know what comes next.

heartbreak. disappointment. confusion. you can’t always get what you want, you can plan for everything but then life will throw you a curveball, call your bluff and kick you in the gut. leaving you writhing around on the floor trying to catch your breath. it ain’t always gonna be pretty.

the disappointments will leave you aching for a time before, a time before life made you sore. before you had your heart broken by men who you thought could be the love of your life (spoiler alert: they’re not). before you were let down by friends. before you lost those you love. you’ll ache for a time before the disappointments. a time when life felt simple.

‘everything happens for a reason’ that’s a firm favourite. you’ll hear that a lot when you’re feeling shit, or trying to justify a disappointment. the worst thing, or maybe it’s the best, is that it does seem to be true. hindsight is 20:20 vision. it doesn’t help the stuff hurt any less in the moment but it is good to know and can be helpful to keep in mind whilst you heal.

no one makes it through life unscathed; without scars and heartbreak. all the paths in life you take in life, you gotta make sure some of them are dirt (whether you know it at the time or not). it’s where you figure out who you are and what you want from this life. it’s the curveballs that make life interesting and show us what we are made of. if we’re lucky, there’s a blessing waiting for us at the end of that dirt road.

the one other thing that i know to be true, that i have learnt about life is that, in three little words, it goes on. regardless of the hurt and heartache. life. goes. on. you will survive. you will get through 100% of your worst days. if you can find one small glimmer of hope on those bad days, you will survive.

it won’t always be easy, it will be hard. really fucking hard but, you’ll do it. best of all, best of ALL – it will be worth it. the good days will remind you why you fight. why you’re pleased to be alive and why you’re glad you continued and why you’re glad that life does, in fact, go on.

life is lived and created in the messy parts, it doesn’t always make sense but maybe there is something oddly beautiful about the confusion. maybe if you lean into it, it won’t seem so scary. or maybe i’m talking out my arse, who knows?

maybe one day it won’t all seem confusing, maybe one day it will all make sense. maybe one day, one day, we’ll understand the point of it all. until then, buckle up buttercup because life isn’t going to wait for you. try to enjoy the ride and bring tissues – you’re going to cry a lot!

xoxo M

have we tried turning this year off and on again?

hello, friends.

it’s been a minute, hasn’t it? i haven’t shared any of my writing for a couple of months now; i’m always jotting stuff down in notebooks but it rarely sees the light of day at this point. i don’t quite know why, i guess as i get older i get a bit more selective with what i share. even most of the memes i share on instagram are in no way related to my life; just things i think others will benefit from. of course i was meant to have finished the letters in my ‘dear…’ series by now but that hasn’t happened. i think Nick would understand… it was my tribute to him, putting some kindness out in the world. i will finish them, especially now we’re in lockdown! there’s really no reason not to. sorry, Nick! charge it to my head and not my heart…

so… how are we all doing? surviving? it’s all a bit surreal isn’t it? it’s a bit like something out of an episode of black mirror (i’ve watched about 4 episodes of it, it freaked me out too much so i stopped). we’ve almost had world war 3, brexit, BoJo got into number 10, Trump is still president, there was a month in the UK where it felt like we had storms every week and now covid-19. seriously, have we tried turning this year off and turning it back on again? fucking hell. 2020… we were all so buzzing for a new year, a new decade… then it arrived and was like, buckle up bitches.

i was one of those a month ago that was in the  “coronavirus? it’s just the flu” camp… well i soon changed my opinion on that. this virus is so much more than that. the impact it is having on the world is unprecedented. if you’d have told me at christmas that we would all be in a government enforced lockdown in March because of a global pandemic i’d have looked at you most peculiar.

one of the things that worries me the most is that there are still people who are treating this like it’s ‘just the flu’. still going out, still not practicing social distancing. what will it take for it to sink in to these people’s thick skulls? their ignorance is literally going to kill people. it breaks my heart that i can’t just run around to my sisters and give my nephew a hug. to hear him say “when will this virus be over so i can see my friends again?”… how do you tell him that there are humans out there that are longing this out? treating this like a holiday from work? it is just so selfish. add to that that people have lost their jobs as a result of this pandemic and won’t earn a wage until the country is back to normal… it just makes it even more selfish.

i am very lucky that i am one of those that are able to work from home so i still have a bit of structure to my week. more than ever i appreciate this. being able to have some sort of routine is helping me manage my anxiety at how absolutely mental this whole situation is.

there are definitely some benefits to working from home and i am coping with it much better than i thought. one good thing is the commute is great! no delays… no random men trying to talk to me or telling me to smile… i’m saving money because starbucks isn’t enticing me in with it’s sexy coffee smell errryday… i do realise we are only one week in and in 2 weeks time i might be saying the exact opposite but for now i’m ok with it.

working from home does have it’s challenges though. i’m especially finding it hard as i only started my new role 3 weeks ago. i was still in my training period when lockdown was announced. i hadn’t even met half of the team i am directly managing and now i’m managing them remotely. my boss has been really supportive so i am lucky and she keeps just reminding me that we’re all in this together… (go wildcats!)

some things that are helping me work from home and maintain a sense of structure in my week

  • getting up/ going to bed at around the same time as i did when i was commuting to work
  • ensuring i get my allotted government 1hr exercise in BEFORE i start work for the day – it’s quieter outside and it helps wake me up; gets the juices flowing.
  • it’s so tempting to stay in sweats all day, but i make sure i get dressed and ready as though i’m actually leaving the house
  • working near a window – i may not be able to leave the house but the natural light (and fresh air if i open the window) helps to keep me concentrating
  • making lists of what i need to achieve/ get done that day
  • making sure i still take my breaks and when i do take them making sure they are taken AWAY from the space i’m working in so it feels like i actually have had a break.

i know these all probably seem quite simple but in this first week these have really helped me cope and adapt to working from home; something which i always said i would/could never do.

my first weekend in lockdown has not been too bad; cabin fever is slowly starting to creep in though. i am, however, trying to be positive about being gifted all this time on my weekends. i’m using this time to reset. i am going to get to the bottom of my list that is filled with boring but necessary things – i spent my saturday night sorting out all my paperwork and my pensions. WOO. i am also using this time to try to reconnect with old hobbies that i had convinced myself i had fallen out of love with; writing for an audience and running.  maybe you could do the same? this list might change but for now these 2 things seem achievable to me. my neighbours are also being treated my daily concerts through their windows, bless them.

i have seen some people using this time to learn something completely new; languages and instruments seem to be the favourite. some people have set up social media pages to connect people in this very odd time (‘we’re all in this together 19 is one such page). i also feel like i need to say that it is absolutely ok if you do not want to do any of this stuff; if you would just rather rest and watch netflix all day then that’s ok too. you do you, boo.

i have to believe that this is all happening for a reason – i know, i know such a cliche!! – but i absolutely have to. the society we have now has left us so disconnected from what really matters in this world, we’re starting to realise how lucky we are, how good we had it. how often did i take for granted my freedom? just being able to pop out when we wanted, being able to go and visit friends whenever we wanted? go and grab a coffee? or dinner? i hope we all come out the other side with more gratitude for ‘the simple things’.

even the environment is starting to reset. you’ve all seen the reports of marine life back in the canals in venice and that some people in china are seeing the sky and sun for the first time because there is no smog. it’s actually kind of incredible.

i probably need to think about rounding this up because, story of my life, i have gone on much longer than i predicted or needed. i just want to say one last thing…

it is ok to be scared by this. it is ok to be anxious. it is ok to be upset because something you were looking forward to has been cancelled; weddings, holidays, birthdays, baby showers, graduations etc etc etc. it is ok to feel all of that and more. it doesn’t mean you don’t understand how serious this situation is. it is ok to enjoy use your sense of humour to get through this; we have to find something to smile about in this time – on the really tough days the memes are all that are getting me through!! well that and the people i am connected to virtually; we’re actually super lucky that throughout this isolation we are still able to be so connected to those we love. having said that, i really can’t wait for this to be over so i can hug my nephew and a few others real tight.

see you on the other side, lovers

stay safe and wash your feckin’ hands!!

 

xoxo M

 

 

 

dear the 10s…

with 2020 less than a week away i find myself doing that thing that we all do… looking back on what has been and looking forward to the future and where we hope to go. with that in mind…

dear the 10s,

there is so much i want to say about the last decade and the ride i’ve been on but there are simply not enough words. or maybe there are actually too many.

i can confidently say i am a totally different person going into 2020 than i was going in to the year 2010 (and thank fuck for that)

there are some lessons that i learnt along the way (in sometimes the harshest ways) that i want to share for anyone that may wish to hear them…

🌸if people want you in their life, they will make time. they will make an effort. you can waste so much time chasing people and wanting people who don’t want you. 

🌼how people behave is a reflection of how they feel about themselves, truly. even when it’s hard to believe sometimes.

🌸not everyone will like you. and that’s ok. it’s not your job to convince them you’re a good person and worth their time. let them miss out. 

🌼there is such a thing as being too kind. too gracious. too understanding. don’t be a mug. 

🌸life can’t be planned, as much as you would like to think it can be, it can’t. there will always be something that happens that you can’t plan. you can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you react to it 

🌼it should be a legal requirement for everyone to go to therapy 

🌸having emotions is ok. you’re allowed to feel how you feel. even if people don’t understand it, you’re not wrong for feeling how you do 

🌼stop trying to make yourself smaller so you don’t intimidate people or scare them off. the right ones will stay 

🌸people will generally be disappointing. they can’t always show up for you. it doesn’t mean they don’t care. even if you think it does 

🌼 when your head becomes too loud, get out. break the cycle. write. sing. dance. run. they will all help (if you’re feeling really brave you can tell someone else)  

🌸social media ; fun, but super fake 

🌼everyone has their shit going on, so try not to be too much of an asshole

🌸life can be messy but still worth living. mistakes are essential to learn and grow but a mistake can only happen once. twice makes it is a choice.

🌼 if you love someone, let them know. you can never regret putting a little more love out in the universe

🌸 there are good people out there, try to trust in them. 

🌼 if you can survive the next 10 seconds, you can survive anything

nothing particularly new or noteworthy there but things we all definitely need to be reminded of on occasion.

to my friends that came into this decade with me and have stuck around this whole time… rach, mark, jade, dalby, den, byng, amy, 504 galdem. bloody hell… ten years! we’ve had fun! thank you. for all the memories. i’ve had some of the best times of my life with you guys this last year and decade. i can’t wait to see what the next 10 bring 💓

the 10’s will be forever known as the decade the three loves of my life entered the world. 2011, 2015, 2017. they make life worth living. if i never get my own kids, these guys are the next best thing. and now i’m thinking about them i just want to squeeze them. oooh.

we lost some of the greatest this decade too and even now i find it hard to comprehend that they’re not here 🌈🐯🐘 ☘️ we have remembered them in the best ways and will continue to do so in the 20’s because, as we all know, the ones we love never truly leave us.

i’m going into 2020 trying to be grateful for the confusion that this last month or so has brought. i’ve honestly been so sad at my core these last few weeks. even if people haven’t seen it. on more than one occasion i have cried myself to sleep. not ideal really. god bless byng and amy for putting up with my teary voice notes; i promise you won’t always have to put up with them.

the me at the beginning of this decade would never have pictured me ending the it where i am. id honestly be most disappointed in myself. i definitely thought i’d have it all figured out by now… maybe that’s the biggest lesson of all… none of us have a clue what we’re doing and just making it up as we go…

i don’t have a clue what the next ten years are going to bring… it’s scary and exciting all at the same time. i guess that’s life. i know for certain – possibly for the first time ever – what i want though. and that makes taking the first step a little easier.

wishing you all nothing but goodness for 2020 and beyond

M xo