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

i like to think i’m ok.

i’d like to apologise in advance if this post comes across as me fishing for compliments or me feeling sorry for myself but, like the girl in mean girls ‘i just have a lot of feelings’ and i wanted to share a bit. it’s been taking up a lot of my thoughts recently and i just need to get it off my chest.

i like to think i’m ok. i’m not the prettiest person nor do i have the perfect body. i’m not the nicest person. i’m moody. i get tired. i swear too much. i am not perfect but i like to think i am ok. i try to do my best at everything. i try my hardest to be a good friend, boss, family member. i try my hardest to be there for my everyone because i know what it’s like to feel completely alone. i’m more sensitive and emotional than a lot of people realise. i’m passionate. i have a lot of opinions. i try to educate myself on things before i give these opinions. i can be negative but i try to stay more positive than not. i’m shy and awkward. i like to think i am not judgemental but actually quite open to most people.

i like to think i am ok.

i endeavour to not make someone feel like shit because of who they are. recently i have been on the receiving end of behaviour like this and it has made me question if i have the right people in my life and if i have the respect for myself that i thought i had.

i’ve been thinking a lot about the people i surround myself with and how these people make me feel about myself. there is a great quote attributed to someone on the internet about ensuring that before you diagnose yourself with low self esteem and depression that you are not surrounded by assholes first.

the people we surround ourselves with are a reflection on how we see ourselves, why if i thought i was ok, would i surround myself with people who make comments about me, to me, that make me feel unloveable? that make me feel like i am too much hard work? that i am not worth the effort? i thought, with the end of university, i had rid myself of the ‘friends’ that only saw me as the less attractive, fatter, funny friend and only wanted me there to be an accessory to make them look better. i thought i’d rid myself of those people who weren’t my biggest cheerleaders – not that all my friends have to cheer me all the time, but part of being friends is being each others biggest cheerleaders, in whatever way you feel comfortable expressing it.

at 28 and a bit, i really thought all this shit would be dealt with but i guess, as Bowling For Soup so eloquently sang, ‘high school never ends’.

one thing all these thoughts and time wasted over thinking and being upset recently has made me realise though is that i need to make some changes. there really is a lesson in everything apparently.

why do life lessons always have to cause us so much shit?

answers to that one on a postcard, please

xoxo M

people need other people.

it’s 10pm on a wednesday night and here i am, just a while in from having dinner with someone very special and i’m sat in bed crying.

why you ask? or maybe you didn’t but either way you’re finding out.

the reason i’m crying is because i have just finished reading Bryony Gordon’s book ‘Mad Girl’. the book is Bryony sharing her story, her mental health story.

some of the parallels in our illnesses are scary but it made me realise that we, Bryony and I, are the lucky ones. we had people around us, both at home and at work, that cared. that care. that care enough to not give up on us when our demons get too much, that don’t run the other way saying ‘fuck this shit, you’re on your own’ but stand next to us, gently guiding us saying ‘you’ve got this’.

tonight when i was at dinner my friend told me about a colleague she had who had passed away recently, this colleague had struggled with his mental health (his death was unrelated to any mental health illnesses) in the past which eventually led to him leaving his position – by all accounts the management were not very supportive of the days out he needed to take.

(please note, needed is accurate. when you’re depressed you can’t simply say to depression ‘oh well today isn’t a very good day for me to be depressed, i’ve lots on. can you come back tomorrow?’ depression, in case you didn’t know, is a bit of an inconsiderate bastard).

at his funeral she learnt how much having that job meant to him. she said she never realised the impact their day to day jokes and interactions had on him, and on his life.

i’m crying because i realised that i was lucky, i was lucky that back in september i had someone who was able to notice i was poorly before i did – Momma Sophs, you recognised i was ill before i did, before anyone did. i don’t know how but thank you.

i was lucky that, when i was stood on a train platform a couple of weeks later listening to the voices in my head telling me to give up and that me dying would be for the benefit of everyone, that it would be better than the constant battle in my head, i had diane on the end of the phone telling me not to listen to the voice in my head that was telling me that. that it was lying to me.

i was lucky i had my sister to call and make the doctors appointment when i was too ill to myself.

i was lucky i had denise calling me every few hours just to check in, telling me to come to her house after work so she could feed me and let me get some of these thoughts out my head and feelings off my chest.

i had my boss – who i was super nervous to tell i was poorly because, well i was embarrassed, i was embarrassed of being ill again and of how bad it had gotten and what it might make him think of me – tell me that it was a tricky illness but that he knew i was more than capable. he understood why i text him to tell him and didn’t call and then spent time with me on the phone the next day trying to understand the illness, what it looked like for me and help me figure out what my triggers were.

now i have my new boss who was, as well, brilliant when he found out – as i’m still recovering i thought it wise to tell him and it came up very organically in conversation so i was comfortable telling him. parts of our conversation went like this…

me – i don’t run around screaming at everyone that i’m mad but it makes sense you should know.

him – you’re not mad because you’ve got depression…. you just need to make sure you tell me how you’re feeling, keep me in the loop.

(that’s what i needed to hear from him. it was a big weight off these shoulders, i tell ya. also, nb, i often tell people i’m ‘mad’ because i think i’m being funny and most people feel more comfortable when you joke about serious stuff)

i had steph, who always seems to message me at just the right time, who always makes me feel like a better human than i am.

i guess, the short version (i’ve never been very good at getting straight to the point), is that i was crying because i was grateful.

i was grateful for this year and for these people (and many more not listed here). i was grateful for the days when i thought i wouldn’t make it to the next one because, if nothing else, i’ve learnt the human spirit is made of strong bloody stuff.

2017 is the year i realised that i didn’t have to keep all my problems to myself. it was the year i learnt who my friends really were. i learnt i don’t have to keep my cards so close to my chest. i might be a burden sometimes, but then aren’t we all? the ones that think i’m worth it will stay. for the good and bad.

i learnt people need other people.

we really do.

people need other people.

and there’s nothing wrong with that. nothing at all.

xoxo M

p.s if you want to try to understand mental health illnesses and how they make you feel and think please read Bryony’s book. she words it so well, much better than i ever could.

reflections on a younger self. 

last night i found myself looking through my old journals and diaries. i don’t know why but as i was placing a book on my bookshelf i saw them and decided to pull some out and relive what i’d lived. 

a lot of the entries are not dated so i don’t know the last time i wrote in them – i can only guess it was around this time 2 years ago because of what i’d written about in them, certain incidents in my life that happened then are the focus of my last scribbles.

what i do know reading them is that i’ve changed. i can see the change in myself through the words on the page. is that weird? life is the strangest thing – we don’t see that we’re moving forward day to day but when we look back so much has changed. so much has happened. 

i like this person i’m becoming.

even on the days when i can’t see through the fog, even on the days when i want the world to go away. i like the person i am becoming. 

i look back at my old entries and feel what i felt back then but i am also able to see it differently. i can see the heart and heartbreak i felt over the boy who didn’t love me enough to not hurt me, the boy i would have moved across oceans for had he asked me again and not only see my pain, but also his. who am i to say he didn’t love me enough just because he didn’t love me the way i wanted him to love me. i can see the good in that goodbye.

i read back through the confusion and see that i have gained clarity, not in everything, but in some things. and for now that is enough.

i look at the old entries and see someone who was fighting against herself but couldn’t see that’s what she was doing. who thought that emotions were a sign of weakness (especially the sad ones). i was so proud of being so guarded and so unfeeling to the world. i was so proud of never having shared my true self with anyone. 

i thought that made me strong.

in actual fact i think now it showed my weakness, my insecurity. the ability to feel, to show emotions – the good and the bad – is part of what makes us so wonderfully human. you can’t shut it out, you can’t shut yourself off from it. you can try, but it will catch  up with you eventually. everything you run from always does.

i know more about me now.

what i want

where i want to go

life makes it hard to remember those things  sometimes but that’s why i write. it reminds me who i am and what i want. it focuses me when i need direction. when i need to get stuff off my chest. when i need a friend. there’s always a piece of paper and a pen around, no matter what time of the day it is. 

when i get lost i can pick those friends up and draw myself a map back home. 

xoxo

micks.

pictures of me from 2008 to the present day. there is one every year from 2008 doing various things with various people. the only year missing is 2016 because it wouldn’t fit!

how can I become less? 

Where I am: in bed, Montrose CA feeling like absolute rubbish (in case you wondered) 

What I’m listening to: La La Land is on in the background.

It’s my last night in CA until who knows when, I’ve had a ball these last couple weeks with one on my best friends (I apologise to my snapchat friends for the snaps you’ve had to endure). In my quieter moments on this trip, I’ve been thinking about stuff. In my quieter moments I’ve definitely been overthinking stuff. I’ve been thinking about myself and my behaviours, my character. 

Over the last few years I have been told that I am ‘a lot to handle’; that I am ‘too much’. Not just by one person, once. There have been a few different people on a few different occasions. Every time I’m told that it seems to stick in my memory more.

I’m not quite sure what they meant when they said it. I have never known whether to take it as a compliment or an insult; I tend to lean towards the latter.

“Too much” isn’t something that’s normally associated with positives, is it? Too much by definition is “an intolerable, implausible or exhausting situation or experience” (Google)  Not something I’d like to be known as really.

So my question is how do I make myself less? Is it possible to make myself just enough, just the right amount? Do I make myself smaller? My voice? My attitude? Do I have less opinions? Should I be quieter? Or laugh less? 

If you have the answers please let me know.

I don’t want to be ‘too much’. I’d like to be enough. 

xoxo Micks  

WAKE UP

The last month or so has been tough emotionally and it has served a reminder of my own mortality. There has been a number of people passing away around me; their ages across the spectrum and most of them a massive shock.

I was at the funeral of one of those people last week and whilst I was sat there listening to his eulogy and hearing his son speak about what an amazing man his dad was, something clicked. It almost shook me awake to my own life and to how much I have to be grateful for; to all the wonderful people I have in my life and how I perhaps have been very selfish with my time and energy – what would my last memory of them be if they passed? What was theirs be of me if I did?

 

I do realise this sounds very morbid and is probably a bit heavy for a Tuesday night but these thoughts have been taking up a lot of space in this little brain of mine for a while so I figured it was best to get it out there and share it.

 

Being completely honest I have been a selfish mother****** lately with my energy and my time. I have been going through a ‘Why me?’ ‘Why is it always me?’ “Why can’t everyone leave me alone, stupid twats’ phase. I don’t throw pity parties often but boy, when I do! WOO! I have not wanted to talk to anyone, let alone be around them. Work is my perfect escape – with a new team in a new location there is no one that knows me personally to care to ask about my life. They just want Michaela the manager, not Michaela the person and that has suited me just fine. I’ve ignored calls, cancelled plans, told people I was busy when I wasn’t just because I wanted to be alone. I am a true Gemini in that there are two sides to me. I am equal parts introvert and extrovert. I love people but also hate them. This last while I’ve kept to myself because it is easier. There has been about 5 people I’ve been genuinely pleased to hear from in the last month – call me an asshole, it’s fine. I have been one.

 

How many of us have found life through death? It’s a shame that it takes something as final and tragic as death to wake us up. To make us realise what a good thing we’ve got going on. It’s a reminder to live life to the fullest because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Truth is, none of us know what is going to happen so why spend your time being anything but happy? Why spend your time being anything but honest? Be kind. Trust Karma will meet those that need it. Don’t settle for any reason. Don’t be afraid to change your mind.

 

The pain and discomfort of grief will follow us everywhere we go – anyone who has lost someone knows this but we can choose everyday what we do with it. We can let it defeat us or let it strengthen us; fall apart for a while, for a day or a week when you need it but remember to pick yourself back up and start again. There is so much more for you to experience. Choose hope every day.

 

Tell the people you love what they mean to you. Hug them. Love them. Treasure them. Give them the one thing above all that they deserve – your time. Try to be grateful for every day; I know I will.

 

“Every day’s a gift, that’s why it’s called the present”

 

xoxo

Week 12. Be Kind. 

Where I am: on a train 

Listening to: Maren Morris ‘My Church’

Week 12. This is a catch up post. A catch up post with a clear message. 

BE KIND.
My first post of the year was a short (and sweet?) post asking everyone to do just that. Be Kind. To themselves and others. In this one I ask the same.

There is so much terror in the world, uncertainty and tradegy; each day there is another news story reporting something bad happening somewhere. It is so disheartening to see.

  • The attack on Westminster 
  • Brexit triggered
  • The assassination of Timothy Caughman in NYC
  • Trumps entire presidency
  • The ongoing war in Syria
  • The rape and murder of the beautiful Danielle McLaughlin who was celebrating Holi festival in Goa
  • The violence in Paraguay over the election

And that is just a sprinkle of the terror in the world. 

Despite the constant terror, hate and evil that I see each time I open a newspaper or turn on the TV, I still have so much faith in humanity.


…and I believe Mr Rogers here to be right.

The medical professionals that ran from St Thomas’ when hearing of the Attack on Westminster – they ran blindly, not knowing nor caring what they were running in to, they just wanted to help. The peaceful Women’s march on Washington, the annual fundraising on Red Nose Day and Children in Need, the thousands of dollars donated to Planned Parenthood after the Trump administration decided to defund it and all it’s work (and FYI, as a British woman who has never needed to use or even really know about PP, even I know that they do SO much more than just abortions).

I’ve often spoken about my belief in how people’s reactions to things show you who they really are; you learn more about someone in times of trouble than in times of joy. We cannot change what happens to us but we are able to control how we react to it.

I heard a great version of this on a Podcast the other day (Here to Help with Noa Shaw for anyone who wants a listen). The story goes something like this; 

“Imagine you’re a mum and you have a son who is 3 years old. You’re due at a birthday party so you get yourself and your son all dressed up, wrap the present and are all ready to leave. At this moment your son comes into the room covered in peanut butter. 

You can react in 2 ways. You can get really angry and annoyed at him for ruining the outfit and stopping (or maybe delaying) you going to the party OR you can react like a loving mother – laugh at it, give your child a bath and have some fun whilst he’s in the tub and overall have a fun (if different than planned) afternoon” 

Great story showing that reactions can change our whole day. Chose to be angry and annoyed or laugh and have fun? I know which I’d rather. 

 “Imagine what the world would be like if we treated ourselves and each other as a loving mother” pondered the speaker on the Podcast (who coincidentally was guest – and my fave singer/songwriter – Christina Perri) 

Wow. What a thought. 

Look at the world through the eyes of a loving mother. Hate, anger, annoyance… all those negative emotions just drive us apart. 

Be Kind. 

BE KIND. 

Xoxo Micks 

Why do we break our own hearts?

Location: My house.

Listening to: Christina Perri ‘Head or Heart’

 

 

Why do we break our own hearts?

This is something I have been wondering a lot lately. Why do we break our own hearts? I am guilty of putting myself in situations that I know will ultimately lead me to be hurt. I see the people around me doing it all the time too.

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 20.46.13

We break own hearts by giving our time, energy and love to people who don’t care, to people who don’t want it.

We break our own hearts loving people who will never love us back.

We break our hearts by missing people who don’t miss us.

We break our own hearts by giving our attention to people to who ignore us unless it’s beneficial for them to acknowledge us.

We break our own heart by having high expectations.

We break own hearts by going the extra mile for people who wouldn’t give us half a yard.

We break our own hearts by living in our heads and then become crushed when reality doesn’t live up to the world we created there, because reality is just that. Reality. It is not imagination.

We break our own hearts by chasing people who are running in the opposite direction, clearly trying to get away.

We break our own hearts by reading into something – we make it a novel when there is really just one sentence there.

We break our own hearts by thinking that we can change people when really all the time, love and attention in the world will not change anyone. Only they can change themselves.

We break our own hearts in so many ways.

The most frustrating thing is that really, deep down, we know this already. When a friend comes to us we see things clearly in black and white. When it is us there becomes significantly more grey areas. We seem to run around completely unaware that this is what we are doing until it is too late.

We then repair the cracks, close ourselves off from the world a bit more, and write it off as a lesson learnt. None of us deserve it, so why do we do it?

Maybe we do it to prove something to ourselves.

Maybe we do it to prove to ourselves we cared enough to get hurt.

Maybe we do it to prove that something mattered enough; that we mattered enough.

Maybe we do it because it’s better to say that we have broken our own heart than to have someone else break it for us.

Maybe we do it because we always hope that this time it will be different, maybe this time we’ll be lucky.

Maybe we do it to prove that we were brave enough to take the risk.

Maybe we do it to remind ourselves that life is not perfect. We are not perfect.

Maybe.

Maybe we’ll never know.

What I do know is it seems like such a waste of time and energy.

It is a habit we need to learn how to break.

Our hearts will thank us for it.

 

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