If only

If only you knew just how much I love you. How my heart still skips a beat when my phone beeps and I hope it’s you.

If only you could hear, feel, experience the destruction that is my mind. If only for a minute. Then you’d know that it’s not me. I’m not that person. Dominated by the bitch in my head who drags me back to all the nightmares I’ve endured. If only you felt how much I despise those thoughts; how I hate myself for reacting.

If only you knew how much I want to make you happy and would do anything for you, despite my stupid head ruining it all the time.

If only you knew that I relive the painful parts of my life in detail every single day like it’s only just happened. How I have to go through the whole cycle of emotions each time and I wish to God that I could switch myself off and skip to the bit where I move forward.

If only you knew that you are the first thought in my mind when I wake up and the last thought before my brain finally succumbs to slumber.

If only I wasn’t me. If only I didn’t think, I didn’t feel absolutely every f*cking emotion at full throttle.

If only you knew the guilt I carry for not being enough. If only I’d done things differently, maybe the bad things would never happen.

If only I didn’t miss the old me. The one that laughed, the one that saw things at face value, the one that looked forward with a smile. I miss my old body, one I was proud of, one that looked good and felt good.

If only I wasn’t a walking disaster.

If only you knew.

I love you.

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Bully Brain

I have come to realise that I use up all my energy trying to fight the negative thoughts that bombard my brain like mini-missiles full of hurt and self-destruction.

I’m exhausted just from breathing and I can’t keep going on like that. I’ve been reading a lot about positivity and maybe I’m going about it the wrong way. Maybe I need to give up fighting them, let them come, but stop believing them instead.

Today has already been a hideous day and I have absolutely no idea why. Every negative thing I’ve ever been told is berating me on a constant loop. I’m exhausted from trying to distract myself in order to stop them so today I’ve stopped. I’m treating my negative mind like a bully – don’t believe the words, rise above them and know they are not true, come back with something positive and hopefully, eventually the bully will become bored and the negative thoughts won’t intrude on my day.

I’m hoping this works. It needs to work.

I don’t believe you, ‘stupid head’. Go and be negative somewhere else, I’m too busy loving my favourites and I want to be happy again.

It’s not easy to win a war when you’re the only soldier and the fight is with your mind.

I won’t let you beat me.

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Resolutions and anxiety – 7 self-care ideas

I’m a bit late with this post, I know. In fairness, I started writing it just after Christmas, and January seems to have gone by in a hazy mish-mash of ‘Thank God that’s over’ and ‘shit, I’m poor.’

I find New Year quite overwhelming (now there’s a surprise!) There seems to be this overbearing expectation to turn into some sort of upgraded version of yourself. A whole new person who has their shit together; looks amazing and carefully considers everything they put into their body. (I’m not giving up Gin…. okay!? Actually, that’s not true as I’ve given up alcohol for Lent.)

As someone who, in all honesty, has had a ‘shit year’, mentally, I find this really difficult. My anxiety already kicking up a gear; making me consider all the things I’m not. All the things I do ‘wrong’; all the things I’m shit at. All the things I feel I’m lacking and feeling like a failure because I’m still not slim & beautiful, organised or conquering the world as the clock strikes midnight on NYE.

Realistically and logically, I can’t control the future any more than I can change the past. If only’s and fretting about what has happened or might happen won’t change anything. I know it, but anxiety doesn’t allow me to move forward with this mindset.

I only know this for certain: I don’t want to endure another year like the last one, so the only part of my life I resolve to improve this year is self-care.

I don’t mean that in a selfish way, not completely anyway. I am a mother and a wife and my family’s well-being will always come first but I’m going to make more of an effort to look after myself too.

Self-care ideas for those who struggle with their mental health

In truth, everyone should practice self-care/mindfulness. It’s a healthy way of life in my opinion, yet one I neglect far too often. It’s easy to forget yourself when you care for others; when you’re too busy to eat properly and trying to do it all.

The following will feel like a fraud to me because I doubt that I will practice what I preach. But it’s true, so believe it.

Self-care is vital and that’s something I have to keep reminding myself of like many other people do too. There’s only one you. And whether you believe it or not YOU ARE IMPORTANT.

I’d also like to point out that these are based on my own experiences, and not everything will appeal to or work for everyone. But in any case, I think it’s important that we each find something that helps us look after our own selves. I hope you find this helpful in some way.

Take time out for you

Yes, I know. I raised my own eyebrows, but you know what? There are 24 hours in a day, everyone can spare at least half of one for themselves.

Take some time out just for you, whether that’s after the kids have gone to bed of an evening; after you’ve dropped everyone at school or even during your lunch break at work.

Spend this time doing something you WANT to do, not something you need to do. Whether that’s pampering yourself, watching whatever Netflix show you’re into until your eyes hurt, spend some time working on a project or enjoying a hobby.

Personally, I will catch up on the soaps, binge watch YouTube videos, do my makeup or give myself a mini facial, paint my nails, draw/paint… or even just lay on the bed and try to sleep. The latter doesn’t always work depending on how I am, I need distraction and I’ve never been good at sleeping during the day. I will occasionally take myself off to bed early though, depending on whether the kids are asleep already and what shift my hubby is on.

Get outside

Now, this is a tricky one for many but if you are okay with going outside, do it… as often as you can! Recently I’ve been quite anxious if I have to go out alone but fortunately, this isn’t something I HAVE to do often. I usually have someone as company.

Anxiety aside, I adore the outdoors and feel free when I’m surrounded by nature. I love birds and trees and the rain. I feel quite at home with a camera snapping away at all the beautiful things I see.

Get active if you’re able. I used to find running was great for the mind as well as the body, but alas due to pain, I’m restricted to indoor treadmills rather than hard terrain. There’s also walking, cycling, even tennis if you’re a fan!

While I have my ‘advice’ head on, I believe that everyone should find something that takes then make to their ‘happy place’ and then make it part of your everyday essential routine, without fail. It’s all about loving yourself enough to ensure you are happy and realising that life is short and in the long run, it doesn’t matter how successful you are at work or how much you ticked off your list every day if, at the end of your journey, you never enjoyed it. You never took the time to visit the beautiful garden; never read that book, never danced in the rain; never went out in what you like to wear, never took that risk, never loved like you’ve never been hurt… never made your dreams come true.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Whether that is practically or mentally, if you need support, please ask for it. This is not anywhere near as simple to do as that was to type, believe me, I know, but if you can, do. Even if it’s to ask a loved one or friend to give you a hand with the housework because everything feels too hard, or finding a support group locally or online. There are people out there to help you. Don’t ever think otherwise. You are not alone and nobody expects you to do it all.

My biggest saviour is having someone I trust implicitly to confide in. Someone I know will always be there for me even through the rough times. I am extremely lucky that I am able to have this support but even if you don’t feel like you can talk to anyone close to you, there are organisations such as The Samaritans who run helplines where you can talk to someone in confidence.

Create routines

If routines keep you feeling together and secure, then have some for you too. Maybe a new skincare/shower routine to ensure you are looking after yourself each morning. Or a simple bedtime routine; gentle exercise, maybe a twilight walk, a milky drink, a warm bath, read a chapter of a book, paint your nails, pick out an outfit for tomorrow. Then listen to soothing sounds or a podcast just before you try and fall asleep. It doesn’t have to be set in stone or something you have to do every day without fail, but sometimes something to look forward to can help focus and relax the mind a little.

Say No

Another one I find difficult to do in practice. I have this thing where I automatically feel a ridiculous amount of guilt unless I accept everything asked of me. I used to think it was selfish not to, I mean it wouldn’t hurt me, would it? Only it can. My responsibility lies in making sure my family are happy, healthy, loved and well looked after. Beyond that, sometimes I need to use any energy that I have left for me. And as selfish as that sounds, it absolutely isn’t. We all deserve to put ourselves high on the priority list, and do you know why? Because none of us are any use to anyone else if we are ill. If we are so burnt out that we can barely function; if our stress levels are so high we lose focus on what is important. Learn to say no. It’s not selfish, it just means you are taking control of you and prioritising what is actually important.

Stop being hard on yourself

This one is the hardest one for me. I have a tendency to blame myself for everything and I’m my own worst critic like many other people are too.

I get things wrong, I run out of time, I procrastinate, I lose my shit when I should just breathe. But that’s okay. It’s called being human, and I need to remember that.

Nobody and I mean NOBODY is perfect. You are enough, you are loved, you deserve good things and you are only human.

Write to yourself

This might sound strange but it’s a great way to learn to be kind to yourself. I listened to a podcast a few months ago that encouraged listeners to take a moment and imagine themselves as a small child (or your best friend if that feels better to you). Think about how you feel about yourself, your worries, things you want to do differently, things you might feel ashamed or angry about and respond as if you were a young child.

How differently; how more kindly would you respond?

This is how you should treat yourself. Gently, kindly; with compassion, with a soothing, comforting word. No judgement, no punishment. I think it’s nice to write this down so that you can re-read it when you need to. Trust me, it was a eye-opener for me and really makes you realise how hard you can be on yourself.

I think being kind to ourselves, putting ourselves first from time to time and allowing ourselves to take a step back and notice the little things in life, is a healthy way to live.

Just remember, you are worth the time.

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I’m sorry for my mind

I feel it starting again. The thoughts that burrow into my mind like unwanted visitors. They tell me things that aren’t true. They take away any happy they find and replace it with doubt, with sadness and they attack me where it hurts. They find out my biggest fears and insecurities and bombard me with untruths.

They replay scenarios on loop, torturing me until I repent. They use innocent snippets from my memories and twist them into something else. Forcing me to question everything I’ve ever thought, said, heard or experienced.

Either I start to believe them or I panic. I crumble under the pressure, from the constant torment. Am I crazy? Did that happen?

I’m beginning to notice the unwanted visitors as soon as they arrive now. They are not as stealthy as they used to be; I can sniff them out before they get ahold of my mind, mostly anyway. Sometimes they are silent and creep up on me when I least expect it. They are devious, cunning and intrude while I sleep, subjecting me to terror I can’t escape.

I’m left exhausted, my body hurts, my heart aches and my mind… my mind is jumbled with (misplaced) guilt, self-loathing and fear.

Fear of losing my loves.

So I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for my mind. My stupid, stupid mind.

I’m sorry for making my anxiety yours.

Forgive me.

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A turning point

… Well I hope so anyway. As regular readers will know, I suffer with anxiety and depression, both of which have hit me like a truck in the past 14 months or so and I’ve found life pretty challenging to put it mildly.

I’ve been trying so damn hard to help myself recently and I’ve done a lot of soul searching as well as trying various techniques to attempt to get myself out of this negative cycle that I seem to have become trapped into.

I was cleaning the bathroom earlier and thinking that I actually felt ok today. I actually felt happiness. Something I genuinely had forgotten how to feel, and I don’t mean that I don’t love or care, because I do. Far too much; I just mean I’d forgotten how to recognise anything other than worry or panic or despair. Anyway, I digress. Today I felt like I could do it. I could laugh, and be productive, and enjoy things. I could succeed.

And then it came to me. I need to look forward, not back.

The future is unknown. Which is terrifying; especially for an anxious person, but it is also absolutely anything I want it to be. I have the power to make my future, and my loved ones future, a happy one. Obviously I can’t control everything but I can dream and I can hope. I can choose happy.

Like my husband said to me a few weeks ago, I need to stop living in the past. No matter how much heartache I put on myself, fretting and dwelling on the bad times, I can’t change it. It’s done. It’s gone.

The only thing any of us can do is look forward with open minds, and open hearts and dream. Dream of happy times, healthy, joyous, fulfilling, exciting times that are full of love and kindness.

Bad things happen, that’s just life, but we can overcome the negativity they bring and remember that life is short, too bloody short. So no more hanging on to what ifs and if onlys. No more dissecting the past and punishing ourselves for not being good enough. Only look to the future, grab life by the wonderful and DREAM – we deserve that, don’t we?!

Now I just need to keep this mindset. I’m not naive enough to believe that I’m going to suddenly get better, but having a more positive outlook can only help me. I’ve had a blip already tonight, but I’m dusting myself off and I’m hopeful for a better day tomorrow.

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Making use of my insomnia

There’s a running joke in my house that I should make use of not being able to sodding sleep. I could’ve made myself useful… etc, etc. But in all honesty, I don’t want to get up and get going, I want to f*cking sleep!

All that happens is I lie there thinking.

Over-thinking. Rethinking.

Worrying. Panicking.

Picking everything apart and putting it back together as the worst case scenario.

Convincing myself of all sorts and wrecking any chance of sleep for the foreseeable.

I decided that actually, my family were right, I should be making use of the time I am awake. Not to get a-head start on my to-do list, but to distract myself from what usually follows.

After discovering that WordPress has an app, I have started to make use of my insomnia by writing. My anxiety inspires much of my writing, but I also get some of my best ideas when I should be sleeping. Usually, they end up forgotten, along with any good dreams I’m lucky to have (why do I only remember the bad ones?!) but not anymore. Tonight, I’ve written three posts and the plan for a fourth.

Go me! 😆

I don’t always blog. Sometimes, I’m too tired to get the words out, and sometimes I just need to get  thoughts out of my head. So, I might write notes, journals or lists; things I don’t want to forget, things I want to talk about in the morning, and so on. Whatever I’m typing, it’s an escape from negative thoughts and my anxious mind, and I find that so far, It’s having a positive effect.

Disclaimer: The image in this post was made using Typorama and assumed to be copyright-free. If this is not the case, please contact me and I will remove immediately.

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I have anxiety so I do things differently

I know that anxiety is irrational and the way I handle things and behave sometimes isn’t how ‘it should be done’.

But I can’t change that.

I panic.

I over-analyse.

I expect the worst.

I get upset.

I can’t help it.

I’d love to be laid back and barely bat an eyelid when things go Pete Tong.

I’d die to feel stress-free and just go with the flow.

I’d do anything to wing it every time – just do and worry about it later.

I’d love to thrive on the adrenaline that a crisis brings.

I’d love to be at my best under pressure.

But right now, that isn’t me. It probably never will be again, and it hurts when someone points out how I do it wrong. I KNOW. But it doesn’t mean I can just stop because someone finds it annoying or it’s not how other people do things.

Anxiety is annoying.

Anxiety is a shit.

Anxiety ruins everything.

I KNOW.

But I’m doing my best and trying to please and not let everyone down.

I’m trying not to be annoying and a failure.

I’m surviving and trying.

I just do things differently.

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A letter to anxiety girl

I don’t remember a time when you weren’t nervous or shy or awkward. But, I do remember a time when you were undeniably happy and able to enjoy the little things in life.

Where has that girl gone? She seems to have been replaced by an anxiety-driven shell and I’m sorry but she’s got to go. She’s outstayed her welcome and is destroying you, piece by piece.

Focus on the good.

Focus on the happy.

Stop pushing away those who love you. I know you don’t mean to, hell… you don’t even know you’re doing it, but it’s what’s happening.

You are worth something, you just have to start believing it. Life is hard. God knows it is, but you are strong enough to overcome the dark times. You might not feel it, but you struggle every day and still get up every morning. You still do the best that you can despite feeling like the world is against you.

That is bravery.

That is strength.

Ignore the negative. All of it. Anxiety twists things and lies to you to make you feel weak. To make you believe that you’re worthless, that nobody loves you. But it’s lies. I promise you.

Right now you just need a hug from the person you push away the most and your heart is breaking because they’re not there.

It’s okay to not be okay. But it’s not okay to make yourself lonely. You need people around you. Let them love you.

Love yourself.

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A letter to my husband….from your anxious wife

Literally just a few seconds ago I was thinking about you; my heart leapt and I felt a knot in my tummy, wondering if you were thinking about me too. Just like when we were teenagers; never imagining that we’d still be a couple nearly 20 years later.

I wondered if you really knew; deep in your heart, just how much I love you. So I’m writing this letter so if you ever doubt it, you can be reminded that I am truly, madly, deeply in love with you. I doubt that words can accurately convey the depth of my feelings for you but I’m going to try.

As a little girl I used to dream about marrying a handsome prince and living happily ever after. As a terribly awkward teen, I convinced myself that no one would ever love me, I wasn’t pretty or cool after all.

Then there you were, cool and handsome, oozing charm and you made me laugh; I loved being in your company and I fell in love with you very quickly. I just knew you ‘were the one’ as cringy as that might sound. I wasn’t a great girlfriend as I was learning about relationships as ours went along and I was so scared that you’d get fed up with me. But here we are, still annoying each other! My soulmate.

God knows we’ve had our fair share of painful memories as well as the beautiful and magical, but I’d say I got my wish. I just need to work harder to make you happy and secure our happily ever after.

Life has been challenging recently which is possibly the understatement of the decade, and I know you put up with a lot. My anxiety makes me pretty unloveable and as hard that is for me to accept, I know it’s true. Yet here you are, holding my hand through the tough days and helping me to see that the negative thoughts lie to me, and that you are my truth. Anxiety twists and turns everything into making me believe that everyone is going to leave me and that I’m just not enough to make them want to stay. Despite trying to ignore it, anxiety breaks my heart several times a day.

Maybe I don’t deserve you but I’m glad you stay. I’m glad you choose me and I’m glad that I’m lucky enough to be able to call you my husband for always. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for forgiving me when my words hurt you.

Thank you for being my friend. I know that people cringe when they hear someone say that their partner is their best friend, but with you it’s true. It’s you I want to tell my secrets, hopes, dreams and concerns to. It’s you I think of above any other. It’s you I want to spend my time with, unwind with and laugh with. It’s you I want a future with and I can’t imagine you not being in it.

You are the one thing I can count on to be real, especially on my bad days where I don’t know which way to turn. I don’t think you realise that you are with me even when you’re not. You’re never far from my thoughts and in my heart always. You’re in everything I do, and I love that. You are a part of me.

I often wonder if everyone has a soulmate, even if they never meet and I couldn’t imagine anything more sorrowful than there being someone out there who makes you whole, yet never knowing of their existence. You are mine and I am so grateful.

I’m so sorry for everything I put you through. But I hope you see that it’s not really me, it’s the anxiety and one day I hope to be free and you can be carefree once more.

I feel like we weather the storms but come out stronger each time, able to battle whatever life throws at us. Together. I hope you believe that too.

I love you so much.

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How I unwind

I feel like a bit of a fraud writing this as I don’t allow myself ‘me time’ anywhere near often enough, but after chatting to my hubby recently where he pointed out that I don’t prioritise myself in my day to day schedule, and I absolutely should for my own well-being.

How right he is and so I decided that it was time to make time for myself. Even if it’s 10 minutes here and there. It’s just so tempting to try and cram everything I need to get done into the few child-free hours I have on a school day.

I came to realise that actually, I should be scheduling my ‘me time’ into those child-free hours instead of trying claw extra time at the end of the day when all I want to do is sleep but can’t.

So here are some things that I do that helps me to unwind or try and forget about the day’s stresses.

Music

I have music on in the background most of the time as I feel better with background noise (plus I can’t hear noise from outside, which believe me, is a blessing) I wrote a post about music as therapy, previously.

Hot bath

Yes, boring but it’s unusual for me to have a looooong soak without someone hammering on the door needing to poop or needing mummy to catch the spider/ check for monsters/ break up world war three that started over who wanted which quilt. Bath oils/ Lush products and candles preferred but not essential; silence is usually sufficient! 😉

Go for a walk or run

Plantar fasciitis allowing, I love running. Although I’m usually limited to a treadmill these days, it sure just helps to burn off excess energy/negativity.

I love going for long walks whatever the weather. Autumn is my absolute favourite time to be. Outdoors. The crisp leaves, the birds, atmosphere and a perfect temperature; chilly but not cold. The kids love being outdoors too, so everyone’s a winner.

Laptop Time

I have not been very well recently, so I can’t lay all the blame on having a family or piss-poor planning, HOWEVER, I worked out that up until approximately 10 days ago, I hadn’t used the laptop/PC in over 4 months!! 4 months!!! How ridiculous is that?! What on Earth was I thinking? It’s not even like my house suddenly became a pristine show home so what the f*ck was I doing with my life? Oh yeah… existing 🙁 I use my phone. Everyday. It’s like it’s been surgically attached to my hand but it’s not quite the same as curling up all cosy with the laptop and a never-ending supply of hot drinks.

Bullet Journaling

I am completely freaking rubbish at this but I love it! I’ve always wanted to be an illustrator and I’ve been a doodler since I could hold a pencil so ‘permission’ to fanny about with fine liners and markers in the name of ‘organisation’ gets my vote! 😉 Joking aside though, the art of bullet journaling is pure genius so if you want to get all your stuff in one place whilst becoming super organised, productive and creative, then give it a go.

Blogging

Sometimes and then not really at times because myself and blogging have a love/hate relationship depending on my current state of mind. But when I’m in a mood like I am tonight, I could write for hours and hours (and I have done just that tonight). Other times I can’t bring myself to even log in, but I’ve learned that that’s absolutely okay.

Watch a movie 

Again it depends on my mood but I love watching movies of all genres. I’m a huge horror fan but I equally enjoy comedies, love stories, action movies, sci-fi, family films…. you name it.

Catching up with TV

I am a soap junkie; my guilty pleasure. I have an eclectic taste in most things and TV is no exception. I love period dramas like Victoria, Real life/reality shows, comedy shows and I am a big fan of The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Lucifer, House – to name a few.

I also love to watch hospital shows, real life or not… I just love them. I didn’t care that One Born might scare the shit out of me when I was 8 months pregnant, I just had to watch. I also like parenting/lifestyle shows like Supernanny, the 3 day Nanny, obsessive-compulsive cleaners – probably because I’m so bloody nosy!

If anyone has recommendations for new things to watch please let me know!

YouTube

Similarly to TV, I subscribe to hundreds of channels covering all sorts. Beauty, parenting, food, tech, people who make me smile, weep or laugh….you name it. I’ll write a post on my favourite YouTubers as there are soooo many that I love to watch.

Snuggle up with my hubby and or children

I have come to realise that there is absolutely no shame in bundling into the ‘big bed’ in the middle of the afternoon for a nap or to lay together watching movies. In actual fact, I think it’s an occasional necessity.

How do you unwind?

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