The end….and the beginning

So I started this blog 4 months ago and this will be my 24th publication. I began writing as a form of therapy to help release some of the shit I was struggling to deal with, and publishing these thoughts turned into a different type of therapy in itself.

I’ve not only discovered so much about myself along this journey, but so much about those in my life and also total strangers that have reached out who have been touched by my words. It’s been such an eye-opening and utterly amazing experience that I will look back on and remember for the rest of my life.

I’m honored and also shocked to say that out of the thousands of comments I have received, not one has been negative in any way. My biggest fear in releasing such personal information and admitting to my deepest struggles, is that I would receive negative feedback from trolls and or people who just didn’t have anything better to do than to try and tear someone down in their moments of need.

Every comment has been filled with encouragement, support and an outpouring of love. I’m still blown away by the kind and heartfelt words people have taken the time to send me. I’m still speechless by the stories that people have shared with me about their struggles and how my words gave them the courage to step up and make changes for themselves and to face their fears.

I can’t begin to describe how much this means to me. I’ve been through the worst 2 years of my life and faced things I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I’ve allowed myself to be raw, vulnerable, brutally honest and sometimes pretty blunt. I sometimes felt so alone and lost that I thought I’d never make it out the other side.

But I did make it. And to the thousands of people that have come along this journey with me and left words of support, I could never find the words to thank you or to show just how much I’ve been touched by you. I sit here racking my brain for a way to describe it, but nothing works. No words seem good enough. All I can say, is from the bottom of my heart I thank you and I will never forget your kindness.

I’ve written in past blogs that as I go through this journey, I find old ways of getting me through are no longer working for me and I have to rediscover something different. This is one of these moments. And unfortunately, writing these blogs just aren’t giving me therapy they used to. I’m struggling to find the words that used to come freely. I’m finding that due to the enormous changes I’ve made and the new techniques I’ve found to deal with my emotions, I no longer need to write so much down. I have found a way to deal with these things in a much healthier way so that they don’t get on top of me to the point in which I need to write to release all the emotions that come with the struggles.

I’m by no means at the end of my journey or self-discovery. But I have reached a point in which I feel comfortable tackling things before I get so overwhelmed like I used to. I still have little relapses where I fall into negative thinking patterns or get overwhelmed by the smaller things in life that shouldn’t bother me so much; but the difference now is that rather than falling into a rut of being anxious and over emotional for weeks, I can now face the issues that triggered me and lift myself up within hours or a day at the most.

I can take a step back and recognise why I’m reacting a certain way to something that triggered me. I can sit with the discomfort or pain and allow myself to feel it so I can then move forward and heal from it, rather than fighting it and then having it completely take me over.

This shows just how much growth I’ve made over this journey and all I can do is sit here and smile (with tears in my eyes). I look back at the broken form that I was when I started this and I just want to hug her for being so brave in finally facing her demons. For finally stepping up and asking for help. For finally having the courage to take her power back from the abuse she went through 25 years ago. For finally admitting she wasn’t living life on her terms, but was living to please others.

I will never forget my struggles or the journey I’ve been on, but my focus now is solely on looking forward, not backward. The hardest part to begin with was that I had to look so far back to face the trauma’s that had affected me, in order to deal with them and heal from them. Now the hardest part is trusting in myself and knowing that I have done the hard work properly this time, rather than skipping through it and getting hit with it all over again in a few years time. Deep down I know I have and I tell myself this whenever the fear sets in.

So moving forward to the next stage in my life is all about helping others to get through their journey’s. Having so many people reach out to me and share their pain and difficulties and confide in me that my words helped them, was so humbling. It made me feel like I was finally making a difference in the world, one tiny step at a time. I want to do more of this. I’m not sure what that looks like at the moment or how I’m going to make it happen, but I know that I feel a stirring in my gut to make a difference and I’ll do whatever I need to in order to do it.

I know I’ll probably still feel the need to release emotional baggage from time to time so I will occasionally add to this blog. I just won’t be doing it on a regular basis anymore.

I’m also turning my words into a book. My goal is to delve deeper into these blogs and really discover the fundamentals of what caused me to end up the way I was. And to also share on a deeper level, the techniques I used to get through and pull myself out of hitting rockbottom.

Once again I can’t thank you all enough for the support and love you have shown me. I can’t wait to share my book with you!

For those that have reached out to me to share your stories or for guidance, please don’t hesitate to continue doing so. I’m always available to chat and I’m great at listening.

And as this part of my journey comes to an end, the beginning of another is just getting started and I’m so excited to see where it takes me.

So much love to you all xoxo

Conquering my mountain

After 8 long and tortuous months of what felt like hell every day, I feel like I’ve finally gone through the worst of it. Finally reached the summit of the mountain I’ve been climbing on this journey.

I was broken as a human being. An empty shell. I was shattered to my core and I honestly spent a long time thinking rock bottom was where my life was going to be from that point onwards.

So many people told me it would get easier. That things would finally get better. But I didn’t believe them for a second. Things just always seemed to get worse. Every day was a battle in which I kept getting hit from every direction. It was relentless.

When everything you’ve ever wanted in life gets taken away from you, it destroys your soul. Your purpose for getting up each day and even managing the basic tasks in life seem too much and are overwhelming.

I truly felt that this feeling of hopeless and despair would never leave me.

But slowly and surely, it has. Step by step I’ve bought the light back into my life. I’ve built myself back up from the roots of my core to find a whole new person that has been hiding my entire life.

I’ve discovered me. The real me. Not the front that I’ve always put on. Not the image of who I thought I was expected to be. My masks are gone. My walls are down.

It wasn’t until I walked back into my new/old job a few weeks ago, that I realised just how much I have actually changed. I worked there about 18 months ago when the beginning of this downhill slide of my life started, and walking back in was pretty confronting.

I was terrified of slipping back into the same old patterns I had when I was there last. Of hiding who I was. Of having my defensive walls set firmly in place and not allowing many people to get close to me.

I’ve been walking around thinking how different everyone is this time. Everyone seems more open and friendly.

The harsh truth that I had to face. Was that no one there has changed. They’ve always been open and friendly. It was me that was different. I’ve changed.

I used to walk around with this massive defensive wall up. I was so full of shame and my confidence was so low, that I would walk around with my head down, not wanting to make eye contact with anyone. My life was falling apart so I didn’t want to talk about it with anyone. I didn’t want to share any of the shitty things I was going through. I was hurting inside. I was breaking. I was fucking angry to be honest.

I’m ashamed to think of the person I used to be. Work colleagues would try to interact with me and I’d give nothing in return. They probably had the impression I was a grumpy bitch. And I guess I kinda was back then. I’ve been trying to not think about how I was back then as it’s embarrassing. But I know there will come a time when I have to own it and accept it for what it was. A coping mechanism.

It was all I could do to get through each day. I was fighting an internal battle that I was loosing control of. I could barely function enough to get through the basics. So when it came to trying to build new relationships in a work environment that I was new to, it was just too much.

I walk into work now and I love it. The work is still the same, but I’m getting to know some amazing people who were always there. I just wouldn’t let them in. It feels like a brand new job. Brand new people. But in reality nothing has changed a bit. Except me.

I’m finding this in so many aspects of my life these days. Because I carry myself differently, I actually walk around with my head up instead of pretending to be looking at something interesting on the ground; I’m finding that I have so many different experiences. I actually interact with people. I don’t hide from small talk. I don’t run away from new experiences.

When I stand back and look at this mountain I’ve climbed, I can’t be anything but proud. I’ve gone from despair and hopelessness, to now feeling nothing but hope and excitement for what the future holds. I feel like I have the strength to stare life in the eyes and say “What’s next bitch?” Because I know that whatever is thrown at me from now on, I can face it head on and tackle it with confidence.

I’ve been through the worst and finally hit the summit of the mountain, and now I get to reap the rewards and experience the absolute joys in life. I now get to see it from a fresh pair of eyes and thrive in this brand new world that I have built from the ground up. Just like climbing an actual mountain, the views up here are endless and the path I take from here is mine to choose.

My vulnerability is no longer my weakness.

Brene Brown is my new hero!! Her talks and books on vulnerability are brilliant. She is hilarious, blunt and at times it feels like she is reading my mind. Everything she said resonated with me so deeply.

There is a passage in one of her books where she talks about when she was on stage and asked the crowd, “How many people struggle with vulnerability because they see it as a weakness?” Of course most of the crowd raised their hands.

Then she asks “When you see people on stage how many people thought they were being courageous?” Again the crowd raises their hands.

I don’t know about you but standing in front of a crowd would have to be one of the most vulnerable positions you could put yourself in. I’m pretty sure 99% of society would all say the same. And we all see that as being so courageous, yet still see vulnerability as a weakness.

It blows my mind!!

How is it that we can admire these people for their bravery in leaving themselves completely vulnerable, yet when someone opens up about mental health struggles, or opens up about having feelings for someone or wears their heart on their sleeves and shows emotions; people look at them as if they are weak.

In all of these examples, people leave themselves completely vulnerable. Open to rejection and criticism. Yet one side is admired and the other side is judged so harshly.

I’ve felt both sides during my journey and after hearing that example from Brene, it’s made me realise that all this vulnerability I’m showing is not a weakness at all. I see it now as pure bravery and strength.

On one side I’ve received so many messages of support and admiration, not only by friends and family, but total strangers. I have been told how brave and courageous and strong I am to be able to open up and be so raw and honest with my struggles and trauma.

And I’ve also seen the other side where I’ve showed emotion and cried in front of people, and they’ve seen it as a sign of weakness. Criticised me for not being strong enough to hold on and cry when no one is around.

This makes no sense to me. How is it that I’m brave for writing about crying, yet when people see me cry, I’m viewed as weak??

Another quote from her book “Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness, will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

This resonates big time with me. The last 6 months of my journey has completely revolved around exploring my darkness. I’ve dug deep and gone to places I didn’t want to. The deepest darkest places I could find.

And while discovering this darkness, it really has illuminated the power of the light within me. As I’ve healed my darkness and allowed the light to shine through, it’s opened my eyes to a whole new world out there. A whole new me that I didn’t know was inside of me.

See I’ve always put myself into a category that made me feel weak and powerless. I’m one of “those” ones. The reserved, the emotional, the thinkers. One of those ones that always gets called depressed. That always gets called rude. That’s looked down upon because we get nervous in social situations.

As I empowered the light within me, I started realising that all of these traits I have, are not weaknesses. They are my strengths.

It’s a strength to be reserved. It allows me to sit back and analyse situations before jumping in head first. It allows me to watch people and their behaviours so I can determine who I feel comfortable socialising with.

It’s a strength to be in touch with my emotions. Now that I have learnt to handle the stronger emotions I feel, it gives me a sense of strength to ride these feelings and embrace them. Yes I still cry. Yes I still get upset. However I no longer allow them to completely take hold of me. And I love that I feel emotions so strongly. I’d rather love incredibly deeply than not at all.

It’s a strength to be a thinker. Now that I have found ways to stop myself over-thinking situations, I actually really enjoy my deep thoughts that I have. Especially when I’m running. I explore deep within my consciousness and discover things I never knew about myself. I analyse things I’ve heard or read and discover how I feel about them. It’s fun and exciting now rather than tiring and draining when I was over-thinking situations and conversations I’d been in.

I’m not actually depressed and I’m not actually rude. (Ok yes I can be incredibly rude sometimes when people deserve it) however I’m social situations I’m not being rude by not talking much. I get incredibly nervous in crowds and especially around people I haven’t met before. But this doesn’t make me rude. And yes I have previously suffered from depression however in the words of my Psychologist;

“You’re not currently depressed. You’ve suffered many losses in a short amount of time and you’re grieving. But you’re seeking help and making changes. You’re motivated with running and setting new goals each week. When you’re in a stage of depression you don’t take these steps.”

Just because I’m in introvert, doesn’t mean I’m depressed. Just because I don’t feel comfortable in social situations, doesn’t mean I’m depressed.

Looking back on my life I realise I’ve always been so ashamed for being “different.” I’ve spent countless years wishing I could be extroverted because I thought that was normal. Hoping that I can wake up and suddenly feel powerful in crowds, to get a rush from meeting new people and to feel on a high after being in social situations. I’ve always believed these people are stronger than me. Braver than me. Better than me.

But now that I’ve released this light inside of me, I realise that they aren’t stronger or braver or better than me. They are just different to me and that’s ok.

I now love the qualities that I have. In my previous blogs I’ve discussed this and stated I now accept who I am. Which was a huge step. Now I feel like I’m starting to embrace my qualities. Starting to love them and be excited by them.

I’m seeing my own vulnerabilities as strengths rather than weaknesses and it’s a powerful feeling.

Having the ability to be vulnerable is risky, scary and fucking hard. But it really is the only way to achieve anything and to move forward in life. It’s such a courageous thing to do and the feeling of empowerment you receive during the process is like having the brightest light shining from within you.

It’s a beautiful and brave thing to experience and I wouldn’t give that up for anything.

Out of the darkness and into the light

Since opening up about the difficulties I’ve faced, I’ve had so many people ask me how I do it. How do I get through the grief of losing 3 babies? How do I get through the heartbreak of having my partner walk out on me through that stage of our lives? How do I get through each day fighting to see my daughter? How do I find the motivation to keep training and focused on my goals? How do I keep moving forward when finally facing the trauma’s I went through as a child? And how am I doing this all at once?

 

I’ve been pretty flippant about it all and I guess haven’t really thought about it much. Doing my usual “oh it’s not that hard, anyone could do it.” Trying to downplay the struggles that I’ve faced and fought through, instead of being proud of getting through another day without giving up. I recently said this to a friend and she replied very despondently “I can’t even seem to get through minor things, I wish I had your strength.” 

 

It hit me that by downplaying how I’ve dealt with things, was making someone I care about, doubt herself. And that made me feel like shit. I started this blog and decided to share my journey, to help and inspire others, not to make them feel crappy. 

 

So I want to say here and now, it has been incredibly tough. Every step of this journey has been a struggle and I’m definitely not anywhere near the end of my journey. It’s been the longest 8 months of my life and I have come through so much, but there are still parts of my life that are a total mess. I still have days where I cry numerous times and feel like giving up. I just don’t have them as frequently anymore. But they still definitely happen. 

And most days I put on a brave face and hide the struggles because I feel like such a burden on people in my life. I accept I’m difficult to be around right now. That’s just part of my journey. Opening up old wounds and facing my fears makes me even more irritable and frustrated than normal. I’m changing and it’s hard for people to get used to. But I don’t like the old me so I focus on pushing forward.

 

It’s really hard to explain how I have tackled each step but I really want to share the things that have helped me, and also the many things I’ve tried that have pushed me back a step. 

 

I think the main thing I needed to do was accept each step of the way for what it was, a step that I tried to take. Sometimes the step took me forward, sometimes it took me backwards. And to start it was really difficult to accept that I had gone backwards, but I found it really helpful to focus on the fact that I had tried to go forward. Because making an effort, is always a better result than not trying at all. 

Again, I didn’t succeed at accepting this every time. Sometimes a step back would send me into feeling like a failure and I’d end up taking even more steps back. But most of the time I could accept what had happened and allow myself to feel sad for a few minutes and then move forward and try again. And it is getting easier with time. 

 

It really has been about forming new habits. I always have beaten myself up whenever I perceive myself as failing. And I needed to form a new habit of not doing this anymore. Which, like in attempting to form any new habit, it’s difficult and seems impossible to start, but gets easier with time and the more you practise it. 

Another thing that has helped me form these habits, is relating my coping techniques to my physical training. I know in depth how my body works and what I need to do to make it stronger and faster and fitter. I applied these practises, and this belief, to coping with grief and anxiety and it made me see it in a whole new light. To get fitter, faster and stronger. You practise. You train. You fuel your body to perform at its best. You set goals.

 

In applying this to my mental health, I practised acceptance. I trained in not beating myself up over every step back. I fuelled my mind by starting self-care every day. My brain became stronger, my coping techniques became faster. I set goals each time I faced another difficult situation, to handle it a little better than last time. 

 

Even in doing these new practices, I faced setbacks and I tried things that didn’t work. I started off doing meditation each day and to start with I loved it. I couldn’t get enough of the feeling I got from it. I felt grounded and full of energy and also more peaceful. Over time though these feelings lessened and I realised I wasn’t finding it as useful. I just wasn’t feeling the same benefits anymore. 

 

When I realised this, instead of getting disappointed like I normally would. I accepted that it helped me through some really difficult times and that I could find another method of reducing my anxiety. I related it again to my physical training, if a certain type of workout isn’t giving you the results you were after, you try something new. 

 

What I tried next and what is currently working for me is listening to a guided sleep mediation with positive affirmations. Not only is it helping me sleep better but I’ve noticed I wake up feeling fresher and more positive. 

Other things I tried that didn’t work for me at that particular time, was repeating positive mantras, looking in the mirror and saying affirmations and countless other ways that I looked up on Google. These techniques didn’t work for me, however I’m happy to try again when the time is right.

My secret, if you could call it that, is beginning to take the time for self care. I’ve always shied away from this thinking I don’t have time for bubble baths or relaxing massages etc. But what I realised is that it doesn’t have to be a huge task or a special event. Self care can and should be done every day and looked at as necessary, not as a treat.

Self care for me, is taking even just 5 minutes to sit and look at the ocean, or to have a cup of tea and focus on taking deep breaths. It’s about being “selfish” and giving yourself a few minutes a day that are all yours and you focus on nothing but yourself and grounding your energy.

Again this was a difficult task to start with as I felt like I was wasting time and had to keep rushing to get things done. But the more I practised it and started to stop and relax, I really started to enjoy it and look forward to my time. Some days I might only be able to spare 5 minutes, but I make every minute count and make sure I focus 100% on myself.

I also love audiobooks at the moment. I set myself a goal to read a book per week this year and was struggling with hitting my goal due to time constraints. So I started listening to them while I run and when driving. Even when I’m just cooking or washing up. My favourites so far are Normal Gets you Nowhere – Kelly Cutrone. The Operator – Robert O’Neil. Girl, wash your face – Rachel Hollis. And Get your Shit together – Sarah Knight.

Very different books but with the same no-excuses approach to putting on your big girl pants and stepping up to face your fears and stopping self doubt. I loved them and definitely recommend getting them.

All of these things put together have helped me take tiny steps forward in reaching my goals. Some days I’ve barely moved an inch, others I’ve gone backwards and some I haven’t moved. But the main thing is that when I look back and average it out, I’ve taken more steps forward. And the most important thing, is that I keep trying. I refuse to give in.

 

Making changes is so hard but I just keep leaning into the difficult times and tell myself that it’s short term discomfort for long term gain. Every time I‘ve moved forward in my journey, the joy I get out of it far outweighs the sadness and frustration over the set backs.

I feel like I still have so far to go. But I’m starting to also recognise how far I’ve already come. And I’m starting to get so much joy out of this journey rather than it feeling like a weight on my shoulders.

Finally, after living in so much darkness and self hate, I’m starting to see a tunnel of light. Finally feeling hope for my future. Finally starting to see my strength. Finally accepting that I am becoming the person I always wanted to be.

I hope some of these ideas resonate with you and can help on your journeys. Please don’t get despondent if one doesn’t work for you. Just keep trying. Remember that your journey isn’t a solid object, it will move and change with you as needed. Keep taking those tiny steps. You’re stronger and braver than you think you are.