Sometimes I often think to myself, before writing one of these picture-less posts “Does anyone really care about my mental health ramblings or are they just here for the lipstick recommendations?” Truth is, I’m not sure, but I think we’ll find out after this post.
I feel like it can always be difficult when talking about mental health/ recovery on a platform of this kind, or any social media platform for that matter. I feel the subject should be approached with great awareness and with the understanding that not a single experience between two sufferers is ever identical, but more than anything approaching it always with huge amounts of respect- even if we’re unable to fully coprehend someone else’s struggle. In this post I want to talk a little bit about how my life has changed since, through challenging my own negative thoughts and behavioural cycles- I’ve been able to start 2019 off with a much more positive perspective.
It’s true that, with the support of a therapist intent on understanding my world, along with this new motivation I have discovered in recent times, I have learnt both the beauty and the importance of saying “Yes” and “No” where applicable. Let’s paint a picture; my old world was grey and lifeless- a long period time where I would be physically unable to leave the house for months, and weeks on end, totally isolated- crippled by both the anxiety and the depression- a painfully lonely world. In this grey-scale existance I would say “Yes” and “No” to all the wrong things, but at the time I unfortunately valued my life minimally and therefore made detrimental decisions as an act of self-sabotage- let me explain… I knew I would feel worse if I stayed home and skipped college but because I was in such a dark place I neither cared nor knew differently. Over a period of 8 years, these daily decision-making “Yes” and “No’ habits would eventually send me further into my negative behaviour patterns which would often lead to total catastrophical thought processes. Before I knew it I’d find myself feeling as though I was buried under a beach of sand with only my nostrils poking out for air. It was a feeling of total surrender, self-abdication and loss of control- my illness had a total grasp on me. I felt that way for the best part of 8 years, I still do sometimes. Let’s also be real; of course I have days where I feel overwhelmed, beyond help, too anxious to leave the house, even still- I think this is quite normal- I’m a human, but where I would once surrender on my knees in the face of challenge, I now make, what I hope are, more conscious “Yes” and “No” choices, where I consider my progress and happiness first. I wish I had started challenging my negative thoughts and altering my decision making sooner, because the bad news is: it’s not easy to break a habit of 8 years, but my lovely friends, the good news is: it is absolutely possible.
It’s knowing that we deserve better. It’s knowing that we can make it better.
I was inspired to write this article after reading a post by The Blunt Fringe, where she spoke of her struggles in such an open, honest yet totally wonderful and relatable way, this, along with the fact that in recent weeks I’ve noticed huge positive change affected by my “Yes” and “No” decisions. Today I booked in at a new nail salon- the old me would have cancelled the appointment and then hated myself for doing so, because the thought of the entire experience would have completely overwhelmed me but today I made the decision that if I do in fact wish to improve my life and live in a more independent and fulfilled way, then I must start saying “YES!” to the things that I would have once mumbled “No…” to in the past. Yes, I had my nails done and I’m happy with the outcome- a rare occurrence for a total perfectionist- and I am so happy that I did.
I’ve also been working alongside GymShark to create several posts for their ‘Veganuary’ series- an opportunity that I would have passed up in my old world, but being present and focused in this new world, I am aware that I must absolutely take such opportunities by the balls if I’m intent on succeeding with a blogging/ writing career. I’m making decisions that the future Ev will thank me for. It’s true that I actually considered the decision for a few days because I was terrified, had never written for anyone else before and was absolutely certain that my work wasn’t good enough, but I quickly expelled those thoughts and got to work to the first post. I’ve now created two and am in the research process of the third- challenging myself mentally in ways I never thought possible. Saying “Yes” to the right things has benefitted my recovery in incredible ways.
As much as Ive started saying “Yes” I’ve also started saying “No.” “Hell no!” to un-helpful environments, toxic people, damaging relationships, detrimental behaviour patterns and negative thought processes-on my own behalf, and it feels bloody great. I’ve started standing up for myself and speaking up when something isn’t right, rather than keeping things to myself because I’m terrified of ever offending anyone and as a result risking them feeling as worthless as I have- but I’ve realised that it is possible to be sincere and truthful WHILST remaining tactful and kind. I still find it hard to speak up and I haven’t mastered it fully but as an example; where I would once have agreed to work extra hours at the cost of my own mental health, I now choose not to, because I’ve finally realised that my sanity and well-ness is more important than any £30, well, actually it’s more valuable than ANY amount of money for that matter. Saying “No” to people is probably the hardest habit to re-learn as a people-pleaser, but it’s one that has given me a real sense of agency.
I now find my power within all those little everyday decisions, which cumulatively compile resulting in me- as the agent of my own life, rather than me- governed by life and my conditions. I’m not suggesting that I’ve totally hacked this system perfectly but it’s a little tip that I can put out into the world to give all those other sad, anxious, depressed, introverted, loud-but-suffering-inside, happy-but-could-be-happier, people-pleasing people and everyone in between. I think naturally as humans we all tend to want to help others and/ or are afraid to fail others, or we’re simply afraid full stop and as a result our own needs take a back seat.
2019 is the year to ask yourself “What do I need?” and adjust your choices, decisions “Yes’s” and “No’s” accordingly- this in itself is one of life’s most important acts of self care. It is possible to re-gain a power once lost.