My advice? Get the help you deserve.
I have spent a lot of time in a purgatory somewhere between anxiety, low mood and sleepwalking through my life.
This year finally pushed me to breaking point. It finally made me realise that I couldn’t let my fears control me anymore. That I had to face some uncomfortable truths and do the only work I was not willing to do. To learn to stop hating myself.
I had pushed my body, my mind and my soul to the point of burn out. What’s the next thing? How do I be better? How do I achieve more? How do I get the perfect body?
These were my values even up to a few months ago. And it seeped into my relationships too. I became obsessed with what I ate, how much I exercised and body checks. I tried to hate my body into changing and expected to be happy as a result. I neglected the people who were there for me and kept running to the next thing.
The healing process is rough. I’m not going to lie. I still slip up… A LOT.
A turning point for me in my healing has been accepting help. I mean really taking on advice and realising that I am not super human. Everyone faces suffering, and everything is relative.
So doing life alone- no matter how introverted you are, no matter how independent or strong you are is just not an option. This is not a one woman show. Your vulnerabilities make you lovable. Make you human.
Another major lesson that took me the longest time to accept was that this isn’t just a quick fix. This isn’t another thing to perfect. Or something on my to do list. Or something that I can use to gain peoples respect and acceptance. This simply is not a means to an end.
Healing requires showing up every day and living by your values.
This does not mean you have to overexert yourself or overfill your days.
I find that writing out my top 3 values on a white board or piece of paper helps me to visualise and organise my days better.
- Self-care- This includes my body mind and soul. So including hobbies, exercise and relaxation are really important for me to incorporate into my weeks in order to avoid burnout.
- Family + Friends- This one can be tricky to balance!! I found saying no really hard and was such a people pleaser- I still fall into this trap at times which is why having my values listed out helps me to come back to them with compassion and with no judgement.
With this I aim to put in energy to the people who put energy into me. People who are with me through thick and thin are the people I try to give most of my energy back to. This helps me when I am feeling down and tempted to isolate myself and push people away. I remember all the energy people have put into being there for me. All of the people who continue to show up for me.
There are friends that I text regularly and occasionally but still value them so much. I have learned that accepting that friendships vary and do not have to be ranked, compared or all the same allows for more peaceful relationships and I do not expect too much of them.
- Sharing/ Working/ Connecting- This includes writing, making a living, connecting and taking part in society with everybody else.
These values can be changed or updated whenever it feels right and only serve to help you have more organisation and peace of mind in your days. They are not rules and you do not have to honour them if it doesn’t feel right.
I do not stick to them every day but I try my best. Leave space for mistakes and errors. Nobody is perfect. And that is what makes life interesting and beautiful.
I just find that I have a lot less anxiety when I balance my needs and responsibilities in a healthy manageable way.
They also help with planning. If I have a long list of things to do on a particular day I can categorize my activities and I usually chose just 3 things- 1 from each category to do every day. This helps me to still respect my values while not burning out.
This also satisfies my need for achievement because even on my bad days I can look at my little wins.
For instance if what I can manage one day is to chat to my mom. This serves as self-care, family time and connection. Thus making this day as valid as any other day even if I achieve or do a lot more.
Two more things that help me are gratitude and ‘little wins’.
A treasured friend of mine got me a whiteboard and I adore it. I aim to write on it daily with just three things I am thankful for and three little wins. Even if I am too tired to do it or not in the mood, I just say them in my head and it helps to bring me a slight change in perspective.
Even the days you are really struggling and hopeless, I think this can give you space even for a moment- to see the hope beyond your sadness, depression or mental rumination. Even if some days all you can be thankful for is shelter, food, water or your breath.
Once you start you will find other things in your day that you didn’t even remember happening.
This could be the kindness of a stranger, a nice meal, a nice customer, a good conversation, laughter, a TV programme, an Instagram post, or even just having this time to be grateful. It sprouts optimism and helps you to identify the little things that bring so much value and meaning to your life.
Gratitude has especially helped me with unhealthy, restrictive eating patterns. To day by day moment by moment chose to be grateful for my body rather than hating it. Rather than wishing it to be like anybody else’s or to reach societies impossible standards. This is an ongoing journey and I still feel negative emotions, I just don’t try to get rid of them as much anymore.
I know that this time of year is so so difficult and you are more than likely being bombarded with plans for exercise, self-development, and weight-loss.
But I find that if you struggle with perfectionism, procrastination, over-exerting yourself to reach impossible standards, self-care can become another achievement to excel at.
Love yourself and let yourself heal in whatever way suits you. This is just something that is helping me so I wanted to share it. Please don’t put pressure on yourself. This is not scientifically proven and is not written by a healthcare professional.
Just a girl who has read a lot of books.