Reasons to be cheerful/ grateful/ positive

So my anxiety has sucker punched me in the gut today….its been a while. I know it will pass, so to distract myself I’m going to think about all the positive things in my life. Here goes:

1. My family. My family are the best. They know me better than I know myself and ALWAYS have my back. They are supportive and wise. I am so lucky to still have both of my parents. They are my go to people. They always give me wise counsel.

2. My boyfriend. I am so lucky and thankful that he is in my life. I’ve been happier these last eight months despite everything and that’s all down to him. He really understands me and knows how I’m feeling instinctively. He is also a huge support.

3. My friends. I have the most fantastic loyal and supportive friends. We may not live close to each other and we’re at different phases on our lives but I consider myself incredibly lucky that I can call, text or message my friends for a chat/ support/ honesty/ a good laugh and to take the piss out of me depending what I need at the time or they need from me.

4. My cat. He makes me laugh, is my shadow and looks at me sometimes like I’m bananas but I love him and would not be without him. Its been good for me to have him to look after and he takes care of me too. He’s my boy and I’m his human.

5. This blog. Blogging has really helped me. I’m still very new to it but I enjoy it. It’s a welcome distraction. I’ve always loved writing and have kept a journal for years. Sassy has given me an alter ego to express my thoughts without feeling exposed. It’s also been a great outlet for me to channel my thoughts on life, my mental health and anything else that comes to my mind.

6. Autumn. My favourite season of the year. Much as I love summer and the sunshine, by far and away my favourite time of year is autumn. Being able to wrap up in cosy jumpers, cuddle up under a blanket watching movies, light my autumnal candles (Yankee Candle scents Golden Chestnut, Spiced Orange and Soft Blanket are my current favourites.) I’m an Autumn baby so its in my nature. I just love being cosy!

7. Walking through crunchy leaves on a crisp day. Very much linked to my love of autumn. Pulling on a pair of boots, scarf and heading out for a walk is one of my favourite things to be able to do. I love the crunchy sound and all the colours of the season. All while getting fresh air, stretching my legs and clearing my head.

8. Cooking/ baking. I love getting into the kitchen and cooking or baking. I love making old favourites, batch cooking or baking scones, banana bread, muffins…whatever the mood takes me. I find it very therapeutic. This is definitely soup weather and I love it! Time to get my cook on!!

9. Being independent. I’m lucky that I’m very comfortable in my own company. I’m also well able to give new things a go. Whether that is building a flat pack bookcase, varnishing a pine blanket box or changing a light bulb. I’ll get on with it. I love the sense of satisfaction achieved when I succeed or accomplish a task. This sister is doing it for herself!

What DO I want to be when I grow up?

I’m starting to think that I’ve been settling. I’ve been off work for several months now, I’ve always said that I love my job and I don’t want to leave. I was asked how I feel about having been off and my honest reply was that I miss the people but not the work.

I’ve also come to realise that I’ve defined myself by my job. I’ve let it become who I am rather than the job I do. That’s not healthy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked hard to get where I am. I’m good at what I do and I have more years of experience than I care to admit, but maybe I need a change.

Herein lies my question and if I’m honest, my difficulty. I know what I’d love to do – become a sommelier. My difficulty is that it is a complete change and it is scary. I had a light bulb moment when reading Laura Clery’s brilliant book IDIOT. (I read it in one sitting, I just could not put it down. I definitely recommend it. So does Dawn O’Porter, if my recommendation isn’t enough.) I realised that I too make decisions based on fear. Fear of failure, fear of change, fear of taking a risk, fear of not knowing what will happen, fear of not being able to pay the bills. I could go on but you get my point.

I wasn’t always scared. Even if I was, I didn’t let it stop me. I’ve upped sticks and moved to a different country. I’ve moved to completely new places where I knew nobody and I’ve succeeded. I’ve even ended a long term relationship when I knew it wasn’t right for either of us. I’ve also taken some risks (I think that was more about my mental health signaling that I wasn’t well rather than a calculated risk though.) I’ve made those brave decisions in the past, so what is stopping me now?

I’ve exhausted my full sick pay entitlement and I’m managing. I do have the security of a permanent position and am very broody. (I’m very aware of my age when it comes to my desire to be a mother. I’ll be classed as a geriatric mother, which just sounds unbelievably awful.) I think it boils down to confidence. I am far from the most confident person but following my dream gave me the courage to do whatever it took. Move to a different city, not a bother. Need to drive for work, drop me off a hire car and I’ll drive there. (Back in the days when I hated driving and had no car.) I can’t quite figure out at what point I stopped dreaming.

There’s no doubt that my recent physical and mental health difficulties compounded by my work issues have knocked my confidence. Truth be told, it was on the floor. I had none. I was convinced that I was a failure. I’m not fully back to myself yet but I’m getting my confidence back. A wise woman once told me that “energy follows thought” and my friend is a big advocate of having a vision board so maybe it’s time I start to create my vision board, think those positive thoughts, create that positive energy…and start dreaming again.

Sassy 1 – 0 Anxiety

Its been quite a journey over the last few months, not always an easy one as I’ve battled my anxiety. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve always been a worrier and been anxious at different times of stress, e.g. exams, waiting for results but never to the extent that it has seriously impacted my ability to get on with my day to day life. That changed when things came to a head in April.

Now it’s September and I’m actually feeling like me again. That’s not to say that I’m not anxious, there are still some unresolved work issues that need to be tackled but I feel like I can cope with resolving them. Don’t get me wrong, I am still taking medication and will be for a while yet. (While I am feeling more like me, I’m not ready to give up my safety net just yet.)

I have also gained huge awareness of my mental health. Truth be told, I hadn’t realised just how unwell I actually was. I just kept on going and wondered why I wasn’t getting anywhere and why I was constantly chasing my tail? I was exhausted, not sleeping properly and it took all of my energy to get up and get through the day. The really scary thing is, if my physical health hadn’t declined I would have kept on going and ended up in an even bigger mess. It almost doesn’t bear thinking about.

I now know just how critical it is to listen to my body and really take care of myself. Nothing is worth risking my mental and physical health for. I am also incredibly lucky to have a supportive partner, family and friends as well as a GP that I can open up to and know that they will help and support me. I know that sadly this is not the case for everyone, GP’s are overstretched and don’t always have time to spend with their patients.

When I look back to Christmas 2018 that I spent with my family, I barely recognise myself. I was anxious about the smallest of things and kept my feelings to myself. I doubted myself. I felt stupid and like a failure. I felt like I let my family down. I did have an inkling that I wasn’t right but didn’t act upon it. I had recently had the dosage of my anti-depressant increased and figured that once it kicked in, I’d be fine! Now I see that there should have been major alarm bells ringing that all was not well. Hindsight really is a marvellous thing.

I can’t go back and change the past, I don’t have a time machine. I can definitely learn from it though. I feel I really have. I will do my damndest to ensure that I never go back to that dark place again. Nor will I ever let anyone take my power from me or allow them to make me feel that way. I am annoyed that it wasn’t picked up on, but that’s another issue and not one I have control of. I can however, control my actions and behaviour. I am only responsible for me and my choices.

I am proud of the choices that I have made and am continuing to make to get and stay healthy – both physically and mentally. I’m on a positive path and well on the way to getting my sass back. Long may it last. Look out world, Sassy is coming for you…

A work in progress

I am not perfect. I make mistakes. Sometimes I speak without thinking. Sometimes what I say comes out wrong. Sometimes I say the wrong thing. Some days I feel like I can take on the world, other days getting out of bed is a challenge. I try my best. I’m still learning.

My mental health is definitely a work in progress. I take it day by day. I’m getting better and am working hard to continue to get well. The stigma of mental health is still something I am battling. I know it is ok to not be ok, but saying that out loud to another person is something I don’t feel able to do. I don’t know why? Maybe it is because it feels like an admission of failure, like accepting that I’m not superwoman. I have long been battling against my superwoman complex….its a work in progress.

I spend my working life problem solving and helping people to solve their problems. Mental health and its impact features in my working life and I regularly encourage people to seek support from their GP’s. I have accepted that I am experiencing anxiety and take medication for this. So why don’t I say it out loud?

I am human. I have limits. I have skills and talents, strengths and weaknesses. I’m open to trying new things. I’m absent-minded and can be easily distracted. I went upstairs to get sellotape, I found it and came back downstairs where I then found myself battling with the ivy that is trying to take over my garden. It took me what felt like minutes to figure out why I was gardening and not wrapping the present I intended doing. Answer, I saw my roses needed deadheading and went from then to the ivy. I’m a daydreamer.

I’m also getting older, I got an appointment through for a cardiac assessment. It was a sobering moment. I know it’s all part of my head to toe health assessment, but it gave me a jolt nevertheless. It reminded me that life is fleeting. I’m human.

I’m perfectly imperfect and that’s okay. I’m me and there’s nobody in the world I’d rather be.

“Be excellent to each other”

As I wake to news of two shootings in the USA, one in El Paso, Texas and the other in Dayton, Ohio. I think of those whose lives have been changed irrevocably. I think of the loss and the senselessness of it. Innocent people going about their lives, enjoying a night out or shopping on a weekend. It brings me to think about division. There seems to be so much focus at the present time on difference, on separation and of negativity.

In the UK, Brexit has been the focus for the last three years. As the clock ticks down the deadline day on October 31st. As the four countries who make up the United Kingdom voted in different ways (Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain, England and Wales to leave) an undercurrent of racism, division and disenfranchisement becomes ever more apparent to me.

There have been numerous discussions about immigration and movement of EU citizens. As a Scot living in an EU country, I find it very troubling. It smacks to me of introversion and ‘British jobs for British people.’ What about inclusion? What about travel broadening the mind? What about seeing ourselves as citizens of the world and welcoming those who chose to make the UK their home as I have in the EU? What about all of the benefits that immigration has brought?

I also find parallels with the US, the President’s desire to build a wall to keep immigrants out and negative focus on immigration. Seeing immigrants in very negative terms. To me, all this negativity and hatred cannot possibly end well.

Surely we should be looking for commonalities? Finding what connects us? Working together to eradicate disease, poverty, homelessness. Working to have a more connected world, recognising and harnessing skills and talents from across the globe. Working to end inequalities. Why see difference as something sinister to be feared? Why not embrace it?

In these worrying times, I find myself thinking more and more of this message from the film Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and how much better the world would be of we abided by it. So, I am going to try in my life more and more to do this and would hope to encourage others to do the same.

Let’s just “be excellent to each other.”

Better days are coming…one day at a time

I’m still feeling anxious but am slowly starting to win the battle…even if it is just for now. I’m focusing on living in the moment, creating a ‘to do’ list and starting with small tasks.

Journaling and blogging are also helping me. It gives me somewhere to empty my head and gather my thoughts rather than have them whirling in my brain, building and increasing my anxiety. I’ve spent far too much time in my own head with my anxious and less than rational thoughts and fears. That’s not to say all of my thoughts and fears are irrational, but they were the ones that were multiplying and fighting my attempts to calm my anxiety.

I’ve also realised that I need to increase my self care. Music, walking and cooking have always served me well in the past and will no doubt continue to do so but this time they weren’t enough on their own. I let things get too far and should’ve acted sooner…this has been building for at least a year. I guess it needed to come to a head to give me this wake up call.

I’m going to keep taking it one day at a time, caring for myself and being kinder to myself. If anyone else spoke to me the way I can talk to myself, I’d be furious. So I celebrate my little victories and take it slowly knowing that this too will pass and better days are coming.