Self Reflection: Having Bad Days

It's 3:30am and I'm wide awake. I've got a cup of tea in one hand (overly sweetened) and my phone in the other (overly used) and my brain is in a bit of a funk. Somehow I've let myself get sucked into a pit of bad feels again and all rational thought has disappeared. I talk openly and honestly quite frequently on my blog about my mental health issues, but I always try to keep a positive tone as it's easy to get bogged down in the nitty gritty details. I've spent the last 15 minutes or so rereading and reflecting upon two of my most read posts (Eating Disorder Recovery: It's Okay To Feel and Asking For Help Is Okay) which I wrote just over a year ago now, and it almost feels as if I can't possibly have been the one to write them. I think that limiting myself to these kind of positive ~inspirational~ posts doesn't give an accurate representation of what it's like to live with a brain that seems to love dwelling upon negativity. Surely talking about the negative things that we experience on a daily basis can be as beneficial as the subsequent super positive posts about overcoming them? (Fun drinking game: take a shot every time I write "problems"...)

I've always envisioned my blog to be a place where people who are struggling could come to see that things can and do get better. I wanted to be able to share some of my struggles but mainly focus on how I'm overcoming them because when I was at the peak of my illness I felt really, really alone. Yes, there were people in my life repeatedly telling me "it can and does get better" but I felt like I had no evidence of this as they'd never been through what I was going through. But those posts which I wrote, which were full of self reflection and analysis and hopefully hold some kind of positive message of hope, just don't feel real to me when I'm feeling so low. I know that they genuinely and honestly depict my feelings, emotions and experiences at that time (and can even sometimes be applied to my life now) but I feel unable to relate to them as much; it seems like a different version of me wrote them. And I know that bad feelings don't last forever, this is probably just another possibly hormonal blip on Recovery Road, but I'm reading my old posts now with a weird taste in my mouth. I'm jealous of the part of me which can write something like that with a rational undertone and a balanced view because I feel like I can't currently reach that part of me, even though I know it must still be buried deep inside of me somewhere.

Despite how open or ranty about my issues I am online, I'm actually very much the opposite in real life. Every single one of my therapy sessions has started with being asked "How are you feeling?" and every single time my response has been "Good thank you! How are you?" - even if I've been feeling absolutely awful. I find it hard to be straightforward in ~real life~ and admit when I'm not doing so good; the happy, bubbly persona that I tend to hide behind allows me to feel normal without having to address any of my problematic feelings. I know that I have a hugely supportive network of family and friends (both on and offline) that I could talk to about anything, and for that I'm endlessly grateful, but I always seem to put myself into a position where I feel like I physically cannot tell the people around me that I'm struggling. I spend so much of my time telling my friends that having mental health problems doesn't make them weak, it makes them STRONG because they're continuing to achieve in spite of things in their mind trying to hold them back, yet I still think people will view me as weak if I talk about my problems. I don't know what gives me the right to think that I'm so different from anybody else - I know that people won't think I'm weak, we're all in the same boat, yet I feel like I am the exception to the rule and everything will always be terrible for me. Thanks for that one, Brain. It's extremely annoying as I'm sure all of my friends that I spend my time lecturing feel the same way I currently do, too - I think a lot of mental health problems almost encourage you to isolate and differentiate yourself from people in order to be alone - yet they've got me breathing down their necks like "YOU'RE AN INTELLIGENT, STRONG, INDEPENDENT WOMAN WHO IS KICKING ASS, OKAY?!" I'm genuinely mortified if they think they're doing anything less than absolutely fantastic in life. I wish I could live my own life by the advice I give my friends.

In spite of this, I think that one of the most important things that I've learnt this year is to let myself feel my emotions when I'm feeling down about my life, appearance, personality and achievements (or lack thereof). I've been trying to find the balance between dwelling on my bad thoughts and completely ignoring them - allowing myself to acknowledge the way that I feel as both real and valid. I've spent a lot of my life disregarding my feelings, putting them down to my mental health problems and assuming that they aren't real emotions, which therefore invalidates any problems causing the feelings. Switching my thinking around and learning to identify my emotions as REAL emotions that probably NEED to be felt has helped me so much. I'm not naive enough any more (thank God) to think that my problems are central to the lives of everyone around me. I know that in the grand scheme of things I don't have any major problems. I'm fully aware that I have it extremely easy and am relatively privileged to live the life that I do compared to a lot of people, but my problems are my problems and I still need to dignify them with the thought required to solve them. Pushing them away doesn't help me in any way, in the same way that making them somebody else's problem doesn't help me either. I've learnt that there is a difference between asking for help and support with my issues and talking about my problems with the expectation that they'll immediately be able to fix them for me. Offloading onto somebody else can be very cathartic, as can having a frank discussion about feelings, but I've stopped trying to find the answers in somebody else. I've stopped expecting somebody else to do the fixing for me. Admitting to myself that I am in control of my life and am ultimately the sole fixer of my own problems is helping me to see things from a new perspective. I've done my time in therapy. I've been guided to all of those "epiphany" moments where I've realised things can be better for myself, but I feel like I'm only now (having left therapy 10 months ago) truly realising that I'm alone in this battle and that that's okay. I'm not alone in the sense that I have no support, because I do, but I'm alone in the sense that I'm learning to be okay on my own. There's been so many times where I've needed to lean on someone else for support, where I've needed to take strength from their strength and I imagine that there will be many more of those times to come. That's normal life. But I'm sure that it's also normal life to be able to deal with seemingly simple things without having to check with someone else first for confirmation that what I'm doing is okay first.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to be always doing something or else I feel lazy and worthless. I find it hard to sit down and relax but I think I'm coming to accept that it's okay to have days where I don't/can't get dressed and don't/can't leave the house. Accepting that I'm not perfect and never will be, no matter how much I try (and fail) or beat myself up about it, could actually be opening up a lot of doors that I've kept closed for so long. If my body isn't the best then so what? If my work isn't the best then so what? If my personality isn't the best then so what? I'm trying my hardest to be the best that I can be without dragging myself through hell for it. I fuck up sometimes and I'm not the nicest person I've ever met, but I know that I have good intentions at heart, even though my brain tries hard to convince me otherwise. I'm slowly learning to give myself a break, to try and hold myself by the same standards that I hold other people and to stop expecting so much of myself. Holding myself to these unattainable standards means that I can't ever truly appreciate any of my achievements, I'm always left wondering "What if I did X instead? Would I have done better? Could I have done better? Should I have done better?" And I don't think I want to live like that. I don't want to spend the rest of my life being awake at silly o'clock, worrying about things which will probably be irrelevant to my life in a years time. As I read recently in an insightful post by my number one blogger gal pal Jasmine, I think it's important to take a step back sometimes and look at your life from another perspective. Why am I feeling so sad when I should be feeling so happy? I don't really know the answer to that question, maybe there isn't one, but I feel like I might be getting there. Slowly. Baby steps.

What I'm feeling now is a weird feeling and I'm not sure if I've even come close to articulating it properly. My brain doesn't currently feel in the best place, my writing feels subpar and I'm slightly concerned that what I'm posting is nothing more than a self indulgent personal ramble, but I guess that's what honest blogging is; sharing the bad days as well as the good. 

If you made it this far then congratulations, you're a trooper and I hope you're all well! 
And if you played the drinking game I very much hope that you're still alive :)


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