Tuesday, 30 December 2014

2015 - goals and thoughts

I often belittle myself for beginning to panic at the prospect of a new year. If we are to be realistic about what a new year actually is, it is nothing more than the sheer passing of time. Another 24 hours in a day, another day where the sun rises and falls. But it's the word 'new' which frightens me. I love new things - you know when you treat yourself to a new bag, or receive some beautiful new jewellery as a present which is so shiny, new and delicate you don't want to use it for fear of breaking it? That is, in my mind what the new year represents for me.

I find it strange how we excite ourselves wanting to get rid of one year so we can look forward to another - often wishing to eliminate periods of our life in a certain year. Unfortunately, no matter what year it is - the negative memories you associate with that year has nothing to do with what year it happens to be at the time. It's interesting how we capture sections of our lives into 365 day segments. 2009 was a good year. 2010, not so much. When really and truly, the reality is that I've struggled in some areas of my life, and had positive fulfilling times in others - no matter what year it is/was.

New Years is associated with pressure, and many of you will know that I am not one who deals with pressure very well! Weirdly enough, I do like the idea of making changes as a new year approaches, but I'm not quite sure why. Half of me doesn't want to conform to that kind of pressure - of which I need to lose weight, make positive changes, drink more water - and vice versa. Yet the other half reels in the perfectionism aspect of beginning something new and fresh. I think for me, it has a lot to do with my struggles for identity. I massively struggle with figuring out who I am as a person and feel as if my identity constantly adapts and changes - to then want to reconfigure myself for a new year seems crazy as I spent the rest of the moments in my years wanting to do just that.

I discussed last year how useful the prospect of a new year can be psychologically - and I still stick by my sentiment. I am a sucker for a good to-do list and that is why I tend to write goals instead of resolutions. Resolutions imply for me that I wish to change aspects of myself - which is wrong, the goal is to accept myself, flaws and all - and use that as a fuelling technique to push myself forward into recovery. Also, I think a huge trick is to use your goals and resolutions for YOURSELF and not for the benefit of others. If you're setting out to lose weight, make a huge lifestyle change, rid friends all because someone else wants you to - these are not your goals and it is important to recognise who you want to make changes for before you do them. This is something that I struggle to separate in my mind.

I'm going to keep a separate goals list written down in my 2015 diary, as it feels more personal that way - but I'll share with you some of my prospects and plans for next year. These goals will be quite vague but it's because I think the main message of today's blog has already been addressed. Don't pressure yourself to change in 2015.

  • To return to therapy/taking medication - and stick to it! If it doesn't work out, at least I can pat myself on the back for trying my absolute hardest. BPD (and anxiety, for that matter) is a complex illness and will undoubtedly remain with me for the majority of my life, but if I can learn to control it, that is the most important thing. 
  • Pass my second year at University - work as hardest as I possibly can.
  • Try to live by a routine of saying YES more often than NO.
  • Make an aim for a 23 books challenge - one book for every year I'm alive. If I surpass it, amazing! If not then it's okay!
  • Much more charity work and mental health awareness raising in 2014, I hope! I'd love to do more work with my blogging and hopefully vlogging (which Nathan is encouraging me to try out again!)
  • Try to get into a routine of running and exercising often - which also includes yoga and mindfulness. Despite doing the Race for Life each year I know that I have a capacity to do so much better and I'd love to continuously raise money for charity this year whilst conquering fitness and anxiety goals at the same time.
  • Look after myself more - I became really run down at numerous occasions this year when I usually have a good immune system and I can only put it down to not looking after myself enough. Frequent baths, wind down time, walks, exercise, good food, and vice versa. This also includes use of my Headspace app on my phone to engage in mindfulness - excellent source of DBT therapy which I never make time for myself to do!
  • Travel often.
  • Most importantly - allow myself to be happy. Do more of what makes me happy. Sometimes, when I'm genuinely happy I panic and worry because I'm happy. Which sounds bizarre, but because of my constant mood changes I'm used to falling into low mood soon after a high one. But my main aim is to embrace the happiness when it does arise, capture it, savour it. I know it's possible. 
It sounds strange but we enter years praying for miracles. But the truth is, nothing comes good to you without effort on your part. I am one to say that I haven't tried hard enough to make my life better for myself - mostly because I never feel like I deserve to try and make my life a good one - and ultimately, because it is HARD. Liking and accepting yourself enough to want to make positive changes for yourself is something that requires effort, and let's face it, we are less likely to put effort into these tasks than others because it feels the most challenging. I can't beat myself up for not accomplishing goals which were never possible to happen simply because I never tried in the first place. Recovery and trying to make life better for yourself is SO difficult and cannot take space just in the space of 365 days. It is a gradual process. So make the next year and the rest of your life less about pressure, but more about simply living your life as a journey.

Happy New Year everybody.

Monday, 29 December 2014

2014 Wrap Up - A Year in Pictures

It has been a whole two months since I last posted in my little corner of the internet. I'd love to babble on about endless apologies regarding where I've been and reasons for my absence, but I think they're irrelevant and are not even particularly interesting!

I tend to post at the end of each year with a reflective summery on what occurred during the year. This year, I've been far more reluctant to formulate a post at all, as I've struggled a lot and have found it difficult to find things that I have been 'proud of' or anything to claim as momentous about my year. My year begun with the death of my good friend Amy, who many of you will know, and was mostly occupied with the reintroduction of my biological father into my life who had been absent for all of the 22 years I've been alive. Unfortunately, towards the end of this year, after being treated awfully for the majority of the 7/8 months we got to know each other, I decided at the beginning of this month to cut contact with him, which not only has made me feel extremely guilty but depressed at the thought of not being loved or wanted by my father for the second time. The year ended with a huge battle with anxious thoughts - I missed a lot of University this semester and despite unbelievably doing remarkably well in my coursework, being unable to leave the house and descending into that yearly downward spiral was once again a difficulty to face. I also started, and finished my Dialectical Behavioural Therapy after struggling to come to terms with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and finding it difficult to attend sessions in the October of this year, however I  am planning to re-attend in January 2015. I also managed to get myself a new job, and quit after just two months. It seemed as if all of the things I attempted to do to make things right for myself and my life ultimately backfired.

Do not get me wrong, this year did have its positive moments, many in fact. And as always, I'm going to take you through my year in pictures - and show you the good parts of this year. I'll be back in my next post for a resolutions/year goals blog.

- I donated blood three times

- I begun the year on a high and went out with friends I hadn't seen in such a long time, on my own without the assistance of Nathan.

- I attended the launch of the YoungMinds VS Campaign - two days after the loss of Amy. It was such an emotional but powerful evening and it was great to be a part of it, and to see and meet new friends and campaigners.

- I uploaded a video to my Facebook page on #TimeToTalk day in February 2014 and received an overwhelming response.

- My boyfriend and I had a wonderful overnight's stay in a London hotel on our 6th Valentines Day together as well as a trip to see We Will Rock You for the second time - our favourite musical!

- I reunited with this lovely lady after twelve years, Lauren. We lost contact with her many years ago and this was one of the best decisions my Mum has ever made - like a second mother to me and such an incredible confidante.

- I ticked an item off the Bucket List in March and went to have Tea at the Ritz with my mother and Nan - which was incredible!

- We celebrated my boyfriend's 22nd birthday on the 13th of March.

- Crazy drunken family times at Mother's Day.

- I celebrated the end of University Year One lectures with my incredible friend Lauren.

- The official reunite with my incredible family friends and interestingly this was also the same evening that I discovered that my biological father was still living in the country. 5th April with Lauren and Claire.

- We celebrated Good Friday with Lauren, Claire and our extended family. Sadly two weeks before Christmas we lost the lady in the middle of the second picture, Rita Nunn. An incredible part of my life growing up and I feel so honoured I got to see her many times before she died.

- I had a spa day with my wonderful friend Ellis and we finished the day off with a perfect Las Iguanas.

- Celebrated Easter Sunday and got to see my Great Auntie (far right) who I love to pieces.

- I went to see We Will Rock You for the very final time - once again front row seats with my boyfriend and best friend!

- I celebrated finishing my final exam and subsequently my first year at the University of Greenwich with Lauren!

- Summer begun. Barbeques with good friends.

- Had an absolutely wonderful holiday in Spain during the first week of June.

- On the 9th of June Nathan and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary and I met my biological father for the first time. No pictures here for obvious reasons.

- I hosted a great night in at my house with my lovely friends. It was around this time that I discovered that I had officially passed my first year at University - my first exam achieving a first and my second exam achieving one mark from a first - with great coursework grades.

- I finally met my lovely friend Charlene after speaking with her for so long - my personal tutor at University introduced us both and it was a wonderful day!

- On the 10th of July I took my best friend to see Wicked for her first time and my forth at the theatre! No pictures here unfortunately!

- I completed my forth Race for Life race!

- Had a wonderful champagne afternoon tea with Ellis!

- Had a lovely time with Lauren trying to find book benches, having my first tequila shot and discovering our new favourite restaurant in Greenwich....

- Had a one night spa break in a beautiful resort with my mother which was perfect, eventful and well and truly needed!

- This time of year was a huge struggle regarding my father - but through this I got to meet my wonderful cousin Tania who I'd now consider one of my closest friends as well as family, and my grandmother.

- I went for the very first time to watch the Stock Car racing at Arena Essex with Nathan.

- I had the bestest 22nd birthday weekend EVER - was spoilt like a princess and had my closest friends and family around with me to celebrate. Was definitely my favourite birthday to date. 19th - 22nd September 2014.

- I went to see the poppies at the Tower of London.

- On World Mental Health Day I made this video - again which was posted to Facebook about my struggles and being more open about mental health.

-  I was lucky enough to attend the Mind Media Awards - and the documentary I was involved in - Diaries of a Broken Mind - won an award! It was a wonderful night and I got to meet one of my YouTube idols, Rebecca Brown who is one of my inspirations and it was an absolute honour to meet her!

- Nathan and I travelled up to Birmingham and stayed in a lush hotel for two nights - as well as attended the MCM Comicon event!

- I celebrated Christmas with my best friends (above) at a meal of 19 people! As well as with my lovely University friends - pictured below. 

- On the 9th December, 6 months after meeting my father, I decided to eliminate all contact with him. It was a sudden decision, and feels like the best and the worst decision all at the same time. It's so strange and bizarre to do something for myself and for my own benefit - and hugely like I've let so many people down, but I have been hurt so much by him.

- Christmas work party :)

- The night after my work party I went to see Michael Buble at the O2 Arena with my mother - no pictures from this night as we were both severely hungover from work parties and looked horrific - but was an incredible night nonetheless!

- First time at Winter Wonderland with my boyfriend!

- I met my half-brother for the very first time, Ryan. I was also lucky enough to celebrate his 25th birthday with him and some of his and my friends which was a great evening!

- Had a lovely Christmas Eve and saw recent and old friends.

- And last but not least - Christmas Day 2014!

So there you have it - a snippet of the highlights of my year The pictures included are of my favourite memories this year - and it's interesting to look back and see just how many there were as it never feels as if there are enough.

I'll be back in a few days with my 2015 goals post.

Have a lovely week!