Monday, 19 January 2015

Time

In this post I'm partly going to be reverting to a past blog post I made back when I was participating in a 30 day blogging challenge in  July/August 2014. I'm going to copy and paste the post here, as I feel it is relevant in regards to my thoughts currently, and will be discussing more about time afterwards also.

Posted on the 18th July 2014.

Recently I've been thinking a lot about the amount of time I've lost (I would argue wasted) due to my mental illness. Time out of education, opportunities missed, time often spend sitting within the comfort of the four walls of my house, often staring at these walls, feeling utterly incapable at times of doing much else. Many of you know that I'm an avid list maker and, let's face it, a dreamer through and through and it's becoming increasingly concerning recently how not only am I not certain of what I want out of life, the things I do have in mind seem impossible and it seems unrealistic that my life will have enough time to ever be completely fulfilled.

We always say how 'we don't have time' to do things, I for one included. It's hitting me recently how little I've accomplished in my almost 22 years of life, and how right now it feels as if time doesn't really seem to be on my side. I feel like I should have achieved so much more, been a better person and seen and completed more things, and instead, I've spend a vast majority of my childhood and teenage years at wars with my family and depressed. There are 16 year olds doing far more with their lives and accomplishing far more than I have at the age of 21, which panics me so much. After just over five years in a relationship (which can I point out is my first relationship), I'm already receiving the dreaded questions of 'when I'm getting married' or 'when am I going to start living with Nathan' or even pregnancy questions. Time is not in my favour and the pressure on me to do all of these things, whilst studying for my degree two years later than all of my peers, is all a bit too much. What happens if I'm 30 and still living here because I can't get a job after University? What happens if we can't afford to marry? What if I never eventually work out what it is I want to do with my life. What if what if what if. 

This also refers to yesterdays post in many ways, with my constant panic that my father and I will never have enough 'time' to make up for the fourteen years in which he was absent from my life. So much time that we have both lost, and, devastatingly, are unable to retrieve. Realistically, I know I'm unable to get this time back, but it's horrible to even imagine not having that much longer left with my father. No amount of time will ever be enough.

I wake up in the morning and am overloaded with anxiety over how much or little time I have to do certain things, very often leaving plenty of time before events just in case and leaving little time for relaxation. I'm all too often panicking about what the time is, even if I don't have to be somewhere. And when I do, I have to work out an approximate amount of time regarding when to start getting ready, when to leave, and vice versa. I'm so obsessed with time that it just appears that the time is being wasted. I'm so obsessed with time that the more I obsess over it, the less likely I am to get anything done. Anyone who knows me will know that I stress out SO much over being late for anything - which can I point out is extremely rare but due to unfortunate circumstances (i.e train delays, traffic) can happen. I wouldn't dream of wandering into a lecture 10 minutes 'late', or even 2 or 5 minutes late. I'd much rather miss the lecture. The same way in which the very thought of handing in an essay late sends shivers down my spine. Instead, I tend to plan ahead to such a strong degree that I take a standard journey time and add at least 45 minutes/an hour, sometimes more onto that journey to allocate for events that my anxiety insists will no doubt happen. Instead I'll start planning for essays as early as possible, even if the perfectionism means that the essay is not handed in until the very day. I am very aware that a lot of these traits are due to my extreme perfectionism, but right now I am feeling rather suffocated by time.

This makes me nervous for the upcoming term, as my second year at University is going to involve juggling the intense amount of reading and workload for my degree, together with a new job at my University, trying to maintain my new found relationship with my Dad, my family, friends, boyfriend. Trying to keep my head above water and keeping a smile on my face whilst struggling with negative thoughts. And to try and find some space in the week for DBT appointments, which I'm currently not attending due to anxiety. Alongside the attempt to make time for myself, to blog, to volunteer, to actually try and conquer the anxiety and GO OUT like a normal 21 year old should. To try and do all of the things I tell myself I'm going to, to have enough sleep, to exercise more and to actually eat properly. The time I'll have to fit all of this into my working week feels impossible, and I haven't even begun the second year of my degree yet.

I know that everything happens for a reason and I know I shouldn't self-punish for struggling with what I do, but right now it feels like the clock is ticking and before I know it another 21 years will speed by leaving me in exactly the same position as I was before. I know realistically that my life is my own and it is therefore down to me to make the most of it - I am in charge of my own destiny and vice versa. But these constant thoughts make anything I want to do seem impossible, mammoth task. It all becomes very cyclic - how can I ever work on 'recovery' if I can't even bring myself to attend appointments because I can't leave the house and get a bus every single week? How can I keep battling with the same thoughts over and over again that I've had since I was at least 11 years old, no doubt earlier than that - will BPD consume not just my past, but my future too?

So:

Although since I constructed this post I am another year older, a lot of my perceptions on time are no different. Last week, I not only attended the funeral of a family friend of mine but also mourned the loss of one of my dear friends, whom most of you would have known, Amy Ratnett, who tragically died on the 17th of January 2014.

These scenarios in particular draw attention to the little time that is or is possibly left available to me. Time is strangely becoming a fear of mine. Even this evening, I returned from a day at University full of lectures and a particularly engaging seminar, and panicked over how much I had to do in the what seems like such little time to do it in. Preparing for my next 3000 word essay, course reading, applying for work experience, composing a portfolio for another part of my course, and yet also try and maintain relationships with the family and friends I could lose at any second. To think about travelling and recovery, careers, my relationship with my boyfriend of over 5.5 years and various other tasks often feels impossible to all coincide with each other. The notion that I have plenty of time is false, to me. To me, I have no time at all. I've lived for 22 years and I feel occasionally that I've wasted so much of those 22 years being ill that now, wanting to make up for that lost time, I'm overwhelmed by it all and have no idea where to begin.

I am at a stage in my life where I want to do everything as so little opportunities were available to me whilst I was desperately sick with my mental health problems. But I'm also an adult, and those opportunities seem past and unachievable. Life is not forever, time is not forever and it is only ticking, which is why I have such an immense fear of death and losing others. I dread that every chance with every person and every good moment could possibly be my last. Interesting, to think that four years ago I was desperate to end my life. Now, I'm certainly not suicidal, but live in such fear of the life that surrounds me and the time that defines everything that I do.

A lot of you may think I'm being ridiculous, or that I'm making no sense, but I only write with honesty. It's so easy to say to somebody that of course, they have time to do whatever they want with their lives, and that nothing is unachievable, but is that really true? I can barely keep up with the present as I'm trying to mould back the mistakes and crap that I've dragged along with me from the past, and all of this therapy, this work on recovery, eats into current time and I can't help but think that if I'd not lived with this entirely, I wouldn't feel so stuck.

I'm so grateful to have a life that is defined as my oyster - but the concept that time is not forever and the oyster will not always sustain, will remain a constant fear.


Sunday, 11 January 2015

Day Zero Project

Tomorrow I return to University to complete the second term of my second year studying English Literature. It sounds like something utterly cliché to say but the past one and a half years have flown by, and despite a massive struggle to keep going at times, I've for the most part have been doing extremely well. I remember being at school and dreading its return, now, despite my Christmas break not really being a 'break' (working in retail and studying an English degree in particular tampers with that word on occasion) - I embrace next semester with open arms, a sense of structure, normality, and a keenness to work on my recovery journey.

I've been thinking recently about how much we struggle to mould ourselves as we grow older. I think, and I may just be guessing here but many friends of mine seem to have a clear sense of who they are and what they want, and I've mentioned this many times before but I never seemed to have that focus. I've spent a large chunk of my life dreaming of other peoples lives and goals rather than setting out to live my own.

I've been struggling to work out whether I am the girl who loves getting fake tans and going out to cheesy 80's nightclubs as well as the one who watches Downton Abbey religiously and thrives off of Keira Knightley films and snuggles with my boyfriend. Am I the gig-goer I was as a teenager, loving rock and alternative music, or do I really prefer blasting out Kisstory whilst superficially lathering myself in foundation?

The truth is, I am all of these people and I've spent so long trying to figure out ONE true identity when what I've really been doing is failing to realise that there's nothing wrong with simply wanting to do and loving everything around me. I've been trying to visualise a concrete career path in my mind when the truth might be that I mediate between different options and careers and never truly settle. I shouldn't be ashamed that I love being superficial every now and again, as well as an academic - sometimes these paths are taught not to cross at all.

A few days ago I watched a YouTube video by a friend of mine, LauraLeJeune, who many of you will have undoubtedly heard of through her deservedly successful YouTube channel on mental health. This video particularly struck me and I urge you all to give it a watch, right now!

The Day Zero project urges and encourages you to record and set challenges for yourselves that you wish to complete in your lifetime. The list I have taken is the 101 things in 1001 days - giving a specific time frame to complete your challenges and goals. As Laura rightly puts it, having an entire Bucket List gives you an excuse to put your long-term goals off of your list for as long as possible, whereas having a set end date gives you much more pressure and a higher likelihood of achieving the goals set.

Whilst inputting goals onto my list, it amazed me how many of these goals were truly mine and how I had the capability to not put something on my list because it was something that I felt coerced or pressured into doing, like becoming vegetarian, getting a tattoo or completing a sky-dive, but were goals that were mine and represented my identity.

Unbelievably, I have completed some goals from the last 'goals list' I created - I unbelievably met my biological father and my brother, I now regularly donate blood, I hosted a huge party, I have now ran 4 Race for Life 5k races, I learned how to play poker (although I think I've forgotten now!). Small goals to some, but to look back at a time where I was in an awful lot of mental pain, believing I could do nothing, and knowing that somewhere I had the strength to attempt to achieve some of these goals astounds me. Composing my list this time around felt so much more momentous - I know I have the ability to travel now whereas I never did before and I really crave travelling to formulate a huge part of my identity, even if it is something I only begin at the age of 22.

I know realistically that nothing is out of my reach. Only I am the obstacle to my own success, and that makes life seem so easy, doesn't it? Of course it isn't. But belief is also a huge part of it all. Believing that achievement and doing things you WANT to do is possible, and living a life that is all yours and no-one elses. If there's one thing I hate, it's pressure from others to do and like certain things or be a certain way, and I guess it's part of the reason why I spent so long switching between friendship groups, music tastes, and lifestyles, attempting to work out who I was, being pulled along by each individual to adapt to their life and ideals. As I've gotten older, I've realised that what better life to lead than my own? I am the one in the drivers seat, after all.

I have a long way to go in treatment in regards to working out who I am. But one things for sure, I am a girl who can love Virginia Woolf novels, geeking out in the library, listening to Queen and Fatboy Slim, and drinking jagerbombs all at the same time and I am totally okay with that.

You can discover more about the Day Zero Project HERE and track my goals and projects - my username is amylvm - please do create your own lists and goals and tell me about them!


Sunday, 4 January 2015

The beginning of something new

Welcome to 2015!


It is officially four days into a brand spanking new year - and what once absolutely terrified me about the new year died down slightly as I managed to somehow inherit largely positive vibes about the upcoming year. I signed up for my first 5k race of the year, a Where's Wally Fun Run in Victoria Park, London - to raise money for the National Literacy Trust, in March (link to my sponsorship page to be found here.) I've organised meet ups with good friends, some of whom I haven't seen in a long time. I've contacted my therapist to arrange returning to his DBT sessions. I've booked my trip to the Shard with Nathan in February, an afternoon tea on the Thames in a few weeks as well as hopefully booking a one night spa break in March and a holiday, once I'm paid! I've been yoga-ing, cooking, speaking to people, reading, and really trying hard to start afresh.

I have also devised a kind of schedule with my blog posting - in that I will be uploading posts every Sunday at a minimum (unless I feel the need to upload more blogs during the week). An idea of mine is to post a short summary of my month on the last Sunday of each month - documenting the things I got up to and the highlights of the month as well as the things I have learnt during the month, in a hope that I'll have great things to reflect on at the end of the year as well as a method of documenting progress in my recovery.

Ultimately, this year isn't going to bring huge change for me. I won't be graduating, I won't be moving out of my parents house, I won't be getting a full-time job, I won't be travelling the world or getting married. I won't be moving on with my life in the way all of my friends seem to be. Which saddens me as it reminds me how little I have to be proud of, to tell people about, to congratulate myself on. But if I can use this year to attempt to perfect the small things, like perfecting my diet and exercise routine, combatting my anxiety and seeing people more, then the upcoming challenges that 2016 will bring will indefinitely be a lot more achievable. I wanted to use my time more effectively - if I'm having a bad anxiety day and want to stay in the house - at LEAST make that time productive and write blogs, apply for placements, try out some cooking, do some exercise, and do whatever I can to get me out of that slump, rather than simply succumbing to the slump because it seems easy. 

Without a doubt, this year, despite it not being a year for change seems far more optimistic than previous years - and I need to remind myself of that constantly if I'm ever going to move forward.

Please also feel free to advise me on posts or videos that you wish to see from me, as I'd be more than happy to assist.

Until next time, have a wonderful week!