Oh, what a year we’ve had! We won Highly Commended award at the UK Blog Awards and this year we are nominated once again. But this time, we are in the company entrants!
As you may know I (Kay) have created a personal blog and have been sharing a lot more of my own story on there and on my social media. As things have been so much busier and this blog has grown so much more, I decided to ask for help (definitely something I’ve learned this year, no matter what it’s OKAY to ask for help and it doesn’t make you weak). We now have ambassadors helping me to run this website as well as the MH Stories social medias, which has been so incredibly helpful and allowed me to put more time in my own recovery.
Last year I wrote Things I’ve learned in 2016 and it was one of the most popular posts, you all seemed to really enjoy it! So, this year, I thought it might be nice for all of the ambassadors to share their reflections from this past year.
Embracing myself and being unapologeticly myself– This has been the first year in my life that I’ve finally started to feel comfortable with my body and in my body! Along with that I’ve started to embrace myself for who I am, which has felt so freeing!
Looking after myself is the most important thing I can do– Being sensitive can really suck sometimes. I can feel things so deeply and it can be exhausting! This is why I’m still learning to look after myself a lot better. Making self-care my number 1 priority and not feeling guilty about it! When I’m able to do that, I have so much more energy, I’m actually able to do a lot more, and help a lot more people.
Changes are part of life. Learning to go with the flow is much more helpful than resisting them– This was a year of soooo many changes. I guess anyone who deals with anxiety struggles with them. And I have struggled with them too. But none of these changes that happened and are happening broke me. They might have brought me down but eventually made me so so much stronger. Trying to go more with the flow of the life and changes rather than resisting them, as challenging as that it’s so essential. And I also think, eventually it becomes easier.
It’s usually never as bad as you think it’s gonna be– As I began my exposure therapy early this year, I was extremely anxious. Planning trips to places I had previously avoided ate up all my energy. But as I began to take those trips, I always said at the end, “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.” Just something to bear in mind as you confront your anxiety.
You don’t need to hide what’s happened– I have few qualms about sharing my story online, because, for the most party, it’s fairly anonymous. But sharing your story in real life is a whole other ball game. Especially if you’re interviewing for jobs and internships like I am. I did, however, end up sharing my story with an old friend and it wasn’t horrible; it was great, actually. And it has encouraged me to be honest and upfront about it moving forward.
The professionals don’t know your condition like you do– You may not have gone to school for counseling or medicine, but you’re the only one inside your own head. You’re the only one who really knows what’s going on up there. I am officially diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety disorder; but, through the research I’ve done and what I’ve learned from reading this blog, I know I also suffer with agoraphobia and depersonalization/ dissociation. So, trust your doctor, but trust yourself too.
Don’t make yourself your mental illness– When you’re going through recovery full on, it can be hard to think about anything else. It can also be hard to imagine yourself as anything outside your condition. Just remember you are so much more than what you’re currently going through, and that you’re allowed to do things besides recover.
Things really do get better– Even if it takes time and patience – it’s so worth it! There’s going to be a day when you start feeling better and from then on, it just keeps on getting better! Sure, recovery is a rocky road, there are setbacks, but the comeback is always stronger than the setback!
Enjoy the little things and be grateful for things others take granted– For me it’s walking my dog, spending time with friends or treating myself to a Starbucks drink. Keep reminding yourself of those small things that make you happy, maybe write a list. For a month, I made a list every day and wrote down 10 things I was grateful for. After a while, your brain will make these lists automatically. It sounds simple but it changes your general outlook on life so much.
Remove yourself from situations that have a negative impact on your mental wellbeing– For years, I kept friendships and relationships alive that only ended up harming me. Why? Because I was afraid of change, afraid to be alone. But the thing is, those people aren’t worth your time and energy.
Treat every woman you meet as a friend– Especially with recent events and what’s happening in the world, we need to stick together. There’s so much rivalry and hate especially between young women and girls. But in reality, we need to support each other and love each other and stick together.
Looking back is okay– There’s a quote floating around online that I tried to live by that says, „don’t look back, you’re not going that way.“ which is true, you’re moving forward and you can’t do that if you keep living in the past. But I still think looking back is okay, dwelling in memories – good or bad – is okay. I like looking back and remember how much I enjoyed that day in 2015 or that day in 2012 or how much that day in 2016 sucked. I feel like looking back can make you feel so much better, it can give you new energy, it can be comforting to think, „Oh, it was amazing back then. I can’t wait until I’ll feel that way again,“ or „Thank God this is over, I’m glad I’m no longer in a dark place like back then.“ Looking back is fine, as long as you realise it’s the past, you can’t change it and need to accept it’s over. It’s okay to dwell in memories, as long as you accept they’re just that – memories.
The most valuable things I learned in CBtherapy are to be patient and to practice self-love, self kindness, and to cut myself some slack, trying again if and when I fail at a task. It’s okay to have occasional unpredictable exposures, as it keeps you alert and shows you the road you can take later on, once you are ready.
I learned how to better cope in social situations, and that even after 30 years of difficulties, I could finally attend many more situations, from cafés to art exhibits, from cinemas to excursions to Paris.
As a person, I learned how to discern more balanced friendships, and not to settle for unilateral ones.
I learned that I could remain regular in blogging, but that I could also take breaks, and varity of topics, and that it was okay to do it solely for my own catharsis, even though I hope to be part of the community that brings social changes.
I can say no to things that I know are going to be detrimental to my mental health– At the end of the day, my mental health comes first regardless of how it may make me seem to people when I can’t do something.
Taking a day off when everything’s too much is one of the best things I can do– Sometimes no matter how many deadlines there are, or how full my diary is, I just need to give myself that break. There’s only so long you can keep pushing yourself before you snap.
I am not the only one going through what I’m going through. Through being an ambassador on this blog, but also being more open about my own struggles in real life, I have found I’m so very far from alone in what I’m experiencing. I’ve been shocked by how me opening up has meant that so many feel they can in turn tell me about their experiences with mental illness.
I am so much stronger than I give myself credit for– No matter how many times I fall down, or how many times I want to give up, somehow I pick myself up and find it inside of me to keep going. I have survived all of my worst days and that has to count for something.
P.S We have been nominated for the UK Blog Awards!!! Last year we won highly commended. This year the MH Stories team has expanded and we are now in the company entrants!