Self Care – how do you practise it?

So we looked at what Self-Care means to people, what stops us taking care of ourselves. Then I asked –

“How do you practise self-care if/when you do?”

Now there’s a case to be made about what is self-care and what is nurture, because the two things aren’t the same… I see them as occupying similar places to surviving and thriving.

We need Self-Care to survive – drink enough water, eat enough food (and hopefully more towards the nutritious end of the scale), get enough sleep, take your medications, keep clean, be in contact with supportive people, check in yourself and see how you’re doing.

It connects to the base 3 layers of Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs (No, not the one with WIFI drawn in!).

Nurture seemed to connect more to the higher 3 levels, with connection to others being the overlap.

What Guidance for Approaching Learning Is There From ...

I looked at what people sent me, and wondered, is this self-care or nurture?

Does it matter? Well it might do to people who are very short on time, energy or struggling with mental health. On days where the duvet weighs a few tons and the world is dark, looking at a list of creative pursuits and listening to birdsong might seem daunting or frivolous.

And that’s not what I want these posts to be. I want to find ways of slipping Self-Care in through the chinks in our lives for when we most need it. Of starting up a Self-Care routine from just one deep breath, just one instance of asking yourself how best to be kind to yourself today, and knowing from that little droplet, if we keep dropping it, ripples will start to spread.

The most common answer I got was some form of “slowing”, of reconnecting to ourselves and what we need in that moment. How people did that depended on their lives. Some were able to use being outside, looking at nature, being away from dependants. Many mentioned being able to take time for themselves or realising that this was what they needed if possible – what people did with that time ranged from nothing at all to being physical and active, creative and crafty, focusing on nature rather than people/work/city, avoiding TV/Computer, reading fiction of choice, meditation, connecting with self by writing or talking with trusted friends, healthy or indulgent food choices (maybe depending on what the norm is?).

I’ve read a few things lately regarding how toxic some self care articles can be, how they are actually about nurture with an unspoken message that if you aren’t doing an hour of yoga every morning before your organic home cooked breakfast well it’s no wonder you’re like this! And I’m trying so very hard to not do that.

You are you. You live your life. And you need a specific set of Self-Care Tools in your toolkit.

And it’s alright to start with the small easy tools that fit.

Take a single deep breath.

Ask yourself how to be kind to yourself today.

See if there’s an answer.

If you can do more, do.

If you can’t. That’s a start for today. The ripples will spread.




Self Care – What gets in the way?

What stops you practising self-care if/when you don’t?

My lovely friends helped me answer this question too.

While we can understand what Self-Care is and why it’s important, many of us struggle to either make it a regular part of our lives, or to include it at all. Usually at a time when we need it the most. We all harbour doubts over how much we sleep, what we eat, how active we are, how much we support the important people in our lives. We all struggle to do (or not do) things that we know will actually help us feel better.


There are many reasons and all of them valid. This post isn’t about guilt tripping anyone who finds Self-Care difficult or impossible, but hoping to acknowledge and understand why and see if we can work within the restrictions that life or our brain (or both!) impose on us.

If you find Self-Care tricky, know that you’re not alone.

Many people find that they feel guilty or selfish if they take time out for themselves – there’s always a big pile of stuff that needs doing, that task list doesn’t get smaller by itself! There are friends and family, younger and older people who need your love and attention and care, some of whom simply can’t do without you.

Sometimes we are simply too busy, there’s just too much to do and it’s real and pressured and important and we are not able to stop.

We get exhausted and ill (both physically and mentally), Self-Care can take time and energy and effort, which we simply do not have at times.

Sometimes low moods or mania, anxiety or full on depression can convince us that we simply aren’t worthy of Self-Care (or don’t need it) and that insidious voice is so loud and persuasive that we can’t argue against it, let alone take the extra step of taking care of ourselves.

Maybe we just don’t know anymore what Self-Care is for us. We just know that we don’t have room for it, or the time to investigate further.

Sometimes we’ve tried Self-Care, but perhaps we’ve overwhelmed ourselves by trying or expecting too much too soon and we burn ourselves out. We can’t keep up the regime we set ourselves and believe anything less isn’t worth it.

Or we look at the amount of information out there and get lost vacillating between healthy nutrition and indulgent treats, walking in the fresh air and allowing a duvet day. Am I practising Self-Care or being a lazy pig? And the brain gremlins perk up their ears and rattle the bars of their cages…

There are so many reasons why Self-Care is difficult or even impossible and that’s okay. Life is full and busy and chaotic and it just doesn’t stop.

So just know one thing.

Your reasons are valid.

They don’t make you a bad person. No one else can tell you how, when or if to practise Self-Care. No one else lives your life or has your priorities. Only you can know what time and energy you have (if any!) and what will work for you.

Allowing yourself to have the intention of Self-Care may allow little spaces in your brain where Self-Care can creep in. A positive thought here, a deep breath there, sounds like nothing probably, but every task big and small starts with the intention to start it. Allow yourself to start wondering what might make some positive difference to you, and maybe the first step is to let yourself accept just how tricky this is and letting that be okay.

Recognising what stops you practising Self-Care is important. Recognising that those things are real and valid is important. You, your life and everything in it, are important.

Self Care – What does that mean to you?

I’m doing some research on Self-Care for a series of workshops and talks designed around helping people develop their own Self-Care Toolbox. I decided to ask some friends for their thoughts, feelings and opinions. This post is concerned with the first question I asked:

“What does ‘Self-Care’ mean to you?”

For many people it meant taking time for themselves. Self-Care was an amount of time with their own well-being as the priority. Slowing down the pace of their life in order to think and reassess – being mindful of their life, the world and their place in it. Stopping and checking in with themselves about what they needed, then if possible, supplying it. The first step was to stop and ask “what do I need?”

For many parents, that took considerable effort and planning so wasn’t something that felt it could be done often or regularly, or sometimes at all. Simply not putting yourself last, self preservation.

The concept of self-care was offered as looking after yourself so that you are in turn able to look after others. Or anything that made them feel healthier in mind and/or body – including just feeling happier. The main reason given for Self-Care was in order to de-stress (being happier often being part of that). Suggesting that Self-Care didn’t kick in until we were stressed enough to have to do something about it.

It made me wonder, is it possible to put an element of Self-Care in place to reduce or avoid stress? Of course life can thwack us unexpectedly around the head and stress can never be completely avoided, but can Self-Care come into daily life rather than being applied as an emotional sticking plaster?

Self-care often seemed to be focused on the foundations of well-being:

  • Washing
  • Dressing
  • Taking medications/vitamins
  • Eating nutritiously (if possible), sometimes, just eating.
  • Drinking water
  • Exercise/moving/fresh air

Self-care could be seen as something that felt mildly indulgent or even selfish sometimes.

I have to say, that made me a little sad. Self-Care should be seen as essential and necessary. Like breathing, water, food, taking care of ourselves is part of that package.

It’s also something that’s fluid and changing, sometimes it was taking the break that your body and mind needed, sometimes it was kicking yourself up the butt to get something finished or started.

“It isn’t being nice to yourself, it’s being kind, and in some cases that means practicing self discipline. It’s also different for each person.” Kate, 24, Cambridge.

Kate’s words said exactly what I wanted to, so I asked her permission to use them verbatim.

So Self-Care is different things for different people, and also different for the same person.

The common element is taking a moment to ask yourself what you need right now. What is essential to get done, what will help you de-stress and be happy. Also, what is possible. Life is busy and full and tough and we need to find ways of slipping Self-Care into the chinks available.

The first step in building a Self-Care toolkit is wanting to.

Have the intention.

Find a time when you’re alone – in the bathroom/shower in the morning? On the work commute? Waiting for the kettle to boil? – a minute, 30 seconds – and think something along the lines of, I want to be kind to myself today, how do I take care of myself today, what do I need today and what’s possible? Whatever words are best for you.

That’s the first tool for your toolkit. The tool of intention.

Try it, see what you think and let me know.

Next post is about how Self-Care is practised.

Shopping for Counsellors

Choosing a counsellor is an important process. However it’s one that we often don’t get to have, or one that perhaps we don’t feel we can do.

Counselling is a deeply individual process, and much of it’s success depends upon the therapeutic relationship between counsellor and client. It has to be a good “fit”.

We very rarely buy clothes or shoes without trying them on to check the fit and how we feel in them, yet how often do we allow ourselves to have introductory or initial sessions with a number of counsellors to see how we feel with them? Even if we are in a position to do so. If our counselling is via the GP, or NHS, then a choice of counsellor may seem impossible. But it’s still important.

We rarely continue friendships with people we don’t feel comfortable with, we don’t open up to them in the way we do to others – so why think a therapeutic relationship with a counsellor would be any different?

It can feel odd to “try someone out” and then reject them and choose someone else. We’re kind of taught that that’s not really a nice thing to do in relationships – even one where we are paying someone to listen to us and entering into what is essentially a business relationship. We aren’t making a new friend here, even if the counsellor may end up knowing up better than most of our closest friends.

If you have the opportunity, take introductory sessions with counsellors. Some do this face to face, some over the phone or skype, often at a reduced rate, occasionally even free. Maybe this would be useful even if you’re entering into a situation where you don’t get to choose your counsellor – it can give you a sense of what type of situation and person works for you.

Try counsellors of different modalities, unless you know what modality is your cup of tea. Psychodynamic is very different to Gestalt, open-ended person-centred is different to short term Solution Focused.

You need your personal unique fit, to your emotional curves, bumps and dimples. How you feel with that person is important. Do you feel safe, do you trust them, can you be honest with them, can you allow them to challenge you, can you be vulnerable with them?

What is your instinctive feeling during that first session?

Sometimes we just like people, or dislike others. Sometimes they remind us of someone, and this can help or hinder the process. Sometimes we can’t pinpoint where our feelings of yes or no come from, but it’s important to listen to and take notice of.

One counsellor does not fit all.

It’s okay not to get on with one and want someone else.

Don’t run an emotional marathon in ill fitting shoes.

Donkey and Pride

Friends know about my “slight” obsession with task lists and getting things done. There’s a reason for this.

Living with anxiety goblins, I need weapons with which to fight them. I need an array of weapons. They are sneaky clever fuckers, and they learn to fight back. They have over 40 years of my life with which to attack me with and they wield my dark moments like pros.

It was while studying counselling and psychotherapy (and being the client, and being the therapist) that I learned I wasn’t a failure at life, I had an anxiety disorder. I’d spent most of my three decades up to that point comparing myself with the people around me and wondering why apparently inconsequential things knocked me sideways, why I just couldn’t seem to cope with life as well as most, and why fear seemed to rule me and be my initial response to pretty much anything.

I’d attempted to cure this by staying away from situations that caused fear. Seemed a reasonable response… but it made my world so very small. I self medicated for over two decades to numb the overwhelming physical symptoms of anxiety – until it became a habit and addiction that was deeply entwined with my sense of self. And the fear remained, attached itself to other things, attacked me with the coping mechanisms I was using and I eventually realised this just wasn’t working. I needed to change. I was dying from the inside out. Existing but not living, surviving but not thriving.

So slowly, so very slowly, I started facing things, pushing back the boundaries of my comfort zone, doing things just because they scared me (tandem skydive for one! Singing solo in public for another), but choosing them carefully, building up slowly.

Starting to study counselling was one of these things. I didn’t consider myself particularly academic after failing my A levels (forgetting the huge personal and mental health issues I had going on at the time). I gave myself a hard time. I struggled to give up the habits and addictions holding me in place.

Another thing about me, relevant to this post is that I work in images, in stories and characters. If I can frame something with a character and story then I can understand it better.

And thus we get to the point of this post.

While studying what ended up being half a Masters Degree in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy, I came across a part of my brain that seemed utterly set on sabotaging me. I had to deal with this, I’d invested a lot of money that I didn’t have in this course and wasn’t about to lose it just because part of me wasn’t playing the game.

I investigated this part of me and eventually found an image that just fitted. At the bottom of all this, hiding under the Sabotage and the Fear was Stubborness. There was some part of me simply, firmly, consistently saying, “NO”.

No, not going to do that, not going to look at that, no no no you can’t make me.

The more I tried to force the issue, the harder it stuck, like a psychological finger trap. I realised I needed to be clever. The image that I discovered was that of a donkey digging it’s back heels in.


Pulling and pushing at the donkey just made it worse. I realised, in an obvious epiphiny, that I needed to motivate it. I needed to find the right carrot…

And for me, that carrot was pride. The Golden Glittery Carrot of Pride (because making something slightly silly is fun!). I thrilled in getting praise from my tutors, from getting good remarks on my essays, for having work done by the deadlines and research ready to show the group. I suddenly realised that I’d rarely felt proud of myself before and it was a powerful intoxicating feeling. One I wasn’t willing to give up.

I thought long and hard and about what made me feel proud – and it’s an ongoing process. I am by no means a workaholic, but I do like achieving things. I have discovered a very competitive side; with myself.

The question isn’t “What makes me feel proud?”, rather it’s “What will make me feel proud TODAY?”

Because it changes. Sometimes it changes throughout the day. And that doesn’t matter. What matters is developing an honest and congruent conversation with yourself about what’s needed, what’s possible, and what, if this is something that will assist you as well, will make you proud. Doesn’t have to be work, or studying. It can manifest in any and every area of your life and activities.

Sometimes it’s going the extra mile. Sometimes it’s just getting out of bed. Sometimes it’s having that self-care day and staying in bed with movies. Sometimes it’s reaching out to people and sometimes it’s riding out that dip on the rollercoaster.

Getting that donkey onside is a powerful weapon against the brain goblins.

So that’s why I have a constant task list. That’s why I put things on there just to tick them off. That’s why I sometimes say that I can’t rest, I can’t get that treat until after that thing. Because I need and crave that feeling of Pride. Which luckily doesn’t manifest by overdoing it, that’s Stupidity, not Pride. There’s no pride in running yourself into the ground, there’s only exhaustion. Pride is working within your means, and discovering that your means stretch just that little bit further that you initially thought.

As the hashtag says, #thisgirlcan. (please adjust for gender identity preference of your choice)

And there’s only one way to find out…

Toddler brain

My anxiety can often be like a toddler having a tantrum.

I write this in full acknowledgement that I’m not a parent. But I’ve been around enough toddlers to see them melt down over the most random of stuff. And my anxiety does that too.

Unsurprisingly my anxiety is in storm force mode currently. It’s whirling around trying to find something to focus on. It’s amazing what you find when you’re looking for it.

Thinking of my anxiety symptoms like a toddler has helped me develop coping strategies.

1. Logic and reason. I can see parents shaking their heads already. Yes. This rarely works. But it’s always worth trying first. Acknowledge what’s going on and what’s being felt. Make a show of checking for monsters under the bed. Acknowledge not finding any. The reasons why we are safe. Sometimes it works. I can talk myself down. Often it doesn’t and we move on.

2. Love and hugs. Treats. Blankets. Time off. Bubble baths. Wine. Whatever this is for you. Yes it often involves spending money which sometimes means it can’t be done. It involves time which we don’t always have. If you can, give yourself a treat you won’t give yourself a hard time for later. Totally guilt free. Get cuddles from someone who won’t try and fix anything. Talk to yourself to find out what you need and deliver it. Be your own nurturing loving parent. After all we still love our toddlers even when they are throwing a tantrum and sometimes cuddles stop the tantrum. And sometimes they don’t.

3. Distraction. Ooooh shiny! Mindless TV, games, craft projects, books. The trick is something entertaining and engaging enough to keep the attention but not difficult or stressful. Again they his takes time which sometimes we don’t have so…

4. Time out. Sometimes we just have to get stuff done. We’ve tried everything else and it’s just not working and the job has to be done, the bills have to be paid. Sometimes I have to put my anxiety on a virtual naughty step and just let it cry it out. Breathe through it, wipe those sweaty palms and do the job. Later, when there’s time, there will be a prize. And it can be anything you like (that is feasibly within your ability and budget to get) because you’ve had to tough it out.

This are my coping strategies. Yours may vary 🙂 these work for me. They don’t go in order. I don’t go from 1-4. Often I know which one to pick but sometimes I don’t. Sometimes a tried and tested technique fails. Sometimes they all fail. But only sometimes. Like with toddlers, consistency is important, following through is important. Don’t promise yourself a treat and don’t deliver. Don’t have a treat then give yourself a hard time over it!

The toddler in our heads may not grow up. But at least it won’t become a teenager!


Gratitude can be difficult when we’re struggling with anxiety issues, the world can be a scary place, our brain chemicals are going haywire, often our bodies are achingly tired and being aware of anything other than perceived threats can take an effort we don’t feel we have the energy for.

Gratitude can also be a spiritual tool to beat ourselves up with as passive aggressive meme’s suggest that we wouldn’t be in the state we are if only we were more grateful for what we have, reminding us that many in the world are worse off than we, so how selfish are you to be struggling? Not useful, not kind, not actually spiritual in my little corner of the world.

Your experience is your experience and someone else being better or worse off has absolutely zero impact on how you perceive and interact with the world. Also, being grateful that someone is worse off than you isn’t actually gratitude – it’s comparison –  and that won’t have a positive effect on the brain…

Yet, despite it being misused sometimes, gratitude is a good habit to get into, and this is backed up by neuroscience (SCIENCE BABY, YEAH!). It doesn’t matter what we are grateful for, it doesn’t even matter if we can’t come up with anything, the act of looking for something to be grateful for can be the trigger to a happier brain over time. Google the neuroscience of gratitude and see what you find, there have been various studies done on the matter.

Over the years I’ve kept several gratitude journals for various periods of time, and I’ve learnt a few things.

1 – Don’t wait for the perfect notebook/pen etc. Don’t think, I’ll start this when I’ve bought a nice book to write in. That’s just procrastination, you’ll rarely if ever get around to buying the “perfect” book for your journal, it’s just a way of not starting the exercise. You doubtless have some form of paper and pen/pencil lying around. Use that. It doesn’t matter what you write on or even whether you keep it. The act of doing it is all that matters. You don’t even need a pen and paper, if you’re reading this, you likely have an electronic device you can write on. Use that! By all means get a nice notebook if such things make you happy, but don’t use that as a reason not to start. Start, then get the notebook as and when you can.

1(A) – On that note – don’t worry or give yourself a hard time about finding a certain number of things to be grateful for or even doing it each day – all that means is it’s easier to give up if you can’t achieve your certain number or you miss a day. Try and make it a habit (keeping it by your bedside for example) but if you miss a day, so what? Just pick it up again the day/week/month/year after. It doesn’t matter when you don’t do it, just when you do. Of course all these things are better when done regularly, but doing them at all is more important.

2 – Writing or thinking about WHY you’re grateful for that thing works wonders if you have the energy to do this. Once, many years ago, I was grateful for a random phone call from a fellow student. I wrote that down. Then I thought about why, and realised how isolated and lonely I’d been feeling in class and how that phone call had helped me feel a little more connected and part of the group. Suddenly I was even more grateful for the call and happier when I got back to class. Writing all that down takes effort, I know. You don’t have to, just thinking about it works too.

3 – It doesn’t matter what you’re grateful for. We all have days where all we have to be grateful for is our bed/sofa, blanket/duvet. Be grateful for those things, they matter.

4 – There’s always something to be grateful for, even if it takes some searching. If you’re reading this, you likely have the first layer of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs sorted.

Maslow’s Updated Hierarchy of Needs

You likely have access to the internet and a device to access it on. You likely have a roof over your head and something to eat and drink that day. Hopefully a toilet that works. Someone you could interact with if you chose to. Clothes to wear if you wanted to get dressed. Sometimes paring back to the bare essentials is necessary, but these are still things to be grateful for. You can climb up the pyramid another day.

5 – It doesn’t matter how begrudgingly grateful you are! There are days you just don’t want to be damn well grateful! The world flipping sucks and why should you be grateful for anything damn it?! And that’s fine! Do the exercise anyway, allow the frustration and anger to be there as well. Looking for things to be grateful about doesn’t mean you have to not feel upset, sad, angry, frustrated and whatever else you’re feeling. You can feel those as well. Feelings are just feelings. We prefer some to others, but they all have their place and a right to exist. We can be angry and still grateful the bus arrived on time. We can be sad and still grateful we have a cup of tea. We can be utterly fed up with every single thing, and still grateful there’s an episode of something distracting to watch. We are manifold and we can contain many and conflicting emotions at once and that’s fine.

6 – Gratitude doesn’t have to be kept to a journal. This ties in with saying thank you to compliments. Say thank you to your loved ones, let them know as much as you’re able to how much you appreciate them. Say thank you to the bus driver or the shop assistant – why shouldn’t we be thanked for doing our jobs? Express little bits of gratitude whenever and wherever you can and gradually they work to make us feel better and the world less scary.

Thank you for reading this 🙂 Whether you’re a stranger or a friend, I’m grateful you took the time and if I do know you, thank you for being in my life, you give me lots to be grateful for.


I was planning for my next post to be a crafting catch up, but that’s going to wait a little while longer.

I’ve become aware of something over this last week, something that my friends (as ever!) have been more aware of than me it seems. But yes, here I am struggling with the contents of my own head again.

I can feel the slipping, the sliding, the slight panic as I realise I’ve run out of cope earlier in the day than expected and planned for. The pull toward introversion, desiring to spend time alone, irritation at the world for impinging on my solitude, annoyance that people are wanting me to interact with them, and burgeoning guilt at such feelings. The dislike and distaste of it all, a feeling of ‘really? what again? now? do I really have to deal with this again now?’

And the answer is yes, yes I do. I’ve had my cheerful months, I’m only allowed so many, and then I need to tend my mental garden again, do some weeding here, baby bio the plants over there. And I resent it deeply.

I don’t want to be struggling. I’ve got too much to do, too many plates to keep spinning, too many things stating that they need more from me, more attention, more care, more time, more energy, and I feel like I’m bouncing between them all, never quite getting the balance right. If I haven’t got enough energy to deal with all the things I currently have on, how the heck am I meant to find yet more for dealing with mucky mental cupboards too?

I’m fretting over things, things said or unsaid, things done or undone. Doubt creeps in, slowly, like water under a door, until I’m up to my knees in doubt and wondering how I didn’t notice earlier. The vicious circle starts, it gets more difficult to eat, sleep and rest properly and this, of course, eats away at what energy and cope I have. Sulky thoughts are easier and more accessible and these thoughts aren’t telling me to make a proper nutritious dinner.

So, here I am writing this in order to tell myself that I’ve realised, I’ve caught myself, I’m feeling scared again – the familiar fear of not being sure that the world is how I’m experiencing it, and here I lay it out and promise to do something about it.

I WILL cope, because I want to. I’m a bit stubborn that way. This post is the first step.

The next step is, at some point over the next few days, have some time where I just lay out the contents of my head to my Hubby. I think part of why this is happening now, is that I’ve been alone for a lot of the last couple of months and while my Introvert rejoices at this, I don’t look after myself as well as I do when I’m looking after him as well. I don’t talk things out and even if I do, I stop before the mucky mental cupboard is completely clean, so some dirt remains, clogging up my thoughts. So a big brain dump on the one person who can’t get away coz this is in the small print of our wedding vows 🙂

Pride is an important factor. Developing awareness of what will truly make you proud that day. Not setting ridiculous goals that you have no hope of meeting, but looking at what will make you proud. Sometimes my list is doing some chores at home, getting something creative done, making contact with someone, starting or finishing something. But it’s important that it’s realistic and achievable. I used to make two lists, one my ideal and the other the bare minimum to get done. Of course I’d never finish the ideal list, but I would get everything on the bare minimum done and then sometimes one or two other things as well. These days (apart from having no concept of how long things take to be crocheted) I have a much better idea of what I can reasonably achieve.

Nuture is something that so easily slips and can seem like a burden sometimes. But it’s needed and it’s vital, so I must make effort to nuture myself, eat and sleep well.

And constant deep breaths, throughout the day, a deep breath and a second to remember, this too shall pass, ultimately everything is fine and every second that passes is one second closer to this dark cloud disappating.

Thoughts from the Dark Side

I remember writing about Anxious mind v Rational mind a while back. I wrote that post while being rational. Currently, I’m not so much. So I wondered what it would be like to write from this side, so here is a post from the darker corners of my mind.

It’s very hard to currently maintain a rational mind. I can’t do it today and I’m just rational enough to recognise that I’m not really and should abstain from big decisions.

I’ve been trying to stay rational, looking after myself best I can. About a month ago I had a really tough couple of draining weeks of not enough sleep and too much pollen, the final straw being when plans to buy a home fell through leaving us back in limbo unsure of other options. Too complicated to go into and I don’t really understand all this financial stuff so I doubt I could explain it.

I had a day or so of bad headspace, then pulled myself together, ensured I booked some time off over the work placement weeks, and returned to work this week chipper and full of cope.

Then over the last week I learned the situation I’d been dreading at work was happening. My new Team Leader won’t be going for the permanent contract for reasons that I know and understand and support.

However, this plunges me back in the deep end of the anxiety pool.

I feel deflated, hollow, empty, dull and hopeless. I feel “whats the point” and “who cares” and “just leave me alone” – well, I feel those with a few choice swear words thrown in.

I feel scared, overwhelmed, stuck, don’t want to go through this again, can’t go through this again, it’s not fair to ask me to go through this again.

The first four months of this year ended with me on meds again. The fact that I’m still on the meds means I should have some more defence against the world, but I detest that this should be so – oh Tania will be okay she’s still on her happy pills so she’ll cope better this time around! Fuck that! Where’s the easing off of pressure that allows me to come off these damn things!

Meds – They do their job, I don’t have a problem with taking them, but like painkillers – I’d just rather not be in that much pain to begin with! When I’m on meds in order to deal with my job… well, that’s not good… leave the job… but I can’t just leave without having another job to go to, so I’m stuck.

I am looking for another job but the UK job market is horrific at the moment and all the time and energy I’ve put into applications this year have given me nothing, no acknowledgments, no interviews, no feedback as to why that is. I don’t know if I’m just unlucky, if I’m doing something wrong on the form or just being outshone by others. Plus I’m not completely certain what I want to go for, which means my doubts creep in to every nook and cranny of the application form.

I doubt every job I go for, both that the job will be what I need and that I will be able to do the job. With every letter I type onto a form, I feel myself cringing, doubting, pulling away. I tab out to facebook, then berate myself for wasting valuable time – don’t I know I’m on a deadline here? After getting nowhere with several applications there is also huge resentment piling up – all this time and energy and for what?! If I don’t get a reply from that job I exceeded expectations for, why should anywhere else give me the time of day?

My anxieties are running wild – after we had an intruder in our downstairs hall recently, I no longer feel safe. Last night I had a panic attack thinking someone was trying to get in – the noise was from the shop downstairs and next door and I KNEW that!! But that didn’t stop the panic rising and overflowing. I’m scared about my Hubby going away for possibly the whole of August if I panic that much over one night.

My sleep is broken, I’m more jumpy since the intruder, more aware of noise, and this leaves me even more susceptible to the insidious drip of anxious thoughts during the day.

I feel heavy, as if iron shoes are on my feet making them hard to lift, a weight is on my shoulders pushing them down and the air is thicker than usual, taking more effort to move through.

I have to take a moment to remember how to converse normally with people and not to just open my mouth and pour my grumpy shit all over them. How do people do smalltalk?! It’s a skill that doesn’t exist in this headspace.

I know that I’m performing below par and I want to scream at people to make them understand – 85% of my effort is going into holding all these thoughts back, stopping them from overwhelming me, keeping me at work and not running away, biting back each and every first response because it’s irrational and emotional (and often unfairly rude) and looking round that to see what normal replies are there, holding back the tears and keening that wants to break loose each second and I can’t let that happen at work. I don’t want to let that happen at work. That leaves 15% to talk and act normally, do my job, remember all the things that need to be remembered and try and look after myself so I don’t get worse – as I will without certain safeguards in place (basic things like eating more or less sensibly and not blotting it all out with some substance or other, sleeping and being as nice to myself as I can – or failing that letting my Hubby be nice to me!).

Is it any wonder I had a bad day at work?

So why am I writing this crap? Well, as ever, it’s cathartic for me to get it out, but also, I do hope that by sharing what I go through, it may help others who are still struggling or coming to terms with their headspaces. If you recognise yourself in my words then know that you’re not alone. If I feel it and you feel it, then many others will feel it too.

Know that this headspace doesn’t last forever – it just feels like it – that accepting this headspace doesn’t mean we agree with it or condone it, it just makes for a bit of an easier time than constantly fighting it. Who has the energy for that?! It takes all I have to stop inflicting it on others, I can’t fight it inside my head as well!

No, I give in to this headspace, I put on my “sulking like a toddler” onesie, curl up on the sofa and don’t wash the dishes. I accept I have a right to my feelings and this is what they are right now and that’s okay. Feels like shit, and that’s okay. I hate feeling like this, and that’s okay too.

Tomorrow I’ll get up and Cope. I’ll do what needs to be done to make things better. If I find that’s impossible tomorrow, then I’ll surrender again and try on Sunday. It doesn’t usually take long these days and I think that’s because I accept it more readily now. Mostly because fighting it for twenty years didn’t work so I thought I’d best try something else.

Now, what the fuck are you doing in my grumpy headspace, sod off out of here and stop making a mess!

An Adult Attitude

I’ve been doing some thinking today.

I woke up in a foul mood today, didn’t sleep enough, was grumpy at my Hubby (coz it was all the fault of him breathing heavily…), dropped my bacon filled breakfast on the pavement, forgot my iphone so couldn’t listen to music, felt gritty with hayfever, my muscles are screwed meaning I’m in low level constant pain currently (really low level and all my fault, don’t give me sympathy!) and there were shouty people on my morning commute.

Oh how I suffer eh?!

So in the past, this start to the day is enough to set me off, the day is ruined, the world owes me and I’m foul company until the next morning.

Underlying this old behaviour was an odd thought pattern/belief that someone (knight on a white horse?) would come along and do all the work for me/give me permission to leave work early/otherwise laud me for carrying on so bravely in the face of such obvious fuckwittery.

That never happened.

All that did happen was I would get in a fouler and fouler mood as I alternately got angrier at the world for not playing my game and angry at me for instigating and continuing it.

It’s different if my bad mood has a real cause, sometimes a good old wallow is a perfectly acceptable response to the universe shitting on you from a great height.

Today isn’t one of those days however. Today is the inside of my head having a toddler style temper tantrum because it’s not allowed to wear superhero pants on it’s head at school and there is no white knight on a glowing steed to take me away from this place to one where everyone wears superhero pants on their head.

The day has to be got through and I’m now old enough to know that the day will go better and quicker (in that bizarre mental manipulation of time that we all do) if I cheer the hell up and engage.

So treats are promised for later for coping well.

The belief that I CAN and WILL cope is reinforced (mainly by reminding myself of the truly shitty times I have endured)

I let those that need to know how I am and what I need (which is vastly different from what I WANT and not to be confused…) then I step through the day from moment to moment swallowing back the toddler responses (and where did my inner toddler learn such foul language?!) and replacing them with Adult responses.

It is indeed very Transactional Analysis! The Parent, Adult, Child model. My Child is going bonkers, my Parent is screaming at it for misbehaving which just makes the child worse (kinda like the people on the train this morning) and the only way out is to ignore the pair of them and place the reactive self firmly in Adult mode.

After a while, it’s easier and the good mood I’ve been pretending actually filters through and I feel better. My Child calms down realising it’s actually safe, my Parent calms down having nothing to critisise and the deposit account for Coping receives a few more pennies. Like everything else, Coping gets a bit easier with practise and honest awareness.

This post has obviously been stimulated by the inside of my head, but also by this – which I saw linked on facebook today. There was one quote, put below, which welled me up with emotion as it connected so strongly with my attitude toward myself today. Except I’m not facing operations for a heart defect and I’m a few decades older than this little lad and he’s got all this stuff sorted in his head already! I’m not wanting to imply that today for me is the same as what this little lad is facing, it’s not at all, but this quote below can fit many situations and that was the point I am hoping to make.

“I don’t have a choice. I have to go through it. I don’t like it and it’s still scary—but I have to. So I think I might as well go through it with a good attitude.” – Max Page, 7 years old

Previous Older Entries