I've had a pretty rough day.. well, weeks if i'm being honest. And it's brought to the surface an array of dark emotions that I didn't realise still laid dormant within me - or I'd hoped had somehow disappeared from my emotional memory.
But for anyone who understands what it means to be depressed, anxious or highly sensitive will know that it just doesn't work like that.
For people who are perhaps more prone to emotional suffering (low moods, overthinking, panic attacks, catastrophisation etc.), what you come to realise over time is that any work or effort you put into managing your mental health, and regardless of how much progress you make, these things require a continuous commitment from you to be maintained. The second you stop putting in the effort to manage these negative emotions, to love yourself and to take care of your emotional and spiritual bodies in conjunction with your physical, you will revert back to the baseline. Granted, it might take some time to fall backwards, but you will eventually find yourself back at square one - feeling like you'd never made any progress at all.
And I guess that's where I've found myself recently. It took me a few weeks of feeling pretty low to acknowledge and accept that I've not taken the time or made the effort I know I need to to keep myself in a good headspace. I've not quietened my mind in a long time to be able to connect with my inner self or listen to her when she speaks. And as a result, my ego-self has risen to the surface, just like it has hundreds of times before, and I've allowed insecurities, panic, fear and a piercing lack of self-worth to come up and dominate my mind and my thoughts.. All because I lost my connection to what I know is most important to me as an individual.
I'm in a relationship and live with someone who is very emotionally and mentally strong (in the obvious way society would define). He isn't impacted in the same way that I am when it comes to his emotions, or world situations, nor has he ever suffered with any mental illnesses or issues throughout his life. He has his own mechanisms for managing his low moods and his difficult feelings and he's very good at doing that. Ultimately, he's just just wired very differently to me - and it's taken me a bit of time to realise that that is totally okay! As human beings we are ALL wired differently, and we'll find that some people react and feel in the same ways that we do, and some people won't. No 'type of person' is better or worse than any other, and part of our purpose for living on this planet as a human community is to accept, support and appreciate all the different kinds of people that exist. Variety is amazing, and it works to mean we're all our own beautiful blends of entirely unique individuals - and I think that's pretty spectacular.
But, the relevance of that is that as a result of how positive, up-beat and smiley my partner is, through no fault of his at all, i've put on myself an odd pressure to try and match his energy and to deny the fact I have been struggling. I haven't wanted to come across as depressing or a debbie-downer, and I made the assumption up in my mind that because he didn't (or at least didn't express that he did) feel the same as me in terms of currently struggling then he would find me undesirable, perhaps even unloveable. Who wants to be with someone who seems to be down more often than they're up? Who wants to be in a relationship with someone who cries all the damn time, or can't find the positives in life. My ego-self has been screaming at me for weeks, each day getting a bit louder, a bit more convincing, and as a result, i've simply crumbled under the weight I've piled upon myself. I wasn't able to keep up the facade that everything was okay, that I was completely unaffected and okay.
I'm not totally okay. Lockdown has worn me down as the weeks have passed by. I've always been someone who flourishes within social situations - I LOVE people! I love connecting and talking and sharing and being with other people. I absorb energy a lot; I get a lot out of spending time with friends or family, even strangers. I've noticed what feels like a significant loss of life within myself as a result of the non-existent socialisation that has weaved its way into my reality. In addition, my contract at the Ministry of Health was close to ending (it has now), and for weeks I've felt pressure about money and what I'm going to do for work. I had nothing secured and given the current global financial climate I felt fearful about how I would find another job or how I would contribute to the life we live and the live we're working towards. I was also struggling with a range of negative emotions from the actual job I was working at the time - there was a lot of stress, a situation that triggered my insecurity of not being good enough when I didn't make a promotion my boss told me to go for, and a struggle to manage work-life balance since I was working from home. In addition to these things, I found out that my great-nan had fallen down, broken her hip and was in hospital, alone, and her health was deteriorating. It quickly became clear that she was worsening and the chance of survival was low. She passed away last night. And whilst I am sad and grieving for myself, I am now also seriously struggling with the hopelessness I feel that I can't be at home to give my Mum and my Nanna a hug - I can't be there to support them at this difficult time. And what's even more infuriating is that Sam & I were supposed be back in England right now, but our flights were cancelled due to COVID.
There have been a few legit reasons as to why my mental health has begun to decline slightly - a few disappointments, a lot of heavy emotions seem to have all come together at once and I've lost sight of what I needed to do to look after myself when such situations arise - which, unfortunately, they do, and they will again.
Life seems to work like that. All or nothing. But reminding ourselves that we are strong enough and powerful enough to deal with it all, especially when we remove any judgements, expectations or criticisms on ourselves of how we 'should' be handling a situation, or what we 'should' be feeling is a really important place to start. There is no should. If we ever find ourselves using the word 'should' then we need to recognise that 'should' is a judgement word. We're passing a judgement on ourselves, and that can only ever lead to destruction. When we judge ourselves, we judge others, we become insecure, we beat ourselves up, and we worsen the situation for ourselves. Judgements are always a part of the ego-self, they're not a part of our inner self or who we truly are. And we need to cut the ego off at the source.
Essentially what I'm saying here is that we do have the ability to make a difference to the way we feel, even in times when we feel chronically overwhelmed. It all boils down to self-reassurance; self-management as such. NOT self-control. Control is not conducive to our health or our healing. Control has a multitude of negative connotations that we just can't afford to entertain. But the truth is, in order to live the best lives we can - which is what we deserve - it is essential for us to develop a resilience in our commitment to ourselves.
We all have our own pain points, our own limits, and for some of us they are much lower than the people we know and the people we love. That's fine. The only thing that matters is that we can know ourselves and recognise the signs within us that make us stop and think, 'hey maybe I should take a little extra care of myself today.' Maybe I need to remember that it really is okay not to be okay, but what matters is where I go from here. What practice can I do, what words can I say to myself, to keep myself in check and love myself enough to make that conscious effort today.
The reality of prioritising our mental health is that it is ENTIRELY rooted in the commitment we make to ourselves. It's always easier to remove that accountability because we feel stuck, we're hurting, things feel difficult. But, we can still choose ourselves. We can still decide that we deserve better, that nothing can ever define us beyond what we choose.
So, today i've decided to once again choose myself. I decided long ago that I won't be someone who wallows in their pain or their sadness. I will empower myself, I will tap into my inner strength and make damn sure that I can never say I didn't do my absolute best.
Choosing ourselves will look different for each of us. But for me, it means coming back to my roots. I will meditate daily, I will practice yoga daily, I will write, I will reassure myself, I will do all the good things I know will have a direct, and almost immediate, impact on how I feel - because I DESERVE THAT.
What does choosing yourself look like to you?
What can you do for yourself to hold yourself in the best mental and emotional space? Do you believe you deserve that? I do.. I think we all deserve that, and I hope that you find the strength, the inspiration, to love yourself enough to consciously commit to what is good for you today and every other day.
And if ever you don't feel okay, know that you're not alone, and you can always reach out to me. I have also just released my 14-day free reset program for mental health and wellbeing which is available now to download on my website in case you want a little extra guidance or support. Have a look if you feel it might help - it's jam-packed with lots of good little practices, tools and tips to help you live your best life.
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