It can happen to anyone

Hello strangers! I feel as thought I’ve dropped off the wordpress wagon for too long now. I’ve been working so hard in my training as a veterinary nurse that my feet have barely even touched the ground, working 60 hour weeks and barely finding a moment to take care of myself, or even just take time to breathe. During this time, I have been up and down, but on the whole I have remained positive despite being extremely tired and overworked and underpaid!

But I miss blogging, I miss getting a moment to log my thoughts and to just try and make sense of some things. And it is my new month’s resolution to ensure that I do it more!

The title of this post, “it can happen to anyone” is a bit of a jumbled concept in my head. Let me start from the beginning and then I’ll explain why…

A colleague of mine whom I have been working with for the past 6 months, appears to be a very capable, very very intelligent, funny and bright woman. There is no job too big or small for her. She is sensitive and caring and the whole workplace has found her to be a wonderful addition to our team. She is always laughing and joking, with just the right amount of humility. She cares for the animals within the practice, and is a source of answers to many questions and appears to be a fountain of knowledge.

When working with her a few weeks ago, I found out that there was a dark secret she was hiding. She confessed to me that she was really struggling with depression and anxiety, that she hated herself, that she often considered suicide and that her children would be better of without her, but then stops herself because she knows that this is not true. She has to distract her mind constantly from negative thoughts. She hates her body and refuses to attend public events as a result of this. She views herself as a negative person, hates her home life and the only good thing in her life is her children. She is seeing a counsellor and is on medication, yet still feels this low.

I was entirely taken aback at this, wondering what on earth she sees when she looks in the mirror, as it is simply not what is reflected on the outside. She is a bubbly, outgoing, clever woman whom everyone adores. I was saddened to think that she could see herself in this light. And then I remembered. A few years ago, and to a lesser extreme at rare intervals even now, this person was me. I was the one hating myself, wishing I could die, thinking of ways to end it all, wondering if everyone would be better off without me, living a life of anxiety and all of this, in silence. And then I realised how many other people there must be going through exactly this, painting on a face of positivity every day at work, for friends and family.

This is why we must be kind to everyone we meet, even if they give us reason not to. We have no idea what battles they are facing, and just not a clue how close they are to ending it all.

And whilst her story was awful, it made me feel a little better to feel less alone.

So why do I feel a little conflicted about the title of this post? Well, just because depression can rear its ugly head at any moment, in any brain, male or female, adult or child, it is not to say that it is to be viewed as commonplace, or to be taken for granted. Just because depression can strike at any time, does not make it less important to tackle. It does not mean to say it is not important, nor real, nor any less crippling for each and every individual that it gets it’s grubby mitts on. Do not mistake a common illness for a common cold. It cannot be treated with a little rest and a nasal spray. Depression is real. So, my point in titling this post as such, was to reassure each and every individual reading this that struggles with depression, anxiety or any form of mental illness, that there may be others around you that are suffering in silence… do not feel alone, do not feel weak, or silly, or a failure. It can happen to anyone. And it does.

Just be an adult already!! 

Something happened over the past few years. It happened when I wasn’t looking. I was no longer a child, I was no longer bound by the rules of my parents, with nobody to answer to. I didn’t have to tell anyone where I was going, what I was doing or what time I would be back. I became an adult. 

What age does this even truly happen? Growing up, we seem to believe we’re “adults” by the time we’re 16, 18, 21. It’s a subjective theory in all honesty, something that is relative to life experience. I definitely remember feeling fairly adult at the age of 12, battling with what I saw to be “grown-up” depressive moods and thoughts, protecting myself from my aggressive step father and dealing with my ongoing internal monologue. That felt fairly adult to me. But in reality, it was a young girl, a very lost one at that, dealing with a world of adults who showcased very negative thoughts, emotions and relayed them onto my vulnerable brain. 

Now, at 23 years of age, I live in my own house with my partner, I’m studying for my degree, I’m learning to be my own person as I expect to do for the entirety of my life. I’m an enthusiast for the world, for travel, for work, for learning and for growth. I love to write. I love to walk. I am an adult. So why do I still feel as if those strings have not been cut from my childhood. I still feel like I need guidance, I still feel as if I need to answer to someone. And I still feel as if I need to cling to my childhood in order to be carefree. 

What I do that counteracts the fact that I’m an adult?

  • Everything I do I seek gratification from someone, somewhere 
  • If I have a sick day from work, I validate the fact that it is ok with a parent, my partner, or family and friends 
  • I explain every decision I make 
  • I justify myself constantly 
  • I live to please others 
  • I still feel unfulfilled, as if being a child allowed me to do more (that ironically I never seemed to take advantage of) and that adulthood results in not being able to really “live”
  • Living in a messy house – expecting someone else to clean it for me 

Why do I do this? 

  • Being an adult was always a negative thing in my younger life – adults were harsh and scary and violent and unpredictable 
  • I care what people think far too much 
  • I seek validation as I am still unsure in my own ability to decision make 
  • I have convinced myself that adult hood means working, paying bills and being unfulfilled 
  • I have a warped view of what being an independent truly means 

How could I step into my adulthood like I mean it? 

  • I need to consistently remind myself that adulthood is just a theory – it’s a concept that simply means I’m older. 
  • Remind myself that adulthood is not scary and it doesn’t mean that I have become a reflection of the adults I knew in my childhood 
  • Remember that it doesn’t change who I am – I’m still a big kid 
  • Don’t allow the concept of being grown up take away my dreams – it doesn’t mean the time frame has gone, it simply means I can choose when, where and why 
  • To learn that whilst pleasing people is ok, it shouldn’t be at the detriment of pleasing myself 
  • Remember that I don’t owe anybody anything. I’m my own person 
  • Believing in any decision that I make 
  • Keeping a tidy house in order to keep a tidy mind. 
  • Helping myself to help myself 
  • Staying in touch with my inner child and allowing myself to play and have fun 
  • Laugh more – laughing and being silly isn’t confined to being a child 
  • Working on my thoughts on what an adult is – not seeing adulthood as boring bill paying, as realistically, it changes nothing. 

I’ve got some great things to work on this summer! 

How do you live authentically in the concept of being an adult? 

3 Days of Demons: Day 1

Happy Tuesday everybody. I’ve had a busy couple of weeks, with 14 days work and university making me feel extremely tired and out of touch with everyone in my life. With things that have been going on, I feel like I’m learning more about myself everyday, and I have decided to do another series of posts, much like my “5 ways” posts a few months ago.
Over the next 3 posts I will be opening up my scrutiny of myself and my behaviours and trying to get to grips with what is going on in my subconscious. In my “3 days of demons” posts, I will be choosing a different behaviour or thought process everyday, as I try and decipher why I behave in certain ways and how I can potentially grow to change them.
It’s, in my experience, vital to be able to accept and understand your subconscious behaviours and thought processes if you stand any chance of changing them and growing. And that’s what I want to do.

I no longer want to be stuck in old patterns and to be confined by the walls of my past. And this is my attempt to do so.
So welcome to my 3 days of demons posts, and welcome inside my brain.

I would love to hear back from you all, and to try and help you understand your demons and thought processes that you would like to change.

3 days of demons day 1: My own worst enemy.

I am my own worst enemy.

How do I know this?

  • I set ridiculously high expectations for myself, and then proceed to beat myself up and punish myself when I don’t reach them. For example, in my current degree, I want to achieve 100% on every piece of work I submit. Now for a degree, with a broad range of subjects covered and assignments that are open to interpretation, this is not always attainable. With every piece of work I submit I do work my hardest, I set aside a lot of time to complete them and I really do strive for the best. In one of my most recent pieces based on the anatomy and physiology of a dog, I got 68%. This is a pass..but not a distinction (It is 2% away in fact). And in my mind I had failed. I felt really disappointed in myself, and like a failure as I had set an expectation that I can be gaining the best of the best all the time.
  • I compare myself to others far too often – why don’t I go on as many holidays as they do? Why don’t I look like that? Why can’t I be good at that? Why can’t I have those clothes? Again, at university recently we had to sit an exam. When I got my results back I was thrilled to gain 94%…until I heard that someone else in the group got 99%. I was really upset with myself. At what stage is it acceptable to be upset with 94%??
  • I get irritable and frustrated and become aware that I need to be alone to wait it out…but I still surround myself with people I love and end up snapping at them.
  • I have far too much belief and hope that others will behave the way I would, and look to myself as the reason why they are not. I punish myself and question my own morals when people let me down. I don’t believe in who I am.
  • I often convince myself I am ugly, unattractive, over weight and that I hate my body – yet I do nothing to fix this.
  • I am often in fear of fear itself. I can be more than confident about going to an event, or doing something with my family etc, until I remember that I’m not a normal person in a normal brain. That negative voice in my head steps to centre stage and reminds me what a panic attack feels like, and I live in fear of having another one.

These are just a few examples of how I am, or can be, my own worst enemy. Particularly the events related to my degree have recently made me question why I beat myself up so often and am so quick to punish myself for not fulfilling the vision of perfection that I seem to want to be.

How can I fix this?

I definitely need to understand why I seek perfection all the time, perhaps due to the fact that I wanted attention from my parents at a younger age and as I was never sporty I needed to gain their acceptance through my grades and being perfectly behaved. I need to remind myself that others cannot be controlled and I am not responsible for their behaviour – if somebody upsets me or acts in a negative way towards me, this does not take away from me as a person, and it doesn’t change that I am a good person. I need to continually appreciate what I have in my own life, instead of looking at the things that others have, and wanting the things that I don’t need or that aren’t good for me, in the face of needing to be this perfect vision again. I need to learn that “stuff” does not define me. What others have does not mean they are happy. I do not need to be like anyone else, I just need to be me!

I need to reassure myself when I look in the mirror that I am beautiful, because I am me. And I shouldn’t need anyone else to tell me that in order for me to believe it. I shouldn’t seek acceptance for the way I look from anyone else other than the mirror. I should be happy that I have a body that works and functions, as many people don’t. I also need to remind myself that 9.5 stone is not overweight. Whilst I am bigger than I’ve ever been before, that is because I am in a good place with my eating disorders and manage to eat in 9.9 out of 10 situations now. My eating habits are better because I am happier and surely thats more important than a few extra pounds around the stomach?! And if I really want to make a change, I need to stop making excuses and get in the gym, get out in the fresh air or on my bike and get that weight off me!!

I need to spend more time reaffirming the positive voice in my head, and being able to quieten the negative one, before she takes her place in the drivers seat. I need to continue to choose to live a life of happiness and not slip back into old habits because they feel like comfortable old clothes, because the thing is they are not beneficial to me, and they lead me to unhappiness.I need to allow myself to be alone, and to take a breath before I snap at those around me who just want to show me love. I need to remember that at the end of the day, there is only me, I am the only person I can truly rely on, and therefore that person should be the best that she can be, not perfect, not a vision of a billboard or a perfectionist society, but the truest form of “me” that I can be, and someone who is truly happy in their own skin. That’s all I need. I need to support myself, congratulate myself on my successes and appreciate that a success is not defined by 100% perfectionism, but instead it is continuing to try, to use resources, to test yourself and to be better than the person I was yesterday.

As of today, I am my own best friend. Goodbye to enemies.

 

Its beginning to look a lot like…the time for social anxiety

Christmas is wonderful. And I genuinely mean that. I love the cosy nights in, the mulled wine, the snuggles under the tree, the shopping, the lights, the laughter, the family time, the wintery walks, the trips to see santa with my god daughter…I just love it all.

What I don’t love, is the social anxiety that comes with the season.

The invites to parties, the work christmas do, the drinks at friends houses, all of the festive outings. It can all get a bit overwhelming. Two days before my first proper work christmas party, I’m starting to get those butterflies that I know are telling me I’m anxious. And I really hope I can overcome it.

I have suffered with social anxiety for years and years. This used to manifest itself so terribly that I was physically ill (vomiting, stomach ache, dizzy etc) and tended to just shut myself behind my bedroom door and miss all the fun, in fear of the fear itself. I used to let down the people that I love the most, unable to get the courage to just push myself that little bit further.

I have grown a lot since then, and I have achieved many things socially that tell me I can do anything I want to do now. So why is that niggling fear still at the back of my brain? And why does it persist even now? Why does social anxiety stick around long after you think you’ve gotten over it?

In my opinion, old habits die hard. I lived 22 years within my 99% anxiety focussed brain. And 1 year outside of that percentage has been wonderful yes, but my habitual brain at times directs me to those old habits, wanting me to fall back into patterns of anxiety and seclusion.

How can I avoid that this year?

  • Remind myself how much I want to socialise – I don’t want to miss out, I want to have fun, I want to laugh with my friends and make memories and form strong bonds with people.
  • Be authentically myself – the real me, the truest presentation of myself, is fun-loving, silly, constantly giggling, confident, funny and happy. And this is the person I need to channel.
  • Be present – I need to stop myself from thinking about what could happen, what used to happen, and what I used to be afraid of.
  • Remember how far I’ve come – I must remember that I am not the person I once was
  • Believe in myself
  • Think about all the great things I have accomplished that were much bigger than a Christmas social occasion – who would have ever thought that little old me would have been on 2 holidays this year! I have been living outside my bubble of anxiety, and living the life I want to, I will not go backwards!
  • Remember that anxiety has no hold over me
  • Enjoy myself – allow myself to just have fun and let my hair down
  • Ignore my unhelpful thoughts – “you can’t do this”, “what if you’re sick”, “what if people notice”…these are all old voices in my head that have no control over me now, and have no place in my new life. I will not succumb to these evils anymore.
  • Remember that in my own company and in my own body I am safe – I have got my own back, I will protect myself
  • Act my age – I am 23 years of age and I should be out having fun, I don’t need to spend anymore of my life locked behind a door in fear of fear itself.
  • Allow myself to be happy

I am determined to make this Christmas season my best and most social yet, and not be bound by the fears of my past. I have written a list of all the things I want to do this Christmas, and that includes lots of socialising, fun and laughs with friends, family and my loved ones.

Wishing you all the best, bravest Christmas season to date x

The blues

Since my “5 ways…” posts, I feel I’ve gone a little quiet – both virally and personally. I’ve been ill again, ended up in the out of hours doctors, picked up another infection and possibly now a virus. So, I have the blues. 

I have been trying to hard to ensure that my physical condition doesn’t affect my mental state and my mood, however as I move into my fourth week of feeling lethargic, unwell, sick, dizzy, achy and general under the weather, I can safely say I’ve had my fill! 

I’m missing out on things. I’m bored of staring at the same four walls, but not quite well enough to go out and live my life as normal. My energy levels fall very quickly, and the pain I am in makes me angry at myself, frustrated and irritable. 

I’m not a person who does well just sat constantly doing nothing. At first, I enjoyed a bit of me time, watching back to back Pretty Little Liars, and eating biscuits. Now however, I’ve had enough. I don’t feel like me. At all. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything that makes me me, anything that I enjoy, I feel frumpy and horrible and lacking in self confidence as a result. I want to leave the house but I don’t want to be seen like this. Catch 22 anyone? 

My life is a constant time warp between when I need to take my medications and when I feel like I need to take them…which is always!

I’m trying very hard to keep my mood high, by catching up with friends on the phone or just inviting them round to see me, taking the dog on short walks, eating nice foods, watching TV, sitting in the sun etc. I’ve tried to remind myself that four weeks post laparoscopy I should be proud of how far I’ve come.

I need to allow myself more time to heal, as that is what my body is asking for. Turns out I’m just not so good at listening! 

A lot can happen in a year! 

One whole year ago today, I started my WordPress blog. 

12 months ago, I decided it was time to grow, and be honest.

52 weeks ago I found somewhere to share my innermost thoughts, and somewhere to escape to. In the process, I have been lucky enough to be in contact with some of the most supportive people I could have ever wished to know. 
365 days ago, The Suitcase Kid came to life. 

  
So what has The Suitcase Kid done for me? Well, what hasn’t this blog space done for me? I’ve realised that in getting my inner most thoughts and confusions off my chest, I can leave them behind, and let them go. In letting my baggage go, I can lessen the weight on my shoulders and give in to just enjoying my life. 

In the past year, in the main without counselling or therapy, I have become a stronger, better person, in ways that I never thought possible. I have become braver, more honest, more independent, less anxious, less sad, more real, more grounded and more human. I can feel now, I can feel what it is to be happy, to be excited and to enjoy. 

In the last year, I have realised that I can do it. I can live a life of happiness, and I no longer need to choose pain and sadness. 

On the anniversary of The Suitcase Kid, I would like to thank you for reading and keeping up with me, for checking in, and for making sure I am ok. I thank you for writing your posts, as reading them have helped me through harder days. 

Here is to our first year Suitcase Kid, and here is to many, many more

Why am I proud of myself today?

Ive had a bit of an emotional day today, and if I’m honest, I’ve probably felt it coming on for the past couple of days. I am still recovering from my operation, and still having good days and bad days, the worst of which include taking very strong painkillers and staying in bed all day. I’ve been overdoing it though. I’ve had my family visiting, and as I don’t get to spend too much time with them, I have pushed my body further than I should have, considering today marks 2 weeks since my operation date. My body is still healing, yet I have been out walking, drinking, out for dinner… 

Too much, too soon. 

My body has obviously been reacting to being pushed too far, and as a result I am laid up in bed today feeling very sorry for myself. There has been tears and frustration today. I’ve felt like a failure. It has almost felt as if I have let myself down by stopping, and for not being able to carry on. My body reacted to being pushed to its limits by making me sick, dizzy and feel all out of sorts. 

I decided it’s important to listen to my body, and to recognise that I need to rest. My body is still in the healing process, and whilst I’ve done some lovely things over the past week, I am not super human! As I’ve been feeling wrongly disappointed in myself today, and a little flat mood-wise, I decided to make a conscious effort to remind myself all that I should be proud of myself for. And once I got writing, as always, I was surprised by how much I had done in the way of success. 

Let me share…

   
 
In case you can’t read my very messy scrawl, I shall share with you: 

Why am I proud of myself today? 

  • I got out of bed, when I really didn’t feel well enough too – I chose not to wallow in my self pity 
  • Today, I truly recognising that I succeeded last night – I ate dinner, in a restaurant, a busy restaurant, with my family. I was ok – and I even had fun! 
  • I ate breakfast today – I tried at least! Even if it did resurface, I recognised that I was not sick because I ate food, but because I was unwell, and they are different! 
  • I went for a walk. 
  • I listened to my body when I knew it needed rest and cancelled plans to do so – I come first! 
  • I allowed myself some alone time because that is exactly what I needed. 
  • I set up a direct debit to my local animal charity, and have sent an application form to become a volunteer – I feel so good about this. 
  • I fought off anxiety 
  • I let myself cry because I needed to! 
  • I forgave myself for being human. 
  • I wrote this list – which allows me to see how much good 24 hours can do! 

Writing this list has made me see that allowing myself to be human, needing to rest, and celebrating my successes is just what I needed today. 

Every negative day must have a positive point, it’s just about seeking it. 

THE SUITCASE KID GOES GLOBAL

Ok so the title of this blog post is perhaps a little hyperbolic. But everyone loves someone who reaches for the stars right?

What am I on about this time you ask…?

I am so beyond excited to share with you that my self-help diary, ‘The Diaries of A Suitcase Kid’, is now available as an e-book! Yes, little old me has an e-book available! I cannot tell you how exciting this project is for me, it has always been an aim of mine, since I was tiny and used to write gobbledegook on the computer, to publish something. How humbling this opportunity is, to have my words accessible to the whole world – much more than my blog, but actual pieces of my soul, on paper, for all to read.

What is it? Well, ‘The Diaries of A Suitcase Kid‘ is just what it says on the tin. An honest diary filled with accounts of the highs and lows of suffering with mental illness. Whilst it is a self-help book of sorts, I like to think of it as taking a whole new twist on the self-help genre. My e-book is here not to preach, and certainly not to patronise, but instead, to say the words you perhaps cannot. It speaks the truth of the ups and the downs, the worst days and the good days. Topics covered include self-harm and suicide, eating disorders, relationships, friends, loss of sexual drive and broken homes, alongside generalised musings re: mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. ‘The Diaries’, is full of honest accounts of what mental illness really feels like, through the medium of ramblings and poetry, with the aim to make you feel less alone. It truly captures the essence of my story and my journey so far, and is hopefully the first chapter in a series of Diaries. I perhaps see this as the worst chapter really but the most important, the chapter of self-awareness – the awareness that everything really was shit and something had to give!

Through this project, I hope to share with you the same kinds of things you can find on my blog, but with a hard copy that you can keep and refer back to. It includes diary entries, some very similar to what you find on here, exclusive content, poetry, and a self help tasks guide at the end of all the things that have helped me. I want you to read and to enjoy. I most of all, want you to never feel alone.

You can now buy the e-book of Diaries of A Suitcase Kid for your kindle, iPhone, iPad and other reading devices.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013JG8HT2 

Follow the above link, or search e-books for your currency version 🙂 

Thank you for your ongoing and unrelenting support as ever. I truly hope you purchase, enjoy, read and reread, highlight, print, share, laugh, cry and most of all relate!!

I am ever so happy to share this journey with my followers, a lot of whom have become genuine friends.

Sending much love.

Learning to love my flaws

I recently went on holiday…. which I still can’t believe I’m actually saying, as the old me would have flinched at the thought of leaving her comfort zone to venture to a different country. But anyway, yes I recently went on holiday and as a woman, taking off your dress or coverup by the pool and at the beach to reveal your not quite perfect bikini body, was one of my biggest anxieties.

Now, I live in the UK, where we probably get one week of summery weather a year, and the rest is bleak, overcast or rainy and as a result I don’t really get to wear a bikini so much at home. I’m not a dieter, and I don’t really exercise other than walking my dog everyday, due to my medical issues. Whilst I am lucky to have a fast metabolism thanks to my stick thin mother, I do carry some good old love handles and some extra orange peel around my thighs. As you can imagine then, I have body hang ups. Like everyone, there are parts I really hate about my body, parts I don’t mind, and parts I would gladly have a little nip and tuck if I could!

So there I was, pool side, anxious to get down to my scimpies and reveal my body to the other holiday era. (I don’t know why I thought they all cared by the way, but self esteem and insecurity doesn’t work rationally) Despite this initial holiday bikini fear, as soon as I took off my coverup, I felt free. It was like taking off a heavy, wet coat and feeling ten times lighter. For some reason, I just no longer cared. I was free, having fun, and didn’t give a hoot about who was looking at my cellulite.

I want to share this moment with you…


This is me, as a 22 year old woman, embracing my body.

Hello love handles, cellulite, the little bit of muffin top that hangs over my jeans, the boobs that aren’t quite as big as I’d like and the thick legs I got from my father. I embrace you all. I embrace the things I do like, even though they are few are far between.

My body may not be a temple, but it’s mine. I’m lucky to be able and agile and I’m here, saying I love my flaws. Because my flaws are what make me, me. And I’m coming round to the idea that me isn’t all that bad.

Post operative power

So here I am after my operation, in a lot of pain, but very proud of myself for the way I conducted myself. I travelled to the hospital not feeling too anxious, and constantly reminded myself that I would cope with whatever came at me. I tried to remember that I’d be fine, and to be positive. It’s normal to be anxious when something like this arises in your life, but remaining in control of the anxiety is so important, and I managed to do so. I felt in control and powerful. 

The endometriosis has been removed, and I’m hoping for a speedy recovery to step towards my new, pain free future in which I can live my life with no holds barred. Until I feel better, I’m tucked up in bed with my dog and Pretty Little Liars – my new cheesy US series obsession. 

I feel lucky to live in a country where healthcare is so easily accessible, and lucky to be able to have an operation to make me feel better. I live with a grateful heart for all I have. Now I move on from this. 

New job, new life, better health, happiness, hopes, dreams, holidays, freedom, new experiences, laughter and learning. This will be my life from now.