Month: December 2014

On being alone

It’s a bit like the chicken or the egg discussion as we could go around in circles about being alone.  Having people around us to support us helps us deal with our depression but often it’s something that makes us feel so alone and shun any social contact whatsoever.  I am lucky to have come out of that cycle and have a lot of family, friends and acquaintances in my social circle these days so I am never actually alone.  Having said that, I often still feel very much alone but I look around me and there’s just too much evidence to the contrary which helps me snap out of it.  I also have developed an arsenal of personal tools I reach into when things get bad. But I was thinking about the days when I truly did feel alone…many many years ago when this all started as I hit puberty.  It was a very difficult time, especially as I was still figuring out who I was as a young teenage girl, recently moved into a new country. I really felt truly alone as I had left all my friends behind and well, my parents just weren’t my friends.  I would spend days alone in empty houses (it’s seriously suprising how many houses for sale are left open) crying and contemplating suicide. I even made some feeble attempts with a knife but well, it hurt and I couldn’t go through with it.  Not that anyone noticed. Ever. Looking back, it’s fair to say that I spent a lot of my developmental years both mentally as well as physically alone. I had some friends at school but I wasn’t allowed out so I didn’t have the strongest of relationships outside of school and after I moved out of home, I was incapable of making great social connections as I hadn’t really learned the art when I was younger.  I always preferred my own company as it was so much easier to just be myself with noone else around! Unfortunately this is a bit of a negative loop to live in – humans are not designed to exist alone.  We’re not.  No matter how much I tried to convince myself, I simply was NOT better off alone.

Through sheer good fortune I met my first real love in my early 20s who taught me what it meant to love someone unconditionally. Who hung on as I tried to push away (sometimes kicking and screaming) and stuck it out with amazing willpower until I began to learn that I was worth loving and that someone actually loved me.  Not the person that they wanted me to be but the person that I was. It was a wonderful 5 and a half years (we had ups and downs of course but mostly ups) and I learned a lot about myself and I still thank this person to this day for opening me up to loving honestly and fully.  It was a huge eye opener and changed me forever – it allowed me to foster loving relationships and social support in my life for which I could never be grateful enough. So now, at the very least, I have a great deal of evidence that I am not alone, which helps, a lot.

Having said that, I still often do feel alone.  It’s one of the reasons that I started this blog I think. Because my biggest issue is that while I have many friends, there are few who know who I really truly am. I am not the happy go lucky person that they think I am. I am often battling with this thing called depression and it takes a great deal of mental strength just to get out of bed sometimes. I often feel like I’m living a bit of a lie … pretending to be someone I’m not and that if folk only knew then they wouldn’t be my friend anymore.  It’s a crazy way of thinking (because I know that it isn’t true) and my goal here is to start talking about this.  Talking more and more so there is greater awareness that the person next to you, who seemingly appears to have it all, may also be struggling with a mental illness. That you’re not alone.  There are a lot of us it’s just that there are social expectations that don’t allow us to openly talk about it.  I want to start the conversation…I’m starting here but I hope, one day to start it in the “real” world. One day, to just be open and matter of fact about it.  To talk about it like I might talk about my dry cuticles in the winter time.  Like it’s just something that is happening that I need to deal with – without any of the social repurcussions that come with it. Without the hush hush tones of “she’s crazy” whispered behind my back.

So, let’s talk.  Say hello. Say whatever you need to.  Let’s stop being alone.

With love,

Tipxo

Things to help you get up early (/ sleep well)

Sleep makes everything a little bit easier I find (or just think about how tiredness makes everything harder, if that makes it more obvious) and getting up early to get things done in the morning is a habit I started a couple of months ago and I’m really enjoying this newfound productivity so have to recommend it!

Here’s a nice graphic someone posted on Plague recently – take a look and try it & let me know if it helps any.

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That voice in your head

Yeah. THAT one.  You know which one I’m referring to alright. Mine tells me that nothing is good enough. I can never be happy enough. I’m fat. I’m dull. I’m not the best mother.  I’m not earning enough money. I’m in the wrong job etc etc blah blah blah. I have to admit, since having kids that I have done a whole lot of research – about parenting, about teaching and learning best practices and I have realised (not just from books but experience) that there is NO handbook for the “best” parenting. There just isn’t. No matter what the “experts” say and try to make you pay good money for (there’s a crazy amount of resources out there) – no one way suits everybody. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many great parenting resources out there BUT these need to be used as a starting point, as a guide, rather than considered the bible of parenting, as it were. Every child is different (this became blatantly clear when I had my second child!) AND every parent is different.  So, sometimes, as mothers, we just need to trust that what we’re doing, with great love, is the best way forward. Isn’t it funny how so many people feel like they need to add input into what’s already a really difficult transition into being responsible for a whole new human being?!  Like they know.  Granted, mothers of many will be able to tell you about the practicalities of caring for a baby but the emotional side – well, that’s up to you.* 

I now remember back to being pregnant with my first – it was absolutely THE BEST time of my life – I cannot remember being that happy for that many consecutive days, ever – before or since! I had an easy pregnancy and truly loved that the voice in my head stopped for a while – no more “don’t eat that, it’s fattening”, “you look terrible in that outfit”, “you should be doing this or that” … it all just stopped.  I was busy doing and being exactly what and where I should and it all just stopped.  Curious, huh?  I think also that pregnancy agreed with the chemicals in my head and gave me a lovely boost of the thing that I generally seemed to be in shortage of. The thing that my pregnancy made me realise though was that the voices in my head – well, simply put, those negative voices aren’t me. I am generally a rather optimistic, happy go lucky kinda gal…(except on the bad days when I want to curl up and sleep forever) so WHO was in my head then?! Funnily enough, during my parenting research I also found a book that warned that the way we speak to our children will end up being the voice in their heads so we should be careful about what we say.  AHA!  Lightbulb moment – the voice that often I hear is not mine – it’s my mother’s voice. Oh my. What a revelation.  Since then, I have been very conscious about listening to myself and trying to seperate the “real” me from the voices of other people (now, let me just say, it’s not all bad – some of the voices in there are also positive influences!) – it does take time to understand who you are and also to CRAFT the person that you want to be (yes craft – who you are is YOUR CHOICE in the end) but for me, it’s been a task of great worth. I still hear those negative voices but more often than not these days, I manage to catch myself and remind myself of my inner beauty and value. My head is mine and I’m only letting in the influences that I want in there.  My mother still has the ability to say things that get in there but it’s now a lot easier to let them sweep past me and over my shoulder than for them to land and stick. And for my children – I do my utmost to ensure that my voice is one of reason, of encouragement and of deep deep love. And when they’re old enough, I will teach them about this too.

So, who are the voices in your head?  Are they really you or someone from your past?  Are there any voices you’re ready to ditch for good?

’til next time,

Tipxo

* An important side note here to those of you who have just had babies – post natal depression is very real…it can hit anyone regardless of past history so know that you are not alone and that there is a lot of help out there.  Go ask for help – you are not expected to deal with it by yourself, especially not while trying to deal with the general upheaval (& ridiculous lack of sleep) a new baby brings into our lives.  GO. GET. HELP. Go speak to someone. If not for yourself then for the little one. Do it.