Sunday, 30 August 2015

When it just feels too hard…

…just hold on.
Hold onto something…anything, and simply refuse to let go, no matter what demons plague your mind with reasons you ‘should’ or even ‘must’ let go.
Hold onto a family member. They don’t even have to be close to you. They may need you in the future and you want to be there for them, and strong enough to help them, if and when they do.
Hold onto a friend. You don’t need to have known them long and you may not even speak in a couple of years’ time. But at this moment in time, someone knows you and sees you fairly regularly and would love to see you feeling good and happy. You mightn’t yet even realise that they are a friend.
Hold onto a dream. The wonderful thing about dreams is they are even better if they don’t make too much sense. Your dream doesn’t need to be at all reasonable. No one else might support it. You might even be embarrassed to share it. But hold onto it. Because one day, standing in a place that is far happier than that in which you now find yourself, you could look back and thank yourself profusely for doing so.
Hold onto your faith. You do not have to believe in God to believe in something. Have faith in something or someone and hold that faith tightly.
A dying friend once told me she had stopped believing in God long before that but she believed in people. Shoe told me emphatically, “I believe in YOU”. I was really struggling at the time and that moved me greatly and stuck with me. The faith other people had in my ability to overcome my demons was a powerful helping force for which I will forever be grateful. The truth is that faith can move mountains.
Hold onto an animal friend, a hobby, your appreciation of nature, a happy memory, a hope for the future. Hold onto your desire to see what you think of as a social wrong being righted (you may only be one person, but you could sign a petition, send an email, join a campaign group etc).
Or simply hold on to the knowledge that you matter, even if you have no idea, at the moment, how that could be true.
You were born, so you matter. That’s that.

So, hold on.x

Monday, 24 August 2015

Don't Worry - Be Happy

"Worry is like a rocking chair - it gives us something to do,
But gets us nowhere."

In the supposedly big bad world that we live in nowadays, it may seem like worry is just part and parcel of life's experience. Sure isn't there always something to be worried about? What others think of us, what we're doing with our lives, if we'll ever get better, what could go wrong, our flaws, our failures, the unknown, getting older, growing up and the list goes on and on. Engaging in any of these fruitless worries takes up our time, energy and allows worry spread like a weed throughout our minds.

Worry is a misuse of our imagination; giving it our time means we throw away our creativity and mental energy into creating scenarios we don't even want to happen. The 'what if's and the worst case stories we tell ourselves are just leading us away from our potentially brilliant reality. Worry keeps us busy - it keeps us from having to fully participate in life because we convince ourselves that there's so much that could go wrong that it's not worth getting involved.

Regardless why it has become a hapless habit, it's worth re-evaluating the value we give it because at the end of the day, it's simply not serving us. It merely keeps us away from our goals, stuck in ruts, comfort zones and mentally exhausted. 

10 Ways To Combat Worry:
  1. Be present. Worry either lives in the past shacked up with shame and regret, or else it takes us to the future arm in arm with anxiety. If we are in the present moment, it quickly minimises our potential bank of things to worry about. Focus on the now, everything is ok in this moment. 
  2. Trust. Worry and trust don't typically coexist. If we trust ourselves and our journeys, we're not too worried about how we're doing. If we trust our decisions, we feel secure in the outcomes. In relationships, work and our day to day lives - trust is key. It's important to recognise where we're deficient in trust and drowning in worry and turn that dynamic on its head.
  3. Believe. Building on trust is belief. When we believe in ourselves, our capabilities, our talents we know that we'll be okay. If we believe in our resilience and our potential, there's little room for worry to take over and debilitate us. Believing in recovery means we don't need to worry whether or not it'll happen. Where belief is weak, worry will speak.
  4. Self esteem. Worrying about whether not we measure up, are good enough or live up to the expectations of others means we don't realise how much we actually have to offer. When the opinion of others worries us more than our own, it's time to get to work on our self esteem. Worrying about how we compare to the rest of the world dissolves our self respect and confidence. We need to build ourselves up and come to terms with the fact that we're not so bad. We can't please everyone and we can't read anyone else's mind, so it just makes sense to get to a point of pleasing ourselves and liking who we are. 
  5. Let go of control. Worry loves to scare us with the unknown, uncertainty and life's unpredictable little curve-balls. What helped me with letting go of worry around that which I can't control is just accepting that it's out of my control. That's it. I believe everything happens for a reason, so if it's meant to be it will, if it's not, it won't. We can't worry our way to a safe, secure life. The unexpected is what makes life exciting, it's where we learn, experience and discover opportunity. It's not to be feared but to be embraced. It's like the quote, 'We can't stop the waves from coming, but we can learn how to surf.'
  6. 'I can handle it'. Taking a leaf out of Susan Jeffers' book 'Feel the Fear and do it Anyway'. this affirmation is a great one to kick worry out of our minds. What if we believed we could take on all our worries and handle them? When worries crop up try to just say, 'I can handle it' and leave it at that. No need to ruminate, go in circles or waste time in worry. Hear the worry whine at you and respond with a firm 'I can handle it'.
  7. What's the worst that can happen? Quite often when we worry we can channel our inner drama queen and create the most fabulously horrendous scenarios in our heads. If we actually play out all our 'what if's with a pinch of rational thinking, what is the worst that's actually going to happen? If it's about what others think - they might think I'm x,y,z and..what? Will you survive judgement? Will you survive discomfort? Can you survive embarrassment? Will we actually come out stronger from experiencing a bit of those?
  8. Do your best. If you do your best, you have nothing left to give - you've done it. So there's no point worrying about whether or not it's good enough, because you've given it all you've got. Consistently trying is all you can do and success will come with practice. We're not made to be perfect, we're made to be human. We all have different, unique qualities and our own challenges too. Embrace both and accept that perfection simply does not exist.
  9. Act now. Worry keeps us on the sidelines, heads down and eyes on the ground. So naturally, the antidote is to jump off that bench, suit up and get in there. Do the thing you don't want to do - feel the fear and do it anyway. The reason we get stuck in worry is because it keeps us safe in an uncomfortable comfort zone. But we miss out, we don't get to conquer our fears, we just sit and stew in the incessant circle of stress. Stop thinking about it and just do it.
  10. Don't worry if you find yourself worrying. Worry won't just go away, but it's not about the worry itself, it's what we do with it. When it rears its insistent head, just take it as information. It might be motivation for action, or a reminder to trust or a deficiency in self belief. Listen to it but don't get into a conversation with it, because as we all know, it can talk for hours and ain't nobody got time for that ;) Acknowledge it and seek out your solution.

We don't live in a big bad world, it's actually an incredible, abundant place jam-packed full of possibility. Yeah some of it might make us uneasy, but that's not a reason to hide away. Investing in worry borrows from our bank of possible experience and never gives back. It robs us of trying new things and reaping the benefits of being vulnerable. It robs us of the offers life is laying out on the table. 

So from now on, let go of the weight of worry, grab the goods and run free. 

Friday, 21 August 2015

Recovery is Real!

For many years I felt that life was about pleasing others, about taking on their opinions for my life, about doing what they wanted, about being influenced by the status quo, about how I was expected to live my life, whether this suited me or not. but now I know differently. Now I know you have the right to live your own life without expectation from others, and in a way that meets your values.  It is ok to put yourself first and believe in yourself and the power of “I

I have witnessed first hand how the power of positivity and the power of “I”,  can completely change a persons life.

I had a daughter who suffered from mental health problems for many years but recently she was told that she was recovered.  This was not something that came easily or that came quickly but instead it was planted as a seed in her mind and with lots of nurturing and lots of TLC has come into full blossom only to come to full fruition when she has achieved full freedom.

This beautiful person suffered many of the symptoms of mental health issues from self harming, to suicidal thoughts, depression, complete anxiety, social isolation, agoraphobia, eating distress, etc etc etc. But on getting the right help has recovered.

This recovery came about as a result of several factors and much support, but at the end of the day had to be done by the person herself.  She had a therapist, a care worker, a nutritionist and a doctor to monitor her progress.  She had people who loved her and believed in her, but still she had to do the work. She had to engage, she had to work hard and she had to believe that recovery was possible.  She had to trust the process and at the same time be both patient but also aware that only she could make the changes that needed to be made.

A lot of the work she engaged in was to change her thought process, see the world in more of a positive way than a negative way.  See set backs as challenges not failures, learn from things that didn’t work out and find a different way of doing them.  She learnt the power of “I”, as in “I” am important, I am good enough, I have opinions, I have a place in this world.  I am my own best friend!

She learnt to be kind to herself, to give herself a chance and not always demand perfection from herself and her body. She learnt mind body connection, she learnt to believe in herself. These and many other helpful tools have gotten her to where she is today.  I had a daughter with mental health problems now I have a happy, healthy, successful young lady who is once again enjoying life.

Positivity and Negativity are two very powerful concepts and they can influence how we see our life and how we live our life.  Many people who suffer from mental health issues can only see the negatives in their lives, they ruminate on all they have gone through or are going through, they tend to see the light at the end of the tunnel as an oncoming train. But with lots of work and lots of positive thinking this can change and if really wanted and really worked at will change.

Image result for recovery is possible quotesRecovery is there for everyone, you just need to reach out and take that initial step, and then commit yourself to some hard but very worthwhile work. I know first hand that it’s possible, after all I have witnessed it!!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

You Do NOT Have To Live With This.

Mental health seems to go through phases of being a bit of a hot topic. As a society we’re beginning to speak about it more, opening up and channelling courage in talking about the struggles in our lives. There’s a surge in effort to break down stigma and awareness campaigns to beat the band. But what message are we actually giving out about it?

Personally, I think it’s great to vocalise what would otherwise eat us up. Shame cannot survive in the spoken word so it’s important to put words to our feelings and get them out of our systems. But it’s also important not to dwell on or glamourize the ‘struggle’. That’s where our message needs to be crystal clear. We need to be aware of and believing in the fact that full recovery is always possible. This is the message I believe to be worth listening to and spreading; the honest message of hope and motivation.

I’m going to come out and say straight up, I am sick of reading stories of struggle rather than stories of success over mental health issues. I’m all for breaking the stigma but talking about how we just need to learn to live with it, is simply misinformation. It genuinely irritates me because I feel like people are being robbed of the full lives they could live just because they’re being led to believe that they're incapable of living it. Mental health may set us back temporarily, but it can never steal away our potential, passion or purpose.

One of the most helpful parts of my recovery was truly believing in full recovery and knowing that my carers did too. It was never a case of learning to manage my eating disorder or finding ways to distract from self-harm, or getting the dose of Prozac just right. None of that equates to my definition of really living. Yes dealing with all that contributed in shaping who I am today but only because of my journey in overcoming them. If I thought that I had to live my life like that forever, it’d only depress me more!

Recovery does not come รก la carte, you don’t get to keep parts of your mental issues. It’s not like I’ll sometimes self-harm if things get tough or have a slip up with my ED if life is a bit challenging, I won’t have down days, I’ll just actually experience my emotions – the entire colourful spectrum of them. I won’t get the ‘occasional’ panic attack or sometimes just want to die. If you break your leg, it doesn't just sometimes go back to being a bit broken. That’s not recovery and I feel like it’s messed up to be putting out the idea that it is.

I think when we speak about mental health it’s helpful to see where we’re putting the value. If we’re ruminating on the difficulties, then maybe we’re valuing being a victim. Maybe it’s nice to get attention for our suffering and that’s fine if that’s how we want to live. But most of us have a survivor within us fighting to seek out solutions and begin to act on them. I’d much prefer to listen to that little fighter. I’m not saying we can’t speak up about our problems, but when we do, we need to find help and start working on obliterating what is holding us back. There’s never an excuse for settling.

Regardless how it manifests itself in your life, be it through an eating disorder, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression, alcoholism, substance abuse or whatever it is – you do not have to deal with emotional distress in this way forever.

It’s not merely a part of your life, it is not who you are, it’s not something you have to learn to live with and it’s not unbeatable. If you haven’t been told before or you don’t believe it yet, I want you to know that you can recover. This is not all there is and you're not stuck living like this.

Life is challenging, but if we just succumb to the identity of whatever diagnosis has been given to us, we’re not overcoming the challenge, we're letting ourselves get buried beneath it. To me, that’s not good enough for any of us, that is settling and missing out on the gift of life that we have. Even if you can't see it right now, life is actually an amazing thing and it's worth fighting for, every step of the way. 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

What is success to you?

In life we can go chasing after various goals; beauty, success, freedom, happiness, wealth - whatever we believe to be the key to improving our lives. We might think these are the things we need, surely they’ll make everything better, and so we keep on this persistent pursuit. But until we know what these words actually mean to us, we’ll keep coming up empty handed. You can’t attain what you don’t understand. We can’t become successful if our definition of the word is warped.

We've explored beauty here on the blog, took a look at  happiness too, so now we’re going to divulge another DareToLive definition. 

The definition of success, from my experience.

Success, like beauty, used to mean something different to me. I couldn’t always pinpoint it, but I was sure my life was completely devoid of it. It was a variety of vague ideas of perfection. Success was a loaded term, carrying with it high expectations, pressure and me constantly falling short. It meant mistakes were unacceptable, ‘good enough’ was always just out of reach and until I could get x,y and z, I was merely a failure. Success was on a pedestal that I just couldn’t climb up to.

It was appearance, relationships, lifestyle, education and career – everything had to be impressive, ideal and flawless. That was the kind of success I thought would make me happier. I’d get the perfect body, be active, have loads of hobbies, loads of friends, get a degree, a great relationship and be thriving in my career. Anything less and it felt like there was something wrong with me, I was useless and I had failed.

That definition couldn’t be further from what it is for me now.

Success to me now, is the little everyday things all coming together to make my life what it is today. It is being open to learning, it’s making mistakes and how we handle them. It’s trying new things even if we’re afraid. Success is pursuing what we believe in, following passions and getting in touch with our talents. It’s picking ourselves up every time we fall down and trying again.

Success for me has taken the shape of getting to work everyday without panic attacks,learning from my mistakes, having nights out that I can actually remember, building friendships, recovering from my eating disorder, putting myself out there, exploring my creativity, trying new things, learning about myself and never giving up. 

It’s different for all of us, but I think we need to see the possibility of success in all of the small accomplishments we have each day. It’s all about how we look at it and what we’re seeing.

I see others as being successful when they’re doing what they love, when they’re taking risks, when they’re helping others out, or when they’re challenging fears. There’s success in trying our best, making an effort and committing to what matters to us. It’s not so much of an end goal as how we’re conquering life’s little challenges. I don’t see myself as a failure now for the funny twists and turns I’ve gone on in my life, ones that have led me miles away from my old definition of success. I’d much rather be where I am right now, than trying to impress the world with pieces of paper or money or how incredibly over exerted I am from trying to do it all.

Life doesn’t always lead you where you might expect it to, but we’ve got to just make the most of it. Some of the stuff that may seem so important right now, might not have that much actual impact on our happiness, so maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what success really is in our own lives. Move the goalposts to suit you where you are right now, with what you have and what you honestly want, not just what looks good to others.

Every single moment is the foundation of your next success, whether it’s talking to yourself nicely for the day, getting out of your comfort zone or just getting out the door – that’s where success really lies. Being successful is overcoming, surviving and keeping at it even when the going gets tough. We're all successful in some way, even if we don't realise it. 

What does success mean for you?