No one is perfect. We hear it all the time but do we really believe it is ok to be less than perfect?
This is one of the hardest blogs I have ever written, but I know I have to write it. Partly because it is a therapeutic must, but mostly because I know that many of you reading it need to read what it will contain.
So what is this challenging subject?
Well, I have been struggling with anxiety recently.
I know what some of you will be thinking:
“Well, she should know better shouldn’t she?”
And, yes I do. I have been applying all the things I advocate for everyone else; breathing techniques, keeping up with my meditation and mindfulness, giving myself time to take stock, eating well, resting… you name it I have done it.
So “what’s the problem?” I hear you cry.
Well, despite all this there have been times when I have been completely overwhelmed.
I have cried a lot. Hugged a lot. Slept a lot. For a little while I even ate chocolate (pure poison for someone who is not only dairy intolerant but also chocolate intolerant!).
Here’s the thing though. I am not perfect. No-one is.
Sometimes I want to be though and therein lies the problem. I want to be able to do everything, help everyone, be kind to everyone and be as successful as possible at everything I do.
So when I have a difficult time personally, which I have the last few months, I feel overwhelmed like everyone else at times. I lost my beloved Grandma, family members have been struggling, and of course I have been caring for the world and forgetting me. But that I can manage. I have spent years doing it.
Until I hit a bump in the road.
This time that bump was a verbal attack which knocked me off my axis.
It’s not like it has never happened before, but I rarely upset people, I am generally accommodating and whilst not often a push over, I tend go out of my way to be kind and helpful and make life as pleasant as possible for everyone. Sometimes I guess you just have to be reminded that other people don’t have the same philosophy as you though.
So, I spent a few days getting myself in a tiz. Wondering if I should have handled things differently, then I had a lovely holiday with my children. When I returned I realised that being back was triggering the same emotional responses I had left.
So what can you do if you feel like this?
- Well, I have spent a couple of days really tuning in to my inner wisdom. Is this my issue? Can I change anything?
- I have made sure my diet is supporting my mental health; reduced my sugar intake to virtually zero and eaten lots of fresh fruit and veg and I don’t drink alcohol or coffee anyway, but I have reduced my tea intake.
- I have been doing my mindful breathing exercises; belly breathing and 7/11 breathing I find to be the most helpful.
- I have been getting outside; fresh air and connecting with nature, especially in this beautiful sunshine, are so healing.
- I have been spending lots of time with loved ones. Cuddles, love and feeling supported are so important.
- I have talked about it. Not to everyone but I rang my parents for a chat, spoke to my sister, my in laws and of course my amazing husband. One of the biggest messages of the “Heads Together” campaign which the young royals are so involved with, is the importance of talking to loved ones and not bottling things up. This has always been my approach, I believe whole heartedly that a problem shared is a problem halved.
- I gave myself permission to be human.
Every so often I thought “I shouldn’t be going through this , I’m supposed to help others through this”. That perfection monkey crept in.
This is ridiculous. I am human. Not just that, I’m a human who struggled with anxiety all through my late teens and twenties. Anxiety was part of the reason that I got into mindfulness and natural healing in the first place.
How could I expect to just miraculously heal and never have this silent monster raise its head again?
The difference between this short attack and the anxiety of my twenties was that I acknowledged it. I didn’t try to paper over the cracks. I sat in the cracks, explored why I was feeling this way and helped myself heal. I asked for help from friends who are therapists and I allowed myself to be imperfect.
I could easily hide this time if I wanted to. I am more than capable of pretending that I’m ok. Of getting through days with loved ones and even visits to schools. It has been less than a month, I could easily conceal my true emotions on social media, and let’s be honest, very few of you are likely to bump into me doing the weekly food shop!
But one of the things that is most important to me is raising awareness of depression, anxiety and mental health issues. Spreading the word that it can happen to anyone, at any time. So, how am I being true to my message if I hide away under my duvet while posting about sunshine and flowers online?
So, I am stepping into the light and shouting loud and proud about my recent blip in the hope that it will help someone to realise that it’s ok to be human. It’s ok to stand up and say “I need help”. Anxiety and depression are not about being weak, they are about being strong for too long.
At the moment I seem to have things back under control. I am using all the strategies I mentioned and I feel wonderful. But I am not naïve, I know that this may be a life long struggle. I am working hard to rewire my brain. To stop my need to be perfect. To release my instinct to worry about everyone all the time. But it’s a journey.
Anyone who says they never have a bad day is either so numb that they are unaware of their emotions or isn’t telling the truth.
If you are struggling with anxiety or depression. If you are one of the thousands of people who dreads Mondays, who is wondering whether you will have the strength to get through the week.
Please, please talk to someone.
Most of you reading this will have heard everything you have just read before. Most of you will have felt the way I have been feeling. The reason I wanted to write this and be so public about this blip is to let you know that will all the strategies in the world. All the knowledge in the world. Sometimes things still go wrong.
I can honestly say I haven’t had an anxiety attack since I was 24 years old. I’m now 40 and with so much more understanding of mental health issues and how to ease them. Please don’t be fooled into thinking that I have had an easy few years, because that really isn’t the case. It isn’t that life has been easy and this is the first time I have had to deal with anything negative. Believe me I have been the subject of trolls online, I nearly lost my daughter, I was diagnosed with a life altering illness, I have lost loved ones, I have been through all the usual stresses everyone goes through.
The reality is, I have been through much tougher times than I am going through at the moment. The scale of mental health struggles isn’t necessarily relative to the size of the issue. So if you are feeling like you shouldn’t be feeling the way you are because other people are going through much bigger/more challenging times, that’s just not how it works.
I can tell I’m starting to waffle now, but I would love to continue the conversation in my Calmer Classrooms Facebook Group. It is a private group so you can head over and share in a safe place.
If you feel you would benefit from some real support at the moment and you don’t know where to turn, my daily “and breathe…” emails and private Facebook Group are the perfect place to get that loving support as well as lots of tips and resources to help you get through this challenging time.