Is your “check engine light” on?

I’m a little late to the party here. I had planned on writing something for World Suicide Prevention Day but alas, life got busy and I blinked, and it passed me by like the turning my passenger was too slow to indicate.

I wanted to start off by talking about toxic positivity. What is that, I hear you ask? It is when you deny negative feelings and instead, try to counteract them with forced positive thinking. Now, don’t get me wrong, this works for some people. At least, it seems to for the most part. If you want to smile until your soul feels it then go for it!

For me personally, I have to embrace the bad days with the good days. I am still learning though. For example, I still feel an element of guilt when I am having a good day. As if I don’t deserve to have a good day. And guaranteed I will sometimes ruin my own good mood because of this. However, I have learned that, if I need to welcome the good days then I need to accept the bad. Some days, I wake up and I don’t feel like myself, I feel a bit off… This. Is. Normal! Perhaps there is something niggling away deep down that has caused my mood but trying to find an answer for everything is exhausting and can often put me into a deeper depression or increase my anxiety. What I am trying to say is, if something has upset you, be upset. You are perfectly entitled to feel annoyed or upset. How you channel that emotion is what we need to watch. Taking it out on others is NOT the ideal way to deal with it. You might end up starting a never ending cycle of pettiness/passive aggressive behaviour, if you’re not careful. Road-rage is a great example of this, and one I am guilty of from time to time! When you are having an off day and someone is going 50mph in a 60mph, this can set your entire day on a negative route. It can be infuriating so we internalise our frustration until it becomes anger.

So how do we neutralise this? We could a) take a deep breath and remember you’re not feeling at your best. b) lose the rag and start beeping and swearing at the other person. Or c) Decide to ignore your frustration and instead, blast your music and concentrate on the happy tunes.

Now, maybe it’s just me, but my immediate answer was C. It sounds ideal right? But the truth is, there’s only so many times that will work. Some days, you’d rather go for B in order to get it out your system and move on. But is it fair to take it out on that person, when you don’t know their reason for going slow? Nope! So I bet you’re thinking.. ahh the answer must be A. Well, yes and no. It is hard to do that first of all. You might not deal with it right away and it could fester until you get angry at something totally unrelated (a colleague at work using your mug for example). Accepting you’re in a bad mood and that maybe you are a little more sensitive today is totally fine. But my personal preference would be a combo of all these to some extent. I would mutter to myself that they’re being a D**khead, take a deep breath and remind myself that I’m having an off day then I would blast my music. I bet you weren’t expecting an “all of the above” answer, eh? Or maybe you are more in tune with yourself than you thought?

I’ve often heard people liken our bodies to a car. In order to get to where we need to go, we need fuel. This is usually said in an exercise/fitness context, i.e. if you want to get stronger/fitter then you need to give your body the nourishment it desires to do so. Just like a car needs fuel if you expect it to get to where you’re going. But I would like to extend this analogy to talk about burn out, or engine failure.

When we are working so hard and keeping so busy all the time, how often do we check in on ourselves and our wellbeing? I’m not just talking about physical burn out here… I’m talking mental, emotional, and social burn out too. If we physically injure ourselves while exercising we know right away that we must have overdone it. We will then rest up (sometimes begrudgingly) in order to get back to a point where we can build up again. But how do we avoid getting to the point of injury in the first place? Surely, we shouldn’t wait until we have injured ourselves before we check in. Usually, during exercise, you know if you’re not feeling quite right so when something goes wrong we think, “ah! I knew I shouldn’t have added that extra weight.” You sensed something didn’t feel right yet, you did it anyway. Now, who can relate to this? No? Well let me give you another few examples.

You have a friend or family member who you find is hard work to be around at times. You are going to visit them today but you know you don’t quite feel like yourself. But you said you would go so you better go, right? If that person already drains you emotionally on your best days then why would you put yourself in a position to allow that person to take the last of your precious positivity? Guilt. Guilt is often the reason we will ignore our own wellbeing in order to be there for that person. But here’s the thing, if you ever feel guilty for choosing your own mental wellbeing over seeing that person then perhaps you should consider some boundaries. If that person makes you feel guilty for rescheduling until you feel better and more equipped to support them, then you need to tread carefully. They might not realise that you feel drained by them so please do not go about telling them this so bluntly. Perhaps arranging a day once a week, a month, or every 2 months will help you both get what you need. For example, seeing them every 2nd Wednesday for a visit/catch up. That way, they know when you will be coming over and you can mentally prepare yourself if you need to. Establishing a routine with that person may help to input boundaries.

So what about social burn out? Well, in my experience, this is usually when you are around a lot of people all the time that you get to the point where you are desperately seeking alone time. I love to be sociable and catch up with friends (pandemic restrictions applied). Sometimes I might be too tired though. And when I don’t feel like my usual self, the idea of socialising makes my anxiety hit the roof. But you know what? It’s okay to say no thanks. I think the lockdown restrictions have added this excess pressure to go and make the most of every occasion while we can. And while I do agree with that to an extent, I personally feel pressured to do everything. Then I end up feeling like I’m running on empty and it massively affects my overall mood. I try and remind myself, especially now, that it is absolutely fine to say no if you are too tired. There is nothing wrong with sitting at home, in your comfy clothes and watching the latest season of whatever.

Lastly, lets talk about mental burn out. Now I’m sure many of us experience all of the above, which in itself is mentally exhausting. But I want to take a moment and talk about a specific example of mental burn out. As you may or may not know, I am currently in my final year of uni. I am a mature student so was out of full time education for some time. It has been somewhat challenging when it comes to the workload. 12 weeks per semester isn’t very long but it rushes past quicker than that inpatient Audi driver who has been up your A**e for the past 6 miles! It is intense, especially for a perfectionist like me. The mental burn out I have experienced throughout uni has been so bad that I’ve felt it bleed into other aspects of my life. My creativity and free spirited brain shuts down while my academic and stressy brain takes over. It feels like doing simple tasks in life becomes harder than wading through mud. I cannot process simple things and get stuff done that normally take me no time at all. This has been my biggest struggle of all. I have simple-ish solutions for the other things but mental burn out is a major issue for me. I start to panic and over-think everything when I get to this point. I end up going and speaking to someone then end up surprised at what else has been going on that I hadn’t been processing fully. I stop recognising my signs for social and emotional burn out.

Now all of these written down seem very straight forward and simple to solve, right? But I’ve come to realise that we need to stop ignoring our warning signs, our “check-engine lights”. The hardest part of this is recognising YOUR “check-engine lights” to avoid social, emotional, physical and mental burn out. Above is just a few examples I could think of in my own life, but it is not “one size fits all” unfortunately. We need to think how we can personalise it to our own needs. If a car needs an MOT then maybe we should be doing that too so we don’t get our warning lights flashing.

As usual, this has been some vent on my part! I just hope that someone can read this and take a moment to check in with themselves. Are you burning out in any aspect? If so, are you able to do anything to help you get back to your baseline in order to build back up again? If you take anything from this blog post today, I hope it is to check in with yourself more regularly when you’re not feeling 100%. Don’t force away the negativity instead of dealing with it. Learn to manage it and you should hopefully start to see more of the good days and deal with the bad days too.

Much love,

Hez xx

Is it too late for spring cleaning?

I have a lot of junk. I keep thinking about sorting it all out but finding the motivation right now is tough. I’ve been busy the last few months. And when I say I need to spring clean, I mean in my head.

A lot has happened in the last few months. My job has changed slightly so I’m now employed and getting opportunities to be apart of some amazing projects. I finished up at uni for my third year and got really good results too. I even found a guy who loves me so deeply that I was almost running for the door at first.

So clearly my life is going well and to plan then?

Well… yes. But I’m stressed out a lot of the time and struggling to get out of my recent burn out phase. They say that good things don’t come easy and clearly they were on to something when they said that! Yes, on paper, I have a lot of good things going on and I’m eternally grateful for it. The stress however, is the hardest bit about any part of it.

Now many people know (and those who have read my other posts) that I can be a total stresshead. I find it hard not to get worked up about everything but I think that comes down to imposter syndrome and feeling like I don’t deserve good things. I know it sounds silly to some but I do believe (for me anyway) that it comes down to how much you value yourself and your self-worth. Putting up with the stress becomes way easier when you feel like you’ve earned your existence. So how do you begin to improve your self-worth?

That’s certainly no easy task! Especially if you’re prone to questioning yourself and every move you make. I have a few people in my life that are important to me (outside of family) who help me stay on track. We help each other by listening when we need to vent, cheering each other up when we need a distraction, or telling each other to pull our head out our own asses and get a move on! The people you choose to spend your time with can make or break you. If you constantly hang out with people who drain your energy then you’ll definitely feel low and unmotivated most of the time. But if you can find people who actually reenergise you then keep them around! These REALationships can do so much for you without you even realising.

Time is precious so spend it with those who deserve your time and energy. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t be there for people who are struggling right now. It’s good to be a light in someone’s darkness but it’s also important to have more than one person you can turn to in your hour of need. My closest friends are vastly different from one another (all sarcastic just like me though!) so they all have different approaches to problems. I love this because, depending on how I’m feeling, I can get the class clown, the therapist, the no-bullshiter, or the sympathetic ear.

When someone asks me what my proudest achievement is, I always say it’s the company I keep. My closest friends have seen me in the best mood and the lowest mood and they’ve stuck by me no matter what. And I love them for that.

Anyway…

I got side tracked again!

This blog was supposed to be about me spring cleaning my brain !!

I guess I needed to get that off my chest!

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels guilty all the time. Guilty about not spending time with certain people (or animals) in our lives. Guilty for not doing what we set out to do that week (like cleaning out my downstairs cupboard… which I will do eventually!). Or maybe guilt over not eating as healthily as you know you should. But I put that down to time constraints again. We don’t have enough hours in the day! But to get a decent work/life balance, you need to plan. PLAN PLAN PLAN! Then again, things crop up that kinda screw our plans up. So my argument is this right now… does it need to be done today or this week? Can it be sorted next week, next month? Will you be drastically affected by it if you don’t get it done right away?

We get ourselves so stressed out trying to get everything sorted yesterday. It’s silly really. If I sort that cupboard out this weekend then I’ll be chuffed with myself for about a day then I’ll be immediately on to the next thing! Why do we feel the need to do these things to ourselves?!

Now I’m writing this as a reminder to myself that I don’t need to have everything done in one day. Even at work, I don’t have short deadlines to worry about like I had at uni. “Write a 2000 word essay and two 1500-2000 word lab reports in the space of 4 weeks! Thanks !” So why do I feel like I’ve failed if I don’t get everything I’ve set out to do in one week? I need to chill out. The world isn’t gonna crash and burn if I don’t clean the cupboard out this weekend (unless I have some sort of secret government device stored in there that could save the earth! Wouldn’t surprise me if I’m honest!).

So for you reading this right now.. firstly, well done for still being here! That’s impressive! Give yourself a high 5!

Secondly, give yourself a break! You are human! Everything doesn’t need to be done today or even this week. Take time out for yourself and get back to zero. Whether that’s with meditation, working out, listening to music, sleeping in, going for a walk, standing bare foot in grass.. do what you need to in order to keep going like the badass you are! You got this !

Much love,

Hez xx

Almost at the finish line

I’ve come to the end of my semester at uni. That’s almost three years down and one more to go. I say almost because I have my exams to get through first. I’m not going to lie, I’m feeling the stress! As usual, I’m trying to revise but feel like nothing is going in. When I go into panic mode, it just sets me off on my usual rants about examinations. I still do not see the benefit of exams as, in my opinion, it only proves you have a good working memory. To really see if someone has understood the content, assignments like essays and reports seem more beneficial to me. Maybe it’s just my learning style but I retain more information and can show my knowledge and understanding better that way. So as usual, I’ve started overanalysing everything about what’s going on (any reason to procrastinate really). Bare with me for this part because it’s quite a tangent from my usual things!

I was chatting to one of my best friends yesterday and we had one of those conversations where it felt like you were putting the world to rights (definitely my favourite kinds of chats!). I hate conflict. I think it is important that we disagree on certain areas as not everyone will see eye to eye. But lately, I feel like it’s gotten extreme! Pro-vax vs anti-vax, millennial vs boomers, indy vs union… it goes on! I personally feel that everyone is entitled to their opinions and no one should shove their agenda down the others’ throats. It bothers me that both sides are bad for this… that’s the one thing some of them have in common, ironically! Maybe it’s the pandemic that’s brought it all to the surface so it is infecting everything around us. It’s like you can’t be slightly on one side of the argument but you have to be 100% one side or the other.. and honestly.. it’s exhausting!

I am probably someone who likes to take in everything so I can look at the bigger picture so I don’t tend to take sides. I know this pisses off a lot of people sometimes but it’s no wonder anxiety is so strife! You’re wrong if you take a side and you’re wrong if you don’t take either side. Has anyone stopped to think how the media is actually encouraging this divide? They report on the extremists on both sides which causes a bigger divide! I know this is wishful thinking, but could we just chill out for a bit? Work together to move forward? Everyone’s opinion needs to be considered but arguing gets us nowhere.

Maybe it’s an ego thing. If we think our opinion matters more than others then we will only seek out evidence to back up our own beliefs. I think we can all be guilty of doing this as when someone comes along and shakes up our understanding, we get defensive. Which is totally understandable but if uni has taught me anything.. question everything! Even the things that support your ideas! In other words, take everything with a pinch of salt.. nothing is ever fully proven. But most importantly, don’t take everything so seriously!

I need humour in my life, it’s the way I deal with things. Those closest to me know how dark my sense of humour can be. I know it’s not for everyone which is why I only share it with those who are the same. I also have a dirty sense of humour too but that’s not what I’m talking about today! Sometimes laughing about something really dark puts things into perspective for me and reminds me to chill the fuck out! I would hate to offend anyone with it though so I tread very carefully. Right now, I really need a good laugh to forget about the stress of uni exams and life in general. Try and surround yourself with people who keep you laughing and make you feel good about yourself because it’s infectious (probably not the best word to use in current times)! Before you know it, you end up being the source of happiness for others around you. That’s my goal in life really. I don’t care if I become mega famous or mega rich, have a massively successful career (although that would make my life easier!), I’d rather be remembered for being a kind hearted person who kept everyone laughing and uplifted. I realise that this blog might beg to differ but it’s my own personal space to vent and get my thoughts in order so I can get on with real life.

As crazy as it sounds, I often find myself wondering what others think of me. Not for shallow reasons but I really hope that the important people in my life see me as a positive influence or funny in some way. In other words, I hope I bring some form of joy to them. That’s why it can be hard to open up when I’m not doing so well. This is why I like having this space, it means I can get it out without interruption. But does anyone else wonder what people would say about you after you’re gone? Or is that just my weird brain?!

Anyway… I think that’s enough procrastination for one day! I better get on with revising foraging behaviours in animals for my psychology exam ! But I will leave you with this..

Please remember that people are allowed to have a different opinion from yours. People are allowed not to have a fully formed opinion. Choose kindness over pettiness because you just don’t know what someone is going through. And mostly.. keep on laughing so hard until you cry laughing and/or stop making a noise but your whole body is still jerking about!

Much love,

Hez xx

Time to reflect

Yet again, it’s been a while since my last confess.. wait.. wrong line.. it’s been a while since my last blog post. We are into Feb 2021 now and the pandemic is still being a complete arsehole. I am trying desperately to stay positive in these times but I have to confess (guess that line earlier was right after all..) that I am extremely fatigued now. I’ve been so busy trying to convince other people to stay positive and I am desperate to believe that this pandemic will be a tiny blimp in my life eventually. But it is hard. To keep an eye on what’s to come and try to see the good instead of the bad. There will always be shitty things going on in the world but there’s also a lot of good and beautiful things too! So here I am, reflecting on how I feel just now. I’m writing this post in the hope that it brings me some comfort, maybe it can bring others something similar.

As I’m writing this, Valentine’s Day is drawing to a close. Yup, good ol Feb 14th. The holiday that always annoys me in general. I know it may sound bitter but I’ve always had a problem with this holiday, whether single or not. There’s this expectation thrust upon us one day out of the year, to prove we are loved. It’s understandably triggering for many people. For me personally, it gets me questioning many aspects of my life… am I happy? Am I okay with where I am in life right now? And when I start questioning myself I start turning negatively inward. I start to pull apart my character to the point I feel like I’m in pieces on the floor. Perhaps this is just the cherry on the top of a very emotional week for me. Monday started out well enough, couple things went wrong (snow storm securing me in the house.. washing machine broke) but I was still trudging on absolutely fine. The week went in pretty quickly, I was generally feeling okay. Then I had a couple hours between online meetings/lectures on Friday and it suddenly struck me. I’m fucking exhausted! I have no idea why I suddenly realised this but a wave of emotion hit me pretty hard. The realisation that I was completely burnt out made me feel weak. Academically, emotionally, physically, mentally, socially… my warning light came on and I wanted to hit the fuck it switch so bad.

I’ve been trying to stay positive for everybody else and it’s ran me right down. I’ve also been studying for the past 4years for my degree. I’ve been tearing my hair out over assignments and exams just to jump through the hoops I need to in order to get to where I want to be. My plan was to go on to a phd or masters once I’d graduated but knowing I still have another year left just made me want to cry. I’d had enough. Surely by now I have proven myself worthy? But all the universities see is the end results. They don’t see the stress, tears, and tantrums along the way. Sometimes I swear if they saw the state I’d get myself into sometimes they’d just give me the degree and back away slowly. But we are always taught that nothing worth having is ever easy. And I agree to an extent. But when does it go too far? How far are you willing to go to prove your intelligence, your ability, your worth? It’s no wonder so many people are depressed or anxious. We are constantly trying to prove we are the best in show. But it’s like trying to be the prettiest flower by blooming the brightest so you get picked which is actually counterintuitive. I guess what I’m trying to say is, being the best version of yourself is good but remember to consider what sacrifices are worth it.

I know I’m not alone when it comes to experiencing burn out. I know many people go through it and many don’t even realise they are suffering. I’m currently writing an essay about clinical psychology and the only reason I feel able to continue with it is because that’s the field I’m interested in. I am passionate about mental health and well-being. I believe everyone should get to know themselves and their limits. Be confident in knowing when to step back. I feel I am very much at that point lately. Being happy and positive all the time is draining, especially when you’re not actually feeling that way. I will put my hands up and openly admit that I am one of the worst for hiding my true feelings from others. I want to feel like I make people happy to see or talk to me. I want to bring light to those stuck in the dark but maybe I should accept help from others too when I need it, instead of stubbornly keeping my eyes closed and stumbling all over the place. Is it too much to ask for people to be happy? I am the sort of person that would sacrifice their own happiness to see someone they care about smile, even just for a short while. I make jokes and have a laugh about the shitshow that is going on in the world and in my own life. I swear I get by on memes these days.

I blame Valentine’s Day for making me write this blog! My brain is in overdrive, questioning everything around me and all my decisions. I feel my fuse getting shorter and shorter to the point I’m worried I’m gonna lose the rag with someone I care about. There’s that part of me that just wants to cry from feeling so overwhelmed right now and the other part of me that just can’t seem to allow that to happen. I’m not good at crying. I usually just hide away and feel numb a lot of the time. I know it’s not healthy and I’m trying to change that but I just can’t let go. I’m hoping this will pass soon. It usually does. The worst part is, I know exactly who I want to run to but my walls are so high that it prevents me from doing so. I’ve no idea if you’ll even read this, but we are the same in many ways. I can tell a good heart when I see one. We all have baggage and often feel like we could be poisonous for the other but right at this moment, I just want to live in the moment. No past, no worries about the future, just the here an now. That’s all I care about.

Every other aspect of my life is thinking about my future, I just want one thing which is just in the now. No expectations of one another. I can’t help but think that many people would benefit from living in the now. That’s why I’m not a fan of this commercial holiday. It adds to this expectation on our partners. While very sweet and lovely for some, it can have such a negative effect on relationships. That’s just my opinion though. I realise not everyone will agree with me and that’s entirely fine. Be kind, be considerate, be loving. And most importantly, be open… communication is key!

I feel like that was quite some rant I had there! Guess there was more bottled up than I realised! I’m gonna sign off now anyways, tomorrow (or today seeing as it’s 12:35am) is the start of a new week. There will be highs and lows. There will be good shit and there will be bad shit. I’m gonna try ride this rollercoaster of emotions like a pro (ahh remember theme parks? *sigh*). Anyway, look after yourselves and remember to always be kind.

Much love,

Hez xx

White noise

I don’t know what to write here. But I know I want to write something. I feel like I have a million things running through my head but I also feel very numb right now.

I’m currently coming to the end of my Autumn semester at uni, which usually brings a huge sigh of relief. But exams are looming on the horizon and I feel like I have mountains of revision to get through. My learning style is complicated in where I feel I need to write everything down but I can’t process it while listening to pre recordings at the same time. So I pause each time I write, meaning a 10min video takes me 20-30mins to get through at best. The stress right now of trying to force myself to absorb this information is taking its toll on me. I know I’m not looking after myself in the same way I would usually. I feel physically and mentally drained and I still have a long way to go. So I took a moment today where I just embraced the fact I was stressed and got angry. FUUUUUUCCCCKKKKKK!!! I screamed at the top of my lungs (sorry neighbours) and felt like having a little tantrum to myself. It definitely helped a little as I got through the rest of my revision I had planned for that day.

I then proceeded to go and do a workout to try and get away from my computer screen but felt so weak today. I had zero drive and I was being super hard on myself because I knew I could do better. This is the problem when you’re a perfectionist. When you know you are capable of more, even when you have nothing left to give. You focus on what you’re not doing rather than what you are still achieving or have achieved. I should be pleased with myself for just showing up to work out but I hate feeling weak.

As I drove home again I started thinking, maybe I just have so much pent up stress and anxiety, frustration and anger that I just need to get it out somehow. I am trying to learn not to get to that point but it’s hard just to “feel” and “embrace” the emotions as they come. I worry about people thinking less of me for showing I’m human and that I am just as vulnerable as anyone else. Honestly, as I am lying in my bed, I feel broken. I feel like I have so much trying to get out of me at once that my brain has just gone “nope!” This is that moment. The moment I need to pay attention to because if I don’t get back on track now then I know it can get so much worse.

I am terrified to admit this but I had such a low moment a few weeks ago that I wanted it to end. I sat and cried in the shower for about half an hour and everything just came pouring out. I eventually levelled myself again and just got on with the rest of my day. I went to my usual pole class that night and no one was any the wiser. And I’m sorry for those who will be shocked to hear this from me in this format. I wanted to tell you face to face (or virtually I guess) but I just couldn’t bring myself to say the words. I did seek help and I was able to get myself back on track.

So even though I feel overwhelmed right now, I know this will pass. I need to be okay with feeling grumpy, emotional, stressed, angry as I’m trying to study. I am at home so much of the time at the moment so I have peace to get it out my system but I need to start remembering to look after myself too. While family and friends have been an amazing support for me at the moment, I know it’s ultimately down to me to make me happy or at least content. I need to sort my sleeping pattern out first and foremost (she says writing this at 11:50pm!) as I know that will help too. And that’s the thing.. I know what I need to do to look after myself but something is stopping me from doing that.

Right now, I blame the stress of exam revision as it feels like I have no time to get my head around all the content before heading into my exams in a couple weeks time. Can I just set up camp in my living room and study non stop from now til then? Probably not a good idea! I need to give myself a break and do the best I can. But being a perfectionist and professional ‘stress head’ makes me constantly feel like I need to keep going. Just keep going, you’ll be free from this stress by the 18th and you’ll have a whole month off! This is the constant battle going on in my head more often than not. I am my worst critic, I always strive for perfection and usually it does me well in life. Although, right now, it is more of a hindrance than a help.

I usually try and finish my blogs off with a positive spin but I am struggling with it just now. All I want to say is please me kind to everyone you meet. We are all going through shit and even the people who you think are so strong and positive have struggles too. I hate letting people see that vulnerable side of me but I know it’s important to be open and honest. I get told I’m so strong and so confident but I feel I have just learned to mask my insecurities more. Although, maybe the whole “fake it till you become it” mantra is a better fit to me. I know I am strong and I know I’m confident and I hope being honest about my messed up brain helps people see me as just like any other human being on the planet. I strive for perfection but I know I’m not perfect. Or maybe I’m perfectly imperfect?

Anyway, I should probably sign off at this point. I hope whoever is reading this remembers to be kind, ALWAYS, and allow themselves to be human! You can’t pour from an empty cup! Look after yourselves, you beautiful souls!

Much love,

Hez xx

In hot pursuit…

My insomnia kicked in pretty bad last night. The worst it’s been for some time. Think I fell asleep about 5am (went to bed at 10pm) and I was up around 8am to get on with my day. I feel like my insomnia likes to remind me that I need to look after myself. So I’m writing this while I’m waiting for my console to do an update so I can chill out playing games on this horribly rainy day (very appropriate weather for how I’m feeling internally today).

I had a few things planned to do today but I just accepted the fact that my body is telling me to take time out for myself. I usually struggle to justify a reason to do this when I have a list of things to get through, and I still have a pang of guilt niggling at me, but here’s the thing… that list is never ending and sometimes it’s overwhelming to see and understand that. I’ve said recently to some close friends that it feels like I’ve walked in to a extreme hoarder’s house and I just don’t know where to start. The only thing we can do is start with whatever is right in front of us, whatever is manageable for the time being. We live in a world where everything has become instantaneous so our patience is often tested. We get caught up, and often obsessed, with our own ideologies in life. Where we should be, what we should be doing, etc. It’s easy to get lost in this web of ideals. We don’t take time out for ourselves because we need to constantly be pushing forward, on to the next thing. “Be successful!” “Be happy!” “Success = happiness.” I want to take this time to challenge this pursuit of happiness and what it means to me.

I’m sure many of us have heard this terminology before and the “take-home” message that success doesn’t necessarily mean eternal happiness. It depends on what you mean by success. Career success? Family/relationship success? This idea of “do what makes you happy” is a scary concept for many as we can often feel like it’s not possible. It always made me question my worthiness of happiness. Here’s my take on the concept.. to be happy 100% of the time is just not possible. I think we need to give some space for negative emotions too. I remember reading a phrase that said something like, “a piano has black and white keys but they all create wonderful music.” It resonated with me because our experiences (positive or negative) shapes who we are and how we are with others. I have always been drawn to people with a similar mindset and outlook on life as I do but we aren’t necessarily cut from the same cloth. Everyone has their own story to tell but many of us don’t realise how unique we are because it’s just our “normal”. I am passionate about getting to know people and what makes them tick and I am always truly touched when they feel they can open up and talk to me. The flood of emotion I get when I can see the weight lifting a little is so rewarding to me. If I can help make people feel a little lighter, or a little happier then it brings me such joy. I know I am very empathetic so I often feel strong emotions from other people. This, to me, is what makes me feel successful. Maybe it’s all in my head but helping others is where my passion lies. It can be a blessing and a curse though.

Forming friendships in adulthood is challenging as it can often be hard to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. I am in no way saying that you should go out and tell everyone you meet your life story, that isn’t for everyone. Even I don’t open up that much from the get go! Being able to test the waters or recognise commonality within another person is what makes it difficult. We need to feel safe and trusting before we can really allow someone to see that side of us. However, on the flip side of that, the other person has their own story too. Expecting them to open up or fully understand is not fair on them. Empathy takes a lot of practice for some as we all want to protect the ones we love and allowing ourselves to care for someone, that could hurt us in some way, is the hardest challenge when you already feel like you’ve got enough on your plate. Sometimes it can take someone a while to process the information and perhaps, they need to speak to someone to gain an understanding as they do not want to hurt you. We can only see the world from our own perspective, and we can never truly put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. When someone reacts a certain way, that you’re not expecting, we instinctively think about the impact it has on us as an individual. It’s hard not to obsess over that if you’re an over-thinker like me. Taking a step back and realising that there’s more than meets the eye, will massively help you empathise. Once you realise there is a reason behind what they are saying/doing, then it becomes less about you and you see the bigger picture. Now I am in no way saying this is an easy thing to do as we are all human and we all have our own troubles. Being able to accept the fact that they upset you means you can start processing your emotions instead of acting like everything is fine. Otherwise, it can add to the mountain of unprocessed negative thoughts and feelings that bury us until we can no longer see the good. We are all entitled to our negativity and by embracing it a little more, perhaps we can keep it in a more manageable pile? Feeling lost, for example, is quite a common, overwhelming emotion for many.

When something throws us off balance, it can feel like the rug has been pulled out from under our feet. When the image in our head is getting a little foggy or hasn’t yet formed, there’s a sense of panic or loss we can experience. I personally feel that this is one of the worst negative emotions to battle with. It goes back to my earlier mentioned metaphor about walking into a hoarder’s house. It is very overwhelming. Why wouldn’t it be? This societal pressure to have your whole life mapped out by 30 is just not realistic for most. If you focus too much on your end goal, you’ll forget to enjoy the little positives around you. You may also miss moments where you made a difference in someone else’s life. Sometimes seemingly small gestures of kindness to you may have made the difference in that persons life. That’s what I try and focus on. If something were to happen to me tomorrow, I would hope I’d leave having a positive influence on people around me. Even just a tiny ray of sunshine in someone’s dark and gloomy world.

Maybe it’s time we look at changing our priorities from our own happiness to the pursuit of kindness.

Much love,

Hez xx

Give me all the compliments

Some of you may already know this about me but I am not good at taking sincere compliments. I always appreciate them but I struggle to really accept them. I am getting better however, or at least I cringe inwardly so you can’t tell. I’ve learned to smile and say thank you. I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to why I, and I know many others, are like this.

For the last couple years, I have been making changes in my life that required confidence and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. My early 20s consisted of a long term relationship that was intense in the beginning but filtered out when we (mainly He) needed a new direction in life. Yes, I was heartbroken that it didn’t include me and I felt very much like an after thought. Like I didn’t matter.. unimportant… replaceable. The truth is, now I’m nearing 30, I realise that I decided to make a positive change. Almost instantly I changed my life and even hair colour! I started training as a hairdresser and that’s where I started to notice that compliments gave me a feeling of unease.

A major part of training is providing a good service and creating beautiful hairstyles for clients and I would worry if they were genuinely happy with my work. I had my lecturers and the clients themselves tell me I was very talented and such a lovely person but I just felt that it was what anybody would say so I didn’t truly believe it. However, due to my talent of hiding the anxiety, no one suspected the inner turmoil I felt whenever this happened.

I eventually dropped hairdressing as it didn’t work for me for various reasons. I went back to teaching swimming (something I had been involved in since I was a very young) and I felt like a failure. I was lucky enough to be working with amazing people (mostly) but I still felt very lost with what to do with my life.

I finally had a “Fuck it!” moment and pushed myself to apply to college so I could see if I was cut out for academia again (I happily left school at 17 to work full time). Before I knew it, I was asked to interview for the course and a hop, skip and jump later I was starting full time education again at college. The plan was to pursue a psychology degree, something I always wanted to do but never felt good enough or smart enough.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous posts about how amazing my class mates were and the support and confidence I gained from being around them. This is where things started accelerating for me.

It was a few months in that I was chatting to one particular class member and he told me that he had seen my confidence grow so much since we started. That really struck a chord with me. It was like something finally clicked in my head. I feel like myself again, my younger self who had a cheeky personality and who was confident. This was my turning point.

For the past few years I was barely existing, going one day to the next, year after year. I wasn’t looking after my mental or physical health. I weighed the most I had ever weighed and I was definitely aware that it wasn’t me anymore. So I started getting back into physical fitness and healthy eating. I knew it wasn’t a quick fix and it would take time to change my lifestyle. So over the last couple years, I’ve just been chipping away at that while getting into university to study psychology.

I’ve since grown very close to one of my college class mates who I call my uni wife as we are two peas in a pod. I think she made it her mission to compliment me and build me up so I got used to it. I certainly started taking compliments about my intelligence and friendly nature a lot more. She is exactly the kind of friend I needed during this journey into uni and I love her dearly.

Last year was the next big change for me. I grew close to another amazing woman in my life who I would never have met under different circumstances (we live 4 hours away) but none the less we met and we bonded (she is my English wife). I would describe her as my most outrageous friend with a gold heart! I could be super inappropriate and cheeky around her, laughing to the point of tears! We also had some very meaningful heart to hearts and I’m so glad I met her too. We ended up going to Amsterdam together on a whim and the confidence I gained from hanging out with her skyrocketed. So much, in fact, that I started putting myself out there to date again!

Don’t get me wrong, I had been dating on and off for the past few years but I was never myself and so guarded that it just didn’t go very far. But after our trip away I decided to embrace the person I am and see what happens.

There has been a lot of ups and downs, I’m not going to lie. I have had to relearn a lot as I went. My anxiety (who I refer to as Lloyd) liked to keep me company so it’s been a challenge. Dating is not why I am here though.. I’ll maybe save that for another blog post one day… got plenty of stories to share there!

Now where was I? … oh yeah!

A big part of dating, usually, is receiving compliments. Mainly physical compliments. I’ve learned to accept them as I don’t feel that it is always meant genuinely. Or there is underlying motivations at play!

The compliments I have been referring to from the beginning of this post, are from friends and family. Just before lockdown in March, I had a couple of people I hadn’t seen since November compliment me on how I was looking. I’d lost weight but I was looking fit and healthy (basically, I looked like I gave a shit about my wellbeing) and I was able to accept it as I had been working so hard for the past couple years to get to where I am. Thankfully, during lockdown, I’ve been able to maintain my weight and fitness but I’ve still had struggles mentally. My anxiety (Lloyd) has been around a lot because I’ve had no work or uni to focus on. My brain is a powerful tool that I need to use for good! Even exercising and keeping fit hasn’t really helped so I reckon some times I just need to embrace it as if I try and ignore Lloyd too much, then I have to deal with a longer period of depression (named Astaroth for those wondering!) which can mean me spending a few days in bed… Unmotivated and going to dark places in my head.

I feel like my mental health is like walking on a tight rope, especially during lockdown, it just needs one thing to tip me off balance and the downward spiral can feel like I’ve failed in some way. When I’m in this negative mindset, I still feel that inward awkwardness around compliments. Even when they are meant with genuine affection. That’s not to say they aren’t appreciated but I can guarantee you that I am now overthinking what you’ve said or it has reminded me of something someone else has said or done. I am guilty of doing this a lot and I am very talented at making myself feel guilty over everything I do. So while I seem pretty confident on the surface and in life, know that I still have my struggles. That doesn’t just immediately stop. I just have to learn to manage my mental health, keep Lloyd at bay so Astaroth doesn’t resurface (what a weird feckin thing to say, eh?!). I am someone who needs a lot of reassurance when I’m in this mind frame as that’s when I feel most vulnerable and fragile. So if I ever seem like I’m fishing for compliments or seeking reassurance (about anything I’m worrying over) then please know that I just need a bit of support from you in that moment. I do not need you to fix my problems as only I can do that.

One of the main things I am thankful for, is I have spent the last couple years increasing that supportive circle with people who keep me grounded. I’ve only mentioned a couple in this post but there are many out there who I feel I can trust and open up to and I am getting better at that. So thank you to all that have helped me in some way, shape, or form in the last few years. I am starting to see the best version of myself emerging out of the shadows that I have hidden in for the last 10 or so years. And hopefully I will start to accept compliments without internally squirming with awkwardness!

Much love,

Hez xx

Crazy times

Like many people, I’m finding the lockdown hard to get used to. Just when I think “I’ve totally got this!” I am hit with an impending doom that this will never end.

Today is one of those days. I’ve been pretty productive this past week and especially yesterday but I woke up this morning and just didn’t know what to do with my day so I fell back asleep and didn’t get up again until 2pm. I hate feeling like I’ve wasted my day but right now it’s hard to keep in step with “normal” life. I know sleeping most of the day is usually a sign that my depression is creeping in so I thought I’d write it down to see if it helps me to process it better.

Usually, when I’m starting to slip, I put off thinking or embracing it and choose to distract myself instead. This is especially hard during the lockdown and to be honest, I’m terrified to open Pandora’s box. I feel like there’s a lot going on inside my head lately and I’ve just been ignoring it. It’s gotten to the point where I’m overanalysing everything about me and blaming myself for things out with my control. I need to remind myself that others’ feelings and actions are not within my control.

My only issue is that I care deeply for people and I’m drawn to people similar to myself. Whether I like it or not, I care about people and want to see them happy and doing well. It’s just part of my nature. I’ve been feeling super guilty lately as I feel like there’s so many people I want to check in on during this lockdown but I can’t keep up. So if you’re reading this and I haven’t reached out yet then I deeply apologise. I promise I am thinking about you and hoping you’re doing well.

Overthinking during lockdown is definitely not fun whatsoever and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’m reflecting on myself and things I’ve done with such a fine tooth comb that I feel like I’m tearing myself to shreds today. Today is a write off and I’m willing to accept that. I plan on just embracing that for the rest of the day so I hopefully wake up tomorrow feeling a little more in control and am kinder to myself.

Much love,

Hez xxx

Award winning overthinkiner

“You overthink too much” “You should just go with the flow” “Try not to worry so much” these are a few things people tell me when I open up about stuff that’s bothering me but you know what? I already know this! I need a solution and not a statement. The truth is, I talk to people because I know I’m overthinking and I just need a little reassurance.

Since my last post, things have been both amazing and dreadful. I’ve felt a lot more confident in myself and even in my appearance for the most part. I still struggle to see myself the way other people see me but I’m working on it. I have gotten to a point where I can admit to myself that I feel pretty lonely in the evenings. I was getting used to my own company but over the last few months I’ve gotten in to the habit of messaging people a lot to fill the silence. This is great but everyone has their own life to be getting on with so sometimes I don’t get an instant response and I feel it impacts me quite badly at times. This is where the overthinking comes in.. my brain can be very nasty when I let it run wild. And I don’t mean nasty to other people, I mean to myself. It’s hard to fight off the dark thoughts when you’ve nothing else to do.

I need human interaction. Even when I’m brain dead after a long day, I miss that lazy chat with someone while sitting in the living room. It actually makes me miss being in a relationship, which I never thought I’d admit to! It’s been a while since my last serious relationship and I feel like I’m more open minded now for the first time in ages. I’ve been dating and it’s been both amusing and tragic! Some of my friends get to enjoy the gossip first hand, and I love them for their jokes and support! I’m beginning to think that I should just get another dog for company instead (way less mind games) but uni work is keeping me busy and it is my priority right now. I’ve worked hard to get here and I’m not prepared to just let things slide because someone needs my attention 24/7.

I’m not sure where I was going with this blog today but apparently I’m having a rant about dating! I’ll get back on track….

Aside from dating, there’s been numerous occasions where I’ve found myself having obsessive thoughts and wishing that I could just go with the flow and not think about every little aspect of my life. It is so exhausting and overwhelming at the best of times. It’s hard to look after yourself when you feel this way and then it just becomes a vicious circle where you think “what’s the point of looking good?!” “Stop eating the creme eggs, Helen!” if I could switch it off then I would! … most of the time…. but to be honest, my overthinking can be a super power too…

I am a kind person who wants to help people where I can. I hate upsetting anyone so will always try and be nice (even when some folk don’t deserve it!) and I’ll always try and give people the benefit of the doubt. How many people can say they honestly give people that much of a chance? I need to remind myself that, I might not have the “perfect life” but at least I’m kind in a world that can chew you up and spit you out. It takes a lot for me to turn my back on anyone and this has helped me to surround myself with people who care deeply for me too. Yeah, there’s plenty of people out there who take advantage of that but most people are acting out from an insecure place. I pride myself on the fact that most people open up to me in conversation, even those I’ve just met. I have a need and a drive to help people and that’s what’s inspired me to pursue clinical psychology.

So yeah, my overthinking is hard work and leads to me needing reassurance but at least I’m not heartless and if I can make anyone feel better, even just a tiny smile inside or a burst of laughter, then damn right I’ll do my best! There’s not enough people out there who look out for others. We should always be kind to people because you just don’t know their story.

Much love,

Hez xx

How do I pull myself from the edge?

Since my last post, there’s been a massive change in my life. For many people, it may not seem that big a deal but right now I notice it more than anything. My beloved furry friend, Dilly, is no longer with me. Unfortunately she passed away in June and it’s been very strange not having her around. The last couple of days I’ve really struggled not having her here beside me. Doing silly things to keep me smiling and cuddling into me when she seemed to know I wasn’t feeling my best, even before I knew.

I’m having one of those moments where I feel like I have a million things going through my head, to the point where I can’t cope and just want to stay in my bed and hide from the world. My anxiety is in overdrive and I’m doubting every step I take. Many people won’t see that I am struggling but that’s because I’m very good at hiding behind a version of myself I wish others to perceive me as.

I know that I have to embrace the negative emotions at times as that is a part of life. And to be honest, I have gotten better at that but the one thing I can’t quite get my head around is loneliness. That point where you don’t want to reach out to other people because “why would they want to talk to you?” I know that isn’t necessarily true but I also think about how others have a life to lead and they aren’t just waiting to exist when I reach out to them.

I took some time off lately and I am struggling to get back into the mindset I need for work and uni. I realised how much I crave social interaction, especially from those I have a give and take with. I really enjoy chatting to people on a deep and personal level but I also miss being that comfortable with someone that you can sit in silence and just sort of melt into each other I guess. I struggle to be alone with my thoughts at times and I wish I could learn how to pull myself out of this funk by myself. The more I think about it though, the more I realise that when you feel like you’re in a deep, dark pit.. it’s a lot harder to climb out on your own. Accepting help from others is okay because you don’t know how much that person needs to help you. It would be nice to be able to pull yourself out but the motivation just isn’t the same. I have many amazing friends and family that do so much for me every day without realising it, especially on my worse days, and it’s so important to have them with you. I certainly took Dilly for granted and I need her now more than ever. That’s not to say that I need one perfect person to step into my life and be that beacon of light for me. One firefly can’t light up the sky alone.

Much love,

Hez xx