Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Disconnected from the girl I used to be

"If you don't get lost, there's a chance you may never be found."

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a mental health update and it’s honestly because: I’m fine. I feel better than I’ve felt in a very long time. I’ve had my fair shares of ups and downs, including suffering with depression, anxiety, eating disorders etc. But I honestly feel like I’ve reached a high peak, where I’m happy and I don’t know who that vulnerable girl is anymore. Of course, I still suffer with anxiety and have a few bad habits regarding food, but not to the point that it’s self-debilitating.

Just before I found out I was pregnant, my health started to quickly dwindle, especially with my eating. Me and Chris had hit and rough patch (and actually broke up briefly) and I’d just started a new job. Instead of this new point in my life (think new friends, new job, more free time) being exciting, it was ridden with anxiety. I didn’t have Chris by my side anymore. Friends were asking me to go out more regularly in situations that didn’t really suit me (think the clubbing lifestyle). And I honestly just wanted a black hole to swallow me up.

But then Chris and I got to talking again and started sorting things out. I came off my medication. And I realised I’d by far missed my period. So there we were, 12 weeks pregnant and soon to be parents. It was pretty daunting.

At the beginning I really struggled. I was torn between being so over the moon about our little miracle baby and being full of anxiety that I wasn’t fit to be a mother. Chris and I discussed moving in together again and starting looking at houses. I was experiencing a lot of pregnancy symptoms and post-medication symptoms. I was trying to impress still in my new job. So it’s no wonder it was a pretty tough time. But do you know what kept me going? I had Chris by my side once again and I was growing a beautiful human being inside of me. It couldn’t get any better than that.

But you know what I’ve realised today, 9 months pregnant (about to drop – hopefully soon please Noah). I’m fine. I don’t remember all those feeling very clearly anymore. I’m disconnected from that vulnerable girl, worrying about everything. But I have to say, I wouldn’t change these past few months for anything. While they were tough, they’ve taught me so much about myself, my relationship with Chris and about life in general. Chris and I decided to not waste our money renting and instead are saving to buy our first family home in a few months’ time. I feel better than ever not being on my medication. And I cannot wait to be a mummy.

It’s funny really looking back at 9 months ago me and I feel disconnected from her. But I also feel disconnected from that young, vulnerable, skinny 18 year old girl entering a private mental hospital and the person I was running up to that inpatient stay. Disconnected from the girl who left hospital on a high, but slowly dwindled down a destructive path once again. Disconnected from the shy girl who would cry herself to sleep most nights because she had no friends. I honestly don’t know who she is anymore and unless I really think about these times in my life, I hardly remember them.

I feel like I'm finally me.

Does that sound weird? Or is this just all part of growing up and “finding yourself”? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m soon to become a mum for starters, which throws a total curve ball into the whole “who I am” situation. But you know what? I’m not scared, I’m excited! While I will never totally forget the bad experiences I’ve had because they’ve made the strong, independent person I am standing here today, I am so happy they don’t live with my every day and I’m so excited for the adventure I’m about to embark on…

Here’s to personal growth and the future. I CAN’T BLOODY WAIT.

Monday, 13 March 2017

My mind's running wild

It's been a while since I've sat down and written a blog post, mostly because I haven't had a chance to sit down and just write, and when I have I've been so knackered from work and preparing things for Noah, that sitting at my computer screen is the last thing I want to do. 

I'm on maternity leave now, you know, those few weeks up until labour where people say you rest? Yeah, resting isn't quite happening. My rest is sitting down writing this and having a well-deserved coffee (after knackering my back tidying all day when I got back from the hospital!) My mind is running wild with everything I need to do. Everything I need to get ready for Noah. And nesting is in full swing. I'm cleaning EVERYTHING. For starters, I've ripped my room out (and found a lot of interesting things I didn't know I had) from top to bottom. 

It's funny, but when I left work Friday, I was worried I'd get bored on maternity leave... There's no chance of that! There's so much to do! I mean, we actually have everything we need for Noah. But me. I am not ready. I need to tidy. I need to pack my hospital bag, again and again.  And again. Keep going over my birthing plan (which probably won't go to plan anyway). Visit the hospital for numerous appointments. Go shopping for some last minute toiletries and outfits for my hospital bag. Maybe buy a new hospital bag? (Because you know, the one I have just isn't right). I need to do washing. Get my nails done. Get my hair done. Take Barney for walks. Go food shopping. And somewhere amongst all of this, actually RELAX. 

To top it off, my midwife said to me today that I may be experiencing early-labour contractions (and not just Braxton Hicks like I thought), so that's sent everyone into panic mode. I DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW TO PUT THE CAR SEAT IN THE CAR YET?! Is my hospital bag ready?! Do I have everything for Noah?! Am I ready to be a mum?! *Side note: That evening I learnt how to put the car seat in the car & packed my hospital bag, 'cos you know, panic. 

I mean, personally, I don't feel like they are actual contractions. My belly is always tight isn't it? And surely I'd be in a lot more pain? They're probably just Braxton Hicks. Saying that, my mum was in labour for 3 days with me before she even knew. So. You just never know. Plus, being almost 38 weeks now, he could come at ANY time. Also, I have been experiencing a lot of other symptoms which are typical of "early labour symptoms", so the little guy is definitely getting ready to make a move now.

With just over 2 weeks until my due date (a maximum of 4 weeks of pregnancy left), I cannot contain my excitement to meet this little man I've been growing for the past 9 months. Of course, this is met with anxiety surrounding labour and becoming a mum and that general "fed up feeling" of being very heavily pregnant now.

Like, sh*t, I'm going to be a mum. What does this involve? What if I'm rubbish? What if he won't stop crying? What if he won't settle for me? What if I start feeling depressed again?

Am I ever going to lose this extra weight? Am I ever going to work full-time again? Am I ever going to want to leave our boy after maternity leave? How are we going to afford me working part-time? Why haven't we bought a house yet? When will we buy a house? Can we buy a house? 

As you can tell, my mind is running wild. Anxiety is taking over. And I'm having to keep pulling myself back to Earth and actually calming the heck down. Noah's (very many, very intense and very life-like - think a bum, back or arm sticking out of your side) kicks always help me stop for a moment and just realise how amazing this adventure has and is going to be. And I truly cannot wait. 

Here's to parenthood. See you soon!


Thursday, 2 March 2017

It's all about you... It's about you.

If you read my New Year post on getting back to me and last week's post, you'll know that my goal this year (as well as becoming a brilliant mum), is to learn to love myself a little more and to help Chris love himself a little more. In the hope that we fall deeper in love with one another (too cringy?)

I feel it's an important topic to address with you guys because so many of us simply forget about loving ourselves. We're so busy loving others or waiting for someone to love us that we forget about the most important person we need to love first: ourselves. It's when me and Chris hit a bit of a rocky patch (which I've talked about in previous blog posts) and started to look into our relationship in more depth that I realised that we both needed to actually love ourselves more, rather than each other. Sounds silly doesn't it? But it's not.

While we were growing evermore distant, I began to explore love more. Why had we become distant? Why were there holes forming in our relationship? As well as many things (such as poor communication)we both had fallen out of love with OURSELVES, not each other. 

The fall out 

It's so easy to fall out of love with yourself or to never have really loved yourself in the first place, because for most of us, it takes continued effort and an actual realisation that this is something we need to do. 

I've had a pretty tough time with depression, eating disorders and anxiety, so much so, that loving myself was something that never crossed my mind. I hated myself. Chris, similarly, had a tough time with his weight growing up. However, when we met each other, we both turned that around, together. Chris had already lost weight and was hitting the gym most days, eating healthily. I found things in myself to love and enjoyed spending time alone, as well as with Chris and friends. We were both feeling better than ever and dived into a new relationship with one another, both happy and free. 

But a year down the line, Chris had stopped the gym, I had a tough time and needed to see a counsellor again. We dived deeper into our relationship, supporting each other but forgetting ourselves. In turn, this started to reveal cracks in our relationship. That grew bigger and bigger, until we broke.

And it wasn't in that time apart that I realised this. But rather looking back at our time apart. I surrounded myself by people. I was never alone. I was out with friends most evenings or curled up on the sofa with Barney and my parents. I never had a moment alone. Why? Because I didn't love myself? I hated myself once again. Spending time alone with myself was a cruel task I didn't want to do.

Looking back on this at the beginning of the new year I realised it wasn't that we had fallen out of love with each other, but merely ourselves. And since then, this has been a big goal of mine for our relationship, to fall in love with ourselves, which in turn, will make up fall deeper in love with each other.

The love for each other is there, so strongly. I know he loves me, he knows I love him. But do we love ourselves? Not yet, but we're getting there. How are we doing this? I've added some tips below on how to love yourself a little bit more. Whether it's before your search for love or while you're in a relationship, like me and Chris. 

1. Give yourself a break

This is an important one for me because it took me a while to realise, I am not perfect. No one is. And you don't always have to do everything right. Mistakes happen, you'll get things from time to time. That's just life. But it doesn't mean you need to stop loving yourself and who you are. Embrace your imperfections and forget about your bad days.

I've always had such high expectations of myself and felt like a failure if I didn't meet them. But it's that realisation that in fact, this is perfectly normal to not get everything right or how you want every single time. 

Don't judge yourself. Give yourself a break.

2. Use positive affirmations 

Try positive affirmations to focus on self-love a bit more. A few favourites of mine are:

"You are enough.  You are so enough. It's unbelievable how enough you are." 
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." 
"I am the architect of my life; I build its foundation and choose its contents."

3. Accept who you are 

This is another difficult one. We've all made mistakes at some point in our life, but we tend to be harsh on ourselves because of this. Family and friends may sometimes say harsh and upsetting things when we make mistakes and those words can whizz round in our minds for a long time. 

Focus on your positive qualities. Your strengths. Your abilities. And let go of any harsh judgement or words said in spite. 

Accept you are who you are. And love you for how awesome you are most (actually, ALL) of the time. 

4. Embrace you

When I was going through a bad period of self-hate, I couldn't spend any time alone with myself (I'm slowly getting better at this again). I always had to busy myself and my mind by keeping others around me. When I was alone, all I felt were feelings of anxiety, fear, judgement, hate, sadness. 

To overcome this, practice small moments of alone time and learn how to treat and look after yourself. This may be painting your nails once a week or going on a short walk alone. But learning to be with yourself will help you to be more comfortable in your own skin. 

5. Be grateful 

One of the things that actually helps me the most is being grateful for what I have. Whether that's simply saying "I am grateful for my family and friends around me" or "I am grateful I have a roof over my head", it helps me actually love myself and my life just that little bit more. 

It can be so easy to feel down about your life and blame yourself for this. Practising being grateful actually makes you realise how good your life is, how lucky you are and how awesome you are!

Does self-love come easy to you or do your struggle? Is it affecting your relationships? Are you following any of these techniques to overcome those feelings? Let me know! 
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