A little word on body image…

Good evening my lovely people, How is this Sunday treating you? I have attempted to help cook a lovely soup my family and I had for dinner but I am quite terrible in the kitchen. I have also enjoyed some time away from the screen by reading and planning out an application. Now I am here! I have noticed I have some new followers here, so welcome welcome do make yourselves at home! Please feel free to message or comment, I am hoping to foster a lovely community here. I would just like to quickly let you know that as this blog will now feature posts around mental health and mental illness ,I will be placing a new page on this blog full of useful information and links over the coming weeks which will be added to over time. It by no means replaces professionals and will always encourage you to seek professional help if you are at all worried about yourself. Now, on to today’s topic body image. Self-image encompasses not only our body image but also our views of our personality and our abilities. As much as I would love to delve into the psychology of each one and give an account of my experiences, I will stick with body image today given it is so heavily reported on. I have witnessed firsthand the terror a toxic body image can unleash. This is because I have battled in a long, draining war with my body image for gosh 14 years, since I was 10 years old. Now I will admit, my restrictive eating habits formed as a way of being able to control something, anything. It was the only thing I could control when I was having nearly 5 panic attacks a day. But around 18 months later it morphed into more. I went to secondary school. I was called fat by a group of young girls older than me despite me being underweight at that time. That was when I really started looking in the mirror. From then, I have never felt comfortable in the skin I was in. My episodes bring the worst of that out. I started a lot of unhealthy habits and such negative coping mechanisms that I am struggling to untangle the web. Due to binge eating and many medications I am the highest weight I have ever been. Yet it is now I choose to start a journey of self love. I am tired, so tired, of these unrealistic images perpetuated every single place I look, every corner I turn onto. I am tired of tying my worth to images of what society deems an acceptable body type, of bodies we cannot afford to look like. I have got to learn to love my body as common as that sounds. My body has been through thousands of panic attacks, thousands of mood swings, hundreds of episodes, 11 psychiatric medication changes and so, so much more. Yet I show it very little gratitude most days. I am sick of the rhetoric. I am sick of the hatred I show myself. I have a very long road ahead but I will be damned if I spend another day hating what I see in the mirror. Because that is not who I am. I am a kind person, full of love and passion which I always show to others. It is high time I stop being a hypocrite and start practicing what I preach. L x

Lessons on well-being I learned in therapy

Hello everyone! I apologise for the lateness of this piece, I was unwell over the weekend and with this being quite personal, I wanted to make sure I got the right stuff down. So today I will be talking a little bit more about what I have learned throughout therapy. I do wish to stress that therapy is a very individualistic process and what I am sharing is not representative of what anyone else has learned; it is as unique as every person is themselves. I am hoping that what I share might allow to you understand the kind of journey and evolution towards wellness I have undergone. So without further ado, these are the lessons I learned… 1: Plan your days, even if you are low Early into my time in therapy, I was struggling to find motivation to do anything, every day was a struggle and nothing was ever accomplished, so my psychotherapist suggested a therapy that helped me build goals to achieve (more on that later) and boost my mood through activity. It got to the point where I was planning my days with a mixture of pleasurable activities and activities that had do be done, like laundry. We would then discuss how accomplished each activity made me feel and how I felt in general. I found my activity times boosting and that I would feel better for doing something as simple as reading and tidying my room in a day. At this point in time, I plan the day in advance the night before so that I know what is ahead. I have found it helps to keep my mood stable and my brain focused. I do sometimes plan a few days ahead when I know there a lots of things to be done e.g. university work and studying. It has become a key point in my nightly routine and has done wonders for my sense of wellness. 2: When low days arrive, stick to the foundations and basics of self-care I have spoken about self-care previously. I have had wobbles and blips throughout therapy where my energy was low, and I couldn’t find motivation. So the solution I learned was to still plan the day ahead, especially, when feeling low. I do this by planning in all the basics like brushing my teeth, having a shower and reaching out to someone. It helps to give me a sense of accomplishment that even on my lowest of days I am still doing something positive: I am taking care of myself. 3: When good days come, don’t overdo everything to then suffer burnout This can happen to so many of us, we have a few low energy days and then when we feel good all of a sudden, we feel like we can get everything done and often do: to only feel exhausted at the end of it. This happened to me so many times once I started to feel well more often. I would overwork the body and brain and then become burned out in a matter of minutes after completing a long to-do list. Life is all about balance. To remain in a good energetic state, it is all about balance. Whilst I have not perfected the art of not overdoing things, I do feel I have vastly improved over time. So when I feel well, I place in some relaxing activities and a few little activities I need to do such as budgeting or planning work. This has helped me to lessen the burden of burnout and lengthen how long I feel well. 4: Goals can help Everybody has goals. Be it long term career plans, or short term financial goals. I will be going more in-depth as to how goals can be used to improve your well-being in a later post. For years, I either had goals that could be not accomplished or I just was not wanting to make them due to depression really digging its’ heels in. Goals were one of the first things I practiced in therapy, making small achievable goals to get out of the house a couple of times within the week. I found the goal of a short ten minute walk to the shop helped me to feel just that little bit better. They helped me to feel freer. I have learned how to plan a few months into the future at the time and have an idea of a long term career plan which I am still developing. Life, of course, does not always go to plan so I have been taught how to deal with this when issues arise. But having a goal is me having the option of learning how to better myself, to actively intend to do something I feel will be good for me, or make life just a little bit easier. 5. You cannot do everything all the time This is a big lesson I have had to learn. When I started therapy, I wanted to get as much work done as possible. This is not how therapy worked for me. Patience was needed. As I learned more tools for my well-being the more I tried to be this ‘perfect’ person who could be amazing in all areas all the time. It soon came crashing down and I was low again. I couldn’t figure out why this had happened as obvious as it may seem. Until I spoke with my psychotherapist and she showed me that trying to do too much at once will inevitably burn me out. I found the things that I knew I wanted to do regularly that helped me to function and thrive and have based my life around these practices. Other areas I want to improve myself upon are a process, it takes time to build positive habits. There is no ‘one size fits all’ model. It is a process of trial and error and finding things that can be committed to. But constantly being ‘on’ and trying to do every single thing I want can be exhausting. This is not a healthy pattern. So now, I am comfortable practicing what feels right for myself, and when I feel ready, I may take on another challenge. I often remind myself of all the positive things I do regularly; running, reading, meditating, having a morning and night routine, planning my days, yoga etc. I remind myself it is still okay if I may falter occasionally, it happens, each day is different and I have to be okay with switching things up to match the day and my mood. 6: Plan pleasurable activities into your days This is a big one, in a world where productivity and working hard is the key, having ‘me-time’ can be seen as a negative point. But I disagree. I learned very early on in therapy that pleasurable activities are what sustain me, knowing I have something that brings me joy ahead feeds my soul. It keeps me going, revitalises my mind and I can carry on with the harder activities after refocusing. I have learned we all need some down time to process things, to regroup and conquer whatever is next in our day or week. 7: Practice meditation/mindfulness Meditation and mindfulness have almost become buzzwords in this technological and social media age. A ‘guru’ will speak of its benefits endlessly. It has become a popularised part of therapy because of how much research backs the findings. I got into meditation myself last year when I wanted to learn how to calm my mind from spiralling thoughts and just be present in the day. I myself have felt the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, even if it is just a short 3 minute practice every day. Some people find that this does not work for them and that is perfectly okay, but I do find it helps me. 8: Exercise helps Over the recent years I have never really been a fan of exercising regularly, I have never had the most healthy relationship with exercise from my younger years. I did have a fear of returning to unhealthy patterns but I came into therapy with wanting to create a stronger, healthier self and this didn’t just mean my mind. I wanted a stronger body to create a unification in my wellness. So I undertook the Couch 2 5K programme, my partner helped me along with incredible support and I have learned balance and do incorporate running into my days when I can. I also do yoga at home which helps me to refresh and refocus. I hope you enjoyed reading a bit more about what I learned in therapy, maybe you find you can relate to some of it? Let me know! Much happiness, L x