A name, an identity

Dearest lovely readers,

How are you all faring? Good, I hope.

Let us get straight into this, names and identities are powerful things. They are the things that make our first impressions to others, they are the package of who we are and how we present ourselves. Our identity is composed of many things from what we wear to how we behave and feel and think; it is our values and morals, our labels. Names therefore are massively important because they are what we identify ourselves with, much like a parcel of food is labelled, our name is what signifies the rest of us. When we introduce ourselves, when our names are called, we answer and we show up.

 

Our name is a gift

When we are first born, our caregivers give us a name that they feel gives us the right “identification”. It is a gift to say, you are human, you are a person in your own right, we love you and wish you blessings with this. Now for many reasons, names are changed as people grow. This can be due to transitioning into a different gender or changing a surname as we get married. In essence, we can also gift ourselves our identity on our own terms. For example, we change surnames in marriage to symbolise the coming together of a partnership we have chosen.

 

Names categorise

Having such an identifier is common. Everything has a name. Whether it is a person or a plant, or species of animal. We humans love to categorise and this includes when meeting someone for the first time. We learn so much from the name, we learn how that person will act and behave and make assumptions. We categorise the origin of their name and thus learn more about the person and their history. We can determine if we like people, or what their name might signify. Our brains are hardwired to categorise, it is literally in our nature. Knowing someone’s name makes it easier to categorise someone as a friend, an acquaintance or unfriendly.

 

Differences are evident

In some cultures, the family name is recognised first before the individual’s name. This is important as it symbolises the rich history of a person’s family, and again they can be categorised. Family is important to our identity as they give us our roots from which we build our foundations. However, I have noticed here in the West this can sometimes be ignored and reverted to our own ways of identification.

My own name

Now to be a bit more personal. My name can be categorised as ordinary and common. My surname is Smith, just to give you an idea. I was given my name simply because my mother liked it which is lovely. She loved a name so much she chose it for her second daughter. My sister has a middle name that she has passed onto her daughter – a hopeful tradition in my eyes. It shows the beauty and options of how we decide people may live their lives.

Given I live in a blended family, I adored my step family’s culture, I asked my step-grandfather to translate my name, and thus I was given a Chinese name which I treasure to this day. I am even contemplating changing my surname to my stepfather’s in honour of him. I feel this decision gives me power over my destiny and feel more true to myself. 

Names have so much power, psychology can reduce it to a sound we recognise as us. But names are so much more, we have to sit with them every moment of our lives. There are so many options and reasons why we are given names. They form a massive part of our identity and who we are, how we are meant to live up to them, we respect the gift. Of course, the gift may not always we welcome and people are now free to go by nicknames or change their name altogether, and this is valid. We all have our reasons for changing should the occasion arise. If our identity does not sit right with us it can impact our well-being, our mental state can be hindered. 

Names are beautiful. 

Much love,

L x

Why change can be good

Dearest lovely readers,

I hope you are taking good care of yourselves during these trying and conflicting times. Remember, this is a safe space. Take a moment if you need to.

Now, change is a bit of a funny topic isn’t it? It can be like an urge sometimes. To do something different, from a new hairstyle to changing careers or making changes for our health. Change is where something is different, altered or modified. Change in relationships can occur or states related to well-being. Change can be scary, unfamiliar, it can bring discomfort and fear. Today, I want to explore that a little bit.

Change can bring growth

The term “growth” tends to be quite malleable, it can mean different things to different people, so let me explain further. Changings jobs, relationships or habits might first breed discomfort but that is okay. We need to be able to move from our comfort zone in order to learn more about ourselves, to achieve what we really want, and find more awareness. The chances are, by testing ourselves, we grow. We move to a more authentic space in who we are. For me personally, my biggest change was starting therapy. I was lost in my identity, and had to face the discomfort of opening up without barriers, and I did for the most part. I was asked in the first session what I expected to come from therapy, and despite my knowledge, I didn’t really know how to answer. Session by session I let go of my layers and found myself deep in a phenomenon called post-traumatic growth. In essence, post-traumatic growth is a feeling of relief by letting go of past traumas. After a few months, I started to feel almost enlightened as to what I was capable of. I grew.

Change brings progress and opportunities

This is a big one. Sometimes, to get further ahead, we must actively seek change. Without it, we are not able to find ways to progress in a particular area of life. Change and motivation are required. Opportunities sometimes have to be sought and prepared for. For example, way back in 2016 I had to prepare for university. I sought out opportunities within the mental health community to boost what I learned and make change in society. Speaking out about stigma was a terrifying prospect. Thoughts came like, “can I speak my truth to complete strangers?” It wasn’t until I threw myself in the deep end did I learn how amazing it really was. I developed a new sense of confidence, I started making connections, I increased resiliency and climbed further than I thought I would. Completing university was difficult, as you know, that final year I was dreading trying to come up with a dissertation piece. But with guidance and preparation I created a unique research project that psychology has yet to really enter. Seeking out opportunities, whether they work or not, is good. It means we dare to reach out. It means we can gain new experiences, see the world a different way and find what enriches our lives.

Change allows you to build strength, flexibility, and adaptability

Finding yourself in the midst of change brings a myriad of actions and emotions. By finding your way through every thing that comes forth, you learn to be more flexible and adaptable. Without even realising it, you also build your tolerance, strength and resilience because of the changes. In a way, I was able to do this when working on my agoraphobia and behavioural activation. Through planning my days, and making goals, I was able to be more flexible in how my days looked, I adapted to leaving my home. I found strength in finding healthier habits. I still fall back in to a rut sometimes, that is how recovery goes but I am now able to withstand most changes that come my way. Likewise, in quitting alcohol a few years ago, I was scared about how my social life would look like and losing friendships. But through change, I was able to start going out for meals rather than meeting at the pub, I have far more meaningful conversations and contact.

Change really can bring the goodness out in life, we just need to prepare sometimes, or actively seek it. Don’t be afraid to mix things up, or contemplate what you might like to change. I haven’t always succeeded in my changes but that is part of the process.

Much love,

L x

A humble return

Dearest lovely readers,

As 2021 gradually closed so much has happened. I am now ready to return to the blogosphere, the posts will probably be one every two weeks as I gradually return to the world.

First I’d like to discuss a little of the bad things that happened to me.

Since posting, my heart broke twice. I lost both of my guinea pig companions, first Blossom in September which was long and drawn out. Brenda the week of my birthday in December which happened so suddenly. Losing Brenda shuck me back a few steps in recovery, I was not ready. I also have become more estranged with my biological father through his actions – I’m not as surprised as it happened. He lives around 7 miles away and I haven’t seen him in over a year and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

However, despite all this drama, and upheaval much good came out of the year.

I saw my beautiful sister finally become a bride, and a great one at that. It was probably occasion of the year for me, she was radiant and seeing her so happy was truly wonderful and so pure.

I have found new volunteer work as a Recovery Coach which I’m just starting, it’s all very exciting!

I have decided to change my last name. Names are a funny thing, it’s essentially a sound that we recognise as “us”. And I’d like to explore the phenomenon in a future post. But my surname does not feel like my identity anymore so will be taking a surname in honour of my stepfather.

I have renewed my sense of self, finally love my body, have a determination to move out and find work later in the year. Once. My health problems have been sorted which I’m currently actively trying to do. Because we can’t stay stuck forever.

Mental health services are currently lagging but I’m trying my best to work with them.

So much is happening and to ensure I dedicate time to exploring all things well-being; here is a draft schedule of the topics to come:

Grief and well-being

Why change can be good

Name and identity

The concept of self-love and body positivity

Spirituality and well-being

I hope these topics sound interesting, if there is anything you wish for me to cover, comment or message me on the contact form.

I am really excited about what 2022 has to offer and I hope you are too.

Let me know how you’ve been.

Much love,

L x

[  ] the future[  ] Self-love/body positivity/fat acceptance[  ] A reflection of the year past[  ] Spirituality

It’s been a while..

Dearest lovely readers,

It really has been a while hasn’t it? I can only apologise.

Have you ever felt so lost it’s like you’re on a rocky path that seemingly leads to nowhere in the dark? That is what it seems to have been for me during my period of silence. Everything running out of my control and in ways I couldn’t imagine. If you have ever felt like this, then you’re not alone, I am in solidarity with you.

My health has drastically changed over the last few months and it’s taken some getting used to. I figured, whilst I was in a good place, I’d update you.

Well, I came out with a First Class degree in case you were wondering. Top of the top, my work will also be used as a good example for future students to learn from. So that saw a period of celebration. We also celebrated my partner’s 30th, it was low key but relaxing and an overall good day! My partner has been coming up to see me and will do so again this coming Tuesday since I am struggling so much. It always feels wonderful to be around him.

Mental health wise I have been up and down. I’m currently coming off a medication slowly as it didn’t seem to be as effective anymore. I was happy to do this and honestly? I do feel a bit better for it, I’m certainly not as foggy (though fibromyalgia doesn’t help). I feel a little more free when I am well. The down periods do certainly have an impact lately, I have been easily triggered and ideation is happening more than I’d like. But with the help of my mam, family and partner I’m coping.

Physically I have been rendered mostly bedbound again. The fatigue has been so real, and nigh on constant, as has the ‘fibro-fog’. Which I am sure many understand. The flares have been getting worse I assume due to my mental health worsening.

What makes this harder is the delays in treatment. I have been waiting for two months for a rheumatologist letter to get to my GP for a referral to a management clinic. My therapy for what I’m going through is now paused indefinitely. There is certainly no change coming from services soon.

So what do I do?

The disappointment with therapy being cancelled overwhelmed me. But I had a choice. Let it consume me for weeks or fight to find a way out of this darkness.

So.

I have bought some informative books from very trusted sources and am essentially going to study myself better. Making changes in my life where I can and prepare for my next meetings/appointments so I can question possible things that may help.

I am not giving up. I can’t. What good would that do?

I do firmly believe in things like correct psycho-education and self-help from the right sources, I think a lot of good can be done from that. So I’m off to study.

How are you doing, dearest? I am here.

Much love,

L x

A ramble 2.0

Dearest lovely readers,

It has been a while, hasn’t it?

Things have been tricky lately. I have been on a break on almost everything. Rambles and updates seem to be a favourite so here goes…

I spent a couple of weeks with my partner in the south west. The train down saw me stranded in the rain for a few hours before I got on track to my destination. The stress caused a week of exhaustion. But, despite the worsening mental health, it was still lovely to be beside the sea. I had some beautiful gelato and plenty of hugs and down time.

In the good news, I have just 2 weeks to wait for my degree classification. My nerves are starting to get jittery. I am eager to see my scores. The first part of my future being concluded. It is after all, 5 years in the making.

This week I was told I have fibromyalgia. This wasn’t a shock as such, more an answer and validation of what I have been going through so long. I still have yet to come to grips with having yet another chronic condition at just 25 years old. It can be quite daunting, can’t it? I have realised I have yet to speak of my physical condition history. Maybe my next post? It is all very new to me and I look forward to learning more. It is my hope that in the coming months I will learn better pain management techniques and slowly build up endurance. I may never get to where I once was but I hope to be able to at the very least be functional through my pain.

My mental health has been a greater pain lately. I will be honest and say things are getting worse. I’m reliving things I’d sooner forget. My care coordinator believes there is a strong possibility I have PTSD. So in the coming months I will also be seeking answers for this. I want answers as to what could be causing my dissociation which is occurring nearly every day. In August I hope to have an overhaul of my medication and to start the assessment process.

Now life in general?

I am getting by.

Everything is slowly opening back up. I went to the cinema yesterday and my anxiety was outstandingly high! Clearly, I have gotten out of practice being outside. It is going to be hard to adjust. I saw my two best friends Friday evening which was lovely, but I felt a little… well, I’m unsure. I don’t have many friends these days, but I appreciate those two like you wouldn’t believe. I have many challenges to face it seems.

I have been pondering and reflecting on my life, the way I have made changes. Whilst I am limited, I have faced loneliness. I have faced my other self-states. I am still going.

Whatever challenges you may be facing, I hope you keep going too.

All my love,

L x

A celebration in London

Dearest lovely readers,

It has been a while hasn’t it?

Well, I am here to talk today about little breaks away.

Following finishing university and passing my training to be a crisis volunteer I went to London to meet my partner. We spent 5 wonderful days away in London.

I have been struggling with my mental health problems quite a bit lately, so much so, it looks like a new diagnosis may be on the horizon (I will leave that to the professionals though). Even they took a break for me.

London has always been a special place for my partner and I, it’s where we first met and it’s the “middle” of where we can meet given we still live on the opposite sides of the country!

It was so relaxing, doing a spot of shopping, treating each other, visiting the aquarium. We even went for a meal out! It was so lovely to just relax and spend time one another. We enjoy London every time we go (the tube not so much I will admit).

I always say that self-care should be the basics and most simple things, but sometimes even a short break away can make all the difference. Getting to put a pause on life, even for an overnight stay can leave people feeling refreshed and rested. I think it’s an important thing to remember that we all need a break sometimes, and it’s completely okay to do so. It doesn’t have to be an expensive affair. But getting away can make all the difference to your mental health.

I feel refreshed and ready to tackle life once again, maybe it was seeing my partner but I felt safe and loved and came back home to get things on the right track again.

Have you got any little breaks away planned?

Much love,

L x

Taking a break in life

Dearest lovely readers,

Welcome back, I hope you have had a wonderful week. Welcome to the new people joining this week, it is great to have you 💖

Life is full isn’t it? It can be so hard juggling not only the multiple factors of well-being for yourself, but also for those around you, without adding every other aspect of life like appointments, work, hobbies… I could go on.

I think there is solidarity with all people across the world in sometimes feeling like we need a break from life, to just press pause and take a break, catch ourselves up, regroup, rejuvenate. It’s ridiculously hard trying to do that, we may feel we don’t have the energy, or time, or resources. In some cultures, resting is frowned upon, I would say this includes the UK in some sectors.

We must always be doing something. If we are unemployed, we must be lazy. We need hobbies, and nights out socialising, long hours of work, volunteering, taking care of our families, and I could go on. But I want to start breaking this stereotype of life down.

Being “on” all the time isn’t possible, we aren’t machines, we are human. And humanity needs a rest sometimes. Just to clear our heads maybe, so we would with a meditation or prayer, or a lovely bath. Or we may need something longer term like time off, traveling somewhere, or just resting in bed for a few days.

No one truly knows what we need but ourselves, and maybe someone very close to us within our support network. I’m going to be honest, it’s a reminder I need right now.

I have been so focused on getting ahead with university and my dissertation, finding a new place to volunteer, keeping in very close contact with friends, cutting down cigarettes and pop intake, meditating more, doing hobbies more, trying to walk more, cleaning my room more than I should, battling pain, battling cravings for alcohol, battling incessant paranoia and tearful night times.

While some of this sounds very positive, it’s too much. My head hurts and my heart aches. So I need to take a break. I need to hit pause, reconfigure my priorities and move with a solid plan for myself. This includes possibly being less consistent with our space that we have created. I love what we are doing here, I love our moments to connect. But I am needing to take a huge step back on everything and looking at how to keep myself in a safe place without overdoing everything. So I may post on a different day or not for a week, just for a little while.

However, do message me or comment your preferred days for reading in this space. Because it matters.

If you need a break, I hear you.

All my love,

L x

An little open letter to 16 year old me

Dearest Me,

You are now freshly turned sixteen years-old and right now, you are exhausted. You are overwhelmed. You are frightened. And looking back it is so easy and visible to understand why.

Sleep is a rarity, food has become the one thing you can control again, you would much rather just leave this plane of existence, you are overwhelmed and lost in emotions, chronic emptiness and baffled by what you experience inside your head. You don’t know why this is happening.

You now spend your lunch in the library alone working on preparing for your exams. You think life just cannot get much worse.

As you grow, life is going to get messier, more complicated, more nuanced. You will struggle, there will be times when it feels as if it could not get any worse, then it does. I will not lie.

You will make questionable choices when it comes to love, you experience the thrills of a partying lifestyle, your social circle grows then shrinks to those who matter most to you, who truly lift you up out of your bad times. You gain your family’s wholehearted support.

As you grow, life is going to become a bit easier though. You get therapy, and meet some wonderful workers who give you hope about the system.

Where am I right now nine years later?

You have found the man you want to spend the rest of your life with, one whom respects you and sets your world on fire, who gives you the healthy relationship you deserve, and understands better than anyone what you go through. You are about to graduate university, which may be a shock given you thought you’d never get there. You have made some wonderful friends too. Your immediate circle is filled with true friendship. You find your faith system.

More importantly, you become happy and satisfied with life, you’ve learned how your illnesses work and what to do in order to quell their flames. We struggle, but we do not struggle alone. That is what matters.

My advice to you: live life, explore what needs exploring, we don’t know what the future holds, we will get to where we need to be when the time comes.

Hold on, dear one, because life is just beginning, and it’s wondrous.

All my love,

L x

The importance of a support network

Hello all. I am wishing you joy, contentment and good health right now.

First off, we recently have had an influx of new lovelies joining us and I wish to say welcome to an accepting place where I am honest about my experiences but also try to bring hope and positivity into the discussion. Please do join in, and I hope you settle in well.

For those who may not know, a support network is is a group of people that you are connected to, who help to support you through life. It could be family members, friends, support workers, people you can go to when you need them. For myself, my support network consists of my immediate family, a handful of friends, and my partner and that’s enough for me. It’s a group of people who I trust, who uplift me and inspire me when I’m feeling low and so much more. I have been relying extensively on my support network at the minute with everything that’s going on in my life.

They can act in small ways such as helping me with food or simply understanding that at the moment I am quite limited in what I can do, or it could be greater gestures such as taking me to appointments throughout each week which had been a fair amount at the end of last year.

Once upon a time I wouldn’t have dared to seek support in others, I thought I had to rely on myself because it felt like it would all be a misunderstanding. It could cause the greatest suffering to myself, opening up in a way that I didn’t feel comfortable with. But now, I have no qualms about seeking support because I know it will be there.

It can be hard personally because we are thought of in society that we should be individualistic.

Pulling our socks up and getting out there.

Doing what we need to do.

But I am here to challenge this notion. We only got to where we are today because of collective support, I’ll say that again, we only got to where we are today because of collective support, collective intuition, collective knowledge, collective strength and collective hope. So why is it that nowadays it is frowned upon to ask for help even in things such as our daily jobs? Why is it we who have chronic conditions be the reason to blame when we cannot pull our socks up and do what what society deems correct?

I dislike living in an individualistic society where I have to live under the court of public opinion that does not fit the narrative my life has took. I know of so many people who have tried to go it on their own and haven’t succeeded. I see it hurt them time and again, and through my previous work I learned that we cannot do it alone. It is simply impossible, there is always someone around who will help another individual, I firmly believe in that.

When I finally learned the confidence to speak out about when I needed help and what kind of help I needed, I was glad. I managed to gradually spread that to my few trusted friends, to my current partner and my family. While I can sometimes feel like a burden, I suppose this is all natural, I am grateful for all that they do for me. I feel no shame in asking for support, for encouragement, for love, for inspiration, for strength, for kindness: especially kindness. It is a basic human right to show others kindness, compassion and understanding; this is essential in a support network.

More importantly we all deserve a support network, we all deserve our little community that give us strength and clarity and hope among many other things. If you feel so isolated and like you have no one, I promise you there is someone and that someone will turn into many people who will be what they you need them to be. We cannot go through life alone otherwise what kind of life is it?

This is something I am passionate about. I am grateful for my support network and I love them all dearly. Although at times it may feel like I don’t deserve them, in reality I do, because I help them back and I won’t forever need help getting around the house. I might go through long periods where I do a lot other times a little, my life is uncertain right now now but having a support network grounds me and there are so many benefits to having us apart network. I say to you, you deserve the love and support that I have received and more.

All the loving-kindness to you,

L x

Year in review and looking ahead

Hello dear ones, how are we feeling?

I’d like to take a little moment just for you to check how you are feeling, take a deep breath and just settle in for a little read. I’d also like to thank you all, our little community, for all your support this year. I’m so thankful for those of you reading my posts, my thoughts on different topics, it’s been quite the year hasn’t it? Welcome to all the very new people too, you are most welcome here.

This is a bit of a stereotypical post I suppose but I feel like doing it anyway. This year has undoubtedly been hard, at times heart-wrenching, and chaotic, I could easily list and rhyme off countless miseries of the year. But I’m more about hope in this little space. At times it can be more powerful than sadness and fear, which a lot of people can experience at this point. A time when post festive season blues can kick in, or when it can feel daunting that another year is here. People online mocking those thinking 2021 will “magically” be better. But I say, what’s stopping it from being like that?

Now, I’ve pretty much kept you all up to date on what I have been going through but I thought it’d be great to just have a little summary post of things I have enjoyed, little moments, small wins and what I’m so looking forward to now in this new year.

I think one of my all time favourite moments of 2020 was when I was down at my partner’s and we spent a hot, sunny day on the beachfront, sat on a bench and watching innumerous dogs pass by. It was just such a wonderful time, where I felt carefree and I was with my favourite person. We were just sat there for over an hour, and I loved it. Christmas was also so, so wonderful and I got to take plenty of Polaroids to put in a new scrapbook, very retro. Much earlier in the year I got to present and do a bit of motivational speaking for the first time, rather than purely speaking my experiences. It was so much fun!

I am proud of a few accomplishments of 2020 including passing another year of university with flying colours, starting my final year. I have, this festive season, tried two new foods and really enjoyed them. Earlier in 2020 I also found I could watch certain foods cook without being so averse to it. These are huge wins on their own.

I have learned the true value of gratitude and been so appreciative of my aspects of my life. My strength truly has been tested like never before and I’m still coming out winning. As my dissociation got worse, I became so afraid, but with the help of others and through my own self-determination I’m getting back on track. Again, I’m very grateful for this.

So what’s ahead? Well, a lot. This will be the year I finally graduate, I am hoping to do my Master’s Degree if not finding a job in mental health. I will be moving out, across the country. I hope to do more volunteering. I will be continuing this blog. I will get answers about what is causing all my physical pain, I will be trying to get my body stronger. I hope to finally be able to have savings.

It’s definitely sounding like a lot for that. But for now, my goals for the first quarter are to focus on assignments, get a little workout regime sorted and eat a little better, have a small emergency savings fund, focus on deepening my connection to Buddhism and finding a new volunteering placement. Little actions with little steps are the key here. Of course, I will also hopefully create some good content for you here as this section of the internet has been so wonderful for me. I hope that is reciprocated.

I hope you are able to find some wins in 2020, and I hope you all have a magical year ahead filled with such joy, goodness and happiness.

Be gentle with yourself and take care,

L x