What we all face: the hedonic treadmill

Hello my lovelies! How are we this sunny Tuesday? Today I want to talk about a concept you may have heard of before, the hedonic treadmill, or hedonic adaptation. I find it fascinating and relate to it very much. It was a term coined by Brickman and Campbell (1971) and has become force for change in positive psychology (a field of Psychology that focuses upon happiness and well-being). It is where cognitive processes similar to sensory adaptation occur when faced with emotional events in life; our emotional system adapts to current life circumstances. It is where we react positively or negatively to a situation and then return to a neutrality or a baseline, a set point. It is a concept that presupposes why we are constantly seeking happiness in the next goal or action in order to maintain happiness levels. This notion can be a contentious topic among psychologists as the original theory declared we cannot do much to alter levels of happiness on a long term basis. The whole idea can seem counterintuitive too – would large moments that define our life trajectory change our baseline? Humans are an adaptable species which is why things may feel ‘neutral’ quite a bit, we get used to what we have. But evidence has shown activities such as altruism and self-care can impact short-term happiness which could possibly alter long-term happiness in the bigger picture. Hobbies that bring enjoyment such as art, crafting and reading can bring much happiness. Seligman termed these gratifications, and by consistently engaging we can alter our set points to be more satisfied with life. Diener et Al (2006) feels revisions must be made upon extensive research. The idea surrounding us going back to a neutral may indeed be wrong, they found the majority of people are happy or above neutral most of the time and suggest that there is no singular universal set point. They suggest that many factors including heritability (likelihood of transmission between parent and child) and personality impacts what the set point may be. There may also be multiple set points for an individual depending upon the factor impacting a person’s satisfaction with life. Longitudinal studies over a period of over a decade showed evidence to suggest that our happiness does and can change from previous levels on both a long and short-term basis. While we may have to face negative life circumstances, we will be better equipped when satisfied in other areas of our lives, and while this does take effort, being aware of where we are in our sense of self can help a great deal. For many years I felt my baseline, my set ‘neutral’ was depressed. The rush of retail therapy quickly faded, fun nights out turned me even worse the next day then back to depressed again. I felt I had to be out every weekend chasing the high, constantly achieving high grades at school, college even in the early years of university and nothing could keep me happy. I would return to my baseline. The past two years have changed all of that, I’m much happier in myself and while life events are not impacting my mood the majority of the time compared to mood swings I feel very satisfied with my life. While I have goals to achieve, they are end goals with a purpose such as overcoming phobias. So do what you love, whether that 5 minutes of sitting down with a cup of tea or spending a day painting, make that time! Please contact me and let me know your thoughts or any other topics I should cover! Much love, L x

Looking to the future

Hello my lovelies, how are we all? I hadn’t realised it had been so long since I posted, these days, as many will identify with, have just blurred together. I have been struggling recently, I had an episode earlier this week and I haven’t had one in what feels like a lifetime. But I’m slowly bouncing back, stronger each time. Things are no doubt hard right now, as so many will say it’s starting to become a cliché almost. I am also aware of what toxic positivity can be like. But right now, focusing on the coming months is helping me get through everything. I have so many goals so I just thought I’d share a list of what I’m hoping to achieve over the summer. A few may not seem as exciting to some, but please remember, I love to learn and some of it is needed for future plans.
  1. One of my first goals is to get through the mound of books and philosophy magazines I have collected. Reading is such an underrated hobby sometimes, I feel, and I am excited to get through my pile!
  2. Related to the above, I hope to create my first ever manuscript and book, I have been inspired by my past writings on here that a fair few of you seemed to enjoy and I want to use my experiences to educate but more importantly, empower, others. I doubt it’ll ever be published but to have a resource of my experiences might in turn be therapeutic for me.
  3. My third goal is to research dissertation topics. I have a broad subject in mind that I am so passionate about and want my dissertation to mean something more than just for a grade. I also am not the best at finding literature sometimes so this will be a big help when it comes to starting my final year.
  4. I also want to research and plan out a campaign around suicide, prevention and people speaking from their silence. Suicide is a tricky topic but it’s one thing I’m definitely passionate about improving in society, I will talk more about this project closer to the November/December launch when I have firmer details. I will want to spread the word as much as possible.
  5. Overcome my food phobia. This is probably the most difficult one given I have had it for so long. But I think I’m getting the right resources, I want to be able to have a healthy relationship with food and it’s time I tried to overcome it!
They are my top five goals, and in no way am I doing this to “make the most” of the time we have right now, these have been on my mind a lot and am wanting to do! I thought it would be good to share 😊 so these are my summer goals. At this point in time, I encourage you all to do what you need to in order to get through The Current Situation, be kind and compassionate to yourself. I hope you are all well, much love L x

5 lessons mania taught me

Good morning my lovelies! I hope you are taking good care of yourselves, staying safe and staying home? Let us get straight into the post that was promised, these are five lessons mania has taught me, no doubt there is still more to learn… 1. Anything can be inspiration When in mania, for me, everything is magical. Every single thing I do, think or feel is like seeing colour for the first time; everything is wondrous, fantastic, special. I feel intrinsically inspired, nothing is mundane. Because of this way of viewing things, I have learned that truly anything can cause inspiration at the most unexpected times. I have looked at myself and decided to make different choices, for example. I have found new reasons for living. I now have a larger appreciation for every single thing in life when I am well, not just manic. 2. Time really is relative Personally, when an episode of mania occurs I have what feels like truly limitless energy. I find that there is more time in the day and can get everything done in seconds. I work and work and work and work, yet it is just past midday. I can clean and tidy and read and play, but it is not even tea time. Time seems to go much slower, I get everything I can think of done and more. Unlike when I am well and the days can drag or go by too quickly without me accomplishing much. When I am manic, time is just a social construct I care not to follow. 3. There is light in this world, hard as it may be to see sometimes This is self-explanatory but one that needs to be mentioned as a strong reminder. In this world, in the mainstream media we all consume, all that we see is negative occurrences and things we don’t agree with. It feels like all there is to the world is suffering, hate, I could go on. Having mania allows me to see only the good, or be the good myself. I am still learning how to do this when well and I am getting better as time goes one. (Yes, it can take years, you are basically unlearning what society has conditioned you with.) 4. There is such a thing as too much A reason why an episode of mania can be dangerous for me is that I often don’t realise I am in mania until I am close to coming out of it or am already back to being stable or have crashed into a depressive episode. I am slowly learning to curb riskier behaviours by becoming teetotal, and keeping an eye on my spending. Mania with alcohol makes me love said alcohol and want to party at 9am just because. Mania and money makes we want to endlessly treat myself. I struggle with moderation, in everything, I always have. I restrict/binge food to extreme lengths in certain moods. I either party all the time or not at all, I am currently opting for not at all. I have learned that too much has a lot of risks for me and when I am stable I need to put in safety measures to prepare for any mania that may come my way. Doing too much causes a bigger fall back down to earth in to depression which causes more shock to the system. 5. That everything is temporary This is a very bittersweet lesson. There is both joy and sadness with the realisation of mania being temporary. In mania, nothing seems like quite enough, there is always something that has to be done or bought or said or shown. It is an endless wheel that never stops spinning. So it is quite nice to come back down sometimes to just rest and enjoy being, something I have struggled with since I was young. But that energy is a wonderful energy to have, endless positivity and caring and love. Why wouldn’t we bottle it? Because it is not human. Humans feel every spectrum of emotion and it’s a good thing, every emotion serves a purpose, which I hope to discuss at a later date. There is such a thing as toxic positivity because if we were constantly hyped and happy, we would say no to sadness and basically say to ourselves, we can’t feel. Much love and happiness to you, L x

Burned out and a poem

Good evening my lovelies! How are we all? I am afraid there isn’t much of a post today. You see, this one has burned herself out. It started with poor sleep, then overworking on a university assignment (though of course it never feels like it in the moment!). I have been out of shape and sleeping for half the day for the latter part of this week. I realised the night I overworked on Thursday that I’d soon be feeling the after effects. Lo and behold! Friday morning was not fantastic. I am telling myself, at least it wasn’t a shock to me and at least it didn’t cause a spiral. Though the idea of “at least X” is never helpful. I was planning away another Lessons post since that was well-liked last time, I hope to make a pack of them really. But instead, I leave you with a little poem I like. If you ever feel like you’d like a post of some of my poetry let me know! Susan Coolidge “Every day is a fresh beginning, Listen my soul to the glad refrain. And, spite of old sorrows And older sinning, Troubles forecasted And possible pain, Take heart with the day and begin again” Much love and happiness to you all, L x

An easy read

Happy Mothering Sunday to all!

Gosh today is an easy read ramble, people seem to like my rambles.

I hope you are all staying safe and taking wonderful care of yourselves as you deserve! I have had lovely peaceful wake-ups this weekend. However, this week has been slightly tough for a few people I am close to, I have tried my best to support them but I provided too much energy to it. I ended up feeling *very* drained yesterday after a 2-hour tutorial for the upcoming assignment. I feel like I will be one of few not asking for an extension.

I have definitely felt privileged this week and checked it given my circumstances, very little of my life will change with The Current Situation. The only change is I do not know when I will next be in the physical presence of my partner. It sounds ridiculous, I know. I see his face every day over video calls but I don’t know when I will get my next hug. This is important to me because of the way I have attached to him and certainly, seeing him keeps me well. So I think I shall have to create a WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) on how to cope with an unknown time until I see him. WRAPs are brilliant, I think they can be so versatile, regardless of whether or not you have a mental illness. If you like I can do a post in the future on this? Let me know what you think! I will happily share mine as an example.

So, things are relatively well for me in spite of upcoming changes, I plan to spend the foreseeable future at home, which is no difference with having agoraphobia. I am coping well. I aim to be spending most of my free time reading, I have bought many, many books to read. Right now is the perfect excuse to immerse myself into it. I have a few fiction amongst the non-fiction. Send any recommendations my way! I will also be studying, I am so close to finishing with just two assignments and an alternative option for my now cancelled exam. I find out soon what that option will be. I am also thinking of spending time learning a new language, at school I was fantastic at French and became very fluent, of course, without upkeeping my skill it has been lost. I am thinking along the lines of Spanish, it is such a commonly spoken language now, it may be useful in the future! If you know of any great apps or programmes, again, let me know.

I think that is my update for now. I quite like these updates, maybe once a month I will do a post like this. I think looking into other people’s lives are fascinating. I will also be updating the information page once again as I have found more pages of information and resources 🙂

Much happiness to you (and love),

L x

A note on kindness for right now

Hello fine fellows!

I do apologise for a lack of a post on Sunday, because of The Current Situation, my anxiety has been up and down at very high levels. Having GAD and agoraphobia heightened by my personality disorder has caused some… interesting emotions, thoughts and behaviours. But I am here to talk a bit about kindness today.

We are seeing it all over the news, all over social media, we are seeing it in our shops and hearing about it from others. I know it can feel like there is no escape, even I am here talking about it. But it is too important not to. COVID-19. Now I am not here to debate about how serious or not this disease is, or what the best approach is, nor even whether how people are reacting is scarier than the disease itself. What I am wanting to do today is implore that you give yourself kindness and provide the same for others and offer some gentle reminders for moving forward.

I am aware that The Current Situation may be causing some anxiety in many peoples lives so please take the above image as a reminder to keep plodding on and do what you need to do in order to try and calm yourself. I urge everyone to follow governmental advice and to keep informed via the government website and the World Health Organisation only. Now please try to keep informed without being overwhelmed and use trusted sources only for your information.

All I have heard and seen recently are people unnecessarily hoarding supplies, fist fighting to get into stores first, ransacking shops, stealing things from other peoples trolleys and so much more. It just reminds me of the need for kindness.

Now, I do not know how long this will all last for, or what happens when less and less cases are found. But what I do know is, that to upkeep our well-being we need to be kind to ourselves and to others.

In order to be kind to yourself physically, please listen to your body’s needs and keep well rested, drink water, take vitamins, supplements and medication as you need. If you have anxiety, my heart goes out to you during this time, I understand what you may be going through. I ask that you are kind to yourself in your thoughts, be mindful of negative talk and try to combat any anxious thoughts and acting accordingly. Do not judge yourself for your reaction, it is simply how your instincts are. This is the time to enact self-care as much as possible, do what makes your soul happy and nourish yourself as best possible.

More than ever we need to be kind to others. Do not blame shop workers and NHS staff on the frontlines if they do not have what you require or need to seek further information. This is a very new situation to all. There will be bigger processes and instructions being given behind-the-scenes. Buy only what you need from the shops, don’t be depleted yourself but please don’t overbuy what you need. Others may need it and it is an act of kindness. Show kindness by checking in with family, friends and neighbours, within reason if they are unwell. If you can, donate to your local food bank as no doubt they will go into shortages. Be mindful that others may be stressed and not the happiest when in public.

It is time to show strength and unity for all. We need to take care of those who are not as abled or more elderly. We need to show kindness, love and support. I say this as someone who is now quarantined.

Please take care of yourself,

L x

Side note: if you need resources and information during this time, I have further updated the information page for you all.

A few affirmations of mine

Good afternoon, everyone!

It is wonderfully sunny here albeit rather windy. Had a bit of a stress this morning with my laptop being stuck on updating and I am thinking it is on the way out. To be fair, I have had it for a long while. As promised, there is now an ‘About’ page which you may want to take a peek at! I have also started my information page which looks quite bare right now I know, but I am hoping to find more resources in due time and get more details put up. The main thing is I have some useful numbers and information links there right now for you. If there are any services or places of information you have found useful please, please do let me know, I hope to make it a large directory of sorts!

On to my affirmations.

I am quite new to affirmations but I am aware they are used in all kinds of areas, I have learned of them properly through my self-love journey. Affirmations are, in essence, powerful and positive self-talk messages that can be used when feeling low, when you need inspiration, when you need empowering. I thought I would do a little post with some of the ones I have recently came up with that I am enjoying speaking.

  1. Positive mind, positive heart, positive life.
  2. I have survived much, my body is strong, I can cope.
  3. My body has carried me far, look how I still smile, I can keep going.
  4. I am worthy of all goodness.
  5. There is always something to learn, keep learning, keep growing.
  6. Keep going, keep breathing, keep living, because you can.
  7. Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace (French proverb).

I am not the best writer in the world, I know, but they are written by me to be powerful for me. Excluding the last as a proverb which I just find absolutely true and spirituous. I am using them as part of my journaling experience at the end of the day for a more relaxing and calming night.

I hope these may be of use to you. I hope they inspire you to write or search for your own. Do you already have some you wish to share?

Much happiness to you,

L x

Affirmations; the clouds are floating away.

Ahoy, ahoy my fellow lovelies!

Well isn’t this day just lovely and sunny? At least it is for me as I travel on a wobbly train.

Today’s order of business is I shall talk a little bit about what has been going on in my life, my mind, and tell you a little bit about this wonderful weekend I just had. Then, I think a little piece on affirmations would be good in this time of positivity.

As you are all aware, I have been unwell since the beginning of December, I think that is changing now, you perfect strangers. I feel like I was being dragged down to the murky depths of the ocean for so long but over the last week i have been feeling more myself every day, the heavy, burdensome clouds are dissipating. talking with my partner has certainly helped to reflect and come up with some theories.

Now, I have theorised to have SAD but, as I have never been diagnosed I would never want to say that explicitly. As I was so well last year I was not expecting to fall down so quickly. But as the lighter nights have started again I feel lighter. It appears (although I will never have official confirmation) that my mental health is severely impacted by the dark nights of winter. I wasn’t able to notice this in the years prior as I was in a constant state of illness. I was completely blindsided and this explanation feels right to my instincts, going forward I will be prepared and plan for the coming Autumn/Winter time.

What also made it worse was my smoking cessation treatment. I looked back at my timelines maybe a week or so ago and having the full dose correlates to my worsening mental health: how I move forward yet is to be looked at, I have reduced the dosage currently as I have almost finished the programme and am feeling better for it… This experience is mine alone of course and not representative of any other person’s experience.

So this weekend has been truly lovely. I am currently into my fourth year volunteering for a large, global social movement which aims to reduce stigma and discrimination around mental health which I am, of course, so passionate about. Side note: it is actually how I met the most wonderful man in my universe (real cute story to tell people). This weekend was a celebration for current volunteers, I am considered alumni.

My partner and I arrived Friday with such ease it was almost unbelievable. We had a lovely evening walking around, I bought many things I am struggling to lug about on this journey home. I was a bit like a pinball machine with my emotions Friday, presumably because I was presenting a small activity on the day. The event went wonderfully, I officially started my career as a motivational speaker and it was so, so wonderful to see fellow alumni who just consistently inspire with their strength and passion. However, I did become a bit low on the afternoon, I feel I made the most of the day despite this. My partner and I spent the night in the hotel, ordered takeaway and read. It was deeply nourishing,

So I am currently on the train home and want to share the activity I did with the volunteers.

As many know, affirmations are often used in the wellness world almost as a buzzword. The exercises are also often used in therapeutic settings. I am unashamed to admit I love affirmations. I find them to be a much needed source of strength and positivity, especially written down as a physical reminder, to have when the dark days rumble in. They are known to be a way of increasing positive mental states and self-esteem. Essentially, when taking care of our self-esteem we are doing so as an act of love. We all know I love self-love.

Affirmations can be general self-boosting phrases, or they could be used for a specific issue. One I have fallen in love with is: regardless of whether I win or lose, succeed or fail, the truth always remains that I am enough (Science of self-love). I will make an additional post in the next couple of days with a list of my affirmations for you to hopefully help inspire you to write more of your own.

A couple of topics I would always encourage affirmations is in success and growth. Thanks to how connected to others we are through social media now it is so easy to compare ourselves to others and feel less than them. But if my volunteering over the last few years has taught me anything, is that we have our own timelines and our own success. Our values can help to define what we view as success and we all have a different definition. For me, success is knowing when to celebrate, know when to show myself additional kindness and always, always act in accordance with my values as best I can to have complete congruency of my selves.

So what do success and growth look like to you? How do you measure it? What does it feel like?

That is all for today, folks.

Much happiness to you,

L x

PS I am aware I need to add my signposting page and will be doing so in the next week.

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

I’m back: part 2

When you’re going through hell, keep on going. Winston Churchill
Happy Monday and good morning all! Thanks to recent glorious weather I have just spent a while mopping up mucky paw prints from all over the floors (thank you Raven). I thought I would start off this week with a very apt quote that has stayed with me throughout the years. It serves as a very strong reminder for me that no matter how far I fall, I keep going and keep fighting. It is what feels like a very real and powerful message. Now, the main reason for this post is just to become a bit more open about what has been going on, what I hope to achieve in the coming months and what kind of topics I will be posting about in the future. As I have dedicated this part of the internet a place of positivity for myself, and for you, I will always try to remain hopeful. But there may be times when my honesty is a bit more raw, with those posts I will place a content warning at the beginning. What is currently going on (CW: Mentions diagnoses and current impact e.g. hallucinations) Okay, let’s get the hardest part over first: my health. *Deep breath* I have multiple mental health diagnoses that impact me greatly which I will share more about as time passes. For now I shall just rhyme them off; Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, Recurrent Depressive Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Agoraphobia. I also have a food phobia and disordered eating. Gosh, I will be honest, seeing that written down makes me emotional but it’s what I have been given. Now, my agoraphobia is a result of my breakdown in April 2018, I can barely leave the house and haven’t really been able to unless I am with at least one of 4 trusted people, even then I am really distressed inside. My food phobia has come from 14 years of disordered eating. Very long story short, I completed 10 months of intensive therapy last year using a fair few therapeutic models and approaches, I was seemingly well. I got discharged on 24th October. I was well in November. Then 1st December comes and everything crashes. Week by week my motivation goes, my sleep becomes disturbed, my mood goes all over the place as if I was not on my medication. I tried my best in December to go back to basics like I learned. I created goals and tried exercise. But February has come. My paranoia, deep emptiness, loneliness and hallucinations have returned. There is a whole lot more happening but it can get complicated. Despite it all, I am getting on with life. I have to. I still find enjoyment in some things, I am currently on a self–love journey, I still adore my little guinea pigs, I am doing surprisingly well in university (82% on my latest assignment, very pleased). One thing I firmly believe is that I never give up, despite it all, I keep on going. I listen to my body and try my hardest to take care of myself. It also helps I have the most supportive partner and support network to keep me in check. I do feel that the winds will change. So that is what I am going through. I am okay, and will keep on going! So what do I hope to learn, achieve and do? I will admit since therapy and getting further into psychology with university, I do have a different outlook that I am not too sure how to explain. My self-awareness feels a lot more heightened and I know what my brain is physically doing. So it feels like what is going on is sometimes only happening to half of me and the other half is absolutely fine and separate from it all. Either way, it is a complex situation. I know things will improve because they have before. So I have this knowledge. I have my foundations for self-care and well-being. Where do I go from here? Well, I will work with the services to see if I need further treatment or what can be done. I think it’s time to start and finish some projects I had in mind during a mania phase and put my passion out there, give myself positive things to focus on. I feel like this is where I learn my distress tolerance, and learn how to move forward and get through what I am going through. Keep on going. I think for me to grow I need to do a lot of reflection, see what has been going on and how I can react differently next time, how I can act now and for the future. There is always something to learn. What will be featured on this blog in the future? I am very excited about what I have planned for the future posts here at PP! There are going to be plenty of book reviews as I am really enjoying reading right now. In terms of wellness, I hope to look at goals, a bit more in-depth into routines, other aspects of wellness holistically, I will also be sharing my journey of self-love. Things are going to become a lot more personal and I will be sharing my story of mental illness, how my mental health has impacted me, what has changed over the years and what has not. I want to start a real conversation on everything I have experienced and what has come of it. I hope what I speak about in the future resonates with you, inspires you or even maybe helps you to feel a little less alone. Thank you for standing by me. Much happiness to you, L x