**Sincere apologies to all of my patreons. There appears to be something wrong with the website (or at least my page) and I can’t upload content. I have emailed their support team and hopefully the problem will be resolved soon. I’m very sorry 😦 **
2016 Has officially arrived. I hope that Christmas was relaxing. I went back up North and ate the entire contents of my parent’s fridge! Spending time with family and watching TV (omg how good was ‘and then there were none’)? Was exactly what I’d hoped for. Of course, I cried like a baby when I left (seriously) and so did my mum. Even after five years it doesn’t get any easier. Fortunately Dan had a prize distraction technique. We spent the first part of journey discussing which boy band would win in the ultimate cage fight. E.g. They all have to face each other in rounds, until it gets down to the final two. We predicted it would probably end up being The Backstreet Boys VS Five (N’Sync and One Direction would totally go out first).
ANYWAY, returning to London was hard and I had two horrendous panic attacks during the first night back. I suppose my parent’s house was a safe haven or a bubble where nothing bad could touch me, if that makes sense? I didn’t have to deal with the world for a while, and as always with reality it gave me a solid smack in the face when we met again. I spent the second day in tears, as the usual thoughts circulated through my brain:
You’re going to get ill again. You can’t cope.
How are you going to get through another January?
Everyone at work will realise what a freak you are.
You’re a burden to all of your loved ones.
I swear, I wish I could physically grab one by the throat and scream F**K OFF! (That’s rational right)? As experienced as I am with mental illness, sometimes I stumble and just want ‘it’ to leave me alone, you know?However, feeling angry and sorry for myself has never worked before, so why would this time be any different? Instead of fighting it I simply let myself feel sad for a day and cried A LOT. At one point I even considered going back home for a few more days, but I knew that I was only putting off the inevitable. I had to face it, I always do. By the third day I felt better, I find that I’m a ‘schedule’ person, so making a list of things to do works wonders.
As I sit here now I can’t deny that thinking about work tomorrow fills my stomach with butterflies. But that’s ok, I accept it and will plod along regardless. I’m sure that most people will be feeling the same, regardless of whether they have anxiety or not.
Now for the dreaded question – Do you have any New Years’ Resolutions? In my opinion, you might as well ask – do you have anything that you’re going to attempt for two weeks and then sack off? After which you’ll feel like a complete failure. Not the best way to start the hardest month of the year!
My problem with resolutions is that are they’re too vague. For example, “I’m going to eat more healthy” or “I’m going to be kinder to myself” – HOW? If you don’t narrow it down somewhat, then the reality of success is slim. I’m all about specifics and having a solid plan, (mainly because I seriously lack discipline and the urge to do f**k all is too strong)! So rather than calling them resolutions, why don’t we call them goals? (Not in the lame appraisal type way). Think about something that you want to achieve and break it down, complete with a loose but realistic deadline.
An example from my own list would be:
- GOAL – Stop looking at your phone so much at work.
- WHY? – Because it’s unprofessional and it actually reinforces negative thoughts/emotions – You’re a waste of space, you’re pathetic/ guilt, worry etc.
- SOLUTION – leave your phone in your bag and only look at it ONCE every hour.
- DEADLINE – Two weeks.
This might sound like nothing, but I’m rather obsessed with my phone and checking it so frequently at work is a bad habit. If I can change this habit it could reduce the negative thoughts.
Now let me tackle a broader and more common resolution, which I have also made in the past. “Be kinder to myself.” This is almost as complicated as suggesting War & Peace to someone learning to read! You’re setting yourself up to fail. So if this is your resolution then I want you to break it down into a very specific and clear goal. Some suggestions:
- Before a social event that I find challenging I’m going to accept how I feel rather than criticise myself. I will do a belly breathing exercise in advance and take each moment as it comes.
Literally set aside fifteen minutes before the event to complete the above.
- I’m going to treat myself to some dedicated and strict ‘ME time’ twice a week.
Warn people in advance (you can even schedule it in your diary) and then shut yourself away from the world for an hour. Personally I’m really clichéd and love a read and a glass of wine in the bath, but choose whatever you like to do. E.g. Watching TV (guilt free), going for a run, listening to music etc..
- Three times a week before work I’m going to sit in front of the mirror and repeat all of the positive things about myself.
This one sounds more cheesy than fondue, but I’ve tried it myself and it’s actually great for giving yourself a boost. Write the positive list in advance and look at yourself as you say each one. E.g. “I have a loving family,” “I’m a good friend,” “I have a great arse!” (Make it as funny or serious as you like)!
Another point that I cannot stress enough, is don’t set yourself too many goals. On average the human brain can tackle one new routine a month, so don’t overload it. Pressure isn’t a good thing if you suffer from mental illness!
One final thing… January is a hard month, it’s shit in fact. So as much as I praise detoxing etc, be careful not to go overboard. We all overindulge at Christmas (because it’s freaking Christmas)! But to suddenly deprive yourself of everything nice may be a huge shock to the system. Why make things harder when it’s already a depressing month? If that chocolate bar or glass of wine helps to cheer you up, then DO IT!
In complete contrast to my previous statement, remember to exercise (if you can). I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t feel like doing it, especially in the dark and the cold. But it can really help to reduce adrenaline levels and improve the mood.
Tackle each day and one step at a time. January passes, it always does.