Learning to Say No.
NOTE- Trigger warning- mention of suicide in the last paragraph- If you are feeling suicidal or that this won’t be a good thing for you to read please come back and read my post when you are in a better place xoxo
I feel like this has been one of the most important lessons that 2019 has taught me. Boundaries have been set this year which I could never have put out in the world or even seen myself doing.
Boundaries are such an important way to be kind to yourself. In the past I have let situations get out of hand or come to an end in a fashion similar to a car crash. I have alienated people by providing them with unfaltering attention and care only to burn myself out and lash out. Or just completely disappear with no explanation due to a sense of deep burning anger and frustration.
I have been irrational and I still am, but I am getting better at noticing what I can handle and what I have to put my foot down to and say no to, for my own good.
If you have made a similar difficult decision which has caused you grief and so much angst and pain I applaud you, you should be so proud of sticking up for yourself and putting your needs first.
It’s all very well being there for other people and of course if you care deeply for someone you will want to do everything in your power to be their light in the darkness. I say this was my naivety that led me to put ex partner’s and old friend’s needs and problems before my own. I tried to make myself some sort of modern day Mother Theresa, dragging all these people out of the dark times in their lives. But when you are left alone and the air is quiet. Your problems you’ve stacked up on high shelves whilst you run around after other people come clattering down. The nails you hammered in to stick them into the wall come loose and you’re left with a mess of your own to clear up, and sometimes this has left me feeling even lonelier because I have felt people aren’t there for me when I have sacrificed myself to be there for them; you end up resenting them. And this I have realised is SO UNHEALTHY.
So today I have felt especially bad. One of those mornings when you wake up and the world just feels like it is so heavy and too much to bear. I tried to speak to my mum about how I was feeling, and I realised I feel this great sense of guilt speaking to her about my mental health. I find it really hard not to be ashamed and weak of not being able to cope like an adult with living a ‘normal’ life.
What is a normal life though? We create this idea in our heads that everyone else has their shit together and they’re happy; why can’t I just be simple and find things as easy as that? I find it hard to believe that some of my work friends can just turn up to a job which has made me feel so mentally weak at times and cope with it entirely. Then I am there struggling to even just get out of bed in the mornings for it. There is one positive- I have found myself a new job, in a role which will give me a sense of fulfilment as I will be helping people, but in a way which hopefully won’t burn me out or make me put my problems aside.
The difference I think will be that I know the boundaries, I can literally only communicate with these people who need my help during set hours in the week. I have started to realise in my own personal life also that you cannot change someone else, or make them feel better by doing everything for them. If someone doesn’t want to change then nothing you do will make a difference. I know this because I have been stuck in cycles of repetitive events and behaviour and I have taken steps to try and understand these. This involved me being brave enough to reach out at my lowest point earlier this year, and seek therapy in the form of counselling.
I felt so lost and stuck in all these thoughts and behaviours and I still feel so trapped at times. But it really helps to have an outsider’s perspective, not so much in my counsellor giving me her opinion but just having someone I can objectively explain things to, who can relay it back to me in a matter-of-fact way, giving me the chance to process it more clearly. I don’t think I would be making progress like I am if I had tried to fight this battle alone.
Learning to be kind to yourself
I am learning to set boundaries before things become chaotic. Knowing you need time out to re-gather yourself when you’re feeling burned out is so important. I have felt wrecked with anxiety this morning so much that I keep bursting into tears. I have had little to no appetite for weeks and when I have eaten I have felt sick halfway through. I haven’t had enough sleep and it has taken its toll on me. I have rushed about what with it being my birthday and done too much. I’ve loved seeing all my friends but I now just need some time to rest.
I also put things to bed with my ex a few weeks ago, which has really dispelled some of the anxiety I have been feeling. I no longer feel a panic grabbing at my chest when I walk around in public, worrying that I am about to bump into him and that he or his friends hate me. This was heightened by the fact I hate wearing my glasses and so I keep thinking when I am in public that I have seen him, only to put on my glasses and realise I have not! It sounds pathetic especially with it having been so long since our breakup, but I have really struggled with feelings of anxiety since. Social media is a curse when you go through a breakup; it is so easy to share only a piece of a story in as few as 140 characters (or is it more on twitter now???) or post on Instagram thinking ‘I wonder if they’ve seen this and how well I look like I am doing?’ when the reality of things is far from it.
I have been coping with grief for my Granddad alongside everything, which always resurfaces at the strangest of times when I feel like I’ve moved past it. I have also been trying to deal with other mentally unwell family members who I feel lost in how to help. This year has really tested everything I was.
I feel like I should be ending this blog with a positive message but you know what? Sometimes things do not need a positive spin. Sometimes it’s bloody okay to not be okay!!! It’s healthier to accept and understand how you’re feeling than try to bury it because even if you do for awhile, left unresolved it will always re-emerge. If you have attempted to understand where it comes from then you will be better equipped to have strategies in place the next time it crops up.
TRIGGER WARNING- mention of suicide.
I have just started listening on Spotify to ‘Happy Place’, a podcast show by Ferne Cotton in which she speaks with people from all walks of life including celebrities. One podcast involved speaking with Poorna Bell, whose husband committed suicide a few years ago, and her experience of living with someone with depression which they intermittently masked before taking their own life. However horrific her story was, it felt comforting to hear someone else talk so openly about all the emotions they felt, particularly before her husband committed suicide. The feelings of angst and frustration mixed with the love she still had for him, and how that was something I could relate to in the past in relationships and with my family problems, that I can still relate to. I would recommend listening to the entire two series I have thoroughly enjoyed them, and found when I am feeling anxious I can pop my headphones in and just focus on a conversation about someone other than myself and my issues.
Thank you for reading, and please if anything I have said has affected you in any way, speak to a loved one or if that feels difficult, contact your local Samaritans at 116 123 its free to do so x