LIFE UPDATE: the woes of roller-coaster mental health

A whole year on from the breakdown of a lifetime (the Great Depression) and I’m still dealing with night sweats/terrors, agoraphobia, social anxiety and spontaneously bursting into tears when I’m overwhelmed (often). The pandemic has only amplified the negatives: I’ve found myself feeling like I’m regressing back to my worst form, and I’ve been neglecting my self-care routine as punishment🙃☠️

Over this last week, I’ve found my relationship with food changing again and also noticed that my stress-related IBS has flared up, which I think has been quite triggering.

I’ve been brutal to myself and had a lot of intense, dark thoughts (they descend pretty quickly when I’m “down”) and all I know is that this has to stop! I need to listen to my body/brain and make serious changes for the sake of my mental and physical health💪🏽🙏🏾

Change #1: See friends more often (including those Latvians and honorary Canadians abroad, via video call).

I’ve seen my friends maybe 2-3 times over the last year, and I think life has genuinely been so much tougher because of this. I’ve lived with these ride or dies and experienced the weirdest of adventures with them, so being away from them has been challenging…

I am super stoked with myself for making the journey out of the house yesterday, despite all the tremors and general breathlessness. I am so grateful for Tom, who is the ultimate hypebeast and has supported me, as well as pushed me, to tackle this hurdle for what it is. Merely a hurdle!

Had such an awesome time with old friends and new friends, and felt at ease in a way that was totally unprecedented given the state I’ve been in over the last few days. I love you guys and can’t thank you enough for all your support and kindness, especially since I’ve been off the grid for so long. Here’s to seeing you way more and for better times ahead💜

Musings on 2019

What I have learned in 2019:

  • You should definitely never drink more than four coffees before 3pm. Especially if you have IBS and your heart sometimes goes into anxiety overdrive.
  • Things are always changing so don’t get too attached or deflated when things seem good/bad. Trust in change.
  • It’s important to take care of yourself. If you don’t, your body will burn-out spectacularly in the same way a car running on the dregs of fuel will eventually stall to a stop in the middle of a busy main road. You will find yourself, mentally and physically, ceasing to function and life will come to a complete and utter standstill.
  • Reaching burnout is an inevitability when you are bad at valuing yourself. It’s a failure to care of yourself the way you’d take care of others, an abandonment of self-care, an offence that could be likened to neglect or self-harm. You can’t change that it’s happened but you can look at it as a sign and choose to learn from it. You can resist burnout all you want but, in the end, bad habits will take you there. So you should embrace it, trusting that you can learn from the experience and seek help to prevent things crashing quite so badly in the future.
  • You will meet people that you are intrinsically incompatible with and they will test you. This provocation will likely evoke ugly emotions like anger, which will consume you (if you don’t find a way to manage it). It’s important to remember that you’re not contracted to get on with everyone- you can be civil with people, you can create boundaries and often, you can even make the choice to create space by removing the toxicity of another person’s energy from your life. As upsetting as it might be, to severe a tie that once was valuable, people grow into themselves and in the process, grow apart from their friends. It’s life.
  • You can probably do a lot more than you give yourself credit for and if the best way to improve your prospects of getting what you want involves watching the Rocky training montages every morning, meditating and crying every few days, so be it. Everytime you find yourself in doubt, make a mental note of all that you’ve achieved (in spite of doubt). Change the language you use about yourself and put yourself out there, kid.
  • We often carry the guilt of letting others down. This was, and remains, the primary source of my upset. Panic attacks, moments of crippling self-doubt and spontaneous crying fits affect not just me but everyone around me, against my best wishes. As I let down my friends and my family and my commitments, floundering on the really tough days, I feel this niggle of anger at myself for having let my loved ones down time and time again. In actuality, the anger should be channelled into something a little more helpful, like motivation. I have let myself down, fundamentally. Even at crisis points, I am expending my energy more on others and their expectations of myself than I am on my obligation to be my own carer. If I am content extinguishing my own flame, how am I going to help others keep theirs burning?
  • You should be less afraid of showing people how you feel. Honesty is a very rare thing and a moment of gratitude or acknowledgement goes a long way. People are usually receptive, stunned into silence and/or overwhelmed with gratitude because it’s genuinely refreshing to reach out with something positive to offer.
  • Your younger relatives look up to you so try and see in yourself all of the amazing, albeit unreal, attributes they do.
  • Be more vulnerable. Sometimes you just have to succumb to having a bad time and cry it out, because it takes far more energy to conceal all that and pretend it isn’t the case. Nobody feels happy all the time and they shouldn’t feel guilty for that. Recently, I’ve had a few occasions where stress has led to me crying my eyes out on the bus journey home. At one point, I’d have felt more panicked by some sort of unspoken obligation to hide my face from others. Now I just savour the moment give myself the opportunity to fully feel anger or sadness, you have to work through rather than around! Vulnerability feeds a lot of things including creativity and growth. If you are struggling, the likelihood is that you’re on the verge of some sort of affirming life transition. Changes aren’t easy so navigate with caution and be kind to yourself. Whatever it is you’re feeling, it’s valid and there’s space for it in this world. Nobody should make you think that this isn’t the case.

I got really lucky with some good eggs who mean more to me than words can ever describe. My parents, my sisters and my entire family have generally pooled in with nothing but love, support and (much-needed) humour in the midst of disasters. In particular, my beautiful friends Alise, Beth, Regina, Serena and Rebecca have been the actual lifeline through most of the rollercoaster events in the last year. My wonderful boyfriend has survived the trials and tribulations of having a mentally unstable girlfriend (somehow) and has made me feel more safe, loved and secure than I can remember ever feeling in my life. Thank you all for being there throughout everything, for offering your patience and your time and your concerns. I really hit the jackpot with finding you gems amongst all the rubbish and I can’t wait for us to tear 2020 a new one because this year has, quite frankly, sucked (whilst simultaneously being quite the learning curve).

Have a fantastic NYE, readers. Lets get ready to manifest some goals and good vibes in 2020.