The Unmarked Road

Life On The Other Side Of Mental Illness

Category: Articles (page 1 of 2)

Valentine’s Day: Why We SHOULD At The Very Least Acknowledge It

Today is a day to celebrate love with that special someone in our lives. It is a day my husband and I don’t celebrate massively; a card, a kiss, a yummy eggs Benedict (my favourite) cooked by Mr J. It is a day that over the commercialised bears and expensive set menus, the message of why we SHOULD at the very least acknowledge it, can get lost. It is a day Mr J and I appreciate how lucky we are to have found each other while reflecting on what could have been if we had previously settled for other partners, ones that didn’t quite fit.

Sure you shouldn’t NEED a day to celebrate your love, but in the madness of every day life it’s nice to have a moment to recognise that finding a life partner is not a given. Those of us who have ‘it’ are blessed, and remembering why it is we chose this person over every other is important, whether on Valentine’s Day or any other.

Most of us have had our share of unsuccessful relationships. Mine were always intense, always serious and ultimately when they ended it was messy, painful and life changing. But I don’t believe that people are bad or toxic. I just believe in bad fits, and in weaknesses that don’t match strengths. I’ve been cheated on, treated like I wasn’t a priority and had my heart-broken. Am I bitter? Absolutely not!

None of the ‘men’ I was with before were right for me, just as I wasn’t right for them.

Valentine's Day

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How To Deal With Life Changes

Last week I wrote about how my life changing news threw me into disarray. This got me thinking about big life changes in general and how many of us, not just those suffering with anxiety, find it difficult to cope with being thrown into the abyss of the unknown. But should we avoid change because of fear of failure? Is it really better the devil you know or is there a way we could learn to deal with life changes in a more constructive manner than our minds often revert to?

life changes

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How Important Is Money To You?

When The Beatles released their 6th British single ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ in 1964, the lyrics encompassed the very essence of the 60s. Followed by ‘All You Need Is Love’ in 1967, the idea of being able to achieve happiness solely through love was, and still is, one adopted by millions all over the World. It is an ideal that I would love to be able to believe in…were I to live in the magical land of pixies and elves.

I’m not sure that The Beatles ever had to ‘care too much for money’, but currently finding myself with a bit of time to think about life, love and the Universe, I have started asking myself some rather profound questions. ‘What do I really want and what of that do I want solely because it is part of my upbringing in Western civilisation?’ ‘Are the things we deem important such as security, money, power etc, only as important as we allow them to be?’

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Does This Letter Prove That Society Cultivates Mental Illness?

Last week I wrote a post about publishing an old letter I wrote to myself at age 18 during my first year of university. I have spent all day fretting about whether or not this is a good idea. Whether it will leave me vulnerable to ridicule and judgement.

Reading it has however made me wonder about the role society plays in nurturing psychological disorders amongst young adults. For instance, how much does our society cultivate and even benefit from low self-esteem and does it trigger a host of serious mental health issues such as social anxiety, self-harming and eating disorders?

And how much did my own insecurities about how I looked, feed the dark demons of my depression?

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Taking Responsibility For Our Reactions

We often get upset or offended by things other people say to us. Sometimes it’s justified, but sometimes we overreact, which says more about our own insecurities than about the offender’s intentions. In fact if we’re completely honest with ourselves, more often than not do we attach all kinds of hidden meanings and ulterior motives to the thing that has offended us, and rather than take responsibility and ownership of the arising negative emotion, we feel victimised and lash out externally. We project whatever insecurity has been stirred within us, on to the sometimes innocent offender .

I was once someone like that. I felt like bad things and bad people were happening to me. I blamed others for making me feel in a negative way because of things they said or did to me. And it felt like this was happening ALL THE TIME. But it was out of my control right?

Well I got sick of wallowing in self-pity, no matter how justified my feelings were, and so I started to look at the common denominator; and it was me. I decided I no longer wanted to be a victim. I wanted more say over my life and how I was feeling over the things I had no control over. Blaming others for how I felt may have been easier, but it wasn’t making me happy, and I realised I needed to start taking more responsibility for  myself. I knew  I couldn’t control what people said or did to me, so what could I do?

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Why Am I Here? Anxiety And Overthinking.

This was a post I wrote 3 years ago, almost to the day. While I may no longer be alone, I still have problems with anxiety and overthinking, and so the message of what I went through and learned when I travelled South East Asia on my own are still valuable and still relevant to my life now as I ponder what to do when this adventure ends and I am faced with the reality of my future back home.

The search for our purpose in life can often stop us from enjoying what is right in front of us.

Sometimes, no matter if you are 7, 17 or in my case 27, all a girl needs is her mum. There is no one in the world like her. No one knows or loves you like your mum, and in a time when nothing and no one seems to be able to make a bad situation better, she is miraculously able to say or do exactly the right thing. It’s as if you are born with a guidebook that is specific to you, a manual forged out of the fibres of your being, and she is the only one that understands its contents, so that when you are miss-functioning or broken, all she has to do is consult the correct page to get you back up and running at full speed.

Today I hit a wall. A big, solid, unfriendly one. It’s been exactly three weeks since I arrived on the other side of the world, but it has only been 12 hours since my travel companion left me to continue this journey on my own. And it’s hard going. Now I’m not naive or stupid. I didn’t travel to ‘find myself’. I know exactly who I am. I also know exactly what I want and it came as no surprise to anyone who really knows me that ultimately, my greatest wish is to settle down and have a family. I don’t think there has ever been a time (other than a brief rebellious feminist ‘why should women stay at home’ stage) where I haven’t felt that the reason I am alive is to nurture and grow a family. I am all for choice and even more for equality. I want a career, of course. But in a society where there is an increasing disdain for women who choose to become ‘dumb housewives’, I am almost embarrassed to say that having a family is a priority in my life! In an era where women can have it all, I want it all, however I also believe, circumstance allowing, that if a woman decides to have children, she should be at home bringing them up. Controversial, I know!

This reaffirmation leaves the question then, why am I here? And this is the wall that I came up against today. It was a question I didn’t even know was there. A few disjointed texts to my nearest and dearest gave the support I needed for my currently lonely state, it was however a scarmbled mass of thoughts and feelings put in an email to my one and only mum that truly gave me the insight I needed but couldn’t quite grasp. Now I’m not saying she managed to bulldoze that wall right down to it’s knees (it’s a big old bugger), but she certainly gave me the pickaxe with which to start hacking my way free brick by brick. So spot on were her words that I wanted to share them with you:

‘Finding out that you know who you are is not always great, is it, because then you think: Well what am I going to do about it, seeing everything is crap and knowing who I am isn’t enough. But that’s not what you went away to find out, really. You went to find out: What am I going to do with who I am in the future? If that means coming home, do so! Or keep on going for now and keep faith. You went out there to find something!!! Maybe something you didn’t know you were looking for yet. And maybe it is still out there. Three weeks in places where loads of disillusioned Europeans and Americans are hanging about trying to find the answer to what they are may be the wrong place. Or maybe you just haven’t seen it yet, found it yet, because you are looking at it the wrong way around – like reading the newspaper upside down.’

‘Security comes from within not through being with a person – or more than one. And you know not to forget that life is not like a book and you may not find what you think you are looking for – but will find something you didn’t even know existed.’

‘And maybe you should just see this trip as a holiday for now. Not expect answers and look for them in every corner. Enjoy the weather! The people! The food. Just let yourself drift. You might surprise yourself yet. But whatever you do: don’t try to force things. Don’t think: I HAVE to find these things out here somewhere. Maybe you just need to get away and when you come back you will find what you want right here.’

I really couldn’t have said it any better. It is like she went into my head and extracted the exact information I needed but couldn’t decipher due to the emotional cloud over my head. Yes I’m still lonely, more than that I am scared, hell I feel like sobbing on my dirty, ant infested pillow as soon as I get back into my roofless cardboard hut. But at least it will be with a little more courage and confidence, and a faith that tomorrow, even if not brilliant, might just be ok.

Thank you Mummy xx

6 Easy Ways To Get Healthy Right Now!

As promised, I will be sharing my healthy living guide with you for the next 4 weeks. This is not just going to be about what I am eating, but also about busting some myths about food that are currently going around, as well as sharing all round general health tips. Having a healthy body and mind is not just about food and exercise, there are many other things you can do!

Now as you know, I am not one for hitting the gym or restricting myself to eating only raw vegan food! However there is something everyone can do to generally improving their health just by making small manageable changes. Remember, it’s all about elephant sandwiches 😉 (basically, you would never be able to eat a whole elephant! So break it down into bitesize pieces!).

I challenge you to make one positive change a day. Here are some examples of what you can start to introduce into your life over the next 4 weeks.

Imagine how different your life could be in 4 weeks if you introduce just 1 new habit every day?  Continue reading

The Matrix Is Real – Are You Ready To Be Unplugged?

Happiness is different and unique to each and every one of us. For me, my happiness relies largely upon how free I feel.

My opinion on how free we truly are, is somewhat unpopular largely because it makes people feel uncomfortable. My view that we are nothing but slaves to our 9-5 work schedules, paid barely enough to actually live our lives to it’s fullest potential, is not one those in head offices around the large conglomerate companies around the world would want their ‘worker ants’ to agree with.

Those ‘queen bees’ profiting from all the hard-working people trapped in this commercial beehive called our society, are able to live outside the facade of freedom.

I am not saying those people haven’t had to work hard at some point in their lives. But having experienced both sides of this coin, I know which kind of work I would rather do. Conference calls from a private jet, mind mapping over brunch on a yacht, certainly beats being scolded like a school child over having your phone out during a time that is not deemed as your break.

The Matrix

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Don’t Let The Anxiety Win

As a sufferer of anxiety, one of the biggest things that plagues my mind is whether or not I am in the right place at the right time, making the right decisions. As I have previously written, my fears stem from things I can, rather than cannot control. In my mind, those things I have no control over, I can’t change anyway.

It’s the things that I have the power to change that really worry me; because it makes me responsible for how my life turns out.

This was very clearly demonstrated to me during my travels and by my fear of heights. When on a plane, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest that I am thousands of feet up in the air. I can look down at ant like cars and Lego houses quite easily without a second thought. However, whilst rock climbing in Vietnam, I literally became paralysed with the fear over having the power to throw myself off the side of the mountain at any given moment. If I was going to die, it was because of something I did, it would be my fault, and that kind of responsibility was just too much to bear.

This fear, albeit less intense than when rock climbing, follows me around every corner of my life, where anything less than perfection can make me feel like a failure.

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What Is Your Reason For Living?

Have you ever asked yourself ‘What is the meaning of life? Why am I here?’ I don’t think I’ve met many people who haven’t at one point asked themselves this question in one form or another. Infuriatingly, the answer isn’t quite as simple (or confusing) as in The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy in which a super computer calculates the answer as being the number 42. It’s a question that has plagued me many times over, unsurprisingly in the more difficult periods of my life. It is also a question arising in many conversations with my friends over the last week or so, which inspired this post.

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