The Unmarked Road

Life On The Other Side Of Mental Illness

Category: Mood Swings

How My Big News Threw Me Into Disarray

I am working on a more general article on how to deal with huge life altering changes, but for today I thought I’d share some of my own personal feelings.

On Wednesday I shared with you all some of the best news of my life. After 12 long weeks, the emotions of finally being able to see that little face on the ultrasound and meeting our baby for the first time, were truly beautiful and overwhelming. But it doesn’t always start off that way.

Before the scan you don’t have much in the way of proof that there’s an actual baby growing inside of you, and there is this huge part of you that, despite all the sickness and mood-swings and weight gain, is terrified that you’ve made it all up in your head! It is an agonising nearly 3 months, and it is usually during the first trimester that you feel your worst, so not being able to tell everyone to explain why you’re being a tired, temperamental and pretty pathetic lunatic is pretty hard.

On top of that, it doesn’t really sink in that you’re having baby because, as mentioned above, there’s no proof: there’s no bump and you just feel rubbish. It can create an array of mixed emotions and fears.

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When Was The Last Time You Said Thank You Just Because?

When was the last time you said thank you for no reason other than to appreciate what you already have?

We are all, including me, very good at seeing what’s LACKING in our life – what somebody hasn’t DONE for us, what we haven’t ACHIEVED, what we don’t yet OWN – so that we forget how fortunate we actually are. When we stop and actually take the time to look at what we have instead of haven’t got, the list is usually much longer than the one of things we think we are missing from our lives.

I struggle at this time of year to consistently feel happy and at peace. Every year I go through the same, and every year I feel ashamed for feeling like I’ve become this miserable, ungrateful person who just feels down all the time. Just one day of sunshine and I sigh a huge sigh of relief because I realise that’s not the ‘real’ me. Like this massive weight just lifts as the grey clouds are physically pushing down on me. But it isn’t good enough to wait for these clear days. I can’t spend the rest of my life dreading winter or hormonal changes.

We all have down days and that’s ok. Some days we just want to curl up in a ball because we can’t cope with the world and all its inspirational memes that seem to have saturated social media lately (a new years resolution of mine is to stop posting so many of these pictures as I feel the effect of them has sadly worn off). Days like this I feel are important to right off;

The world won’t stop if you stop for a day or two.

Of course if you feel you are able to tackle simple tasks like the washing – things that require little thought – these can help ease the guilt and feeling of hopelessness. But if you don’t feel up to it, that’s ok too! [It is worth noting that weeks of feelings like this may be an indication that something more serious is going, which may need to be looked at by a professional. This something I am not able to advise on.]

For those days where we feel as though we want to pull ourselves out of that foggy funk however, simply listing all we have can help us to get a grip on the truth, instead of believing the lie: that we’re failing, that everyone else seems to be happy and moving on with their life, that we are lacking.

Sometimes just saying thank you to the people in your life can have a huge positive effect, not just on you but also those around you. Be it to your friends, your partner, your family, even just to your God or the Universe or life. Because we all have something to be grateful for and in a perfect world it’s these things that we would be concentrating on every day.

So today I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to:

  • My friends who’ve stuck by me, even when I haven’t been the best friend I could be.
  • My parents and family who shaped the person I am today. Each of you have impacted my life in so many positive ways.
  • My husband who only ever sees the good in me and who believes in me more than anyone else in the world, even when I don’t believe in myself.
  • My new family in law who have accepted me so open heartedly into their lives.
  • God, the Universe, life; you have given me opportunities and opened doors for me to make my own way and taught me lessons I didn’t always want to learn, but had to. You have given me a roof over my head, food to eat and people to care about. I am rich indeed.
  • Those who have done me wrong; you made room for better things in my life and taught me how to let go of hate and anger.
  • And lastly a thank you to all of you. You who have joined me on this journey and have taken the time to support it.

I appreciate every single one of you  and am grateful for so much love and blessings that are available to me in my life.

So what are you thankful for today? It can be big, it can be small, it can be something you’re looking froward to. What is the first thing that comes into your head? And what after that? Now watch it snowball.

Can You Choose To Be Happy?

I often bleat on about how happiness is a choice. But how is it possible to choose to be happy, rather than letting it choose you?
 
I used to be a very up and down person. I blamed people or things that were happening to me for these mood swings and I DECIDED I didn’t want to have such a lack of power anymore. Learning to take responsible for all that was going on in my life, and then taking control of it and making things happen rather than be a passenger of my experiences, gave me the ability to choose happiness – most of the time.
 
I also put a lot of responsibility on other people to make me happy or unhappy. We all do this to an extent, whether it is in our relationships, careers or even things such as ‘retail therapy’. Inevitably this puts us at risk of being let down. We are GAMBLING with our emotions, using quick fixes to inject fake excitement and joy into our lives that, inevitably, fade because we are looking outside of ourselves for reasons to be happy.
 
But REAL AND LASTING HAPPINESS comes from within and from learning to appreciate what you have instead of coveting the things you lack.
 
As always, it is important to know that responsibility isn’t the same as fault. We can’t stop people treating us badly, or having horrible things happen to us. But we CAN influence our attitude and our behaviour to these things. We CAN choose to walk away from negative relationships. We CAN see failure as opportunity. We CAN seek peace in the face of war instead of fighting fire with fire. THAT is taking responsibility.
 
To be able to choose happiness rather than have it choose you, you have to first take responsibility for ALL your emotions, and you have to stop giving other people or things the power to change how you feel.
 
Of course this isn’t always possible. And it’s important to note that this isn’t something you can do overnight. But simply by starting to take note of your reactions to things that are going on in your life, noticing whether you practice gratitude or whether you complain about everything in a ‘life is so unfair’ manner, is going to help you to understand that we have much more power over our lives than we think.
 
My attitude, and in turn my life, have completely changed since I started doing this. I wake up every morning excited about life again; something I never thought possible when battling with mental health problems. And I am amazed by how much a simple shift in my taking responsibility has created positive and real changes in my life.
 
Like with everything that is life changing, this isn’t an easy journey. But it’s one of the most important ones you’ll ever go on.
 
Dani xx

Holiday Blues

Why is it that you feel the need for a holiday, to get over a holiday?

I am the very definition of a binger. I am not someone who does ‘everything in moderation’. I’m an all or nothing kind of gal – for example, I can’t diet. I either eat completely clean or I eat everything sweet and fatty I can get my hands on, even if I don’t particularly like the taste of it!

This is what I do on holiday. I do everything in excess because I know when I get home, with having a wedding to prepare and pay for and me having no income, there will be no little luxuries. So the past 5 days in Bristol have been spent eating and drinking to the point I feel the inside of my body’s health declining! You know that feeling of being dirty? You look at your body and rationally you know it can’t have changed that much in 5 days but somehow you look fatter and uglier than ever before?

I don’t suffer from bulimia anymore, but that feeling of being dirty was something I remember well. Throwing up was all I could do to stop me feeling like that. I don’t hate my body or myself to that extent anymore but I can’t look at myself in the mirror at the moment and will be adhering to strict detox until I can face myself again!

I guess it is important not to get hung up on those things too much. I spent the 5 days laughing uncontrollably and reminiscing about old times. Letting go for a few snippets of time where I wasn’t harassed by intrusive thoughts of failure and uncertainty was well and truly a break from reality and I relished it, bloated belly and all!

I’m home now, and holiday blues have set in. The mountain of work has piled up, there’s housework to do and my holiday from the anxiety is over too. But that’s ok. You need the rain to experience the rainbow. If all my days were beautiful and fulfilling, I wouldn’t appreciate them as much.

I suppose the trick when experiencing days where joy isn’t so ‘in your face’ is to look deeper for your blessings in the every day. My health, my fiancé, my opportunities. As hard as it is, there is always something you are blessed with and can appreciate. What are you grateful for today?

Do You Ever Feel Ashamed Of Your Emotions?

I find this time of year really hard. Every January I tell myself I’ll not succumb to it, but somehow I always do. They call it S.A.D. – how apt! A lack of sunlight apparently. Days on end I just get this sudden overwhelming feeling of depression and a want to hide away and hibernate. I want to stay in my PJs, eat crap food and let the TV do its job of distracting me from the way I am feeling. Simple tasks feel like pressure I can’t seem to handle, like washing up or getting the food shop.

I haven’t been out of the house in 3 days. I guess that’s part of the problem, but I can’t face it. I’ve got as far as putting on my coat and shoes, and opening the door. Then the cold hits me like a slap in the face and a retreat like a wounded animal back into the comforting arms of the warm house.

I know this will pass because it always does, but the shame of feeling like this remains and only pushes me further into isolation.

Every year when spring comes I get this sudden pang of realisation that I’m not a miserable c** after all! I’m actually a normal, happy and positive person who can achieve anything she wants when she puts her mind to it! Not only that but this year will be one of the most wonderful of my life with me becoming Mrs Jackson in July and embarking on a 3 month travel excursion around the World. I suppose that’s what make this feeling even more shameful. By anyone’s standards I am a very lucky person with an incredibly exciting and fulfilling future. I know that. I’m not blind to my good fortune.

But that’s the worst thing about it – there is absolutely no reason for me to be feeling this way, and that can lead to feeling unworthy of all the good that’s in my life.

Trying to ‘pull yourself together’ at times like this, and for anyone who knows how it feels, is completely pointless. In fact it puts more pressure on you. Sometimes you have to remember that it’s ok to not feel amazing 100% of the time. Accepting our emotions rather than fighting them is, I believe, key in overcoming emotional struggles. Feeling oversensitive? So what! Unhappy at the moment, let yourself wallow for a few days until you naturally recover. Don’t apologise for not being perfect.

When you over exercise or are recovering from a cold, it is acceptable to take some time to heal. Why is it different with emotional or mental stumbles?

Bearing in mind I’m not speaking about mental illness that requires medication. That’s a different kettle of fish entirely and one I luckily don’t have to deal with anymore.

Hopefully this hasn’t come across as another downer (ah there I go again worried about what others think of me. Darn it). I guess sometimes my posts will come across as a bit negative. But if they weren’t, then I wouldn’t be portraying a real person, one that hasn’t figured it all out yet either.

Happy Monday all 🙂

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