It’s probably no secret that over the years I have struggled with my mental health, and more recently, it’s taken an unexpected hit and downturn – just when I finally felt like everything was coming together. You see, that’s the thing with mental health, you don’t have to have a reason, my life doesn’t have to constantly be falling apart for my mental health to be suffering…sometimes it’s just a bit crap, for the want of a better term a bit shit. It creeps up on you out of nowhere and hits you when you least expect it. Or at least, that’s what happens to me.
A few weeks ago, I went to visit my family in England and we had the bestest time. I hung out all day with my little cousins, and they taught me a lot in the space of only a few hours. We just had fun, we lived for that moment, we climbed, we ran, we hung upside down, we did handstands and cartwheels and we swung on the swings and we chatted. We chatted about things kids chat about, you know the care-free stuff that kids are supposed to talk about, school, gymnastics, friends, favourite toys, YouTubers, all of those things. It was probably one of the best days I have had in a long time. Just escaping from the harsh realities of adult life, and my little brain, and thinking about everything but also thinking about nothing. When I was a kid (before those dreaded teenage years), although things were really quite rubbish I just let absolutely nothing bother me, I shook off negativity like it was nothing. When another kid was horrible to me I just sassed them right back and owned the playground, I was taller than all the other kids and bigger in general too but that just made me feel stronger and then all of a sudden all of that vanished, and I wasn’t a kid anymore and I had to think about things that kids shouldn’t and that was incredibly isolating. It isolates you from other kids, and the adults think you’re too young to understand so they shut you out too and before you know it you’re in a bubble and all you have is yourself. Hanging out with my cousins took me back to when I was their age, and I understood a little of what was going on but not enough to really feel the burden of it all yet, I could still climb trees and play football and dig mud holes in the garden. It reminded me of a time when I didn’t let negativity in. So in the middle of this current shit-storm, I’ve been thinking of ways to reduce the negativity around me, and I guess that’s where today’s post comes from.
The one thing that causes the most issues for me is the people around me, I have always been unlucky in attracting toxic relationships – luckily enough my husband is the complete opposite of toxic, and all he strives to do is build me up and make me even stronger than I already am. You’d think I’d be sworn off of marriage, but when you meet someone who knows you and wants to do anything they can to help you and just wants to love you, you can’t help but fall right in love with them and want all of those things for them too. So, my romantic relationship isn’t the toxic one, thank god. No, I’ve always had a problem of attracting toxic friendships, and also being sucked into toxic family relationships and issues.
When shit hit the fan last year right before my wedding I decided that enough was enough, and I wasn’t going to be putting up with this kind of behaviour from anyone anymore. It’s no good for anyone that gets dragged into it, and quite frankly it isn’t worth the pain and hurt anymore. I refuse to live my life stressing about upsetting people like I have watched those closest do me do their entire lives, I am old enough to make my own decisions, and if for the sake of my own happiness that means being selfish for once in my life, then I’m going to be selfish and do what makes me happy instead of pleasing everyone else around me. It’s pretty tough to reach this realisation, I mean you have to be at breaking point before you realise enough is enough and that you actually have to look after yourself for once. It’s horrible to realise that those who are supposed to love you the most can be the most toxic and manipulative, it’s a constant battle because you feel guilty for wanting to remove yourself from the people that you’re genetically bred to love and support, but there comes a time when you have to analyse how they show that they love you. If it isn’t the kind of behaviour you feel shows that they love you and want your happiness, and it isn’t how you would treat them, then it isn’t love, and you are SO within your right to remove yourself from that. I’ve learned that the hard way. I guess I had a head start being the original baby of the family because that means that you get to quietly sit and watch every other single relationship and figure out how you’re going to fit into it all. I got to watch everything unfold before me, before I was old enough to be dragged into it all and become a piece in the games. My realisation sadly was that I didn’t want to fit into that pattern of destruction, pain, hurt and emotional guilt. Not anymore. It’s been about eighteen months since I made that decision, and it has been really hard. It’s tough when you just want to shake people and make them see what you can see, but you have to be patient, and know that they will reach the realisation eventually. The hardest bit is the talking about it, the manipulation of your words and your actions to others and the fact that these people try to change the way others perceive you as a person. Being quiet about it, not retaliating and allowing yourself to try to let that go is bloody difficult, but you have to keep telling yourself that others will see it eventually and when they do you don’t hold that over them, you embrace them, forget it and move on.
Now, I have never felt better. The anxiety is still there, I still dread the idea of huge gatherings and have had panic attacks because of the stress it brings upon me, but on a daily basis it feels so freeing to know that I am not getting dragged into unnecessary drama and being continuously used and hurt for someone else’s personal gain. It feels great to be so dismissive about on-going drama between other people because I no longer invest energy into that.
I think because of those relationships around me, I have always been overly closed off when it comes to friendships. I think part of it stems from having to grow up very quickly, and enter an adult world with real life adult issues at a very young age, I’ve always felt different to my peers, and I have always been drawn to hanging out with older people because I felt like they were more on my level. As I’ve got older, it has balanced out, as everyone else is catching up to my maturity level. Over the years, I have become more of a ‘burn me once, you won’t get a chance again’ kind of gal, or at least I like to believe I am. (We all know I struggle with this in reality). I have held onto friendships from my childhood for no good reason, but then in more recent years I have cut off people without a second thought. It can be a useful tool for self preservation, but it also so damaging. I think because of the toxic friendships and relationships I have had my entire life, I really struggle to become close to people. I keep friends at arms length and second guess their every move or motive, and my own too. I let myself feel guilty for the emotional upset that they might cause me, questioning everything I have said or done. You can damn well bet that they aren’t doing that. They aren’t overthinking the way they have treated me, when realistically they should be. It’s tough to distinguish between genuine people, and those that want to be close to you for some sort of personal gain. Since leaving university, I have noticed those that want to be close to me because they want to be my friend, as opposed to those that wanted to be my friend because of some sort of personal gain, or because all of their other friends were busy. One thing that I think has lead to me feeling guilty in friendships is a lack of understanding of my mental health issues, quite frankly, some days I just want to scream ‘I’M HAVING A LOW DAY’ to my friends so that they don’t make me feel bad for not wanting to do something. It would be a great for everyone just to take no for an answer. If I can’t see you because of any reason, I’m already beating myself up one hundred times more than you ever could. I feel awful for not replying to messages because I can’t stomach telling people that actually I just need to be alone because although a lot of my good friends, Fionna & Jenny to name a few would completely understand, others just don’t and they give you that whole ‘ahhh you should just come out you’ll feel better’. That would one hundred per cent make me feel worse, but I appreciate the sentiment. It leads to friendships falling apart, if someone doesn’t understand your feelings or appreciate your feelings or support you and they just stop talking to you, or get mad at you they aren’t worth feeling guilty over. They just aren’t. *this is where I ‘yaaasss gurllll’d’ myself*
Sometimes you just have to remove the negativity, people who make you second guess the person that you are, are not people that you need to be around. For your own sanity, and your own happiness, you have to remove yourself from that. It isn’t pleasant, and it’s really bloody difficult, but it has to happen. I guess I am more careful now, but it’s a learning curve and it’s so hard to know when to trust someone and when someone is actually genuine.
I try bloody hard every day to not let things get to me. My life is now no longer someone else’s game, but a book in which I am the author, I make the decisions, I write the next chapter. I now try to surround myself with people who love me as much as I love them, we build each other up, we support each other, we are honest, we are loyal and we wouldn’t do a thing to hurt one another. That to me is what real love is, it comes from your partner, your family and your friends. I’m at a point in life where I know that I don’t need anything but that love, so if it isn’t being offered, I am not buying into it. I’ve realised I have to do what makes me happy, not what makes everyone else happy!
(p.s. thank you to everyone who shows me love and support, you give me the nads to be this honest)