Wednesday, 27 July 2016

You are Responsible for your own Wellbeing

"The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs." - Joan Didian
Regular readers of my blog and my Twitter rants will know that I've spent the past two weeks struggling with my mental health. It's difficult to write about recovery and hope and then find yourself submerged in the depths of a severe depression. In my head those two things conflict. Who am I to talk about finding happiness when I'm feeling sad? Am I failure for finding myself depressed AGAIN? 

For my depression to come back in full force during a month where I aimed to accept responsibility for my own wellbeing is all the more conflicting. I feel helpless for not being able to prevent it, control it, or move myself out of it. I feel responsible for making those around me worried and upset.

I feel like I have an onus to be well and recovered. Not just for myself, but for others in my life too.

The World Health Organization define health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing.” WHO see these faucets of health as inter-related and co-dependent of each other.
I know I have to accept responsibility for these three pillars of health, and take action to improve my wellbeing. Especially now that my mental health has been suffering. Taking preventative and relieving measures can reduce the impact of a depressive episode. And after the past two weeks, that's all I want.

So here's my plan to take back responsibility for my wellbeing

Monday, 25 July 2016

My Morning Routine

Today I want to talk you through one of the biggest life changes I have made this year - my morning routine. Back in April I decided to take back control of my busy life and reclaim my mornings. I decided to finally accept responsibility for making positive life changes and bring more happiness into my life with my own calm morning.

This involved rising half an hour earlier than I used to, and starting my day off with some additional me-time. Rather than rushing to get ready in half an hour - I gave myself an hour. It was a small addition of 30 minutes into my day, but it's made a world of difference.

“Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Why do we need a morning routine?

Morning routines give us the chance to not only have more quality time, but also to make better use of our time. Morning routines create discipline. Even if you are not traditionally a morning person, creating a structured morning can help you to become that early riser you always wanted to be!
For me, a morning routine also sets me up for the whole day. I feel more prepared, motivated and ready to face the day ahead.

My Morning Routine:

My morning routine took time to develop. Try out different activities, schedules and routines until you find one that works for you!

Early to bed; early to rise
At first, I tried rising 15 minutes earlier, and gradually increased this back to half an hour, and now sometimes 45mins to an hour depending on what I want to get down before I head to work. It's important to finding a sleeping schedule that works for you. I'm rather reliant on my 8 hours of sleep per night; so getting up earlier also meant sacrificing some time at the other end of the day too. To get up at 6:30 am, I try to be asleep by 11pm at night. By 10:30pm I am tucked up in bed and ready for a long rest.

I for one am really bad at drinking my eight glasses at water when I'm not at my work desk. But the mornings is the perfect time to take on some water for the day. Your first drink also wakes you up, and according to science, it helps flush out the toxins too.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Life Handbook - How I Accepted Responsibility for my Own Life

Revisiting my Life Handbook

Back in January I found authenticity by mapping my goals, dreams and life plans in a dedicated Life Handbook. I loved having a notebook of my favourite motivational quotes, my one-, three-, and five-year plans, and ambitions for my life time. I spent the rest of month feeling motivated. I took action in some key areas (most notably under my Relationships goal).

But as the month ended, I forgot about my goals. With the Handbook put aside, they were out of sight and out of mind.

June approached and I found myself almost half way through not only the year, but also my Romeo Project. While reflecting on my progress so far, I looked back on my first resolution and remembered that I had plans and aspirations for the year that I was not fulfilling.

How could I achieve my dreams, goals and ambitions if I didn't accept responsibility for implementing them? I needed to take action.
"If you want your prayers answered, get up off your knees and do something about them." - Wally Lamb

Friday, 22 July 2016

The fog is lifting

The fog is lifting. Slowly but surely.

I looked up the word 'fog'; read about it on Wikipedia. I learned about how it forms, that there are nine different types of fog, how it affects visibility, create shadows and that you can make your own artificial fog (if you were scientifically inclined, of course).

Sometimes the word fog is the best description for my lows. It neatly captures the heaviness I feel - sluggish and weary. It's hard to move through the dense thickness of a fog. It slows you down. Everything moves at a more lethargic pace. My reactions were diminished. My ability to feel gone.

I haven't felt like me. I felt like I was outside myself; watching and observing as if in a dream.

It's been 7 days now of feeling exhausted, apathetic, listless. 7 days of feeling that I was not and could not be me.

But day 8 sees the fog begin to lift. I am now visibly brighter. I feel calmer. The dark mass is passing overhead.

If the Romeo Project has taught me anything, it has taught me this - sometimes, no matter what efforts or actions we put in place, no matter how much we try to be happy, mental illness is still there. Reading self -help books doesn't stop your depression, anxiety, BPD. Applying the tools from self-help books doesn't make mental illness go away forever. Positive affirmations won't cure you.
Mental illness isn't that simple.

But they help. The self-help books, the self-care, the positive affirmations DO make you stronger. They help you bounce back. To fight it.

Finding yourself in the fog of a depressive episode doesn't eradicate the progress you've made.

I need to find acceptance with that.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Black hole

My mental health has taken a hit over the last week. Whether it’s down to exhaustion, new stress or an inevitable low after such a positive and happy month – I crashed.

I feel helpless. Like I don’t know how to pull myself out of it.

I keep repeating this month’s resolution to myself – 'Accept Responsibility'.

But it only makes me feel worse.

I am responsible for my own moods. I am responsible for how I feel. For turning this around. For pulling myself out of this black hole.

I know that. But knowing it doesn’t always help. 

I feel like a failure for not being able to pick myself back up; or not being able to stop the tears. 

I am responsible. But does that mean I am responsible for finding myself in this mess too? Should I have done more to look after myself? To take preventative measures against the bad days? Should I have been making the time for self care each day? Should I have avoided alcohol? Should I have handled difficult situations better?

How to take back responsibility and find the right actions? 

I don't know. Right now my head is too fuzzy to even think straight. I can't locate the answers in the darkness. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016


A lesson in regret

Today is my birthday. And I have been dreading it.
One more number towards old age. I need to start thinking about my pension plan. What have I even done with my life? How many years longer am I fertile?

Sure, I’m nearly in my mid-twenties!

Yes, I kid you not. These were my thoughts as I turned 24.
Me at 23 years and 363 days old.

24 and what do I have to show for it? As I look back on the last few years all I see is my mental illness.
The year I tried to take my life.
The year I was diagnosed.
The year my self-harm escalated.
The year I hated Christmas.
The year I found peace.

Sometimes my mental illness is all I see.

Did I waste my youth being mentally ill? 

After my diagnosis with depression I aged rather quickly. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I felt that I had no control over my own life. I felt responsible for everyone else’s lives. I felt close to death. Those are not feelings you can recover from.
I worried too much. It aged me drastically.

But maybe I was never very good at being young in the first place.

I was never young and carefree.
How I dressed, spoke, looked, acted, how others would perceived me, required meticulous planning – down the smallest, most minute detail. I would rehearse what to say. How to answer questions. Things that come so naturally for others. Attending a social event gave me painful knots in my stomach. More often than not, I would cancel with the flimsy excuse of feeling ill. I mean, I did feel ill – but it wasn’t physical.

I preferred nights in by the fire rather than in a night club. Most of my college days were not spent in a night-club. I preferred the quiet refuge of my bedroom; or in later years, the busy hustle of student welfare events. I graduated college at 21, post-grad and all. It was a stark bump back down to earth to find that any tiny glimpses of a social life I had had were no longer there. I sat in with a book. I aged while immersed in the lives I read about.

Part of me feels I wasted my youth. I spent so much time mentally exhausted I didn’t make the most of nights out, parties, alcohol, friends, adventures, travelling.

I found myself pausing this year and thinking “Shit. I have a lot of lost time to make up for.

And you know what? I'm okay with that. I am okay with only knowing who my friends are over the past few years. I am okay with travelling in my mid-twenties. I am okay not enjoying nightclubs.

Because while my youth was shaped by my mental illness, it wasn't only in a negative way. I found my passion through my struggle with depression. I learned the power of advocacy and speaking out.

Looking back on the past 24 years reminds me that I have to find acceptance with my past, my youth, my mental illness.
I cannot blame my depression and anxiety for denying me the pleasures of youth. I must accept them as a part of me.

Maybe that can finally be achieved at 24.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

You better figure out how to swim

"If you don't want to sink, you better figure out how to swim." - Jeannette Walls
My resolution to Accept Responsibility got off to a rocky start.
As part of my planning into the month I had hoped to write about finding a solution to a current problem - about how things can change for the better if we only accept responsibility for our own problems.

Straightaway, as soon as the month started I identified a huge problem. As I looked through my journal, I realised there was one task I kept putting off for the past few weeks. Instead I worked away on my blog, focused solely on writing and finding inspiration, when in the background I was ignoring my biggest challenge of the year so far. I was using my blog as procrastination from the one task I was too scared to commit to.

A Job Interview.

As the date of the interview approached, I made excuse after excuse not to do any preparation or work in advance of it.