Following on from the other day’s blog post where I wrote: It’s a myth that self-love is an inside job. Especially when thinking overrides feeling and thinking comes from a brain hacked by thousands of external viruses (the voices of others, their judgements and expectations, and our perception of their judgements and expectations; how we think people see us vs. how they really see us). If, like me, you were raised to worry about “what are the neighbours thinking? What are people going to say? Are you REALLY wearing THAT?!, you know what I’m speaking about. [Link to Why is self-love so fucking difficult?]
Spending a decade in and out of psychiatric hospitals left me KNOWING that I could not trust my own brain, because someone else was given the power to decide whether I was “sane” or “insane”, capable of being “a functional member of society”. It’s taken, and is taking, a long time to unlearn this internalised distrust of my own brain and its decision-making capabilities, especially when I knew that part of what the Drs and nurses and therapists and, and were saying was true: I self destruct(ed). I self harm(ed), physically, emotionally and on every level. I make(made) rash, impulsive decisions. I treat others better than I treat myself. I am last on the list of Important Things To Do Today.
This is how I have been overcoming this, and will continue to overcome this and learn to trust myself and my feelings, thoughts, decisions and inner voice: (I say “you”, but this is all a #notetoself as well, as usual).
Cut off contact with those who are not essential to the functioning of your daily life (important relationships you can’t escape). Prioritise, carefully those “important relationships you can’t escape. This includes family, friends, colleagues, social media. Ask yourself: what’s more important – my mental health or these relationships. Stick to that without guilt or fear of missing out.
Those emotions do not serve you and your mental health or boundaries. If these people or social media that you cut contact with feel abandoned, resentful, angry or hurt, this is THEIR ISSUE, not yours. With those you feel you need to explain the cut of contact, explain it in point form, expressing your needs and how this is NOT personal, but for you. Send them the Spoon Theory if you have to.
While doing this do NOT apologise for breathing, existing or having to look after yourself. When doing this with those you do not feel the need to explain your absence to, (because the relationship is not important in the bigger picture), just send them a short, business-like note saying you are away, on leave, gone fishing, and you’ll be back when you’re back.
- You are HUMAN. This will not be easy.
- You will take two steps forward and three steps back, every day, every hour, or even no steps forward and six back; but keep at it!
- Do not judge yourself, flagellate yourself, speak negatively to yourself.
- When I catch myself saying “shut up, Germaine!” or “stupid idiot!”, I am learning to replace it with “ok, just breathe. Let’s try that again”.
- Remind yourself: I am human. I am not failing. I am not a failure. I am learning, and this is something ALL humans need to learn, not just me.
- I just need it more because I am a Spoonie. And THAT IS OK!
- Being a Spoonie IS OK.
- Self-care is not selfishness, it’s self-care, and THAT’S OK.
- Getting it “wrong” and taking a step back IS OK.
- Pat yourself on the back for every time you take care of yourself, no matter how small.
Gratitude and self-worth during tough times: Alanis Morrissette says it better than I, and most others do.
https://youtu.be/OOgpT5rEKIU – gratitude for hard times and lessons learnt.
Self worth and self love: I am enough, even when – https://youtu.be/MMt3_p04XaQ
Back to DISCLAIMER:
- If you don’t do this, you will only remember the times you “failed” or took a step “back”, etc. and this will be ALL you see.
- Patting yourself on the back, gratitude for Spoon Family – all these focusing on the positive will help balance the burden of all the negative feelings, relationships, interactions, stresses, etc. that you WILL HAVE TO FACE EVERY DAY.
- We do not live in a vacuum. Even psychiatric hospitalisations are not all self-care. Hospitalisations are traumatic too, so don’t romanticise the “escaping reality” thing. There is no such thing.
- Just manage “escaping reality” for yourself through self care (music, series, food that makes you feel good (without guilt)), spoon thinking, spoon family, patting yourself on the back when you do what’s best for you and don’t get caught in guilt, anger, sadness spiral for too long when non-spoon people, things or thoughts happen.
- Wash, rinse, repeat, etc. and be on the lookout for falling back into negative, isolated space thinking by checking in with Spoon Family continuously.
- Say, write, tattoo “I am enough”.
Work in progress…
Literally, and in terms of the writing of this post. There are SO many blog posts on here I could link to, but these might be the most helpful: the journal (blog) I kept on how to stay sane, as well as On vulnerability as strength and On living and thriving with Bipolar II (and any other mental health issue or invisible disability), and lastly Why I’m zen in the midst of chaos: Spirituality as an atheist literature snob.