I am NOT anxiety. I am NOT Depression. These are things I have, not things that make me who I am.
It has taken a long time (over 30 years) for me to work out what it means to be true to yourself, and to discover your own identity. Having been given labels from when I was still in single figures of age, I attached myself to them and I became solely made of them. When I went from being “a smart one” in primary school to a sea of “smart ones” in a secondary grammar school I had no idea what to do. I lost who I was, and so I started to grab to any sort of identity I could. Unfortunately it was the wrong one, but that aspect of my life deserves it’s own post so I will delve into it on a later date.
Until then just remember...
Fast forward over 20 years and I am starting to get to know the spirit of me. I am starting to see what I can do, and I am starting to love spending time with me. This is wonderful, a true blessing – but then I have a day when I can’t get out of my front door or speak to anyone, and I start to freak out. Where has that spirit gone? Why can’t I live the life I want to?
The problem with mental health issues is that they are a health issue… I know, you would think the name of it would give that away; yet it is still amazing how ignorant so many of us are to them and what they actually mean. I put myself in the ‘ignorant but becoming less so’ category. I am still learning, and know I will continue to do so for the rest of my life.
So when you are faced with a challenge that takes over so many aspects of your life, how do you stop it from defining your life? Most importantly how do you stop it defining who you are?
It’s taken me a while to work through these things I am going to share with you. They each involved their own lessons that I had to learn for myself, but they all help me remain ME on the days I feel anything but the spirited individual I know I truly am.
We have to accept things that you cannot change. There is no point driving yourself crazy on the things you cannot change, you are wasting time and energy that could be spent working out how to make the best of a situation.
We can develop ourselves, we can strive to grow and learn, but we cannot change who we are at any given present time.
When I brush my teeth each day I look myself the eye and I say “I accept me as I am right now”.
I also put something in place to be able to smile a little when I am accepting a bad day. I recently bought this top from PINK, and when I am having a day when I just have to admit I will not be venturing past the threshold I pull it on. It is my way of saying “ok, you know you won’t do it, that is allowed.” This makes me feel safer as when I pull it on I am pulling on acceptance, and I have a barrier against guilt or shame associated with my restrictions.
2. Just because something is made for use outside the home, doesn’t mean you have to use it outside the home. These cups are my favourite example.
I use these at home on my tougher days, because they make me feel good. Also because if I was going to be out and about I would use them, so why should I stop doing something that makes me feel awesome just because I’m not in my car driving somewhere or wandering around the shops. It is the essence of what you love that makes you who you are – so embrace that no matter where you are.
3. Be savvy…
I know that I need to go out sometimes to get bits and pieces (90% of the time it seems to be butter, maybe I should just buy a cow.) so when I am able to get out and about I use that time to “stock up” on my ‘outside errands. I pop to see a friend, I nip for a coffee with my folks and I stock up on butter.
Then when I have a day when I am stuck I look at what can be on my radar that day. It might be listing my receipts and finances, or I may update the photos on my website. I might sit down and write, or I may work on some fondant detailing for upcoming cake commissions.
If I am unable to bring myself to do anything then I let that happen too, but the trick is to have some “housebound bits” that are there to be done if I’m stuck inside and I can face it. In turn this takes away the feeling of missing out, and it eliminates the thought of being useless as I can’t even take the bins out. I have tasks to do that would have needed doing anyway, so I’m being useful and I am still contributing to my life. I am still being ME.
I use special stationary (check out these beauties below, all made by Knock Knock) for making these lists, as this is means I am using something special that really makes my heart sing. Once again using things that I know I love helps me keep my sprit alive on darker days.
This was one of the hardest things for me, but now if I am having a bad day I will let Mr. BuBakes know. Not because I expect him to fix it, but because I want to be a kind and considerate wife. I want him to know that he may come home to a struggling wifey-face. I think it is fair to say it has taken a lot from both of us to work out how this can work for us, but now if he knows I have been struggling in the day he will come home and give me a hug before making me a cuppa. He knows he can’t solve it or take it away, and we both accept that fact.
The real game changer here is that just by making him aware and giving him a little heads up, there is that bit of “me” that is making contact with him. That simple one line of communication “just so you know I’m having a rough day” shows the considerate side of me that I never want to lose, it also makes a connection and automatically you are in it together, and I find this helps me stop the illness defining who I am and how I treat those around me.
If I am having a low day I will diffuse some essential oils into my home. I will choose something uplifting such as wild orange or lime, which is zesty and helps reduce the cabin fever aspect of being stuck indoors.
There is something to aid with every feeling and I genuinely feel blessed that I have discovered them. As I like to share my experiences of them with others, I also feel I keep the connection with my true self when I use them - again this helps me remember that I am still me.
You can check out the awesome range by Doterra on my very own online store link.
I hope those have helped someone out there a little. It is difficult to keep a connection with yourself when you are overcome by something invisible and all consuming – but I promise you there are ways to help.
I would always recommend putting a few things in place when you are having a good day, this also recognizes that you will have bad days and you know it – but that you accept it, and you know you are worthy of helping yourself through those days.
They say singing is incredibly therapeutic, so lets end this on a high note.
"It's my world that I want to have a little pride in
My world and it's not a place I have to hide in
Life's not worth a damn
Until you can say I am what I aaaaaaaam..."
BuBakes is committed to reducing the stigma attached to Mental Health, and personally donates 25p for every order received to MIND. This is kindly matched by three generous supporters, meaning a £1 donation is made per order. If you would like to find out more about MIND, or make a donation you can do so here.