Monthly Reflections 2018: Goodbye November, Hello December

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Looking back over November, and forwards to December:




I AM...PROUD OF

I'm proud of myself for speaking openly and honestly about my experiences, emotions and feelings. I'm also proud of my recovery journey and how I'm managing my health lately. I didn't think I'd ever be in this place of stability and inner peace, I'm proud of all the work I've put in to get here. It's been hard; really fucking hard! 


I AM...LETTING GO OF

Trying to please people. I don't want to be my people pleaser self anymore; what I mean by this is that I'm going through a bit of an identity crisis...there's me and then there's my society pleasing self, who I'm so fed up of. And I need to let go of that person who is not the real me, but someone I created as a result of societal pressures and expectations.


I AM...GRATEFUL FOR

My tribe ~ my mum, my brother, my best friends. I'm just bursting with gratitude for this tribe. I wouldn't be alive and well today without them. Every time I think "Oh my Buddha, I am so incredibly lucky!" they help and inspire and empower me some more. I really feel like the luckiest woman alive right now.

I'm also extremely grateful that I am in a place of stability at the moment, for the first time I am genuinely excited for end of year/ Christmas period, and even though I'm struggling with my Endometriosis these last couple days, I still feel this immense inner peace and happiness. I'm in such a zen place that I'm extremely suspicious of how I'll be punished for this...Oh there she is; my ol' friend Anxiety! Even with all my health issues and symptoms though, I'm doing and feeling good, and I couldn't be more grateful for this feeling. So, I'm going to enjoy it.


I AM...INSPIRED BY

My mum.

It's been an emotional and difficult month. Actually, it's been an emotional and difficult few years. My family and I have been through a lot, and I'm amazed at how we've survived, but I'm mostly amazed by my mum's strength and will to stand by her children. Her willingness to listen to learn, to ask questions to understand, to start conversations to find out how to best help & support us. I'm in awe of the woman that is my mother, and she inspires me daily to be a better me.


WHAT I'M LOVING THIS MONTH

MUSIC: 'Never Give Up' by Sia

PODCAST(S): Sandra and Homecoming ~ Both of these are so good!

WORDS: 'The Guilty Feminist's Deborah Frances-White talk at Stylist Live, on the power of confidence. She shared wisdom on how to up your self-esteem and cultivate your confidence game. Her words on including ourselves and including others rather than asking to be included were powerful and empowering! Examples of people who include themselves and then include others (rather than ask to be included) are Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Oprah, and Ellen DeGeneres.

Also, these words by Prince Ea ~ @prince_ea ~ have really resonated with me: "Quit letting who you were talk you out of who you're becoming."

TV: 'There She Goes' on BBC Four and 'Homecoming' on Amazon Prime Video.

MOVIE(S): 'Hereditary (2018)' ~ Scariest movie I've seen in a long time. Tread carefully though, this film contains the most shocking and horryfying scenes I have ever seen.

TED TALKS: I HIGHLY recommend these talks ~


EVENT(S): I attended some inspirational events this month. Including the following ~



WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?

  • I can now self sooth during panic attacks! Here's what I do now: Ground myself by putting my bare feet on the floor/ground, breathe, close my eyes if possible, feel the sensations in my body (a short body scan) and remind myself that "I'm okay, I'm going to be okay" 'til it passes. 
  • I now listen to my emotions rather than suppress or ignore them.
  • I'm coping with elections much better these days. Woohoo!
  • I'm going through some kind of identity crisis ~ there's the real me and then there's a "need to please and conform to society" me; I'm working on only being the real me 24/7, without worrying about pleasing others #WorkInProgress. 


MANTRA(S) FOR DECEMBER  

"Quit letting who you were talk you out of who you're becoming"
Prince Ea

"I always trust the direction of the universe and know I'm being guided"
Micaela Ezra via Gabby Bernstein

"Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast - you also miss the sense of where you are going and why"
Eddie Cantor


See you next month! x

Patience is more than a virtue

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I feel like calling patience a "virtue" makes it sound like it's an easy thing to do; an easy choice to make. It also makes it sound like it's a luxury, when actually it's a necessity for healthy living. But patience is hard; really fucking hard. It takes constant work and practice, and even when you're focused on it, it's still a struggle.

"Patience can’t be acquired overnight. It is just like building up a muscle. Every day you need to work on it.”
Eknath Easwaran

Patience is about being really self aware and possessing next level strength and maturity to commit to the slower path. It means to allow space in life; space to breathe; space to pause; space to think; space to enjoy; space to let go of expectations and to simply be.

Patience is also about having trust in the process; trust that things will work out in time. It's about being able to wait for long term or delayed gratification, rather than settle for short term or instant gratification. Which is no easy task.

“Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength.”
Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton


Going slow does not equal lazy

Once upon a time I did everything so quickly, with such eagernerss and such lack of awareness that now I look back and I often ask myself "Did that really happen? Was I really there?" It's all a blur; I can't rememeber a lot. I didn't pay attention to much, I just needed to always be doing something and things needed to happen fast!

My mind has been set on instant gratification for most of my life and as life moves faster and faster, it becomes even more difficult to be patient; we can download, order, have so much so quickly now. I can purchase something on Amazon today for it to be here tomorrow, and even then it feels like a long time! Also, need information? That's okay, just put some words in a search box and you're inundated with anwers. Speed seems to be our goal nowadays.

I grew up thinking that if you want to be efficient, reliable and successful then you need to get things done fast; immediately! I believed that going slow meant laziness, and that busyness meant productivity. But now I know better and I've learned that living fast is actually harmful, and it does not equal productivity. It can lead to poor decision making, it can lead to stress and can negatively affect your health, it can get in the way of your relationships as you won't be patient with yourself or others, it can fill you with self-doubt, it can put your life in danger.

Impatience can actually cause a lot of distress. And it won't change a thing; time will go by the same way. Impatience results to poor decision making ~ you don't give yourself space and time to process and to think before acting, which can result in a rash decision and unwanted results. If you rush a thing you're more likely to cut corners and fuck it up and have to start all over again: Great things take time.

"Being patient doesn’t mean sitting around twiddling your thumbs. It takes strength and character. While you wait, you can be writing more, reading more, practicing, failing, dusting yourself off, and trying again."
Suzannah Windsor Freeman

Combine inpatience with impulsivity and you have a recipe for disaster; being impatient has got me in a lot of trouble before, and I've noticed that any joy you get from instant gratification is shortly lived and not worth the frustration and anxiety that comes with trying to achieve or do things so quickly.


Let yourself be and slow down 

My experience of struggling with ill health is teaching me to slow down and to listen to my mind, body and soul; I've been forced to pause and to be patient. It wasn't until I let myself be sick and stopped fighting my illness that I began to heal.

"My brain and body worked independently. For the first time I came face to face with the realization that I don’t have full control over my body, and that it will only move at the pace it needs to go at."
Joanna Warwick

As I enter a new phase of my healing journey, I am finding myself reverting to some old habits; that past me has been shouting at me: "Okay, we're not in crisis anymore so now we must do all the things!" At first I started feeling irritable and distressed, and slowly I realised that it was because I'm being impatient with myself, and all the things I want to make happen are things that need time; a lot of time. I felt frustrated because I couldn't have all my blog post ideas written at once, because I couldn't write my whole damn book in a few days, because I couldn't train and become a support worker and start a charity and get another degree all at once! Ahhhh yes, I was actually feeling iritable and distressed because those things won't happen overnight. 

"Allow yourself to be still, and remember that if you’re aligned with who you really are, all the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place at the right time."
Cloris Kylie Stock

I joked with my mum the other day about just quitting the slow work I'm doing, I said: "Oh it is so hard; it's a full time job! Give me instant gratification! Fuck the slow work!" and she brutally honestly, yet necessarily, reminded me that if I go back to my old ways I will be running towards an early grave. OUCH! But she is 100% right, and I needed that reality check.

Living fast really did almost kill me young, a few times now! And if I hadn't changed to a slower pace of life, I'd probably be dead by now. I am not exagerating. This really is my truth, and I know I'm not alone with this experience.

If I let that cruel voice take over and allow it to take me off my safe self-care path, I wouldn't sleep or go out or do much else than write and apply for jobs I'm not ready for; I would've signed up to a two year, full-time work and full-time study programme, and I would've done and said a lot of shit that doesn't align with my values!


However, if I stick with working on my self-development and self-discovery, slowly and with patience, there are such wonderful things that I could achieve, slowly but surely. I can write my memoir and maybe even another book; I can keep posting content I believe in on my social media channels and on my blog; I can slowly volunteer my way through support worker role or to starting my own charity, and I can do it all without a breakdown. And I'll learn a hell of a lot more by choosing the slow path.

Impatience means I'll most likely breakdown again, and it'll hapen fast, and I may not survive another breakdown. Patience means I take care of myself and slowly build up my resilience, my awareness and my wise mind.

Going slower doesn't mean that I'm lazy or giving up, or that I'm not working hard enough. It means I am acting from a place of self-care and self-love, and it minimises the likelihood of me acting on impulse. Instead, I can go slower, give myself time to think and process, and to make informed and thought out decisions that moves towards my growth. By slowing down and evaluating what's at hand, I can put my energy into tasks that help me grow rather than just mindlessly doing things.

"If you plant a tree today, it won't produce fruits on the same day; or even in the same year! You plant it now and take care of it, and remain patient and in time that tree will grow slowly and reward you with produce"
Solimar Williams, AKA My mothership

That is how it goes; we are only rewarded when we're patient. Trying to force the plant to give me fruits on the same day would likely just destroy the plant, and in no way in hell would it give me any fruits! Thus is life.

“Patience is necessary, and one cannot reap immediately where one has sown.”
Soren Kierkegaard

My mum recently told me she's noticed I get impatient and irritable at times as I focus on checking things off my list as if I'm running out of time. I didn't notice these things before, and I'm grateful that she pointed it out, because now I'm aware and I can work on it.

"When you are impatient, you are often demanding that other people run on your schedule. This is a very selfish way of viewing and interacting with other people, and it shows just how self-absorbed you can be. Patience with other people, and their schedules in life, is important to your relationships with them. When you exhibit patience, you show other people that you value their time and their schedule in life, and that helps you earn other people’s respect."
(www.ilanelanzen.com/)

The same way people don't run on our schedule, neither do things; sometimes things break down or go wrong, and we need patience to accept that truth and find a solution.

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.“

Albert Einstein



Find comfort in discomfort 

I think my impatience stems a lot from wanting to be "perfect". But really, perfection is an impossible goal and we must learn to accept our imperfections. Which can be uncomfortable, so I guess a lot of patience is about finding comfort in discomfort. Usually emotions that makes us uncomfortable such as sadness, anger, and frustration come up when we can't control something, it's important to sit with and take our time to process those emotions, it's a good way to practice patience.

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.”
William S. Burroughs

Life is not a destination, it's a journey and if we rush we don't enjoy the journey; actually we don't even register the journey! We end up being here physically but not mentally and emotionally; we end up just existing but not really living.

It is so important to spend some time in silence, and listen to the voice of our intuition, which is the voice of our true self. To hear that voice, we must be patient and trust that answers will come in time. It is also important to celebrate small victories, for example, in the past, any time I moved forward or achieved something, I would then instantly move on to the next thing; I was impatient and never took time to enjoy my victories, I would instantly go into: "Okay, what's next?" mode. During my worst depression days I started to celebrate things like getting out of bed or having a shower or brushing my teeth. It was tough, but that pain taught me the importance of patience and to celebrate all my victories.

“If I have made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent.”
Sir Isaac Newton

"Career suicide is not so bad when you consider the alternative is suicide by career"

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I have a strange relationship with the London underground stations between Baker Street and Moorgate ~ I'm perfectly fine when I exit the stations though, with the exception of Barbican. Barbican is now a reminder, and a trigger, of a very dark time in my life, as it represents a time when I worked at a corporate events planning company as a project coordinator; I worked there for approximately five years on either a freelance or full-time basis.

It is the worst job experience I have ever had, and even 4 years after leaving that company, I still struggle with the complex trauma that happened for me during that time.


The "Good"

It was an incredible opportunity and a pretty decent beginning to a career in the events industry; I was well paid, I got to travel to beautiful new places and to work on special projects such as international football tournaments, summer concerts in beautiful parks, and private parties at venues like Christ the Redeemer.

By society's standards, I'd hit the jackpot; I was made. I was lucky, and I should love and embrace this opportunity. In reality, my intuition was telling me to "run" and to "do it soon", but another voice in my head was saying something very different:"Who leaves a well paid job in their chosen field, where you also get to travel and to work on international events such as the FIFA World Cup?! Nobody does that."


Setting up a private party on top of the Christ the Redeemer mountain (Corcovado) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  



The Bad

The events industry is a stressful one. It has actually been referred to as "the fifth most stressful job". However, it wasn't the stress that made this job experience a traumatic one. What destroyed this experience was the people that I worked with and how they treated me and others who were more junior. Some of these colleagues really created quite a toxic environment.

They were mostly quite rude and blunt, but at other times what they were doing was clearly bullying. Some of the things I experienced included being regularly referred to as "eyebrows", it was explained to me that this was my nickname as I often raised my eyebrows when I was stressed. It was also often suggested that I go on strict diets and exercise more, in order to lose weight, which, as someone who struggles with disordered eating, made me feel very self-conscious. On various occasions, I was also told that I wasn't brazilian enough because I wasn't "flamboyant like other brazilians" and this really knocked my confidence as I have struggled with my identity my whole adult life; I was born in Brazil and moved to London, England, when I was eleven, and I have often felt like I don't belong here (England), nor there (Brazil), so it was difficult to hear suggestions that I wasn't "brazilian enough".

Certain colleagues would often get angry and become quite rude, which could be intimidating. In addition to these colleagues, our main client was a misogynist who would often hit on and flirt with the younger female staff, and referred to some of us as "babe". It was all getting to me; I felt irritable and exhausted, but I just told myself that I was being dramatic and that this behaviour was normal. It was very much an environment where questions and honesty were not welcome, so I didn't feel that I could bring up these concerns and emotions.

Working at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil  


The bullying and the stress only became more intense, and as I didn't talk about it, my struggles only worsened, like a disease left untreated. I ended up having panic attacks daily, and often hid in the office bathroom so I could cry and throw up from the anxiety. It got to a point where my depression and anxiety were so severe that I was dissociating; at times my mind would completely detach from my body. One day, as I left the office, at the end of a very long day, I walked straight into a busy main road and was struck by a motorcycle. I was so stressed that I dissociated and didn't even realise that I was walking towards oncoming traffic.

Eventually, I decided that I was going to leave the company when my contract came to an end. I mentioned this to my manager and was honest about how I wasn't feeling well mentally; "I need a break". I was told that others would frown upon my decision to quit, and that one of the directors had actually called me "flaky" already. I was then asked: "do you really want to leave like that?" and was advised to ask for more money and to stay on the job. The thought of being seen as flaky was too much for my people-pleasing self to live with, so I agreed to stay on. And I actually ended up with less money compared to my previous contract.


The Ugly

A few more months went by, and my anxiety only deteriorated, leaving my house to go to work filled me with such dread that I was contemplating suicide every single day. It got to a point where I wasn't sleeping anymore, and it became almost impossible to even just open my front door to leave the house. The thought of just standing outside was so petrifying that I just wanted something to kill me and end this torture. On weekdays, on my way to work, I'd get off the train at different stations as the train got closer to Barbican, where the office was; I didn't need to get off the train, I just felt this sudden urge to get off and to jump in front of another train. It's not that I wanted to kill myself, I just needed to end this torment, and I believed that the only way out was to die. Some mornings, I would find myself getting off the train at Baker Street and I'd simply stand on the platform, staring at the tracks and watching the trains go by (much like the photo at the top of this post). I'd slowly, step by step, walk closer and closer to the edge of the platform, and stare, urging myself to "JUMP" and saying things like: "When the next train approaches, you just need to jump in front of it; just a hop and it's all over. That's it."

Some mornings, I would get off at Great Portland Street station, other mornings I would get off at Euston Square, or at King's Cross or Farringdon; each day was a different station, and repeat. However, I always made it to Barbican, where that damned office was. Getting off the train at Barbican felt like I was walking myself to my own slaughter. I'd feel faint when my feet touched the Barbican platform. Everything would start to fade as I walked up the stairs towards the station exit, the world around me would fade some more as I touched the card reader on the barrier with my travel card, and the world would fade even further away as I walked out of the station and up the road towards the office. I'd walk up the stairs to the office door holding in the tears, and would often go straight into the bathroom to vomit and criticise myself for surviving yet again:"You can't even kill yourself! What are you good for?!"


One day, after my usual morning routine where I forced myself to get up and to go back to that office yet again, I ended up having a full on breakdown; a panic attack took over my whole body. I suddenly couldn't breathe and had no energy to move, and it lasted so long; I collapsed during the walk between my house and the local train station. After what felt like years of no air, I managed to reach for my mobile and speed dial my mum. Luckily, my house was only a short walk to the station and my mum came to pick me up and take me home. When I got back home, I collapsed on the sofa, curled up, held myself, and didn't move for hours.

My family contacted my work, and explained that I wouldn't be going in. After two weeks of hiding from the world ~ not even checking my phone ~ I managed to write an email to the directors and my manager explaining that I needed to resign as I needed to take care of my mental health. I actually thought I'd return eventually, but little did I know that, that was only the tip of the enormous iceberg that would sink my life as I knew it. This is where my journey with severe mental ill health really took off, and I was eventually diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). After a few more breakdowns, my life was forced to a halt and I immersed myself fully into therapy and recovery.


Me on another work trip. At the time this photo was taken, I was suicidal and had just had a panic attack. I was in Brazil working on the FIFA Confederations Cup - a dream job for many - and I fucking hated it 


The GENUINELY GOOD

I left that job 4 years ago, but the anxiety and sickness can still take over me whenever I approach any of the stations leading up to that office. As a result, I have done my best to avoid these stations.

But!

A few weeks ago, I was faced with that same route that I made almost every day to that office. And I was surprised that instead of panicking or feeling suicidal as I have done in the past, something was actually guiding me towards Barbican; it's like my inner goddess was saying "you are now strong enough to give this a try." I listened to it, and I went for it. Even though I hadn't been back there in years, I still felt quite emotional. It was difficult, I had flashbacks of the despair of going to that office and wanting to die so badly, it was if I was there the day before.

However!

This time, there was space between all those emotions and my reality. I was able to acknowledge those difficult emotions that were coming up for me and to calmly sit with them. I apologised to my past self for letting her go through that pain and torment. I reminded myself that I have a choice over what I do, and I will never have to go to that office again; I will never have to live like that again. Yes, the flashbacks and the intense emotions are difficult, but I have some control over how I deal with and cope now; I'm aware, I can self-soothe and carry on without the pain, and the distress and the torturous feelings. Now, I am able to feel and process, rather than suppress or internalise, or self-harm. And now I know that I have a choice; I don't have to put myself through that torture ever again.

I was even able to take pictures!

I am now, thanks to therapy, slowly separating Barbican, and all other stations leading up that office, from the trauma that was that job. I've decided to slowly return to visiting Barbican; I've always loved the Barbican Centre, but avoid it since I left that job. My plan is to return to Barbican to enjoy it and appreciate all it has to offer, with the hope that eventually the memory of that job will fade more and more, and that time of my life won't feel so traumatic.

I would love to go to Barbican one day and have no flashbacks and no fear, but I'm trying to manage my expecations as that may never happen; I'm certain that with time and distance it'll get easier to visit that area of London, but I doubt the trauma will completely fade.

I won't give up though, I'll continue the good fight, one step at a time. And I'll do it by being kind to myself.

I used to beat myself up for getting so emotional around Barbican, but now I understand that we can only process traumatic experiences once they no longer overwhelm us. So, please don't force yourself to face a place or someone or situation until you feel calmer and better prepated to do so. I'm only returning to Barbican, and its' neighbouring stations, now as I am more stable at the moment, and I feel ready to deal with the difficult intense emotions that come up for me. Be kind to yourself, always.


Barbican station, London


For a long time, I felt stupid for giving up the "amazing" job, but now I hug my dear self and apologise for not walking away from such a toxic situation sooner.

I watched a movie called Miss Sloane, a while back ~ it's a great watch, I highly recommend it ~ where a woman loses her "incredible" career by doing something drastic, on purpose. It's an awful situation, but by making the choise she makes, she frees herself of the torment of living a life that is killing her. Towards the end of the film, an ex colleague questions her decision, and she responds with these words:

"Career suicide is not so bad when you consider the alternative is suicide by career"
(Miss Sloane)

And that, my friends, is exactly how I feel. Whatever happens from now on, my health comes first; I'd rather kill the career than let the career kill me.


Barbican station, London

Blast from the Past: The Paranoia, The Voices & The Scary Lady

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Something nudged me this week, telling me to read through old journals and old (unpublished or deleted) blog posts. And as I'm doing my best to srengthen my connection with my intuition, when I hear that inner (wise goddess) voice, I listen to her. So, I've been spending some time reading the words that a past me wrote.

The difference between my old words and my current words really shows how much I've changed; how much I'm healing. Not in terms of material things or career wise, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually, I am a whole new person.

So, I've decided to share some of my past words. Starting with the below, which I wrote around 2016/2017.

*Trigger Warning* Before continuing, please note, this post contains some emotional content as well as discussions of self-harm which can be a potential trigger



The Paranoia, The Voices & The Scary Lady

Do you hear voices? Or see things that aren’t really there?

I do (or I do too)

I’ve been wanting to share my experiences of this for a while now, but the fear of what others would think of me, prevented me from doing so. But, as I'm healing and learning about the importance of being open and honest, I've come to the conclusion that: what others think of me is none of my business, and this is my reality and it's important for me to talk about it. Therefore, I am going to talk about it.
 
I see, hear and believe things which others don't. I am aware that I am the only one seeing and hearing these things, however it doesn't make it any less real. It may not be real to others, but it is real to me. And so, I struggle to control how I feel about it or what happens when they pop up. I still feel intense fear of what the voices and visions can do to me. In the past, I have ended up harming myself because the voices told me to do so, well because of two voices. They tell me how to do it too, and I comply, because I feel such intense fear of what will happen if I don't do as they tell me to. 

Sometimes I end up crouching down in a corner and trying to hide from what I'm seeing and hearing, sometimes I cover my head and face with my hoodie or duvet and simply hope for the best.

Let me explain in more detail...


The Truman Show Paranoia

I go through phases, where I believe that I'm living life much like Truman did in the movie 'The Truman Show'. I truly believe that there are hidden cameras everywhere, all around me, and that I am always being watched & monitored by some higher power and my loved ones. I've seen them in the corners on the ceiling in my room, but I know that nobody else can see them. I also believe that anyone who knows me is involved in this Big Brother type delusion.

I once snapped at my ex-boyfriend and asked him to tell me the truth about his "plans", simply because I was sure that he, along with an ex-work colleague, had a master plan against me ~ all part of 'The Elly Show' or something along those lines.


The Voices

I consider myself lucky to "only" hear three voices, but I think my definition of "lucky" needs to be revisited.

The first, loudest and most brutal voice is a man ~ he hates my guts. This voice is always putting me down and shouting at me to do horrific things to myself. This voice has landed me in hospital once or twice, simply because he shouted at me angrily and instructed me to cut my arms, wrists and to not stop.

The second voice is a woman ~ she doesn’t hate me as much as the male voice, but she does everything he wants. So, if he tells her to yell profanity at me and tell me to hurt myself, she will happily do it. Needless to say that she’s not a friendly voice either (She’s a fucking bitch actually). I like to call her and the man, my “mean voices”. I refuse to let them name themselves, as I fear that if this happens then it will be easier for them to take even more control of me.

My third voice is a little, fairylike, girl voice ~ whilst the other two voices are very loud, clear and confident, this voice is the complete opposite; she is vulnerable, weak and her voice is fairly faint and distant. She is also always locked up in a birdcage. It looks like she’s been abused a lot; she cries often and is usually sitting on the floor of her cage, hiding behind her knees.

At first, the voices consisted of the mean female voice and the vulnerable child (fairylike) voice. The mean male voice came later, and when he did, he took over and things deteriorated rapidly. This male voice ended up taking control often ~ he's really cruel.

I made a drawing a few years ago, to portray the female and the child voices. I’ve never been brave enough to draw the male voice, as anytime I give him too much attention, it becomes easier for him to make me do things. Whenever he does take over, he makes me do awful things, but always only to myself, like cutting myself with a razor or stabbing myself with a pencil. I do my best to avoid these situations.

Drawing by me: Mean female voice and vulnerable child, fairylike, voice


The first time the Little Girl helped me

One particular bad day, I heard the small vulnerable girl voice trying to stand up to the mean male voice. This episode started off with the male voice shouting at me to cut my arms ~ I did what he told me to:

"Go on, cut your wrists, cut here and here. Cut the other arm too! CUT DEEPER! You're so fucking useless; you can't even harm yourself properly! ARGH. You keep leaving gaps in between the cuts; you need to cut, cut, cut, everywhere! Press harder! You fucking idiot, you're so useless and such a burden; you can't even kill yourself properly! What are you good for?! You stupid cow. Shut up, SHUT UP! STOP CRYING!!! I'm so sick of your shit, you fat cunt. Just kill yourself already. You're worthless and a burden to everyone you come in contact with! You disgusting piece of fat shit. Is there barbed wire here? Let's wrap some barbed wire around your arms"

(Luckily, I don't have access to barbed wire!)

And so, through screams and tears, I continued cutting my arms with my favourite self-harm tool; a razor blade.

Then, for the first time ever, I heard this tiny, distant, shaky, fairylike voice:

"No, my love, you don't want to hurt yourself. Stop this. Please! You don't actually want to hurt us. Don't listen to him, he's not a nice person; he doesn't know what he's talking about. He doesn't know us. You do not want to do this. Don't do this, don't kill us this way. Please, stop hurting yourself. Please listen to me, give me strength and let me grow louder. I need your help, you can't keep ignoring me."

After hearing this vulnerable girl, I managed to call for help. I felt sorry for her.

Unfortunately, this wasn't the first or last time I self-harmed this way ~ it was the first time I heard the vulnerable voice stand up for me and help me though ~ there were many other past and future episodes, and for most of those future times, I did call for help thanks to that little girl. Calling for help isn't my forte, doing so is progress.


The Scary Lady

There’s a woman who lives with me too, she’s always lurking. Unfortunately, this is something else only I experience (I’m special! Just not the good kind). Nobody else sees the bitch.

This scary thing turned up out of nowhere, approximately one year ago.

One day, I woke up thinking “hmm, this is strange, I feel okay this morning” ~ this is unusual for me as I usually wake up feeling like a toilet brush on a bad day ~ unfortunately though, this feeling didn’t last long. After my usual morning routine, I then decided to wash the dishes. Mid dish-washing, I heard footsteps approaching me from behind. This was especially freaky as I was home alone.

I looked behind me, to check, and there was nothing.

I turned around again and continued washing the dishes.

Then the footsteps started getting louder and closer. I turned around to check behind me again.

Once again, there was nothing.

I continued with the dish washing, when suddenly I felt somebody breathing down my neck. It was so real, to me there was somebody there. I started screaming and collapsed on my kitchen floor crying. Shaking. I eventually sat up with my back to the sink, and quickly scanned the rest of the house from the kitchen floor.

And then I saw her. There she was; the scary lady, sat on the sofa, laughing hysterically because she'd scared me. But I knew nobody else could see her; it was all in my head, but that doesn't mean it wasn't real to me.

This is still one of the scariest experiences I have ever had.

From this day, onward, I’ve had to learn to live with this woman, whom I now call 'The Scary Lady'.

She showed up that day and hasn't left me since.

There was a phase when she would stand in my room and watch me fall asleep. This was also the phase when I couldn’t close my eyes due to the fear that she would attack me if I wasn’t always watching her; I'd sit or lie stiff, frozen with fear, under my covers, whilst trying my hardest to stay awake and monitor her.

There are times when she climbs into bed with me and sleeps next to me.

She often follows me when I leave the house and is always out to get me. Thus, I’m always on guard, watching, waiting, scared; she still scares me, not like that first time she appeared, but she does still terrify me. I’m slowly getting used to her being around, but I am always on edge. Thanks to this, I've had to make some changes to my routine, such as:

  • I’m never alone in the dark, because she will get too close to me when I don't have a clear view of what she's doing or how close she is to me 
  • Going out alone is a rare occurrence nowadays 
  • I’m always checking around me to see where she is 
  • Not shutting the shower curtain ~ as I can feel her on the other side of the curtain when I shower; if I keep it open she doesn't appear 
  • There is now a mirror on the kitchen sink, so that I can always see behind me when in dish-washing mode. Using a mirror like this is a good trick; it's helped me, so I do recommend it if you think it could help you too 
  • I have fairy lights in my room, which I can leave on at night ~ this helps me check if she's there and keep an eye on her if so. 

I call her 'The Scary Lady' because, well, she’s scary and she’s a lady. She’s also tall, pale, and has short, curly, red hair. For the first few months that she was around (and now from time to time), she always had this creepy grin on her face, which reminds me (very much) of Twisty the (not so friendly) clown from American Horror Stories ~ I was kind enough to add a photo of the fucker here, for your reference (Sorry! I just want you to get a better idea of what this is like).

Twisty the Clown's grin reminds me a lot of 'The Scary Lady's grin

It gets worse

The paranoia, the voices, and 'The Scary Lady' always become louder, clearer and more real when my emotions and stress levels are more intense (which is too fucking often at the moment).

When my emotions, anxiety and stress are peaking, then they are all (paranoia, voices, the scary lady) at it; extremely loud, even more real and even more cruel. The voices tell me to do barbaric things to myself, and shout abuse at me ~ with the exception of the little girl, who seems to always be looking helpless and sad in her cage, in the corner. 'The Scary Lady' sometimes appears alongside the voices, and stands there laughing and taking part in the mockery. It’s a mindfucking experience, I tell ya!

It’s all been quite traumatic and life changing, but they’ve all been around for so long now that I’m not sure how I’d feel if they disappeared. I know, I know ~ crazy, right?! But they have become part of my life, I can’t remember what it was like to not have these voices, paranoia and visions. Ideally, I will find a way to live with them and challenge them, rather than put up with their abuse. However, I’m not sure I would be okay with them disappearing completely; I'm scared that I cannot cope with being alone now.


Things have changed...

I'm now in recovery and no longer hear these voices, I haven't seen 'The Scary Lady' in some time, and my paranoia is almost non-existent. Yes, I still feel low and anxious, but it's like someone turned the volume down and I can hear myself over the noise poluttion now. The words you've just read, are not my reality at the moment. Actually, I now hear my intution a lot better; I'm much more connected mind and body, which is wonderful. There was a part of me that didn't think recovery was possible, turns out that it is.


A request

When you see someone talking to themselves on public transport, or a poor paranoid soul walking around looking scared or shouting things or talking to themselves, don’t judge them ~ don’t point, don’t laugh, don’t put them down. Understand that they have a whole world in their minds that you can't see; a truly disturbing & terrifying world that you know nothing of. And that they are simply doing our best to cope with it.

On many occasions, people have told me "It can't hurt you, it's not real" Or "It's okay, it's not really there", but here is the problem with that peeps, it may not be real to you but it is real to me, and when you say that it isn't real; it actually invalidates my reality. I know you mean well, so please don't see this as me having a go, just me sharing my experience and highlighting that nobody likes being told that something they are experiencing is not actually real.


"Each one of our brains is different, and so is the reality it produces. What is reality? It's whatever your brain tells you it is."
(Dr David Eagleman)


So, open your minds, folks. There's a gazillion worlds out there that you know nothing of...

And if you do, I see you, I hear you, I understand. You're not alone.


Monthly Reflections 2018: Goodbye October, Hello November...

No comments:

Looking back over October, and forwards to November:



I AM...PROUD OF

I am incredibly proud of my hunger for knowledge and my willingness to learn and to feed that hunger; I WANT KNOWLEDGE AND I WANT IT NOW! I'm reading, writing, researching, processing so much information lately; words on patience, independence (and how it's a myth), death, life, healing, spirituality, relationships, abuse, trauma, representation, equality, power, self-care, embracing our true selves...it's been a month filled with new information and knowledge for me.

I'm studying a lot via my own reserach at home and by going to educational and inspirational events. I'm also managing to keep my life and living space clutter free; I get overwhelmed when there's clutter for too long, and I'm doing well with keeping things organised and I'm also doing well in keeping toxic people out of my life. Oleeeee.




Lastly, I'm also proud of myself for asking for and accepting help when I need it. It's been a tough journey, but I'm growing and healing, and I'm proud of myself and grateful to those around me for that. My continued healing and growth wouldn't be possible without the supportive and understanding people in my life.


I AM...LETTING GO OF

It's still a work in progress, and something that will probably always be work in progress, but I am (working on) letting go of impatience and (working on) letting go of my need to control the outcomes in my life; for example, I want to have all the energy ALL THE TIME, I want to be back in full-time work NOW, I want to have my own charity NOW, I want to be a support worker NOW, I want to study all the things NOW, I want to have a published memoir NOW (I've only just started writing it!), I want to write all the things NOW, I want to exercise ALL THE TIME and do ALL THE THINGS AT THE SAME TIME.

I am truly overwhelming myself, and I would like to begin working on letting go of the need to have everything done NOW.

I'm working on just letting go; letting go of the illusion of control, of perfection, of the fear of being vulnerable, of impatience, of all the things that cause me distress and harm. I give myself permission to let go.

I included this quote in last month's reflections but I feel the need to use it again because it is so spot on!

"Detach from needing things to work out a certain way. The universe is perfect and there are no failures. Give yourself the gift of detaching from your worries and trust that everything is happening perfectly"
(Healing Energy Tools


Aaaaannnd this gem:

Image result for nothing is under control


I AM...GRATEFUL FOR

Having the opportunity to focus on recovery. I have been incredibly lucky to have the support of my family and to have been able to receive financial help which has allowed me to pay for private treatment. I have been able to pause, stop, HALT! my self and my whole life. I'm grateful to my family and the opportunities that have allowed me to do that.

This time last year, I was too anxious to open the front door and to give out sweets to all the trick or treaters. This year, I'm the one opening the door, and I'm genuinely enjoying talking and handing out candy! I thought I would never be able to do that again. Step by step, we get there. 

Here are some other things I am grateful for:

  • Words and healthy communication
  • Being able to genuinely smile and laugh again ~ there was a time when I didn't think this would evver happen again. Depression lied to me, and so did Anxiety 
  • Not feeling fatigued all the time; I have energy to do things nowadays, and it feels magical.
  • Feeling better and able to leave the house and explore London again. Yesterday, I travelled to Mile End, I would'nt have been able to do that a few months ago 
  • Education by those with lived experiences 
  • My mum
  • My family and friends, including my online community 
  • Decorations ~ I'm talking about the fun Halloween decorations, obvs. 
  • Stickers ~ I'm finding some beautiful and fun stickers in Tiger (the shop) and in Pound shops. I use them to decorate my journals, and I frikkin' loves it
  • Beautiful notebooks ~ especially my glittery ones where I can note down my words every day
  • Autumn ~ the sun is out but it ain't too hot. And it ain't too cold either. And the COLOURS 😍
  • Photography ~ I'm getting out and about with my camera again, and my oh my, how I enjoy photography as a hobbie. Bliss
  • The amazing eye opening and inspiring events that go on in London. I love feeding my mind with such experiences! 
  • That I continue to grow as a person and to heal
  • And that I can manage my bad days better than ever before

I AM...INSPIRED BY

Sonya Renee Taylor and 'The Body is not an Apology' movement. 

Whilst researching 'independence', I came across 'The Body is not an Apology' website, which instantly grabbed my attention. After reading some of the work and words on the website, I felt inspired, seen, understood, and empowered. I knew I had to learn more about the incredible mind behind this movement. That's where Sonya Renee Taylor comes in. The following words have been taken from Sonya's website ~ www.sonyareneetaylor.com ~ and from 'The Body is Not an Apology' ~ www. thebodyisnotanapology.com:

"Sonya Renee Taylor is the Founder and Radical Executive Officer of The Body is Not An Apology, a digital media and education company promoting radical self-love and body empowerment as the foundational tool for social justice and global transformation. Sonya’s work as a highly sought-after award-winning Performance Poet, activist, and transformational leader continues to have global reach."

In 2011, Sonya founded The Body is Not An Apology, as an online community to cultivate radical self-love and body empowerment."

"The Body is Not An Apology began as a conversation between two friends. Natasha feared she had an unintended pregnancy and when Sonya asked why Natasha had chosen to have unprotected sex with a casual partner, Natasha shared that her cerebral palsy made it difficult to be sexual and thus she did not feel entitled to ask her sexual partner to use a condom. Sonya's response was swift, "Your body is not an apology. You do not use it to say 'sorry for my disability." Sonya and Natasha created what Sonya refers to as a transformational portal by presencing three critical elements Radical Honesty, Radical Vulnerability, and Radical Empathy. It was from this powerful act that The Body is not An Apology was born."


Eshan Hilal ~ @eleganteshan

I first heard of Eshan Hilal on the 'Kalki Presents: My Indian Life' podcast. In the podcast's episode called 'Dancing to his own beat' and in the TED Talk 'How I danced off all the Stereotypes', Eshan speaks about life as a belly dancer in India, and about the abuse he experienced from his parents because they disapprove of his choice to become a belly dancer. In the 'My Indian Lifepodcast and in the clip 'This is the purpose I'm here for', Eshan shares some of the words his parents have said to him:


"Stop doing this feminine thing."
"You cannot dance."
"You're a boy, behave like one."
"Be a man."
"Eshan is self centred and has no respect for me (his father). What he does is not more important than what his community thinks of him."

They'd even lock Eshan in other rooms of their house whenever guests visited, because, in their words, Eshan was "too feminine". His parents also beat him in attempts to force him to stop dancing, and at one point, Eshan was even forced to run away from his home for his safety.

Eshan challenges the gender stereotypes that patriarchy forces on us, and he refuses to be anyone other than himself. He continues to choose his path and his passion, despite all odds. If this isn't inspiring, I'm not sure what is.




Both Sonya Renee Taylor and Eshan Hilal inspire me to be more myself; to never change to a version that society would prefer, but to continue healing, growing and speaking truthfully, passionately and unapologetically about my story and about things that matter. Their attitude and values make me feel empowered to stick to my guns and to always set healthy boundaries and live by my values.

I'd like to help others, the same way many have helped me, and Sonya and Eshan help me believe that I can do that.


I AM...ENJOYING

Music: Anything by Queen! The movie 'Bohemian Rhapsody' has me listening to 'Queen' on repeat at the moment.


Podcast(s):  The last two episodes of 'Kalki Presents: My Indian Life'. Both of these episodes were recorded live; one recorded with an audience of students in Delhi and one recorded with an audience of students in Mumbai. These are the end of season episodes and has all the guests throughout the first season of the show return for a final chat. These episodes are a great summary to the season; there's further discussions and conversations about all the topics and stories covered in the first season, as well as singing, dancing and a Q&A session.


Book(s): I am still reading the same book as last month 'Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder' by Rachel Reiland. I've been reading this book for a while actually, I did put it down for a some time as it became too intense for me ~ the topic and experiences are just too close to home, as I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I am a slow reader anyway, but this book is one I can really relate to so I tend to read and write what it brings up for me. So yeah, slow process, and it's likely I'll be reading it for a while longer. I'm okay with that. 


Words: Written by Sonya Renee Taylor from 'The Body is not an Apology' movement:

"Your body is not an apology. You do not use it to say 'sorry for my disability'"




"I would not be where I am today if it was not for my family, my friends, my colleagues, and the many strangers that help me every single day of my life. It's important we all have a support system; asking for help is a strength, not a weakness.

We all need help throughout our lifetime, but it is just as important that we are part of other people's support system. We must adapt our way of giving back; we all obviously have a role to play in our own successes, but think about the role we have to play in other peoples' successes, just like peope do for me every single day.

It's vitally important that we help each other, because society is increasingly placing people in silos based on biases and ideologies. And we must look past the surface and be confronted with the truth that none of us are what you can see, there's more to us than that and we are all dealing with things that you cannot see. So, living a life free of judgement allows all of us to share those experiences together and have a totally different perspective.

So remember, the only shoes you truly can walk in are your own, I cannot walk in yours. I know you can't walk in mine. But we can do something better than that, with compassion, courage, and understanding, we can walk side by side and support one another. And think about how society can change if we all do that instead of judging on only what you can see."



TV: The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. Dang, I haven't watched a series this good in some time!

This new series on Netflix is an adaptation of Shirley Jackson's novel which goes by the same name. It's about a family who lived at Hill House, also known as America's most famous haunted house. The series tells the story of the family, and how their lives have been shaped by the events and experiences that took place when they lived at the house.

To me, this series was more than just a scary story. The story focuses on the children who become adults with serious issues; issues which arise as a result of the experiences and trauma they lived through at Hill House. As someone with mental ill health, I could realte to how the experiences we have as children can shape our lives as adults too. If we don't explore, process and deal with past traumas, those demons will haunt us forever. If we want to heal and move on, then at some point we must confront the ghosts of our past.


Movie(s): It's been a big month of powerful movies for me. I watched 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and 'Precious' this month and my Buddha, they've really helped me process some deep wounds. They can both be tough to watch, 'Bohemian Rhapsody' less so, and I don't think I'll be able to watch them again anytime soon. But for me, they were both stories I could resonate with, to a certain extent, and stories that have brought up some personal emotions and experiences for me; ones that I needed to re-visit and re-evaluate.

Bohemian Rhapsody. This post I shared late in October says it all...





* FREDDIE MERCURY IS MY QUEEN, DARLING * @sara_yk_ shared her forever Freddie look, which has inspired me to share mine. This, darling, is it! Exactly a week ago, I watched 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and I'm still processing it. For me, it was a very emotional experience. I cried for most of the movie, a tad uncontrollably at the end. Luckily mum was with me and hugged me, cause she understood why. She understood that I could relate to Freddie more than I originally thought. Some of our experiences and life choices are very familiar and watching his story hit home, I could feel his pain and my past pain and it was something! I could really relate to so much: I could relate to his vulnerability; he was a sensitive soul and an abusive person took advantage of that. He clearly had an identity crisis during that period. He was an immigrant who struggled with trying to figure out which culture he belonged to. He didn't like being alone. He self-medicated. He struggled with coping habits. He'd experienced abuse, trauma, and was in pain. He was an amazingly sensitive beautiful brave soul with demons, like many of us. SO RELATABLE! He was a fabulous human. Freddie is such an inspiration, obvs! He inspires me to be and embrace myself, always. He empowers me. Thank you Freddie, darling. "We are the Champions, my friends. And we'll keep on fighting 'til the end..." 💃 #queen #wearethechampions #freddiemercury #speakyourtruth #words #darling #ootday #picoftheday #photooftheday #health #growth #life #live #love #like #good #glitter #beautiful #beauty #colour #fabulous #portrait #selfcare #selflove #selfdiscovery #healing #recovery #real #journey #honest
A post shared by 🌈 Elly 🦄 (@unapologetically_elly) on


Precious has helped me rethink and process abuse and trauma in my life, and it has also helped me undertand my family history even more. It re-opened some old wounds, but with good reason and I'm glad it did, as I was then able to further process those wounds. It's not a story I could've watched a few months ago, it can be triggering and distressing, so please only watch this film if you feel ready to. Otherwise, leave it for easier times when you are less vulnrable and more prepared to deal with the topics that it covers. It's a difficult movie to watch, but one that can be educational and mind opening, when you're ready for the experience.


TED Talk(s): I don't want to say much about my favourite TED Talks this month, I want you to watch them and come up with your own thoughts and feelings. This month's chosen TED Talks are...

'Asking for help is a strength not a weakness' by Michelle L. Sullivan 


"We all go through challenges -- some you can see, most you can't, says Michele L. Sullivan. In a talk about perspective, Sullivan shares stories full of wit and wisdom and reminds us that we're all part of each other's support systems. "The only shoes you can walk in are your own," she says. "With compassion, courage and understanding, we can walk together, side by side.""


'The surprising habits of original thinkers' by Adam Grant

"How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies "originals": thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this talk, learn three unexpected habits of originals -- including embracing failure. "The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they're the ones who try the most," Grant says. "You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.""


Event(s): Fitness Blastoff and Tate Lates. I went to Fitness Blastoff with a friend earlier in October; we danced from morning to evening. It was incredible and a challenge, but I think next time I'll take a lunch break! Tate Lates are evening events at Tate Museum, they've got some amazing things going on and mostly free. I highly recommend going along. I got to attent a book reading, poetry event, and a talk about immigration. 'Twas rather brilliant and thought provoking stuff!

I got to hear some amazing and powerful words by Keisha Thompson and Joshua Idehen ~ do check out their work, it's incredible.

Here are my favourites of the night:



WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?

  • Independence is a myth ~ I'm writing a blog post about this but basically we all need each other; we can't survive alone. We all need different skills to contribute to and support our community, so team effort is a must, meaning that independence is actually not so good for us
  • If you're open and honest you create a space where others feel more comfortable to be open and honest too.
  • There is power in vulnerability ~ We are all vulnerable; some of us are more vulnerable than others, and our degrees of vulnerability can vary throughout our lives, but the fact is we can't avoid vulnerability. And as we age, we create a bigger and bigger gap between our real vulnerable selves and the version of our selves that we portray to the world. The sooner we accept and embrace our vulnerability, the sooner we can learn to live with it which can make us feel stronger.
  • Slowing down is self-care ~ I need to be more patient and do things at a steady pace that I can cope with, rather than fast and at a pace I can't cope with! I'ts better for my health, but also means that I don't breakdown again.
  • I've survived that which almost killed me. I'm a survivor, and I'm proud of that fact. 

MANTRA(S) FOR NOVEMBER  

"To heal you have to get to the root of the wound and kiss it all the way up"
(Rupi Kaur)

"May your thoughts and feelings be teachers. I invite you to act as a curious creative explorer, and willing student - willing to learn and not to deny or suppress"
(Author unknown)

"I will keep things simple, moving forward one step at a time"
(Author unknown)






See you next month! x

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