I turn 32 tomorrow so I thought I would document my lesson learned from my 31st year.
This month marks a year since starting CBT. I was so apprehensive, cautious and dubious about starting because I’d read so many controversial things about it. And there lies lesson number one: don’t judge things based on others opinions. For me, I fell on my feet with my therapist, she is the best. Her knowledge of ME and her approach to how CBT is used is amazing. There is no pressure, major target setting or trying to push me. It’s been more about helping me learn how to cope, helping me deal with how hard it’s been on my mental state and gradually helping me to build in activity, manage my sleep and focus on the good.
Lesson two: social media has so many more positives than negatives. I have made some truly wonderful friendships online this year through Instagram. All of whom live with ME or other chronic illnesses. It’s a comfort to talk to people who truly get it, share our days, struggles, highs and lows but also have people to turn to, to ask questions. Social media is often shown in such a negative light but for me it has mainly given me positives. That online network is a life saver for so many and I love the way it makes you feel less alone in times when it feels like you are.
I actually started a little hashtag a few months back #truthfultuesday where people who live with hidden illnesses can be one and honest about their days. We often hide away the truth of our days from social media as many of us like to keep social media a positive place but I thought it was important to also be honest about the reality of living with our illnesses. It has been so lovely to read about people’s daily lives – the good, the bad and the ugly and raise awareness through this hash tag. I hope people will continue to use it, especially this month as it’s ME awareness month.
Lesson three: I am more stubborn than I realised! On reflection I have noticed a pattern running through my life. I don’t give in easily. If I see or experience injustice, I can’t simply push it to one side, I have to try to find a way of turning a negative into a positive, to ensure others don’t experience what I have. This year it seems it’s been about my GP. I know my energy would be better spent on focusing on treatments and unexplored options but first I need to do my best to ensure she knows the damage she and other ignorant GPs cause to those living with hidden illnesses. I am also aware that I need to learn to experience such things and be able to move on without the fight. That’s a goal for my 32nd year!
Lesson four: despite what the quotes say, sometimes it’s okay to just have a crap day and not be able to find any positives! As long as those crap days don’t turn into crap weeks and months then you’re allowed to just have bad days. I still firmly believe in trying to find positives in each day, I use my Dawn French diary as a place to write down 3 good things in every day and sometimes that’s really tough. But then I think – I have a roof over my head, I have wonderful friends and family and there’s always a good home cooked dinner!
And then I find myself thinking about the year ahead and I’ve made some little goals for myself.
Goal one: learn to start conversations to talk about how I am feeling when I’m not having a good day. I can open a lap top and easily write a blog post but for some reason I struggle big time to start a conversation to get things off my chest. No matter how much I know it will help me, it’s something I find really hard, like I’m afraid if the tears that will fall but that’s stupid so, this year I will try harder.
Goal two: continue to focus on my CBT targets and mental health and focus on the small steps forward rather than the steps backwards.
Goal three: Reduce my time catastrophising and mind reading. These are two thinking patterns that have been uncovered through CBT that I do A LOT! If something happens i tend to catastrophise, think of all the worst possible outcomes, rather than taking a step back and being slightly more rational about things. I also mind read a lot. I guess what people might be thinking about me, what they might be saying behind my back…and where does that get me? Nowhere. It’s a pointless thing to do so I am going to try to eradicate that and if I’m worried, I will talk and ask questions and move on.
Goal four: plan and book in more fun things to do. I am now so frightened of pushing myself and doing things slightly out of routine that I have just simply stopped doing them. Regardless of what hand you’re dealt, you really do only get one shot at life so I am going to do some more fun things this year. Yes, I will pay for it, yes I will be in pain but then..maybe I won’t be. I’ll never know if I don’t try right?! I’ll aim for one bigger thing/event every couple of months and see how I go, with things in place to help and many days of good pacing surrounding it…no guilt here for telling you what I do, that’s something else I’m going to stop doing. If people look at me doing such things and judge me and doubt me, they aren’t worth my time. Out of my circle they go!
So that’s four lessons and four goals – I had more but I’ve run out of steam and the screen is hurting my eyes sooo self-care is kicking in! I hope you all had lovely bank holidays and have a fab rest of the week.