Well friends, it is safe to say 2022 has taught me my fair share of lessons!
You might have noticed that I have been absent from my website for a little while. In summary, back in August I had what can only be described as a mental health crisis, which has gone on to shape the rest of my year. Since then I have continued to ride some seriously wild, challenging and emotional waves. It’s been a journey to say the least, one which is teaching me more about myself than any other I have ever been on. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learnt so far, and I wanted to share them with you in hopes they might help you too.
1) There is no shame in slowing down.
Prior to August, I prided myself on being productive, busy and fast paced. I lived life at 150mph and I have to admit, I thought I was thriving! However, my body and mind disagreed and soon stepped in, forcing me to stop. At first I was terrified to slow down, as I feared I would lose everything I had worked so hard for. But the truth is, slowing down doesn’t mean the world will fall apart. Yes, slowing down meant I had to restructure my days and redefine how I want my life to look, but it has been the best thing I could have done for my mental and physical health. Plus, it has made me completely re-evaluate my relationship with work. It has shown me that my value doesn’t lie in my productivity, it lies in who I am as a human being, something I didn’t believe for many years as my identity and self-worth was so tied up in my career.
2) The value of a good support system.
In the past, if I had to describe myself in three words I would always choose “independent” as one of them. I spent my twenties working for myself, by myself and with myself – and this self-reliance bled over into my personal life too. However, when I found myself feeling shaken up, weak and scared I started to lean on those around me for the first time in my adult life. I opened up, shared my fears, shed many tears and asked for their support. At first I felt like a burden, I didn’t want to ask others for their help as I know how busy everyone is nowadays. But then I realised that I wouldn’t hesitate to support my friends if they were going through the same challenges, so I shouldn’t be ashamed to lean on them in my time of need. And the real beauty of this? It has only deepened the connections I have with those around me and increased my gratitude for them.
3) The baseline of your life can change.
I spent the first couple of months after my MH crisis wishing that I could go back to before it all happened, I longed for the ease and mental peace I had earlier in the year and as a result felt only more distressed by what I was experiencing. Something which really helped to shift my mindset was accepting that the baseline of your life can change. By baseline I mean the “baseline” of what we consider our everyday reality. Resetting my baseline to reflect my new normal hugely helped me find more peace with the fact that I cannot make it be the way it was or the way I want it to be. Instead, I focus my energy on accepting this new baseline, this new way of living, and building a fulfilling and meaningful life from there. This acceptance doesn’t stop me from taking valuable actions, but it does make it easier to deal with my reality.
4) Self-care is more than bath bombs & candles.
It comes in so many forms, whether that’s uncomfortable conversations, vulnerable conversations, saying no, saying yes, asking for favours, asking for help, sleeping in, waking up early, exercising, laying on the sofa, going to therapy, going offline, journalling, watching movies, doing your emails, calling a friend, leaning on your family, taking time off work, throwing yourself into work, sitting with your feelings, practicing gratitude, spending time outdoors or spending it on the sofa. There is no right or wrong way to take care of yourself. It is hugely personal to you and looks different to each individual.
5) We have so far to go with mental health.
As someone who had never experienced mental health challenges in the past, this journey has been a huge learning curve for me and has shown me how much further we have to go with mental health awareness and support. We need a greater understanding of conditions, easier access to care and a huge shift in our wider societal attitude. One thing I have found particularly interesting as a social media creator is the attitude online to mental vs physical health challenges. Back in 2019 when I had my emergency bowel surgery I experienced a huge surge in followers as people wanted to observe my journey to recovery. However, on the day when I came back online and acknowledged what had happened with my mental health – I lost 2,500 followers within a few hours. Which blew my mind! It really goes to show that there is still a stigma around mental health, and perhaps a lack of understanding or fear which makes people want to look away.
I am so grateful to be back sharing content here on my website, after a four-month hiatus I think it is time I reignited my creative fire and I can’t wait to share more content with you. All I ask is for your patience and understanding, as uploads are going to be a little less frequent than in the past.
Here’s to a happier and healthier 2023, filled with plenty more lessons and growth!