I AM SO A GRADUATE WITH A BACHELOR OF ARTS WITH HONOURS (in the arts and humanities)
I haven’t had my graduation ceremony yet and with all that has happened this year, I totally forgot that I have finally finished my degree. My other half was going ballistic (in a good way) and looked at me and asked me why I looked so down. I guess either I am still in shock or I don’t think it is that big a deal compared to what other goals and shit I have had to focus on this year. So let me high 5 myself and reflect on how the path to get my degree became – the successful one.
Way back in 2007,I had just come out of the hospital with a BMI of 16. I enrolled at my local college in the U.K. to do my BA in acting performance.
I was with a lovely group of talented individuals and managed one term. I was quickly losing more weight again and my mental health went down. I could not maintain a low BMI. I either had to go lower or higher and I went lower. I managed to get merit (when they still called it that) for my classical acting. How amazing is that?
I wanted to engage with my group but I couldn’t shift the anorexia. I had become a sub-host to it.
Back in 2008, I decided to have another go at it. I had gained a normal amount of weight. I met a seemingly lovely man who swept me off my feet. He worked in the army and ended up going on tour for 3 months in Canada. I went to live in Barcelona with my Aunt for a few months and partied hard. Hit Ibiza with my cuz and when I came back to the U.K I was ready to piece my life back together.
The night I arrived back in the U.K. was the same night the army guy got back and he came straight to see me, bringing me little gifts back from his tour. I was so touched and couldn’t believe we had another chance to get to know this one another again and give him my heart. I invited him for a meal at my Nan’s house the following evening as he was rather ‘fatigued'(such an elegant way of putting it) from his flight.
The following day he texted me to tell me he was getting his car serviced and would see me later. Later turned into 6pm And 8pm and then 9pm. The curry was losing it’s cool. I rang him asking him why he hadn’t pitched up and he completely dissed me on the phone and told me he was with his family and I can’t make him choose his family over me! WTAF?
If he had explained that he wanted to be with his family then I would of got it.-The lovely army guy broke my heart. He didn’t want to be with me. I internalised all this as my fault. I had put on weight, I had been homeless and had recently found somewhere in the U.K. to live and I thought I wasn’t good enough. I remember walking my Nan from my new home to the bus stop and I broke down. I didn’t know how much I liked this guy until I felt my heart tearing. Each sob caused another tear and another.
In 2009 I was finally in a better place and I was ready for another attempt to get a degree in the arts arena. I started a two Foundation Degree with 24 students. By week two that had whittled down to 7 students. Again a totally different bunch of lovely people. I fucked up. I stopped taking my meds. I was trying so hard to fit in but I guess I felt a bit intimidated by all the talented actors and talent. I didn’t know then that they were all just as frightened of failing as me. At first I was coping and I managed to go out get wasted and silly and form friendships. Standard uni stuff. One night a girl on my course rang me and told me to come out. She said the night was on her. I got dressed and put on my party face even though at that time I was taking 100 laxatives a day.
When people asked me out I would say ‘Awesome. I will be there’ I had a bad habit and once I had taken those tablets I was ill. I mean of course, I had the shits. Haha. Never thought I would be typing this but the moment before I purged I had stomach cramps that pushed and pulled and stabbed at me from the inside. I couldn’t walk from the spasms. SO that night I gave a big fuck you to Anorexia and went out to have some fun and bond with some friends.
My taxi pulled up at ‘the only reputable club’ in that locality and I saw my college friend wave at me and she was laughing and she gave me £50 and told me to come with her. It was a bit. Well, I was sober and everyone else was hammered. I didn’t find it funny. I wasn’t in the zone yet. I went to the bathroom and then I went to look for the pack and I couldn’t find them anywhere.
My mobile battery died and I turned around to the first person I saw to ask that person if I could use their mobile. I happened to bump into the person who went on to degrade and disrespect me in the most colourful and inventive ways. I couldn’t find anyone so we went back to mine and drank until………… I passed out mid-sentence.
This guy wouldn’t leave me alone. He was lovely at first but really full-on. I tried to back away. My friends told me he looked creepy. Leave him alone.
A guy from uni came up to me and told me that creepy ex was well and truly creepy and to stay away. Did I listen? no, I let my insecurities get the better of me. I melted into his world. At first it was flattering that someone would want to be around me so much. I didn’t think I was going to get in a relationship with him. I was trying to make friends and I had my eyes on someone else.
Out of respect to my daughter, I won’t go into a diatribe of events. He tried to take my soul. When he couldn’t have all of me he came up with a cunning plan to try and take my life away from me. Our daughter. During this time I could feel Anorexia clawing it’s way back inside. Cold, damp and merciless. I couldn’t allow it home again. I reached out to a couple I know and went on to meet my future husband to be. Before you judge- I have had my karma. I nearly lost my daughter as you may know from previous posts. I had time on my hands. Instead of being a full-time Mom to my daughter, I was a 10 hour per week Mom instead.
I decided while I battled it out in the court arena with social services and my creepy ex I would resume my studies. This time not in a mainstream uni but an online one. I worked my toosh off and today I can say I am a graduate. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my partner and my family.
DON’T JUDGE -if you can help it. That is a huge lesson I’ve learned. This piece of paper means so much more than the letters printed on it. It is a symbol – a tangible piece that reminds me of how I got to this place where I am today. I’m a bride to be with a gorgeous daughter who will be four in October. I’m working with mental health charities and I am a stable weight- super healthy. I don’t smoke. I drink mostly water ( with the odd cocktail of course) , I exersise. I am a success. I am proud of me. No one can take that from me. I won’t let them. Always be ready to learn a bit more. I may have officially finished learning but I will not let that stop me from learning in other ways. I treat every experience in my life as a learning curve. Always look for the silver lining no matter how bleak.
Day 2 of the Action for Happiness, Today the focus is on staying optimistic. Life is a challenge for all of us at times. The truth is I decided to do this course to give me Hope and the strength to set goals to achieve a sense of achievement. I have to be real and say I feel anything but optimistic.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with being honest about stating I don’t feel hopeful today.
That is not to say that I will never have hope again.
It is important to be realistic about our goals and futures and understand that cultivating realistic optimism is healthier and helps prepare person to understand that sometimes in spite of believing that nothing can go wrong as long as we keep being positive and refusing to acknowledge that we don’t have control over our future is an unrealistic expectation. It is important for self growth to accept that we won’t always get what we want no matter how optimistic we are but we can learn how to deal with our emotions if the outcome of a goal is not what we expected.
Happiness and optimism does not mean that we don’t feel sad or that our emotions change frequently.
Are their “wrong” feelings and emotions”?
No body can be fine all the time because our emotions fluctuate and has an effect on how we feel and behave. Happiness is a an emotion that is so fleeting just like other emotions and feelings. What is wrong with accepting and instead of pushing away so called “negative” feelings allow yourself to express those emotions. Hiding those feelings and ignoring them is to deny the fact that we will feel a spectrum of emotions about what life throws our way or what we are experiencing at any given moment.
How can we achieve a sense of happiness and make goals and try to change our mindset if we don’t accept that it is okay to feel and express all of our emotions. Understaning our emotions leads to growth and a better understanding of ourself. We can connect with other people because we will know that we all have the same emotions and by knowing ourselves better.
Society expects us to push away emotions that are deemed to be negative. I know the point of doing this challenge is to find happiness. I am beginning to wonder if by pushing my so called “negative” feelings away and scrolling through Pinterest for positive quotes. Plastering a smile on my face is actually counter productive in my goals to find Happiness. Happiness means different things to people. One thing I ascooate with Happiness is inner peace and to find the strength to accept my self, understand myself and get better with my mental health issues.
Join the movement Action for happiness
If you want to find out more about how to develop inner happiness and peace it may be helpful to develop your Emotional intelligence IQ
Maybe try and cultivate EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE -to gain a deeper understanding of your Emotions and use that to move forwards in Life
Emotional intelligence (otherwise known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflic
Please find loads of resources to cultivate happiness, to understand your illnesses, identify goals and much more.
This is the week everything has started to come together for me and I 100% feel I actually have been doing something that will help me in so many different situations in my life. Yet again I am so grateful to have been given this ‘gift’
Following on from identifying triggers’. Today we looked at a specific example of a trigger and we started looking at how we could get an Action plan together of how we would deal with this trigger. Remember that triggers can affect anyone/multiple senses- sight, smell, taste, touch, sound. We are all human and flawed.
Time to allow me to be vulnerable to demonstrate the power of our thoughts.
There is a lot of stuff in our world that we can’t control: how other people behave or certain events that may happen. What a person can do is to decide how he/she will respond to the triggers. I say respond because it implies some thought behind it. As humans, we do have the tendency to react to uncomfortable people and situations and events which is more impulsive.
Here is a vast list of triggers that can tip a person into feeling like crap. There is a lot on this list that I would never have thought of as a trigger, so it is worth having a look. Below this list is a brief look at how a person can Action plan. The whole point of an Action plan is to keep you from getting unwell or feeling worse. What’s the saying? ‘Hindsight is a bitch’. – there’s a few quotes like this. Well, it doesn’t have to be any more because we have got a plan. Okay, so today I ‘dug’ real deep and I exposed a huge fear/trigger for me. Before we get going, one of the group co-facilitators explained a vivid metaphor/analogy of what is likely to happen if we ignore our triggers.
Referring back to the butterfly metaphor I spoke of on my Action planning, Unfortunately, I couldn’t come across the exact version our group facilitator told us today. However, I am not one to give up so easily and I have found something just as good that explains the concept in the same kind of context- i.e. don’t ignore and hide away from life events and how you respond to them. Respond to them in a way that empowers you! This is the gem I found;
Imagine two caterpillars looking on As a beautiful butterfly floats on by
One turns saying after it is gone,“Not ever me as a butterfly that high!”Push away Resistance and be open for Change.
STOP and be more than just a caterpillar, ho-hum. Start by envisioning ideas beyond your range gain The Answer to what you can become.
As with the Caterpillar, it could be a gooey mess But you’ll improve and gain self-esteem, for sure Change is about letting go, trusting the process
Of becoming more than you are with things you were. The caterpillar was quite resistant and content; Causing him to ignore what the change involved. He thought his answer would stop the event–His Mother is a moth—his problem was solved!
Can we all learn from this? What can we try? Fight it as we might, Change will come our wayThe caterpillar’s colours are in and on the butterflyWe, too, can transform with our colours still in play
ADDITIONAL TRIGGERS LIST
- TO IMPRESS A PARTNER
- SITUATION WITH A ‘FRIEND’ WHO HAS A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON ME
- BEING STEREOTYPED/ PUT IN A ‘BOX’
- BEING JUDGED AND HOW A PERSON RESPONDS. I TEND TO CATASTROPHIZE.
- SAYING NO
- CAR RAGE/ISSUES –SOMEONE PARKING IN A DISABLED SPACE AND WHO IS NOT DISABLED
- PARTNERS MOOD SWINGS
- ABSTAINING FROM ALCOHOL OR DRUGS
- INTIMACY WITH A PARTNER
- BEING OVER-TIRED
- TRAUMATIC NEWS-HIGH EXPRESSED EMOTION– POSSIBLY FROM FAMILY MEMBERS
- TRAVELLING TO AN UNFAMILIAR PLACE/ABROAD/DELAYS
- EX-WIFE/HUSBAND CONFRONTATION IN RELATION TO CHILDREN
- PHYSICAL AND MENTAL PAIN
- FAMILY DYNAMICS INCLUDING THOSE WITH CHILDREN INVOLVED
- SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME ALONE
- FINANCIAL PROBLEMS
- BENEFITS /SOCIAL SECURITY BEING QUESTIONED OR DENIED
so once you have identified all your triggers, we need to do something positive with it, right? What you need is a plan to stop your triggers having too much power over you and your feelings. It is about stripping these triggers down- some of you who have come across CBT and DBT will be familiar with this way of action planning but this is the more awesome way of doing it. TRUST ME!
This is my moment. Here is where I make myself vulnerable to demonstrate that this plan can work for you if you put in the work. From the above list, the trigger that holds so much power over me is:
BEING JUDGED AND HOW I RESPOND. I TEND TO CATASTROPHIZE EVERYTHING RELATED TO MY TEETH.
What is going on in my head? what am I thinking? PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT MY TEETH, IAM GOING TO FAIL, I AM GOING TO BLOW MY ONE CHANCE TO SUCCEED. I CAN’T COPE. I’m SCARED MY THOUGHTS WILL STOP AND I WILL FORGET WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. I NEED TO GET AWAY FROM THIS PERSON/SITUATION.
I can see that this is all negative chatter. I want it to stop so I need to think really hard about how I am going to deal with these thoughts when they arise. It was a really tough thing for me to do. Brainstorm ways that I can help myself? What? Never! But I forced my self to think. I went back all the way to week two. I have a wellness toolbox- link. The problem with this specific trigger is that it catches me off guard when I’m already in the thick of it. Part of my plan needs to address this and I do.
Before I can do this I need to find a way to get into a zone of thinking that quietens down the negative thoughts.
HERE IS MY ACTION PLAN
- I CAN TAKE ‘MY THOUGHTS TO COURT’ – The link for this is at the end of my list.
- I CAN SIT WITH THE FEELINGS UNTIL THEY PASS- A TOUGH ONE FOR ME TO DO
- I CAN MAKE A PROS AND CONS LIST OF ALL THE THINGS I WILL GET OUT OF ME NOT OVERTHINKING AND JUDGING MY APPEARANCE OR WHAT I THINK ALL PEOPLE ARE THINKING. I’m NOT A MIND READER BUT I TEND TO THINK I AM IN THIS PARTICULAR SITUATION
- I CAN USE WISE MIND/ PRACTICE MINDFULNESS – SORRY ABOUT ALL THE JARGON -IF YOU WANT TO EXPLORE DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES THEN DO. IF YOU DON’T -THEN DON’T – LINK – the link can be found at the end of this list.
- MY PERSONAL FAVOURITE ONE IS WHEN I AM ALREADY IN THAT SITUATION WITH A PERSON AND THE THOUGHT TAKES OVER MY MIND I FEEL COMFORTABLE ENOUGH SAYING: SORRY, IF I APPEAR TO BE ACTING STRANGELY ( SOMETIMES I’M NOT BOTHERED BY MY TEETH) I HAVE A FEW ISSUES WITH MY TEETH’. I BELIEVE THIS IS SUCH A POWERFUL TECHNIQUE AND A BRAVE ONE BECAUSE I LAY IT OUT AND I VERBALISE IT AND THEN THE THOUGHT IS OUT OF MY MIND. I HAVE MADE THE PERSON AWARE OF WHAT IS MAKING ME NOT ENGAGE LIKE I USUALLY DO AND THE POWER COMES BACK TO ME. I HAVE MORE SPACE TO THINK AND TALK ABOUT WHATEVER IT IS THAT I WANT TO REALLY TALK ABOUT.
TAKE MY THOUGHTS TO COURT LINK -If you would like me to do an example please let me know. It can be one of your triggers or one on the lists.
IF YOU ARE RUSHED FOR TIME THIS YOUTUBE CLICK IS PRETTY COOL. IT IS AN ORIGINAL TAKE ON EXPLAIN WISE-MIND- you can access it anywhere- in your car wherever and listen to it. I love it!
CLICK ON THIS WISE-MIND LINK– I like it because I find it helps me understand the wise mind – I find a mix of images and dialogue easier to understand.