Last year (2016) was probably the most difficult year I had ever been faced with. A lot of negative things happened last year that really drove me into a deep depression. Although, towards the end of 2016 is when I really began to learn the true process of recovery and start to put changes in place for a better future.
So flash forward to 2017 with 12 brand new months ahead of me, I slowly began to work hard and put in the effort to implant some small yet positive changes into my life. The sorts of changes that meant I was listening to my body and what it really needed, I was noticing my thought patterns quicker and challenging them more, I was facing situations I had been avoiding, I was getting out more and seeing more people, I was falling in love with life again and building my life back up, including the person I was destined to be.
2017 has been the year I have made some amazing positive changes that have benefited me more than I could ever have imagined, so I thought I’d put a post together today highlighting them to give myself some much needed credit and also hopefully inspire you to go into the new year with some healthy changes!
1. Leave the house every single day – 2016 was the year that leaving the house seemed an impossible challenge. I would be left feeling anxious and scared whenever out in public, some horrible physical symptoms making me want to run back home and horrible nasty worried thoughts draining the life out of me. I knew something had to change at the end of last year. I couldn’t spend my whole life stuck inside and not going out there living my life. I knew that the outside world wasn’t scary and it wasn’t that I was fearing. I was fearing how I felt whenever I left the house.
So that’s when I put in place the rule for each day that I had to leave the house, even if it was just a short walk around the block or popping to the shops. I had to start leaving the house more and more, because I knew the more I would do it, the less my anxiety would be until it was nothing. I soon found that when I was leaving the house, it was actually giving me a greater chance to breathe and actually feel grounded. It brought me back down from an anxiety cloud and gave me a new lease of life. The fear of being outside was soon gone and it’s still even to this day something I do every single day because I know how much better it makes me feel to get outside than be stuck inside.
Now I can happily say I can pretty much go anywhere and not experience the anxiety I was. Of course sometimes it spikes if I’m having a bad day or I’m triggered by something, but leaving the house is now an option and something I do all the time now. Even so much so that I spend most days of the week for the past seven months sleeping away from my home at my boyfriends and I’ve also been on two holidays this year both away from home.
2. Spending time offline – Being a blogger I basically live my life online and hardly ever switch off. But sometimes I do have to put myself first and realise that I cannot always be offline. Sometimes the internet can be toxic for me on bad mental health days. If I see something that is triggering or how much people ‘seem’ to be enjoying their life, then I’ll just end up spiralling even more and making myself feel worse. Instead, I like to put my phone down and go do something else to make myself feel better, like watching a movie, cuddling in bed with Matt, going on a walk or playing on the Sims (I mean, who doesn’t love the Sims?!). I also try not to spend time online even on good mental health days, because it’s nice to just have that time offline and be living in the moment, not glued to a phone screen. Its good to spend time with the people around you and come back to the online world at a later time. It’s probably always going to be there the online world, but you never know how long the people around you are, so its best to give them your whole love and attention in that moment.
3. Facing my fears more – Facing fears is something that used to fill me with dread and sometimes it still does, especially those bigger fears. But now instead of feeling so terrified of facing something I’m scared of, I actually feel more motivated and excited than ever to say goodbye to these so called fears. The amount of things I have faced this year is crazy. I’ve been eating out in actual restaurants (having proper food!!!), socialising with family and new people, I’ve been away on two breaks away from my family, I’ve been sleeping out and rarely ever sleep at my house anymore, I’ve been going to medical places like the dentist and hospital (one of which where I had a scan for a health scare), I’ve gone to events like fireworks nights and parties and I’ve been eating food cooked by someone else other than my Mum.
There’s also the fact I faced one of my biggest fears yet. I vomited for the first time in over 11 years, which probably to you doesn’t sound like a big deal. But I have emetophobia (a fear of being sick or seeing someone be sick) and for me to vomit was something I feared so deeply. But this year due to illness, I vomited and realised that a fear I had carried around for over a decade was no where near as bad as I imagined it to be. You can read a full post here on my experience of facing my biggest fear if you’re interested.
There’s been so many more things I have done this year that have just blown me away and made me feel so bloody proud of myself. Like I get so emotional when I think back to everything I have achieved. It’s an amazing feeling to face your fears after so long of living in fear. I’ve still got a huge climb to go, but I’m so determined to get there. I can’t wait to share more of it with you all!
4. Finding the balance – Balance is a tough thing to achieve sometimes. Balance for me means finding the medium between rest but wanting to push myself. It’s knowing when to go for something and it’s knowing when I should take a step back. It can be difficult to work out which is best and other people will try to tell you what you should do. But if you take sometime to think for yourself and be selfish, you can find the balance and do what is best for you. It’s also about giving myself the much needed care and love after facing a stressful situation or after having a bad time. It’s about knowing it’s completely ok to do so and it’s something everyone should start doing. It’s giving ourselves the love and rest we need.
I’ve also been good at letting myself feel however I want to feel. This has been the biggest game changer for me. I no longer I feel as if I fighting against my anxiety and depression. Instead I am working with it and giving myself the time to feel how I want. This has enabled me to heal and move forward in a better mindset. Its given myself the time to deal with how I feel and work out the best approach to take to help me feel better. It’s not about pushing it out or continuing on to not let it win. Sometimes letting it win is the best thing to do because it gives you the chance to work out how to get back up from it successfully. Society tells me I shouldn’t do it this way, but I say I’m going to keep doing it, because it’s helped me become the person I am today! And I couldn’t love it anymore if I tried.
5. Learning more and more – Whenever you go through a tough moment, it’s always a good idea to learn something from it. I know I certainly have and it has helped me to be able to deal with it better the next time something similar happens. By learning more and more this year, I’ve been able to test out new ways to deal with situations and help myself more. This positive change has given me the chance to better myself and quickened my recovery. By taking the time out to focus on your own wellbeing and how to get better, you are giving yourself what you truly deserve. I’ve learnt so much from my therapy sessions that I have been attending now for over a year. I would recommend to everyone to go to therapy, whether you have a mental illness or not, it is something that can teach you so much and help you through so much. I couldn’t be without it now and know I’m going to take everything I’ve learnt with me throughout my whole life.
6. Recognising my struggles and my highs – I think its super important to get that balance right again when you succeed at something, but also when you are struggling and need that bit of extra time to heal from it. It can be easy to just let struggles slip under the carpet and pretend they never happen, as well as not giving yourself the time to be pleased for anything you might have overcome and to celebrate it. Us humans are bad at not giving ourselves credit for the things we achieve nor are we good at holding our hands up and admitting we need some help.
Whilst this is still a work in progress from me, I know I have been more outspoken when I am struggling and when I need that time to get through it on my own. The same has happened for any challenges I’ve faced. I’m very quick to congratulate myself and then move onto the next thing, like it never happened. The more I do it, the more I recognise I need to give myself a big pat on the back and reward myself with love for what I have achieved. I feel like I have hit somewhat of that when I wrote about the fears I faced in this post. It was like this overwhelming warmth that came over me when I realised just how many amazing things I have done this year. I felt so happy for myself and pleased I have done all that on my own back. It also made me feel so good to know that I needed to do that and big myself up for doing so.
What’s a positive change you’ve made in 2017?
I wish you all the most amazing 2018 and hope it brings you all happiness and success,
Thank you so much for supporting me and my blog in 2017. It means the world to me.
Please feel free to complete my 2017 blog reader survey to help me blog better in 2018. It will only take 2 minutes of your time. It would be so highly appreciated. Thank you so much.