Getting out of the comfort zone

Getting out of the comfort zone

It’s so easy in life to stay in your own comfort zone and not rock the boat too much. I did it for years and stayed in my bubble and let my anxiety fester into every aspect of my life, until I became so limited on what I could actually do. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) has been a huge help to me and I am finally getting out, enjoying life again and having plenty of new experiences.

This time last year I was just going back to work from maternity leave and I was feeling especially vulnerable and overwhelmed at the prospect. I was still in the middle of a battle with postnatal depression and anxiety had creeped into every aspect of my life. It was exhausting to constantly being in a state of fight or flight (usually always the latter) and I was becoming increasingly limited on what I could do in my day to day life. I was becoming a recluse and my enjoyment in life was dwindling away and it was feeding my depression. It was vicious cycle and I felt like I was fighting a losing battle.

Something had to change and that change would only come about if I changed. I needed to change my though processes first and CBT was a great stepping stone. CBT taught me so much and helped me question my thought process. I started off small just at first doing the food shop and then gradually built up. I faced my fears, proved my thoughts wrong and exposed myself to a new way to see things. I made sure once my CBT sessions stopped that I continued to read my book and put what I was taught into action when I felt anxiety creeping back in. It’s not always easy, but I have now been able to witness the benefits and I now have proof in my own mind that it works.

CBT has taught me how important it is to get out my comfort zone, not just to do the normal everyday things in life, but also giving me the courage to then try new and often scary things. The scariest thing I’ve done has been blogging as I’ve always been very self-conscious and aware of other people’s opinions of me. Blogging has left me exposed and it has really put myself out there. I’m not the best at spelling, grammar and am forever worrying that what I am writing is rubbish, but with support I feel I’ve found something I love, it gives back to me, helps me grow and it also gets me to try new things. I have found a passion, something that gives me so much and I also feel I am able to give back and hopefully help others.

The last 3 months I have really built myself up and got out my comfort zone on many occasions. Once you start the feeling can become quite addictive and I am forever accepting invitations to new and scary things I couldn’t imagine myself doing a few months ago. I am no longer scared and constricted by what I can and can’t do and it’s opened up a new world for me. Since I have started getting myself out my comfort zone everything else in my life has improved, my confidence, my depression, my anxiety and my overall wellbeing. I am getting new opportunities everyday and I love the feeling of excitement my life now brings.

Except new challenges and remember that you are the only person coming between making them a reality.

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my 11 top tips for getting happy

My 11 top tips for getting happy

I am not a therapist and definitely not a doctor, but I have found ways of getting happy again. I’ve been in a rotten place and I’ve been diagnosed with postnatal depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder. I’ve had experience on how to change my life for the positive and I’ve worked extremely hard the last six months to dig myself out of a dark place. I’ve put together some of my tips which have worked for me.

  1. Have a therapy – Therapy for people can mean different things, I recommend having a councillor to talk over your worries before they become problems so you can make sense of them. If you think a more direct therapy may help then look into Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. For me CBT has really changed my behaviour and made anxiety easier. Read my blog post here.
  2. Have a creative outlet – For many years I neglected giving myself the time and space to have a creative outlet. Painting, drawing, colouring in can all be amazing to take your brain away from thinking to just letting it be. For me now my creative outlet is writing and it also doubles up as a great therapy. If you aren’t artistic then try gardening, baking, cooking, dancing and I’m sure you’ll find something you love. If in doubt think back to when you were a child and what you enjoyed doing.
  3. Practice mindfulness – Mindfulness without a doubt works in my mind. It has helped me to switch off, relax and take notice of my own body. It’s great for anxiety and lovely way to unwind before going to sleep.
  4. Get good sleep habits – I try (and sometimes fail) to stay off my phone an hour before bed every night and either practice mindfulness (breathing) or read a simple book (nothing that requires too much thinking).
  5. Make a weekly happiness list – When I was going through a really tough time I found this really helped me to see even on the worse weeks I still had moments of happiness.
  6. Do something you love and be selfish – Once a week if you can, do something just for you. Have your favourite dessert and watch a good film, a bath with you favourite bathbomb or a coffee with a friend. Make sure it happens and make the time for yourself.
  7. Walk – Get outside the house and walk, it’s good for you. If you need to layer up with lots of layers or wear a rain coat it doesn’t matter just get out. You’ll always feel happier  and see things from a different perspective outside your four walls and the exercise is good for you.
  8. Right off a bad day – Some days nothing will go right, right it off and start a fresh the next day. Every bad day we learn something new to move forward with and put it in the past. Being happy isn’t possible 100% of the time, we just need to learn to deal with the negative in a positive way.
  9. Read – I love reading, but again neglected it for a years. I now always have a few books on the go. Like TV shows I read what I’m in the mood for at the time, so sometimes it’s self-help/motivation and others its romantic book. I love nothing more than getting lost in a book I love.
  10. Positive Affirmations – I love a good affirmation and have a few written around the house that I read and repeat. It’s amazing how just saying something out loud can have such a positive effect on your mind.
  11. Get the family involved – Recently I have been trying to get my daughter involved, we’ve been practising different yoga moves, breathing and affirmations. It makes my daughter happy, I enjoy the company and I know how much good it is doing her.

In my experience the more you do something the easier it gets to make it part of your routine. I hope these tips to getting happy help and I would love to hear some tips from yourself.

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I think I just beat depression

Every day I have woken up, depression has been there, hiding in the background, like a dementor draining all happy thoughts away. The other day I woke up, just like any other and got out the bed, had a shower, which was interrupted by a half asleep Miss J needing a wee. I dried off and settled down to do my make up with my children sat in my bed, cuddling and the TV on with cartoons. I stared at myself in the mirror and something had changed, had shifted and I didn’t recognise my own reflection. We pass through life often not noticing the small changes until it adds up and becomes a big change. As I stared at my reflection I realised the woman staring back at me was happy, I was happy, I had changed and depression had left me.

I had been so busy with life and our routines that I hadn’t even noticed that my depression had finally gone. I wasn’t just having the few odd good days anymore I was having most days which were good. I was able to wake up in the morning, deal with everyday stresses without crumbling under pressure. I am taking care of my children, going out with them, enjoying them and enjoying life. Life is no longer this foggy, dark, monotonous and painful existence, but actually a fun, happy and worthwhile existence.

My hard work had finally paid off and I had ridden the storm out. The positive thinking, mindfulness, reading and therapy had finally given me that light bulb moment. I was in charge of my own life and own happiness and I needed to make the changes to let happiness in. I had accepted myself and my flaws, let go of guilt and finally got my life back and it feels amazing.

I know that I will still have challenging days and that my depression could even come back, but I now have proof in my own life that things can change and turn around. You can reach rock bottom and climb back up to the top. You can make plans again, you can smile, you can still be you again. I had become me again, but better, I was more aware, kind, understanding and appreciative. I can see things from both sides and have great empathy for everyone going through their own personal battles.

What has depression taught me in these last two years? It has shown me that I am far stronger than I ever realised and deep down I am a kind person with a big heart. It has shown me that I am a fantastic mother, because even when I was at my worse I felt immense guilt about my children. Even in midst of it all I still fed, washed and cuddled my children even when I couldn’t take care of myself. I still protected them and shielded them the best I could. When I was struggling most I was still trying to be selfless to protect them.

This is just my battle and you shouldn’t draw comparisons if you are going through something similar. Everyone’s battle with mental illness is unique and has many variables. I was lucky as I always had a supportive husband next to me, I was able to pay to go privately to get the therapy I needed and I finally found an antidepressant that works for me. I am forever grateful to my husband who has stood by me, supported and loved me when I couldn’t love myself. His patience is admirable and his heart is pure and without him I couldn’t be the woman and mother I am today. I still have problems just like anyone else but I am in a place where I can work on them and become better, but for now depression can fuck right off.

 

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and SMART goals

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and SMART goals

I tried cognitive behavioral therapy back in April last year, it was focused on my anxiety and I did find it helpful to find some coping strategies to start getting out and about. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a talking therapy that looks at the interaction between our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and behaviours. When we start challenging these thoughts we are then able to deal with the problem and help change negative thought patterns.

Last year in October I was under crisis team care for my postnatal depression and was refered to cognitive behavioral therapy and on Monday after a long wait I had my first session. This time we are focusing on my postnatal depression so I can help rationalise my negative thoughts. unfortunately I am under crisis team care again as things began to spiral again without any kind of support from November to January and I now have a second diagnosis of borderline personality disorder which I will start a therapy for afterwards called dialectical behavior therapy.

This week I have the task of questioning my thoughts which isn’t as easy as it might sound. For example when I wake up in the morning and my thought is that I don’t want to get up as I know it will be a bad day, my emotion will then be feelings of being down and depressed, which then affects my behaviour and makes me not want to get up or get dressed and my physical symptoms will be tired and tearful. I need to learn to challenge these negative thoughts so I can have more positive emotions and behaviour. It’s going to be a slow process, but I know this therapy works I just need to put the time and effort in.

Something else this week I will be starting is my S.M.A.R.T goals which stands for:

S – Specific goal

M – Measurable goal

A – Achievable goal

R – Realistic goal

T – Time bound goals

I’ve set myself a few goals I wish to achieve in the next month and I’m sure once I get the hang of it I will be able to add more to it.

My S.M.A.R.T goals so far are:

  1. Write a weekly blog post of everything I have enjoyed the previous week. I have been writing down any little small things I have enjoyed this week, a text from a friend, a lunch out etc so I can reflect and see the small positives in the week I have had.
  2. Turning my phone off at 10pm. I am so guilty to playing about with my phone up to the second I want to go to sleep and I find my brain is still running 100 miles per hour. We all now know that blue light is bad for us and stimulating our brains so by 10pm my phone turns off and I pick up a real book (not my kindle) and read for an hour. So far this has worked so well and I’ve actually been getting to sleep much earlier. As a person I require a good 8 hours sleep and without it my mental health quickly starts to deteriorate.
  3. After a couple of weeks off from the gym my next goal is to start going back to the gym for one class a week. I would like this to be two classes, but I am being realistic and not adding the pressure. If I do one class a week I will be happy. Exercise is great at making us feel better and it’s something I need to build into my weekly routine again.

Another thing I plan to start doing in the next week is to start making a goals/mood board. This was suggested by an old school friend of mine and it’s something I am keen to start once my Amazon order arrives. This will be a bright visual board that I can look to for inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

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Blogging – my therapy

I feel like in these short 8 weeks I have achieved more than I have since leaving school. Not only has this blog been my therapy it has been my salvation. I started this blog to purely write down how I felt about things and after some encouragement from friends I decided to make it public. Just two months ago my self-esteem was at its lowest it had ever been. I was still battling PND, anxiety and my confidence was rock bottom. I’ve not been magically cured over night, but I feel so much better in myself and can now see light at the end of the tunnel.

Since I can remember I’ve always had a habit of starting something, but when things get too hard I throw it all in, but for the first time in my adult life I have done something that I have loved and carried on past the first hurdle. I believe I still have so much more I can do with this blog and plan to keep going as long as I have an audience.

Two weeks ago I faced my biggest challenge and decided to go from my wordpress.com blogging platform and become self-hosted, I used https://www.tsohost.com/ who have been amazingly supportive and helpful. I was out of my depth completely and spent many an hour googling and reading eBooks on how to achieve what I had in mind. I have had to learn about widgets, plugins and SEO’s and if I’m honest I’m still not sure, but I am enjoying learning.

I have made something that is my own, my own little space in cyber space where I can write about anything I like. I love that I can do something for just me and have time out from just being mum, even if my biggest inspiration and topic is about being mum. When my head is filled with ideas on what to write and I am desperate to get them typed out, I feel like a child again writing a story where I am excited to find out how it will end. Having a creative outlet is so fulfilling and rewarding and something I recommend.  I don’t know what’s next for me, but in this moment in time I’m enjoying the ride and plan to carry on. I want to thank my friends for their words of encouragement, new blogger friends for their advice, followers for comments and re-shares. I appreciate you all and giving me a massive confidence boost when I’ve needed it most. Thank you.

 

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