Flourish & Thrive is a brand new venture for me. A space where we can come together to share positive and helpful ideas, comments, and honest dialogue around overcoming anxiety and depression. A space for us to grow as individuals and as a group of friends who are seeking to live a happier and healthier life. A place to develop coping strategies and boost our confidence and self esteem so we can Flourish & Thrive.
I much prefer to be myself, the good, bad and authentic me; rather than pretending to have a perfect life with everything sorted. I’m me, and I can only live the way I know how, and deal with my mental health in the best way I can.
The past couple of years have been very difficult for me, at times I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep going. But, I’m still here, and I’m still trying. I’m so very proud of that.
I’m Still Standing….
In my post Meltdowns and Wobbles I shared part of my story, a very difficult chapter in my life. I had just received news that left me “off balance” and I was struggling to work out how to move forward.
I was trying with all my might to keep upright. I filled my time with everything I could to power through this difficult time, but I have to confess, I fell apart.
This was a collapse I didn’t see coming. It hit with the force of a tidal wave and I was completely swept away into the depths of despair yet again.
This time a new emotion reigned, one which I’m not familiar with; and had not expected. RAGE!
I don’t think I have ever felt anything like this rage inside. I didn’t know what to do with the emotion. I tried to push it down and ignore it, but that just made me feel worse until I found myself sitting in the dead of night with a knife in my hand and tears streaming down my face.
This is when I knew I had to get help and fast. I got an emergency appointment with the Mental Health Team and was referred to the Crisis Response Team the same day. Sitting in the waiting room I thought how did I get here again?
And all the old thoughts were once again taunting me. You’re useless! You’re stupid! You’re always going to have a meltdown when the going gets tough because you’re weak and pathetic!
Have you ever felt this way? Those negative thoughts bombarding you again and again. It’s such a fight to stop them swallowing you up and spitting you out.
It’s a very frightening experience when all you can hear in your head is those nasty naysayers. Needless to say, I went to bed for some time, my go to response to get away from the demons in my head and the poison they were spreading.
Thankfully, I have some wonderful family and friends who support me through these tough times and all I can say is Thank You!
One particular friend Michelle Edgar runs a group in Coleraine for anyone with mental health difficulties, addictions or any kind of crisis. I went to visit Michelle at Butterfly Survivors. I looked like I had been dragged through a hedge backwards and was just about able to stand, but Michelle was so supportive as she explained that anger is a natural response to the trauma I had been through. I began to realise that I had to let this rage out.
Michelle provided such a safe space for me to let go, and boy did I let those feelings out. The screams that came out of me were ear piercing and felt like they came from the depths of my soul. But they were absolutely necessary for me to vent the anger and rage I felt inside. I had to release it. It felt like I had to let this frustration out or I would die.
It’s now been about six weeks from this experience and I’m in a much better place. I’m so grateful for the love and support I’ve received. I’m back on my feet again and ready to move on.
I just want to encourage anyone reading this who is struggling. Talk to someone and let them know how you’re feeling. Don’t try to walk this journey on your own. It’s much better to share the dark times with people who care and love you and can pull you through when you feel you can’t go on. All my love, Pamela.
Are you carrying the wrong stuff? It’s time to set down doubt, anxiety and self loathing and realise you have been carrying the wrong things. Lay those negative things down and build yourself up knowing, You are Brave. You are Beautiful. You are Strong. You are Smart. And most of all, you are Loved. It’s now time to carry what you really are and step back and see the transformation.
Do you want to put a smile on someone’s face today? Maybe make their day a little better. It won’t cost you a single penny or much time to do just that.
And because smiling is contagious, it probably won’t just be one person you make smile today.
Here are 20 ways to turn that frown upside down.
1. Send some flowers to your friend or partner at work.
2. Compliment a friend or work colleague on their appearance.
3. Donate something to charity.
4. Take a friend out to lunch.
5. Let someone know you miss them.
6. Make a surprise telephone call to a friend or partner at work, just to say hi.
7. Hold a door open for someone walking behind you.
8. Hug your partner for no reason.
9. Leave a joke on a friends answer machine.
10. Send a card to a friend letting them know what a good friend they are.
11. Give up your seat on the train to someone when there aren’t any left.
12. Share your umbrella on a rainy day.
13. Ask a friend if they need anything while you’re out shopping.
14. When it’s raining, plan an indoor picnic with your children.
15. Leave a love letter somewhere where your partner will find it.
16. Send someone an unexpected gift like chocolate or flowers.
17. Tell your child you’re proud of them.
18. Tell someone you thought about them the other day.
19. Cook a surprise meal for your partner one night, especially if they normally do the cooking.
20. Tell your partner you love them.
Did you know it takes only 17 muscles to smile, but 43 to frown.
Why waste all that energy frowning when you could just smile.
Here are 5 more facts about smiling.
1. Women smile more than men.
2. Smiling releases endorphins that make us feel better.
3. We are all born with the ability to smile, it’s not something we learn from others.
4. A smile is a universal expression of happiness.
5. A smiling person is thought to be a more pleasant, attractive, sociable, sincere and competent than a non-smiling person.
Just remember, smiling is the easiest and cheapest way of improving your looks.
For several months I have been trying to be brave and prepare myself for facing someone who treated me so appallingly at a time in my life when I was extremely vulnerable, under tremendous stress and at my lowest point health wise. This was a person I trusted and went to for help and support when my life was falling apart. He abused my trust and violated my body.
I held this incident a secret for so long as I thought that somehow, I was to blame. Afterall, I didn’t do anything to stop the abuse and I was so ashamed of what had happened that I assumed I must be to blame.
My mental health had deteriorated to such an extent I spent a year between bed and the sofa, and I knew that I couldn’t go on holding this secret in because it was destroying me from the inside. It was only after months of turmoil that I realised I was a victim of someone who preys upon vulnerable people.
The thought of having to see this person and go through every single aspect of the situation had left me broken to the point of suicide, it was so scary and beyond what I thought I could bear that I backed off reporting the incident. But God knew the only way for me to begin the process of healing was to be able to talk about what had occurred. God orchestrated a chain of events that meant I had to tell someone about what happened, and subsequently the police were informed, and I had to give statements about the events that were so hard to speak about.
My only reason for reporting the incident was the hope that no-one else would have to endure the pain and the heartache I had gone through. After all the statements had been given, I again began to panic about what the fallout of this disclosure would mean, not only for me personally but for the small number of people I had shared the details with and the individual in question. I had nightmares about having to share this information in court, and the thought of being cross examined about everything in explicit detail, further compounded my anxiety and fears, which again had a huge impact on my mental health.
I find that in moments such as this, I can get so anxious and into such a state, clear thinking goes out the window; and I tend to cry, a lot! The speed at which this change occurs is so fast it’s as if my brain doesn’t have time to catch up. I’m in the middle of a whirlwind of emotions, gripped by fear to the point of terror and anxiety that is paralysing.
My normal response is to cry, go to bed, and bury my head under the duvet. I don’t come out until I can begin to function again. It’s only at this stage, I can start to think about how I am going to deal with the situation; and it takes more time before I can rationally work through the issue. Is this just me or are there others out there in the same boat?
I want to talk to the people who are in the midst of a crisis situation. You can and will get through this. No matter what the situation is. It may be family issues, money worries, domestic or sexual abuse, work related issues, ill health, addictions, debt etc. But let me tell you, there is nothing, and I mean nothing that is so terrible that you should feel you need to end your life. You may not know how you are going to handle the issues you are facing but I can tell you from someone who has been right on the edge of giving up three times, you will make it through this. It will be hard, it will be difficult, it may even mess you head up for quite some time, but you are a special human being who is loved by family, friends, neighbours and you are here on this earth for a reason. I am living proof that no matter how awful your problem seems, there is a way to turn it around. And believe me, you will one day be so, so, grateful you hung in there in the darkest of times as you see your situation changing.
Last weekend I received a letter from the Public Prosecution Service and as I opened it, I was visibly shaking. This was the letter that was going to tell me when I had to go to court. I felt physically sick as I began reading, then horrified to learn of their decision not to pursue the case as they felt there was insufficient evidence to gain a conviction. I was devastated no further action was going to be taken by the courts and it almost felt like I was suffering the trauma of the incident again for a second time.
But let me tell you about how I handled this news. I now like to call it a wobble as opposed to a meltdown. A meltdown is something that is difficult to recover from, Webster’s dictionary defines it as “a disastrous collapse or breakdown.” The Oxford dictionary puts it like this, “An uncontrolled emotional outburst or a mental collapse.”
Synonyms related to meltdown are a knockout blow, calamity, catastrophe, and a disaster to name a few.
A wobble is much more manageable, Webster’s definition, “to move or proceed with an irregular rocking or staggering motion or unsteadily and clumsily from side to side, tremble, quaver, waver, vacillate” while the Oxford dictionary defines it as “to be uncertain what to do, or to change repeatedly between two opinions.”
Synonyms, agitate, flap, jitter, rocky, shaky, teeter, worry.
I am getting slightly better at dealing with the wobbles. A year ago, it would have taken me at least a month to reach any rational thoughts; I would have needed intervention from the Crisis Team, our regional hospital’s mental health professionals, who give home from hospital care for people having suicidal thoughts, for many people it can be weeks, months or even years to be able to deal with situations that arise and cause a meltdown.
For me this time I am so grateful the despair lasted only a few days before I could process my thoughts and realise this is God’s way of bringing me out of this horrible situation with my sanity intact.
For some of you reading this, you’ll think what is this woman talking about? And that is ok. You’ve probably never been seriously ill with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts and to be honest at one stage in my life I would have been thinking exactly the same.
Please be patient with anyone you know who is suffering from anxiety, depression or PTSD. I hope with sharing this part of my story, that you will begin to understand the complexities of these conditions. We can’t just snap out of it. Or just get over it. We can only do our best to work through it, and that takes time and a massive amount of courage. All my love, Pamela.
Have you ever found yourself getting overwhelmed with everything on your to-do list? It seems that September has just snuck up on me and even the thought of having to get back into all the routines of the new term, has left me feeling the jitters of anxiety.
I’m sure many of you feel the same way I do. But, I have decided rather than panic I will take one step at a time. I need to re-evaluate my life, take stock of what is necessary and what can be put on hold until life is less hectic.
I understand the need for structure and routine but I also acknowledge to keep well, I must make time to look after my mental health.
For me, that means taking time for myself; doing things I enjoy, like getting outside and observing the changing seasons. I love to see the Autumnal colours and hear the sound of the leaves rustling in the trees or kicking a pile of golden leaves blown into a huddle by the wind.
So, I will be trying to keep things simple by enjoying the small moments of beauty that enhance and enrich my soul. For without these gems, life becomes too busy and robs me of the pleasures that make life worth living. I hope you will join me and take time to nourish your soul too, and just keep life simple.