It’s Christmas Eve 2017 and I’m repeating what I did on here last year. This one is a bit more special, it has my highlights from December. The snowfall in England was the heaviest in years and I enjoyed it so much, even though it had such a huge affect on the local area (ice and hills don’t go well together). It was also Khaleesi’s first snow day which was the cutest thing to watch. I went into London to see Les Misérables with my family for my 18th celebration, as well as Winter Wonderland on a separate occasion. The 2nd December was exciting because I saw The Kooks in concert with my sister and some other people. Also I can’t resist a good sunset.
I think gratitude is a brilliant thing, but not necessarily in the way it’s used today. Practicing gratitude doesn’t solve any problems, cure any illnesses, fix horrible situations or make you happy. It’s not a solution, it’s a frame of mind that can make you feel better about yourself and others, and be able to appreciate the good things in the world and in yourself.
I recently read a blog post that I’ve got to recommend you read. It talks about the negative aspects of gratitude lists in a far more personal and honest way. Here’s a snapshot below:
“I’ve been making gratitude lists,” I said. “I’m really trying to look on the bright side.”
“Screw that,” he said. “Stop doing that immediately. It’s last thing you need. You need to make an Ingratitude List. You should be PISSED. Your life’s honestly kind of sh*tty right now. I’m not saying there’s no bright spots, but you need to stop trying to pretend you’re not in pain. You need to make a “This Sucks Ass” list.
I burst out laughing for the first time in ages. I walked out of his office with a huge smile on my face, swimming in a sea of relief…
Gratitude lists have the power to be brilliant and vastly improve your quality of life, as well as the ability to smother your life and mind in shame for still feeling bad and in pain despite all the ‘good things’. I think each person will need to work that out for themself, and I’ve been able to start doing that thanks to The Mighty.
Each month, The Mighty have been focusing on different aspects of self care, and this November it’s been gratitude. Each day there is a prompt, which suggests not only things such as what are you grateful for today, but also what you have learnt from the good and bad situations, people, etc.
Some of my favourite prompts I think are well worth pondering over are…
- What are three things you have planned for the holidays that you are grateful for
- Name three family members who have taught you something valuable.
- Choose three “negative” experiences that have taught you something about yourself.
- Pick three childhood experiences you are grateful for
- Name three teachers you’ve had who have taught you something valuable
Thank you for reading,
Celebrating Christmas Eve with photographs from December (all except very top left taken by me). I’ve had my Christmas with my mum today and am now at my dad’s to celebrate tomorrow. I wish everyone the best of days 🙂
I find checking in with myself is important. It keeps me connected and in touch with my mind and means I can notice issues so I can take action. Right now, although I’m not in crisis I’m at a low point and this is the stage checking in helps me the most.
I’m incredibly worried about the most vulnerable time of year coming up, and also that I’m without a psychologist or psychiatrist. I’m hoping it won’t be for long but I have to wait and I have no idea how long. It’s made me realise how lucky I am to have had a secure care team for so long which I am grateful for. I saw my psychologist for the last time earlier this week and her leaving has been quite sudden and badly timed. Pretty much all therapeutic input has come from her so now I’m left with near to nothing. Although, looking on the positive side I’ve learnt so so much with her help, about how dissociation works as a coping mechanism for my head and it’s relation to trauma. It means I have more coping mechanisms when I’m struggling like this.
January is the month I have severe psychotic episodes that have consistently got worse each year. I live with psychosis every day but these episodes take months to recover from and are centered around a strong delusion.
As I deteriorate I isolate myself which I am doing now. I’m trying my best to have contact with people regularly and will hopefully find it easier with the return of college routine. I’m also making sure I am looking after myself physically, and managing that.
I have many positive influences that will help me more. I am at college doing what I love, I have a stable routine, there are lots of changes of scene involved in my routine, I have learnt how to acknowledge emotions so will hopefully be less dissociated, and I have coping mechanisms to help this. I’m aware I sound really formal but that’s because I’m struggling to connect with the reality of how bad I feel. I will make it though. This check in has been helpful. Well done me!
My last post was 4 days ago and very rambly so instead of posting new things I’ve edited the most recent one so it can be more constructive and helpful, and have also updated my About section. Writing on here regularly is making me feel great and I’m glad I’ve used blogmas as an excuse to get back into posting. I’m definitely going to be building blogging back into my weekly routine.
I’ve noticed some things about myself that I shy away from looking at, and to overcome this I am going to write about it here and take action. I need to face these vulnerabilities.
I’m struggling with showing femininity when I know it’s just who I am and certainly doesn’t make me less of a man. I’m naturally incredibly expressive and affectionate and whilst I know there are so many guys like that, my mind keeps making me think that it’s making me not pass – something I obsess over and focus on a lot as a transgender person. This all leads to me stopping myself from talking so much in public, purposefully slouching and talking quietly because it sounds lower. I feel like it’s got too far, and although gender dysphoria never goes, there is a point where it’s not okay to just live with. A massive challenge would be for me to express that femininity in public places and focus on being me more than passing.
See you in the next post!
Technology (specifically social media) has a lot of positive and negative effects on mental illness recovery; on one hand it offers a great way to find others going through similar things so coping strategies can be shared, however it is also very public and can impact others including young children as boundaries on the internet are not rigid.
I think I have worked out a good balance between technology and real life for myself. There are some apps that I use and find helpful, as well as real life hobbies and friends that create a good support system around me. I’m going to share 9 apps that help me in my recovery. I originally rambled about all of these but have now given the post some structure.
- Instagram – This is a social media platform you are likely to have heard of if not be on. I have had a recovery account on there for a year now and it helps me document my recovery and communicate with friends and other people also struggling with mental illness. I would recommend this if you’d like to be part of a community. It’d be worth reading my post about things I’ve learnt here if you are considering joining as there are lots of pros and cons.
- Pacifica – This is an app where you can track your mood, health habits, analyse thought patterns and set goals. There are also meditations to do and a small community where you can join chats. I use it as a diary card to keep track of things like my sleep, taking medication, social time etc. I also find working through the negative thought patterns really useful and has helped calm me down and rationalise in difficult moments.
- The Mighty – A website that shares blog posts written by people dealing with mental illness, chronic illness, rare illness, autism and other things in one way or another. I have found it a very accessible website and have seen some amazing writing. The way that the Mighty seeks to give these people a voice is amazing and something I love.
- Booster buddy – This is the first app I used to help me with my mental health. I’m not currently using it but you should definitely have a go with this app. The concept is you have a buddy who you have to help wake up each day by completing 3 tasks. It asks you questions at the beginning about what you struggle with so the tasks can be relevant. It’s really child friendly and also a lot of fun which is especially nice to start your day with. What I loved about this app was the reminders for medication you could add and also the collection of coping strategies that involved psychosis help and used lots of DBT methods!
- Breathe – This is a mediation app and the best one I have found so far. There’s a wide range of meditations to choose from and when you check in the most relevant ones are suggested. There is also a sticker and streak system which encourages you to meditate frequently, no matter how short a time. The length ranges from 3-20mins and you can by sets of extra meditations if you like.
- Flowy – This is a really clever app that is a game to help you slow your breathing. It’s helped me with panic attacks before and I would definitely recommend it to anyone struggling with anxiety.
- Fluidity – This is a visual app that has liquid you interact with when you touch it. I find this helps me with grounding and also when I get overwhelmed with sensory overload, this will help me calm down.
- What’s up? – This is an app who’s functions I haven’t been able to fully explore but it’s already clear it’s very helpful and good to use. There’s a selection of ‘in the moment’ activities which I find incredibly helpful with grounding myself.
- Relax melodies
I’ll talk again tomorrow, I hope you are inspired to look at your balance between technology and real life and maybe check out a few of these apps.