Gratitude

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,

Liam 🙂

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Forgiveness

I’ve recently been having my own ponderings and questions about forgiveness, and what that really means, and how on Earth you do it when it’s something so ongoing. So I’ve decided to put all my findings in a post in the hopes of summarising all I know so far.


The definition of forgiveness is “to stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake”. To me, forgiveness is accepting what has happened, even if what has happened is wrong. It’s being okay with something even though what happened wasn’t okay. My very amazing friend Cody who has contributed to a blog post on here before shared their insight on what forgiveness means to them, as well as how religion has influenced this…

For me forgiveness is about trying to put things in the past so I’m able to move on. I tend to ruminate a lot on everything that happens to me and so when someone upsets or angers me I really feel the impact. Usually it takes me some time, but when I forgive someone, even if I don’t get the chance to tell them I have forgiven them to their face, it helps me to move on, and forgiving doesn’t mean you have to forget. There is also a power to forgiveness. Even if someone has wronged you and made you feel small, you do still have one power in you – forgiveness is powerful. I might feel like someone has taken everything from me, but the power of forgiveness is something nobody can take from me. When I forgive, I feel like I am making my own decisions again. 

Buddhism has really helped me to understand forgiveness. It’s not about whether someone apologises or whether they are truly sorry, it’s about the kind of energy you put into the world and whether holding onto anger and hurt is going to help. There are some things that are really difficult to forgive, but if you are able to forgive, it is such a relief. Forgiveness relates to treading the Earth lightly. It’s like when you meditate and you let thoughts pass through your fingers like smoke – forgiving is about letting go and recalibrating yourself so that you can move on from bad feelings and live in the present moment again.


Forgiveness is hard. Not only because it is a state of mind but because you have to keep choosing it. You have to forgive them every time you remember what has happened, on your best and worst days. DBT teaches ‘radical acceptance’ which essentially means completely and totally accepting and stopping fighting reality, because life can be worth living even with painful events in it. Rejecting reality does not change reality.

I think this lines up quite nicely with the Christian view of forgiveness, although Christianity takes it a step further to having compassion for the person who has done wrong. I’ve been looking towards Christianity for some support in accepting and forgiving the persecutor of past trauma who is still in my life. As well as forgiving myself for what I’ve done wrong.

From what I have gathered, forgiveness isn’t one decision, it’s something you choose every day. It’s fair enough forgiving someone for hurting you once you have had a brilliant day and you have survived despite mental illness and feeling proud of how you have managed. Or when you have helped someone else which you couldn’t have done without your experiences. However on the days where you feel like it’s your fault, you’ve had a meltdown or are consumed by flashbacks, and still choosing to forgive. That is hard.

My hero Corrie Ten Boom talks about it in this short video. It’s just 2 minutes long but managed to fill me with hope.

https://youtu.be/QLRrNPCTdx0 

Thank you for reading,

Liam 🙂

Let’s Have a Chat

Hello there! How are you? How have you been? Let me guess – you’ve come a pretty long way in 3 months too?


Summer has been brilliant. I spent it with family and friends and directed my focus off of Instagram and onto a scrapbook. It’s meant I’ve got a creative output AND get to focus on the real life. It’s been the first summer in what feels like so long that I have been able to forget about mental illness.

I’ve been so eager for my final year at college to come around again; but now that it has there isn’t enough work! Coming off my medication has left me with a hungry and functioning brain just itching to be educated. So I’m self teaching A Level psychology because why not?!

I got my first appointment at Tavistock. The journey of transitioning medically has just started, but each day is a step in the right direction. On top of that I got my name changed by deed poll!!?!

I’m working out who I am at the moment, without the identity of mental illness. So, this blog is taking another turn – not just limited to mental health but whatever I find of interest or worth writing about. I have a feeling this means a lot of books and psychology type questions, as well as creative tags. Religion is a recent thing too, I was brought up as a Christian and have recently reached out to the local youth workers to ask questions and help my mind open up to things.

I’m hoping now the bubble has been burst I can create more and more posts as I feel more able to. See you soon,

Liam 🙂

I am Worthy

Hey there

Recently I have been struggling and I know it’s important to reflect on this as I come out of it and pick myself up. There has been a significant reason for my drop in mental health, because along with the biological adjustments that are going on as I come off my medication I’ve been on for years, I’ve been under a lot of stress. It’s landed me with really low mood a lot of the time, high urges, anxiety and flashbacks. 

I talked to my college support person, and she suggested I start writing again. The type of writing I keep to myself in my notebooks, not blogging or posting on social media, and my god has it helped a lot. I now know my thoughts. Often my dissociation from myself means I can’t think or have thoughts, it’s just white noise and silence in my head. By writing I’ve been able to acknowledge the things that are causing so much stress, and I don’t blame myself for struggling so much! There are a lot of big and dark things going on in my life right now that would tip any well person over the edge. I have done amazingly. 
Writing has helped me scratch the surface of these big problems, and it seems there’s one common theme. I am taking on problems that aren’t even mine. I cannot control most of these environmental stresses, and there is no need to be worrying and spending so much time allowing them to trample all over me.


I’m now on a journey to focus on myself and the things that are going to help me. I’m getting my college work finished which enables my future, I’m planning my summer holidays and what jobs I will do. Keeping my physical health up is a good thing too, which is how my walks are benfitting me and giving me a good foundation to work from. My positive affirmation is I am worthy. You will be hearing from me again soon, see you next time.

Liam 🙂

I am Thriving

Hey!

A week or 2 ago it was mental health awareness week. I like to think I played my part by going to the Walking Out of Darkness event and sharing it on social media. I still wear the top I got from there, in fact I’m wearing it right now. Last year I did a blog post on spreading awareness which outlined lots of different ways you can spread awareness, mostly using social media. I’m proud of myself to still be blogging a year on from then, and hope to be making a similar post with even more insight a year on from now.

So, mental health week came and went, but the phrase they focused on is still on my mind. Am I surviving or thriving? I was lucky enough to hear directly from the CEO of the mental health foundation that only 1 in 5 of us answer thriving.

Determining whether you are surviving or thriving depends on your personal view. Many things are taken into consideration, like how you are doing in comparison to your past, your overall emotional wellbeing, what limits you feel you have and how far in accepting yourself you are. However, I think the question in itself is very subjective, so to objectify it, let’s look at the definitions of the word.

  • Surviving – continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship.
  • Thriving – prosperous and growing; flourishing.

I’m going to throw it out there, I see myself as thriving. Or more specifically, surviving whilst thriving. That may not be what some expect, I battle mental illness every day and I do have a lot of bad days, however there are some more things I think are more important…

  1. I have come so far in just a year. In fact, I make significant progress as a person every month
  2. I’m not in crisis. Especially when it comes to psychosis, this is amazing and is a marked improvement in my mental health
  3. Despite my own depression and suicidal urges I still experience, I know I do not want to die
  4. I feel content with myself. There are always things I’m going to want to change, however if I stayed like this forever I would be content
  5. I’m doing the things I love as my work
  6. I set monthly goals and am meeting them. Achieving things always make me feel awesome, no matter how small those goals
  7. My support system is strong
  8. I have a positive and hopeful attitude towards my life and my future

Thank you very much for reading, see you tomorrow

Liam 🙂

Pre-testosterone

Hello!

At long last I have returned, ready to bash out 5 more posts before this month ends. My mental health has been suffering this past week. The worst I’ve been with dissociation and trauma memories and psychosis in a while. The voices are back, and even visual hallucinations because I’m gradually lowering my antipsychotic/mood stabiliser. Things are levelling out now but more of that in a new post. This one I am going to focus on the joys of my transness and the fun I’m having with Gender identity clinics. Almost like a trans mini series. I posted GIC referral in September, so here is the update since.

In September I was referred on, but it turned out I was accidentally referred to the adult services so the letter came back and I had to be referred again to Tavistock. My referral was received and then accepted in December, and the following January I was sent a letter much to my delight saying my first appointment would be 18 weeks from when my referral was accepted, which I worked out was mid April. I was hopeful in March and expecting a letter because I knew they notified you at least a month before your appointment. March came and went, April came and went, and here we are in May.

I chased it up and I will be got back to in August. It’s not even a definite you will hear by this point. So clearly something drastic changed from January when I was told there was now no delay and now suddenly there’s 4 months.

Emotionally I’m struggling hugely with dysphoria. I’m limited in almost everything I do, including basic hygiene. Hopefully in a couple months time things will be better and easier to cope with when the future is a few steps closer.

Liam 🙂

Yoga

I started yoga in January of this year to try and improve my back pain and keep myself active in some kind of way. Initially I was afraid my mental health would effect my ability to do things like it seems to do with every single thing I attempt. Also, there’s the question of being accepted as a transgender person, I wondered if people would ‘work out’ my biological sex.

My experience wasn’t pariticularly life changing in the first few weeks. I got frustrated my body couldn’t do what other people’s could and the ‘mindfulness’ periods at the beginning and end of the session were a breeding ground for voices. Everyone viewed me as male and didn’t question it but they started to try to work out why my younger brother was so much further along male puberty than I am. Also, I couldn’t see or feel any differences in my physical health, even regarding pain.

It took time to get used to listening to the voices, but then for whatever reason they stopped interrupting my mind so the relaxing periods became pleasant. I’ve stopped noticing how often I’m in pain, which hints that it’s getting better. And I can feel my body getting stronger and progressing each week which is something I can be proud of.

I hope I carry on for a long time and can reflect back on a year of yoga. It’s the best type of physical exercise I can do without tempting anorexia back into my life and maybe that will help me keep moving forwards. It isn’t just something I know helps my health, but I also enjoy it there and appreciate the woman who runs it. She is always reminding us of the link between physical and mental health, the effects of stress and the balance of what yoga you attempt to do or not do. Yoga really is for everyone, from wheelchair users to Olympic sports people to your average lazy person. I’ve learnt that I mustn’t compare myself to others because everyone’s body’s are different, and all you need to do to prevent injuries is listen to your body. That simple fact is so important.

See you tomorrow

Liam 🙂