(Not So) Picture Perfect

Mental health is a really hard thing to talk about. Hell, it’s hard to even think about, let alone acknowledge that you are suffering. The stigma is real, my friends. 

I’ll be honest with you – I am luckier than most. I have good, albeit tired, days 95% of the time. Usually, I can manage this pesky little demon and go about my life worrying about regular dumb stuff like money and bills and not having been to Europe yet. But the other 5% of the time fucking sucks. My brain gets locked on, as JJ would say, and spirals again and again, leaping from one disastrous thought to another.

It’s at the point where it’s affecting others. There have been days where I haven’t been able to go to work, or went and left after a few hours because I was such a mess mentally. I break down in front of my boyfriend and start dissecting things that a normal person wouldn’t care about. My brain plays tricks on me saying this isn’t enough, how I’m living isn’t enough, and I begin to fret that I’m wasting my life away.

I’m too ashamed to talk to others about this because I’ve always been the strong one. Viv can keep her shit together, even though she has rotten genes and her brothers have suffered from much worse issues. Sure, she had a rough few years there back in high school, but she came through and now you can’t even tell how shattered she once was!

It’s so fucking easy for everyone around us to put pressure and expectations on us without considering how it affects our being. We all expect each other to just get on and do our jobs and keep the house tidy and mow the lawn and dust the cobwebs and laugh when it’s appropriate when really, it’s not always so simple.

I’ve learned that a messy space stresses me out – a reflection of my brain perhaps? – and yet I continue to end up in messy areas because I can’t keep up. I’m shit at housework, I’ll be the first to admit that, and whilst my house is still tidy from a general point of view, the little things irritate me and keep crawling deeper and deeper into the cracks. 

A really great example of this is our rug – it often gets moved out of place because it sits under two chairs that tend to move (really must get grips for their feet) and then once the rug is unstraightened/crumpled up I start fretting. I get distracted and can’t concentrate and continue to glance over at it wondering why James hasn’t moved it yet, over and over again until I jump up in a huff to fix up the whole room.

It’s strange, having a mental illness (even writing that was really uncomfortable to do). I get so upset and frustrated because James can’t pick up on the signs, and yet I rarely display any physical ones. I can appear perfectly fine, and feel perfectly fine one moment, and it only takes one weird comment or sprouted thought to send me into the darkness.

Writing and speaking about this in general is difficult, mostly because I know I have it better than most. I’m still able to maintain a steady job and work hard and appear fine, and I don’t often have a weight on my chest that refuses to let me out of bed. I’m not taking any medication, and I haven’t been diagnosed and I don’t see a therapist (although it’s something I’m looking into since those suckers are trained to listen to this shit and might even understand), so I’m pretty lucky that things haven’t reached that level. And I won’t ever let them, but it’s still not exactly a comforting thought.

I often find myself getting jealous of the people I follow on social media. Not because they have insanely cool houses or jobs – I know I can work hard and achieve that – but because of how happy they seem. And how everything seriously seems to go their way. Obviously, I’m not talking about everyone, and I know that a lot of shit goes on behind the scenes, but it’s still hard sometimes watching these bloggers get whisked off on paid trips Paris here and here, whilst I can’t rack up the courage to ask for a mental health day.

Mental health is tricky, because you know there are people suffering more intensely out there, and you know there are entire third world countries dealing with bucketloads of more catastrophic shit, but ultimately, knowing these facts don’t make you get better. Our brains are a complicated and intricate mess of thoughts and actions and magic. The things we can do because of them are phenomenal, but they can also turn us against ourselves.

I wish I could say I have some wonderful solution or ‘5 steps to…’ offering to say that I’ve got this figured out. But I don’t. Not having a backup plan worries me even more, because I know that when the demons do come, I don’t have a clear action plan on how to stop them.

I know there are lots of things I should be doing – exercise, meditation, healthy eating, yadda yadda – but half my problem is finding the motivation to make that first step, and then sticking to it. I feel like I have to work 5 times harder than most people to successfully complete a self-care task that I will benefit from – which is absolutely shocking and makes me feel even more shit about. It’s a vicious cycle. 

I think that’s all for now. I’m writing this on a day when I am feeling horrible. Crying, dark thoughts, lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness, etc. etc. and writing has helped. I’m finding myself journalling a lot more now, which is a fantastic option when you don’t feel like “burdening” other people with your thoughts (because let’s face it, we’re all as fucked up as each other, and sometimes others can’t handle the emotional stress of it all). 

So that’s basically all the advice I can give. Write lots. Drink plenty of tea. Take a day off when your body tells you to. And then breathe, and find comfort through safe activities.

Till next time,

Viv  xo

 

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Why It’s Important To Have Those Lazy Days

NOTE: This post was first written in January, but still oh so relevant now.

 

Hi all,

So, to set the scene: I am currently in my last few weeks of uni holidays and have been nowhere near as productive as I’d hoped.

When the semester wrapped up in December, I wrote myself a list of all of the things I wanted to accomplish each week until I went ‘back to school’. The short story: it didn’t get done.

As I sit here writing this, I’m looking at a pile of unfolded clothes, a floor that desperately needs vacuuming (what’s new?) and an overnight bag that never quite gets unpacked these days. I’ve taken an unplanned break from devouring my #SummerReadingList and am rewatching Sex and The City for the zillionth time (real time update: two months later and I’m only up to season 5, so I’m not complete addict).

But what relevance does any of this have in regards to well, anything? Well, as usual, my brain works in random and let’s face it, completely bizarre ways, and my train of thought can jump from a good song to a grocery item to needing to get my hair done (always). 

I was mid-house clean when I got thinking about all of the rad mums that I follow on Instagram. They of course, all have eerily adorable babies, and are often posting charming pictures and videos of themselves and their little ones doing the general everyday stuff that seems boring by yourself but is utterly sweet with a small human in tow.

At first I thought “I hope I’m in a good enough financial position when I [EVENTUALLY] have a baby so I can stay at home and hang out with them while they’re little” and then it clicked – those mums are literally with their kids ALL OF THE FUCKING TIME.

You’re probably shaking your head at me right now, but hear me out, alright! It’s so easy to look at all those cute family snaps and forget that these women would be grateful to have an uninterrupted shower, let alone having whole entire nights of vegging out and binge-watching their favourite TV shows.

I’m not saying that parenting looks like hell – hard work, sure – but it made me realise how bloody lucky I am to have nights like these where I can be as lazy as I want, without having to worry about putting anyone to sleep but myself. Being young and childless is actually so damn blissful compared to the whole saga of responsibilities and choices that come with raising little gremlins, and yes I can say that because I am the oldest of 8 and know how much of a handful children can be. 

Anyway, I’m off point (again: what’s new?) – but what I’m trying to say is that it’s easy to take all this easiness for granted. And on the other end of the stick – it’s also incredibly easy to feel guilty about these ‘lazy nights’. Hell, I’ve been silently cursing myself since the day I put away my uni books. 

It’s no secret that we put a bit too much pressure on ourselves to be constantly working towards our goals and going to this place and catching up with that friend that we forget to just have some darn downtime and enjoy it.

Right now, whilst we’re child/business/study free, is the time to take a deep breath and RELAX. Do all the things you crave when life gets that little bit too hectic. If you’re feeling tired after a big day at work you should rest. It’s not exactly rocket science, and yet we all make excuses or find ways to feel guilty for taking time out. Despite how very efficient it would be, we can’t expect ourselves to run at 100% all of the time; at least not without completely malfunctioning down the track (refer to Mr Robot further visuals).

So if you’re reading this and 2017 is already feeling a little bit too crazy (or you’re like me, and still can’t quite understand how it’s MARCH ALREADY), then please put everything aside and just chill out for a while. Take a walk. Phone a friend. Lay on the floor. Listen to a record. Watch the moon. Sit in a comfy chair in an empty room. Enjoy the nothingness.

Because I guarantee you in 10 years time, when things are full steam ahead and we’ve all got our shit together, we’ll both be squishing some time in to read that book and wishing for the good old lazy days of our 20’s. 

 

Till next time,

Viv  x

Let’s Talk About Meditation + My Journey So Far

Aloha friends,

Sorry it’s been a while – uni has started up again and despite my good intentions (and often thinking I am “so” much more organised this semester) the content on this site has been sparse. And it’s not for lack of ideas either – I have a whole lists of posts I intend to create but just have to get my slack ass around to them. Which kind of leads me back on topic…

Meditation. Let’s chat!

I’m sure that by now you’ve heard SOMETHING about this mystical brain hack, but if you haven’t started practising it yourself then there’s probably a lot more that you need to know.

I was first introduced to meditation a few of years ago whilst following Wellness Coach, Melissa Ambrosini online. Mel released her first series of guided meditations (which are still available on iTunes btw) and being in the total limbo that I was I decided to give them a whirl. With having no background knowledge on meditation or what it was supposed to do, I lay down on my lounge room floor and tried to become immersed (I wish I could remember which one, but I simply can’t). 

Mel’s voice was dreamy, but I was lying down and I was getting sleepy, and the track kept mentioning about being grounded and all I could think was that I wasn’t very grounded because I was on the top level of a two story house, and how on earth could this possibly change my life after 9 minutes?!

Needless to say, that was my first and only attempt at meditation lying down.

Fast forward to 2016, and meditation was popping up more and more on my instagram feed. Everyone from magazines to bloggers to celebrities to the everyday gals we all follow but have never met in real life were talking about it. Whether it was spoken of genuinely or  discarded as simply being too hard, it was always in my head. It got me curious to say the least, but how the hell could I learn it and how was it going to benefit me?

In bounced Rochelle Fox; digital entrepreneur, Youtuber, influencer, and now meditation teacher in training. 

As the months went by I followed Rochelle’s journey as she furiously studied to get her meditation teacher qualification, which was soon followed by the opening of her latest venture, Mindspo. An understandable, easy to digest, 4 week online course that was going to get me meditating for 20 minutes daily. 

The benefits of regular meditation go far and wide but the ones I was keen to tackle were: sleep consistency, anxiety, energy levels and productivity, being more mindful and generally being a lot less stressed and a lot more chill. I knew I wasn’t going to notice the difference after a quick 5 minute meditation, but I had high hopes. I’ve seen so many testimonies from people who swear by it, and genuinely say it has changed their lives for the better, so aside from a cheap $90 I really had nothing to lose.

I started Mindspo’s month-long course in December, wanting to end the year on a high, but also being realistic in the fact that I was probably going to miss a session here or there (which may not be the best mindset for some, but I wanted to be realistic considering it was Christmas/Birthday week for me). The course is broken into 4 weeks, and each week you increase the time you spend meditating (i.e. W1 – 5 min, W2 – 10 min, W3 – 15min, W4 – 20min) in your daily practise. The step-up technique was something I really liked, as it was only adding an extra 5 minutes onto what you already felt comfortable doing, so it didn’t feel as much of a big deal as jumping straight into a 20 minute session.

Ideally, by the end of the 4 weeks you will have mastered meditating for 20 minutes every day. Rochelle was a really great teacher in the way that she was totally realistic about newbies, and didn’t expect us to be able to shut off our thoughts immediately. Seeing how passionate she is about teaching meditation made me believe that it was worth it, and although sitting thoughtlessly for 10, 15 minutes is actually way freaking harder than it sounds, I know it’s making a difference. 

I’m not going to sugarcoat it here and say I am the pinnacle of students and deserve 100 gold stars, because I still suck with my consistency. I am yet to turn my meditation into a solid habit, and although I have good intentions, some days I genuinely just run out of “free time” or more recently, by the end of the day I’d rather just sleep.

But please don’t let my laziness put you off! Despite my inconsistency, I’ve still noticed pretty huge differences.

I find myself being a lot more mindful and grateful with everyday life, particularly when it comes to appreciating other people. My sleeping patterns have improved a lot, and although I still have nights where i simply CANNOT get to sleep, they are rare. My anxiety has nearly disappeared. I’ve never been a serious sufferer, but have been one to let ideas or thoughts consume me and result in panic attacks in the past. Since meditating, I haven’t had a panic attack (so far), so yay for that! 

I prefer to meditate in the mornings after breakfast and a cup of tea, and after I do I definitely feel more energised for the day. Being more energised usually results in me being more productive (I meditated this morning so maybe that’s why you’re reading this finally-produced blog post!) and being productive makes me feel happy and accomplished.  

On the flip side, my mind still lingers on negative thoughts. Not nearly for as long as before, but still too long for my liking. I’m constantly torn between thinking “I’m allowed to have feelings and be pissed, goddammit!” and “I wish this crappy thing wasn’t getting to me as much”, but it would be nice to have my brain chill out a bit more and just not let it get to me in the first place.

The verdict? Yes, oh my god yes you need to learn meditation. I probably did a really bad job of explaining all the benefits, and since my experience wasn’t exactly textbook perfect, there’s a heap more info here on the Mindspo site, including a free 5 minute meditation to see if Rochelle’s voice is your jam. 

It’s definitely a hard practice to learn, especially since our brains are on constant overdrive and never seem to shut up – but that’s exactly why we all need some meditation in our days. It really does help bring things into perspective, and even if you are crap at it, well at least you’ve made 20 minutes to do something for yourself, and surely that counts right?

 

All the best,

Viv   x