Everything’s Not Lost

From a young age we get taught that pain can equal love. Take my cat for instance, when he paws at me with his claws, that means that he loves me. Or if a boy pulls at your pig tails that means he likes you. It’s odd that from such a young age pain is taught to equal love.

This is something that was subconsciously etched into my brain from being so little. Ten years ago I tried to break up with my ex boyfriend, he got so upset I ended up being yanked out from underneath the bed – like a child who was late for their bath time. Before I knew it I was in a choke hold, and the finger mark bruises I traced on my throat in the mirror equated to the most peaceful feeling of slipping away.

For some reason I went back to him (until I realised he probably would kill me in the end).

Any relationship that I have formed since then I have been very careful with.

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Why didn’t I just leave? Well, domestic violence always happens in; intimate and interdependent relationships. Its incredibly dangerous to leave an abusive relationship. Over 70% of domestic violence murders happen after the victim has ended the relationship (because what do they have left to loose?)

How didn’t I see it coming? At the beginning part of a relationship it’s the charm, the flowers etc. Then it’s the isolation.

What do people think? My personal experience was that people thought I was lying. Some people get branded as “Damaged goods”

So what can we do to change this? Well Esta Soler has already helped by outlawing domestic violence in 1984, which one politician called “Take the fun out of Marriage Act”.

To this person I have this for you:

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Abuse thrives in silence. So now like Leslie Steiner I am breaking the silence. I used to tell just close friends, now I’m telling total strangers.

Do not Adjust

I realise that other people hide their flaws in different ways. When you think of yourself, are you your flaw? When I think of myself, I constantly see feel my glasses falling down my nose so I guess I’m this guy:

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To me what really makes a person beautiful is seeing their flaws, and their vulnerability. Mirroring those qualities back to a person that aren’t linked to what is seen in a mirror, is the formation of a true connection.

The standard “You’re fit”, will always mean less than: “I like how you fight for what you believe in” and “I like how you squeeze my hand when I’m sad”. Never settle for a connection based on something superficial, as it’s the deeper ones that will keep you fed for longer.

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This legend Winnie Harlow has it down: “The real difference isn’t my skin. It’s the fact that I don’t find my beauty in the opinions of others”

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Talking of superficial lets take a moment and play have you ever:

  1. Have you ever realised your fly is open after being out of the house for over an hour?
  2. Have you ever looked across at someone in a bar and thought “not even Scarlett Yohansson has got a chance”?
  3. Have you ever caught yourself saying “You’re an idiot” to yourself?
  4. Have you ever had a peaceful moment (mine are all out in the park/lakes) and realised none of this matters we’re all human and we’re all the same?

What I take from this is that: We are all trying to become someone else to achieve something (usually acceptance in one form or another). However “Each time we fail to become authentically like someone we perceive as better than us, we become more like our authentic selves”. (TED – Who am I) We should always strive to be our authentic selves even though that isn’t what we were hoping in the first place.

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Another point I wanted to highlight from the above is; if someone said to your best friend that they were “useless”, “ugly” and “no one wanted to speak to them” you would correct them (well I hope so!). So why do we tell ourselves these things? If we aren’t willing for it to be said to our friends? We are stuck in a loop of being so self critical, that we don’t actually realise that the person we are is actually pretty great.

Do not adjust yourself, you’re just fine.

Love more Worry Less

Hmm how to write to be happy in 500 words?! When I was younger I could pick out certain things that I thought would make me happy (a certain job, a family). I feel that we should go back and pinpoint exactly where we become unhappy, for some this is a really obvious event. For others it isn’t.

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I love a good bit of data, and this scientist (Matt Killingsworth – TED Talk) gathered data on when our mind wanders:

  • 65% Taking a Shower/Brushing your teeth
  • 50% working
  • 40% exercising
  • 10% Having sex (I hope this is to images of Dave Grohl!?!)

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Basically our minds wander to around 30% of the time. Unfortunately our brains usually wander to the time that dickhead in work got one up on you. Or the moment your ex left without any answers, and you didn’t ask any questions.

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How do we stop our minds from wandering?

  1. Meditation – This is exercise for the mind, it really helps to gently push away those pesky thoughts. If this is new for you try the app Headspace
  2. Walking in Parks – Worries seem less significant whilst at the top of a hill: “Does Geoff really fancy me?”… Who cares?! Check out the view!
  3. Visit Friends – Having the right circle of friends to talk about what is bothering you really helps
  4. Podcasts/Reading – I’m more of a podcast listener. You can’t focus on either unless they have your full attention.
  5.  Rain Rain App – When I couldn’t even sleep, the sound of rain and thunder really helped me relax.
  6. Turn your phone on silent/off vibrate – On average it takes us 20mins to completely refocus after looking at our phones. Try and be present in the moment.

 

Gratefulness = Happiness?

One particular piece of advice I was told when I was depressed was; I should be grateful for my health, my job and my home. I brushed this off, as I was too busy counting my woes. After listening to Brother David Steindl-Rast’s Ted Talk I now understand that:

  1. Grateful people are happy people.
  2. We must open our hearts to opportunities in that moment, and learn from these opportunities e.g. to stand for something, to learn patience.
  3. If we fail, we will always get another opportunity.

In other words a method for living gratefully:

 STOP – LOOK – GO

STOP: Don’t rush through life, take some time for your mind.

LOOK: Once you have an opportunity, this is your chance to look for the moment to be grateful.

GO: Once you have found that opportunity, seize it. Really do!

Words and Ideas can Change the World

I am a person of few words so it feels odd to want to start a blog. However, I feel there is something that needs to be talked about by more people in order for it to be socially acceptable:

I have been suffering from depression intermittently since I was a teenager. Nearly half the UK population have had a mental illness at some point in their lifetime, I feel this is a secret society that no one acknowledges.

Firstly I want to define it. Rather than go to the bog standard definition. Here’s mine;
“being stuck in a dark room knowing that there’s light outside but you just can’t seem to get to the door. You can’t get comfortable, it’s hard to find distraction from your own thoughts, and you’re left clawing for the way out”…it is possible though.

I see it in other people. Sometimes when my mask slips, my friends closest to me see the desperate look in my eyes. In the past I haven’t had the courage to say anything to help anyone else. Now I feel the first step (like with everything) is to admit; that I (as well as society) has a problem.

To actually say these words to a person; “I have depression/anxiety/social phobia” makes my palms sweat, and my stutter come back. I am met with 3 options in sharing my illness:

1. Continue to put on the mask.
2. Down play it, hoping the person will read into your subtle signals.
3. Go balls out and say it loud and proud.

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Today I’m going with option 3.

After all, it takes people to speak out to change perceptions in society. Mental illness, is a chemical imbalance in the brain, which can be set off by traumatic events, or just be left dormant waiting for a trigger. Mental illness is an illness. Therefore should be treated with the same respect as a physical illness. The attn.com link below depicts this perfectly:

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There have been times in work (and to my friends) I have lied about getting help. As there is this stigma attached to mental health. I really… really regret this.

Why should there be shame associated to depression/anxiety? Or shame with getting help for this. This allows us to make better decisions in work, show trust and grow in our relationships.