Is it really Ok not to be OK?

“It’s ok not to be ok”

The most well known quote when it comes to all things mental health. We’ve all heard it, we’ve all said it to each other.

However…..are we REALLY allowed to feel like that? Are we able to show our weaknesses to our friends and family? Especially when, like me, you are usually the strong one for everyone else?

It seems to scare people if I merely mention that I’m not in a good place. If I claim to be struggling, I get told I’ll get through it even when I feel like I can’t, that I won’t.

Now it’s important to point out, as I have done on so many occasions, that I have not been diagnosed with a mental health issue. Nor do I feel I need medication to control or ease me. My mental health is extremely delicate though. Perhaps that’s why people just “won’t get it” if I were to I say I’m not ok. I don’t have “something”. There’s no diagnosis and therefore there’s no treatment. So, I’m fine, right? And if I’m not, I soon will be, right?

Wrong.

I don’t mind saying, I AM a strong person. The last 6 years have been the toughest for my family, yet I still get up, eat, go to work. Every so often, it just all gets too much, and while I’m still doing all those things, they are harder, and take way more effort.

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Here’s the problem with situations like this. I, like so many others, will not openly say , “you know what, no, I’m not ok”.

I don’t expect people to suddenly become mind readers. If I’ve put on the brave face, I like to think I’ve done a good job at convincing people that I’m fine. In a previous blog I’ve spoken about how I don’t necessarily want to talk about what it is that I’m struggling with, more that I need distraction so that I don’t over think and let it eat away at me. And I guess I want people to figure that out for themselves without me saying that.

I know I’m not alone.

We are embarrassed to ask anyone for help or a distraction. It’s like admitting we’re a fraud. The strong one isn’t so strong after all. We enjoy being strong for our loved ones, we can’t possibly let them see our weakness.

I’ve been prompted to write this since the death of TV celebrity Caroline Flack, although I have covered this topic several times in different ways, it’s a message I’ve been trying to get out there for so long.  I’m hoping this one reaches a few more people and at least makes you think.

On screen, Caroline Flack had it all. She was undeniably beautiful. Her laugh was cheeky and infectious. She was friends with other celebrities. Love them or hate them, she was associated with some of the most popular shows on TV. Chances are she had the money to seek professional help for any and all problems she might’ve had.

Despite all that, she chose suicide. She got so low she saw no other option. How the hell did the world get like that? It wasn’t ok for Caroline to publicly admit that she wasn’t ok. She would’ve been judged, maybe even doubted.

Caroline got herself into a bit of trouble in her private life, something that happens most likely daily across the country. Something we will never know the full extent of, the details of or the reasons for, so how can we and the media become judge, jury and executioner? What gave anyone the right to make assumptions and accusations about her?

“She was a celebrity”.

No, she was human.

The press and the internet trolls were relentless with their abuse of her, and no-one gave a thought to how it would affect her. Due to all the reasons I’ve listed above, everyone assumed she’d have the help and support system around her, that it wouldn’t bother her because she’s put herself in the public eye. She chose that lifestyle.
Mental health doesn’t choose its victims. Mental health doesn’t care if you’re rich, poor, married, single, male or female.
The agonising abuse Caroline received throughout Christmas and New Year would be a lot for even the strongest of people to turn a blind eye to. Try pouring that onto someone who isn’t strong, someone who paints a smile on their face just so that they can get through the day doing something they love, in Carolines case, presenting. She was already fragile it transpires, before the attacks on her in the papers and online. Her relationship came under scrutiny, and her job was in jeopardy.

The words being printed about her became too much and the only option she saw was to take her own life.  Just imagine feeling that low? She couldn’t ask for help, maybe she felt she didn’t deserve it. I have read so many posts from her celebrity friends that prove that, had she been strong enough to ask for help, it would’ve been there in abundance. Perhaps she thought seeking that help would show a weakness that she didn’t want the blood thirsty media to see. More ammo for their weapons. She couldn’t admit to not being ok. Despite the opening phrase “it’s ok not to be ok”, and the overall awareness of mental health, she still didn’t feel she could reach out.

For me, there are two elements to this.

1) Your words can hurt. Your words can kill. Think before you speak and be more kind.

2) It shouldn’t be an embarrassment or a sign of weakness to ask for help.

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So, element number one. We are all human.  We are all the same species. Some have thicker skins than others but each and every one of us has a trigger, something that gets to us. Our state of mind could be affected by illness of a loved one, complications at work, problems in a relationship, any number of things. Having those thoughts on your mind can change the way you react to things, words said to or about you. All your emotional defences are poured into what is going on that you are literally left wide open to ill times comments. This is my point, we just don’t know what is going on in someone’s head. Smile or not, they could be just getting by.

An abusive comment can wash right over some people, but could sink deep down under the skin and play on the mind of others. Unless we all wear badges indicating the state of our mental health, you have absolutely no idea what your words will do to someone on any given day.

Some days I’m stronger than others, and even I don’t know which way I’ll wake up the next day. I was always taught if you’ve got nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. A sentiment I wish more people would follow.

I have had slanderous comments made about me, a smear campaign, and I struggled with the fact a whole town of people I’ll probably never meet think I’m the worst person to walk this earth. I’ve cried over it, I’ve lost sleep over it, I’ve had no control over it whatsoever and it really got to me. It was a situation that could’ve been lethal if inflicted on someone that hasn’t got the strength I found to eventually turn a blind eye to it. It was deformation of character and utterly soul destroying. Some of the comments I read about myself hurt like the proverbial knife in the back. Lies I couldn’t defend myself against, accusations of actions I wasn’t allowed to explain or justify.  So much so, I know I would never make a nasty comment about someone I didn’t know on a platform that can be seen by that person and their family and friends. I’m not perfect, I gossip amongst friends and share opinions on celebrity news, but I don’t take to social media to run them down. It’s happened to me. I am living proof that no matter what speculation is out there, there’s always a different perspective. And you most certainly do not know the mental state of the person you are trolling.

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Element number two.

The human race needs to do more to eradicate the stigma attached to admitting you are struggling. The last century has brought mental health awareness to everyone’s attention. Everyone is aware of the many complex ways some people suffer. Yet still it’s so hard for those suffering to admit it. For every singer who uses their voice to sing about it and deliver the message of “Its ok not to be ok”, there’s someone else out there suffering in silence because, well, their friends always go to them for advice so, they can’t possibly say they need help. I think we have such a fear of being labelled a fraud because we smile, laugh and go about our day jobs like everyone else. The life and soul of the party is just a bit grumpy today, they can’t possibly have anxiety, or depression, or be stressed.
I told people about the tough time I went through, and I had support, but I could never admit that mentally I struggled with it all. It played on my mind all day every day. But I didn’t reveal that, because I didn’t think anyone would understand. I didn’t even know what I needed to do to help myself, how the hell could anyone else know. If I was a weaker person, it could’ve consumed me, as it did with Caroline. Those suffering should be able to speak up without the fear of feeling like a failure. If we are all just a little more mindful that someone could be going through something at any time, we could put our words, thoughts and opinions to good use for a change.

Something needs to change.

The root of that change is US.

Be more understanding. You never know what the person you stand next to is going through. You never know who will be reading your words next time you write a bitchy comment.

Focus on yourself and your loved ones. You don’t need to waste time typing a cutting comment on the latest celebrity gossip pages.

You wouldn’t want abuse thrown at your friends if they made a mistake, so why is it acceptable to do it to celebrities, strangers? There are several celebrities that grate on my nerves, so I just don’t go on their social media pages or read news articles about them. I scroll on by, I don’t make a point of telling the world and his dog why I don’t like that particular celebrity. I read newspaper articles that I disagree with, but don’t target the person the story is about.

Mental Health issues are real, they are recognised and accepted. You may never know who suffers and at what degree, as we never will wear those badges.

The only way forward is to acknowledge and understand that everyone has a trigger point, and everyone will have a limit as to how much that trigger point can be pushed.

I’m not saying no-one should ever talk about someone else, although if the nasty words were never there in the first place it’d be easier, I know that’s an impossible task to achieve as we like to gossip and speculate. I’m saying we should stop going out of our way to comment negatively on a public platform.  Surely the human race has better things to do with its time. Do those that troll online make as much effort to pay compliments to celebrities and strangers? Pretty sure the answer to that is no.

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The only things we know about a celebrity is what they and the media put out there. Our opinions and thoughts on their lives are irrelevant, yet can cause so much pain and suffering as in Carolines case.

The only things we know about strangers are the things that they outwardly choose to show to the world. Our opinions and thoughts about how they look or act should be kept to ourselves.

The only things we know about those closest to us are what they are willing to share with us. Our opinions and thoughts will only help if we are willing to try and understand what the person needs from us. These are the ones we should be helping. Our time should be focused on our immediate circle, strangers and celebrities don’t need to hear what we think of them. The more open we all become, the more willing they will be to share and ask for help.

Words are powerful and can have a huge impact on someone, sometimes for good, but often for bad.

Keep your conscience clear by keeping out of things that don’t affect you, and being more mindful of what those around you, the ones you love and care about, need from you.

Be aware, but most of all, be kind.

X

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I don’t fancy yours much..

Quite a while ago, I wrote a blog about being happy with my lot. The sentiment still stands, but I can’t help but have a little wobble off my high horse every now and then.

It often happens when someone questions me. The question could be anything, and my answer is often so mundane compared to theirs. The question asker could be a lifelong friend, or merely a regular customer in the shop.

What are you up to?
Are you going on holiday this year?
Why don’t you live together yet?

I still live in the town where I was born and I’ve had the same job for 8 years.

No, I’m not going on holiday this year, I can’t really afford it.

We just don’t.

Not always, but occasionally, I get looked at with sympathy.

Don’t. Please don’t.

You may not fancy my answers much for yourself, but I don’t need pity.

Because…..

There’s one very important question you haven’t asked me.

Are you happy?

Go on, give it a try. Ask me. And then, ask yourself the same question, with your part time/flexible hours job, your third holiday of the year booked, and the all consuming relationship you have which leaves you little time to do what you like (of course I generalise for the sake of this post, but I hope you get what I mean).

My answer would be a resounding YES.

Now I’m not saying that “you” aren’t happy. I’m sure you are, but it baffles me that you think I deserve a sympathetic look if I don’t  have the same as you. Work five days a week, with no holiday to look forward to, no partner to go home to? My life may be different to yours, but can’t we both be happy?

Trust me, even without those things, I am, and I can be, happy.

So, the first question.

What are you up to?

I tend to keep a job unless I’m pushed, i.e. made redundant. I’m not a huge fan of change. I get wound up and nervous about starting all over again. I’m not the kind of person who gets curious about whether the grass is any greener on the other side. Could I go get a similar job with more money and less hours? Absolutely no doubt about it. Do I want to? Not particularly. With High Street shops closing left, right and centre, if there is such a position out there, I’m not sure anyone would leave it unless they feared for the future of the company. There’s no better indication at the moment about the security of a company than how quickly it’s turning over staff and how many people who have had long standing positions there are jumping ship. In most jobs, you are just a number. Job satisfaction for me, especially at my age, is more about my immediate circle. My little team are a great bunch of people. Not just colleagues, but friends. I’ve never been materialistic, never will be. Much to my exes dismay. He mistook my stubbornness to change jobs or seek a higher wage, as me having no motivation. Nope. Not at all. I value mental health and well-being over a new laptop, better phone, etc. I don’t want to change. I’m happy, and at the moment at least, stable where I am. Would a different job change things for me and potentially my partner? Possibly, but there’s my point. Nothing NEEDS to change. I’m not moaning.

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Which leads me onto the next question, which, when I answer , seems to elicit a response of “Awww , that’s a shame”.

Are you going on holiday this year?

Nope.
Number one reason is cost. Secondly, remember I was left with two dogs when “he” left me. Putting them in kennels would cost a lot on top of the holiday, and that extra cost would stress me out so much I wouldn’t even enjoy the bloody holiday. Thirdly, work schedules for my other half and I are hit and miss. Despite me giving him my booked weeks, there’s no guarantee he’ll get the same. HOWEVER…… every single day off we get together throughout the year, we have lunch out, very often have day trips out and about. I’d put money on the fact that we do more as a couple out and about than the average married couple. Just the two of us. Neither of us stood cooking in the kitchen for the other. More often than not, we drive out into the middle of nowhere and end up eating somewhere we’ve never been before. There’s no routine. Nothing to get bored with. Nothing to argue about. Just new, different, fun. Give me that 52 weeks of the year over a week long holiday any day! Every single day we have together is different. Every single day is filled with so much laughter. My life isn’t a never ending routine of “normal” that leaves me with a burning desire to spend money I don’t really have on “getting away”. Each day off with my other half is a mystery until he turns up on my doorstep. My idea of excitement may not match yours, but do you know what? It doesn’t matter!!

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And last but not least…

Why don’t you live together yet?

Believe me, I get this more often than you’d think. It’s usually accompanied with a confused, quizzical look and ….”But you’ve been together 4 years?”… yeah, and?

I’m often tempted to answer “because I don’t want to”.  At the end of the day, you’re all assuming that’s what we want. This is the only one I’m not going to give you a full answer to. All I’m going to say is, it’s circumstances. I actually don’t need to explain ourselves on this one.
There are, of course, some obvious factors.

I have two female dogs, one particularly boisterous, he has an elderly, grumpy male dog. It wouldn’t work.

My financial status is crap. I don’t mind admitting that, because it wasn’t MY unreasonable spending that left me that way. It’s amazing how much baggage you unwillingly still have to carry just because someone once “put a ring on it”.

Have we talked about living together? Yes, of course. I’m 100% positive it will happen one day. In the future. When? Who knows? Does it matter? Let me refer you to the answer to the previous question.
Am I in a hurry to give up the lunches out and the random day trips to the zoo, the beach, the middle of blooming nowhere? Nope, not I! Getting to experience these things that I haven’t done since I was a child myself, or when my son was small, takes on a whole new level of appreciation when done with your soul mate.
Am I in a hurry to get into a routine of mundane, arguments about whose turn it is to cook, wash up, put washing on, pick washing up etc etc. Not quite yet. Been there, done that, cried the tears. Lost the plot.

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I’m a simple person with simple expectations.

At the moment, I have my health.

At the moment, I am happy.

Am I rich? Good God, no. Even if I was, the above two statements are not a guarantee.

Over the last year, on average, we have had one whole day a week together. 52 days that have each been different from the last, and different from the next. From fish and chips in a field, to a fancy restaurant in the country, we have eaten out more times in one year than I ever did during 15 years of marriage.

You can not begin to measure the value of spending time with someone who WANTS to spend their day with you, over someone who HAS to spend their time with you.

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My point is this. We can all be happy. Just because you don’t get how my life could possibly make me happy, it doesn’t mean I’m not. What I have and how I do things may not be for you, but it works for me. I’m a firm believer of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

We all get our “happy” fix in different ways.

I wouldn’t change mine for the world.

Living on the Anxious Edge

Here’s a fact for you.

“One in four people will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.”

Consider that for a moment.

Think of your closest friends, the small group of you that go out together regularly. The above statistic means that it’s highly likely that someone within that small circle of best friends is suffering from a mental health issue. Maybe you know about it. Perhaps they’ve come clean about it, as an explanation of their behaviour sometimes, and, as good friends should be, you’re fine with it and you’ve accepted it. Or, maybe they’ve not said a word, and they are fighting a silent battle. Maybe, perhaps, it’s you. Are you the one suffering in silence?

* anxiety
/aŋˈzʌɪəti/
noun
a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.
‘he felt a surge of anxiety’
synonyms: worry, concern, apprehension, apprehensiveness, consternation, uneasiness, unease, fearfulness, fear, disquiet, disquietude, perturbation, fretfulness, agitation, angst, nervousness, nerves, edginess, tension, tenseness, stress, misgiving, trepidation, foreboding, suspense, butterflies (in one’s stomach), the willies, the heebie-jeebies, the jitters, the shakes, the jumps, the yips, collywobbles, jitteriness, jim-jams, twitchiness, the (screaming) abdabs, Joe Blakes, worriment
strong desire or concern to do something or for something to happen.
‘the housekeeper’s eager anxiety to please’
synonyms: eagerness, keenness, desire, impatience, longing, yearning

Before I go further with this blog, I want and need to express something.
I have never been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Nor am I qualified in any way to give medical advice or professional opinions. I do, however, feel very deeply and over think everything to the point of worrying.

I also get anxious over certain situations, I have triggers. Irrational thoughts about situations out of my own hands which cause me to tie myself up in a tangle of invisible , unbreakable knots.

Something I have only ever told one person is this:- shortly after my husband left me, I went to the doctors as I was feeling out of sorts. Understandable, I guess, given the circumstances. Who wouldn’t, right?

I was signed off from work for two weeks.

I didn’t take the time off work.

To me, being at home, alone with my thoughts, was the last thing I needed. Being lonely and stuck with my paranoid , over thinking brain would’ve caused me more harm than good.
So I continued to work. I battled through. Perhaps I’ve done myself a dis-service, by not taking the time off, perhaps I didn’t really deal with or resolve the underlying issues I have.

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I guess what I’m trying to put across is this.
One in four people have mental health issues in their lifetime.
However…..
Every single one of us has triggers that set off stress, anxiety and depressive moods.

The way I feel, the way I get when triggered, is absolutely nothing compared to someone with a full blown diagnosis, trust me I know that. One of my very closest friends fights a daily battle with anxiety and depression. I know the difference.

That doesn’t mean I don’t relate to some of the biggest signs.

Over thinking is my biggest problem. Teamed with paranoia, these two traits barely scratch the surface of what people diagnosed with anxiety suffer from, but does that mean that we should dismiss people feeling this way just because they haven’t got a diagnosis?

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Knowing how I often feel, I think it’s important that we should all take more time to consider what someone is going through, before making assumptions about their behaviour, or their responses, or their moods.

Someone once described anxiety to me like this.

Imagine being stuck in a room with no windows or doors. In that room with you is everything you dislike and every sound you hate. You want to get out, but you can’t. Trapped. 

How would that make you feel? Can you even begin to comprehend that someone you know might feel like that more often than you realise? I can. I can because my mind goes there sometimes. A scenario plays over and over in my head, to the point that I make it into something far worse than it is, and it spirals, out of my control. Bigger and bigger.  I can’t get away from it even though it’s unpleasant, bringing me stress. I have to stick with it until I’ve mulled it over and over until it’s more than it ever was. More than it ever should be.

I go one of two ways when I feel like this. Sometimes, I don’t want to talk to anyone. I want to walk away and sit in a quiet room with my unreasonable thoughts. Lying on my bed, staring at my phone for hours seems a reasonable place to want to be. If I tell someone what’s playing on my mind, they’ll try and tell me it’ll be fine, not to worry, try to find explanations for why what’s happened has happened but the truth of the matter is, I listen, but I don’t believe them. I won’t and can’t stop worrying about it. Then other times, if I trust someone enough to speak about it, I go over and over the same thing, justifying myself, trying to explain to them why I think my world will end if “this happens” or “I say that” or I act “that way”. I reason the unreasonable.

When a friend of mine is feeling this way, I do know that it’s pointless saying “don’t worry”. I know they will. It doesn’t stop me from feeling like a shit friend though. Because I know how it feels, and I can’t take it away.  I’m empathic to a fault, I guess.

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As an over thinking observer , I’ve noticed that anxiety sufferers all have a “crutch” to attempt to help them through the worst episodes. Some turn to drink, drugs even , maybe to block out the negative thoughts, eating away at their already fragile and delicate brains. Some choose the “brave face” path, battling behind closed doors for hours before stepping out into the world with a fake smile painted on their face to hide the torture they’ve just endured at the hands of their own mind. Some put themselves in precarious, often dangerous situations as an attempt to feel some kind of power over their mental state, block out the thoughts they are having by taking their mind off it in an often detrimental and derogatory way.
My crutch? Words. I use words. I write and I listen. I write these blogs. I listen to music. I re-read texts over and over. I analyse words to find hidden meanings that can’t be found. I talk to myself, my brain doesn’t switch off. I use words until I’ve run through every scenario and outcome to the cause of my overthinking until only one will make sense..Then, and only then, can my brain be released from its shackles to tackle the rest of life until the next situation arises.

There’s no point telling me to “get over it”. If I won’t listen to myself, I sure as hell won’t listen to you.

I’m an extremely intuitive person. Team that natural “witchy” instinct with paranoia and a need to work things out and I turn into a modern day Sherlock Holmes. I can’t let things lie. If something triggers me, I worry about someone, I have concern about someone, I have to get my facts straight. However, just because 99.9% of the time I’m right, it doesn’t mean that 99.9% of the time is worth the turmoil I put myself through.

Anxiety brings doubt to the forefront of your mind. You question everything, and from experience as well as research, I know that one of the biggest things that fuels anxiety is the need to try and please everyone except yourself, the desire to make sure not to upset people, or let people down. It’s a self destructive cycle that leaves one person’s feelings out of the equation. Your own.

Diagnosed suffers of anxiety are offered medication, although not until you’ve attempted self help or physiological help first. Again, from knowing anxiety sufferers, I know that the medication often has side effects that are similar to the symptoms of a low point during an episode anyway.

My own traits make me want to know more and to be able to help people diagnosed with anxiety. I try and occupy my own over thinking , procrastinating brain by taking on other people’s worries and woes and making them my own. I know I shouldn’t. It doesn’t actually help either party.
Even the blinding fear of my involvement making things ten times worse can’t overtake the need to at least try and make things right.
Even rational thinking doesn’t stop me thinking that my other half hates me when I haven’t heard from him when I usually do.
Even knowledge that I’ve done nothing wrong will stop me stressing when the area manager is due to visit.

Right now, my Mum isn’t well, and my worrying is crippling me, making it hard to face the day to day life that I have to do. My worrying won’t change anything or speed up her recovery. I know this, it’s a fact, but it doesn’t stop me having sleepless nights because my brain is full of what ifs.

Writing all this down, I know I’m a little crazy. It even sounds mental. Although as I’ve said, if you tell me that, I won’t believe you.

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The battle is hard.

All we can do is be a little more understanding. The chances are, you are sat reading this right now with around three other people in your close vicinity. One in four people suffer. Remember that statistic.

Have a little more consideration for what someone may be going through.

We can’t make it go away.

We don’t have a magical cure.

What we do have is the ability and capability to try and understand, if we want to.

We can all be happy. We can all help with a little understanding.

Nothing is permanent.

Everything affects everything.

One in four of us have mental health issues.

I just want someone to take my hand each day and say “You can do this”.

Do you really like me? Is it, is it real?

Why are we so obsessed with being “liked”?  

The way we look.

The way we live?

Our relationships?

My 15  year old son recently complained that his latest Instagram post had “only” got 28 likes in the first hour. Who cares, really? 


More often than not, girls, and perhaps, as I’ve now realised, to some extent boys too, crave likes on photos so heavily filtered and edited, they are almost unrecognisable from reality. The likes they do get are based on a false, fake image.. It’s got me thinking…. Surely it’s better to get real likes based on the way we really are? Why do we care if a guy we knew 10 years ago, who at the time was only the mate of a mates brother, likes our pictures or not? A guy who, if we passed in the street, probably wouldn’t recognise us without our alien proportions or dog ears. And it’s not just our selfies. It’s photos of where we are, what we’re doing. Are we really that bothered about what each other get up to? Is it a desire to be liked? Or an inner goal to try and make people jealous of our lives? A portrayal that life is way more interesting or exciting than it is?  Think about it, that’s just weird. Are we really all big show offs?


I’m not a hypocrite, I freely admit that I’m guilty of it too. Going for a drink somewhere fancy, post a picture of it, but in reality, by the time I’ve posted the photo, I’m already at home in my PJs watching Netflix. I suspect, every day life seems so mundane in its routine, perhaps even boring, we grab onto anything “different” in an attempt to make better memories.  Everyone else seems to be doing so much more. The selfies are enhanced to feel better about ourselves. The rare drinks out are exaggerated to make our lives seem more interesting. If we’re all doing it, how do we know whose, if anyone’s, social media profile is a true representation of their lives?

It’s scary that we live in a world where the majority of us don’t feel like being real is good enough. In a world where we almost feel like we need to compete, keep up, or even out do each other. 
As I said, I’m guilty. Not to the extent of heavily filtered or trying to induce jealousy in anyone, but, in my case, I think I do it to prove to myself, and a handful of others, that I’m doing ok. Doing great, actually.  I’ve wasted too much time in the past not liking myself very much. Too much time sat at home doing nothing. I’m not the same person I was then and my desire to post the good bits, the edited highlights of my life, is fuelled by pride. Pride that I’ve picked myself up and moved myself forward to a point where I can say, I like who I am and my life’s ok. 

I want to delve firstly though, into the editing of selfies. Being totally honest, from a personal point of view, I don’t edit to unrecognisable proportions. I don’t use feature altering filters, and if I do its usually described as “messing with filters”. I tend to use instagram filters to lighten an image, to fade away the dark circles under my over worked eyes. Paler tends to hide my laughter lines. Nothing good lighting and better make up skills couldn’t do.  I don’t give myself bigger eyes, flatter stomach. I worry for the girls who post photos of themselves with a squiggle through their face, or over the tops of their arms, or across their stomachs, scribbling out the bits they don’t like.  Focusing only on the favourite parts of themselves, rather than being happy with themselves just as they are. Girls wish for bigger boobs, lighter hair, fuller lips, social media includes all the tools to make that a possibility. Editing out what makes them unique. Creating a generic photo of a “female”, a hoard of filtered clones. The fluffy eyebrows that softened beautiful eyes, replaced with straight stark lines which offer no character. The roundness of cheeks that rise when you smile, substituted with high cheekbones which cut oddly into the natural shape of your face. Narrow lips suited to a fair English Rose edited to look full and pouty, turning your look from whimsical to unnatural. Why can’t we post real? What validation do we get from people liking fake images of ourselves? I genuinely don’t know how these people leave the house without the comfort of their filtered mask.  It’s creating a delusional generation with unrealistic expectations. Although saying that, it’s not just the younger generation. 41 per cent of adult women told a recent survey that selfies make them “feel more confident.” However, 46 per cent described how, overall, “social media makes me feel more self-conscious about my appearance.” So the fake photos make us insecure and in return make us post our own fake photos…. vicious circle, much?




Now onto the social life that we fool our followers into thinking we have.  The average Facebook user now has about 338 friends, Out of those, we probably could count on one hand how many we see on a regular basis, leaving over 300 others we can lead astray with glorified versions of what we do day to day.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the biggest motivator behind exaggerating a lifestyle is to target an ex. Show them you’re happy without them, better, even. You don’t need them, look what I’m doing now you’ve gone. It’s bordering on ridiculous. Surely, the best way to show you’ve moved on and that you’re happy without them is to show that you are happy doing the normal stuff, you don’t need to distract yourself with nights out, fancy meals etc. You’re just happier regardless. It’s tit for tat, Ex posts a picture with new partner on holiday, you post a picture of a table full of fancy cocktails. Pan out from the square cropped image, to see the ex and his new partner standing next to a run down pub down the road from where they live, which happens to have an exotic looking tree in its beer garden, everything looks better when the suns shining, right? Your fancy cocktails, they were on a buy one get one free offer that you and your friend took advantage of in the bar nearest where you work, and you were both heading home half an hour later. Nothing is ever as it seems. A clever crop can turn a Wetherspoons meal into gourmet cuisine. A clever angle can hide an ugly building to give the illusion you’re in a fancy city. Fake, Fake, Fake! 


Over the years, I’ve done a couple of 100 happy days challenges on Instagram. Some days were easier than others to photograph something that made me happy, but it did play a huge part in making me realise that the little things,, the real life things, are the ones that make me the happiest. Is it the fancy cocktail that makes me happy? No, not really. Having the money that I’ve worked hard to earn to buy the cocktail is far more important. Would having big eyes or dog ears make the meal I’m able to buy for myself taste any better? Time to  focus on what’s real.

Maybe we should all stop focusing on fabricated looks and existence, and take a step back to look at the real parts of our lives. Concern ourselves only with those that see us bare faced and natural, tired and grumpy and disregard the opinions and validation from strangers. 

I think we’d all be a lot happier if we just stopped caring what the world and his wife think of us. 



*Images/memes used were all found via Google search and appear on several Pinterest boards and are being shared on multiple social media platforms.

WANTED:- Truth Tellers.

FAKES AND LIARS NEED NOT APPLY.

 

Sometimes, you have to lose everything to realise what you had. Starting from scratch to rebuild a new version of what you had changes you as a person, because essentially, you don’t want a repeat performance where you lose it all again. When you’re a paranoid, over thinking person like me, you will most likely take it too far. I think I’m now too much. Maybe. Perhaps. Because I’m scared and because I need to prove myself as a friend.

I used to have a big, healthy, friendship circle.

The circle broke. Taking with it my security blanket, my safety net, the easy option. My ability to over look shit. My tolerance over untruths.

I was always taught not to give to receive. However, after making mistakes in the past myself, I do believe you should get back what you put in, and I now apply this rule to friendships.

My closest friends these days get my heart, my soul, my mind, my worry. I have been open and honest through choice the last year and by doing so, I feel I’ve lost people along the way. Perhaps people think I’m judging. Perhaps they think I’m trying to take the high ground, claiming to be holier than thou. The truth is, and the chances are, that I care and worry because I’ve been there, done that. I’ve confessed before, I’m no angel.

My paranoia, teamed with losing friends before, makes me question everything. It’s not your fault, it’s mine. I do need you to acknowledge that it is there though.

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Apart from the obvious, many events have made me who I am today, and made me the full on, perhaps “too much” friend that I now am.

While married, as a couple, we had a lot of “couple” friends. We did everything together. Nights out. Holidays. God parents to each other’s kids. It was the closest friendship group I’d ever had in my life and it was amazing. I didn’t need new friends. When we split, those friends were adamant they weren’t going to pick sides. It felt inevitable that the guys would still go out and so would the girls. My ex however decided himself that everyone was on my side and appeared to back away from the lot of them. In reality, I felt that those friends didn’t choose sides, because they actually chose neither of us. We both lost them. Without the “me and him” set up, I was nothing on my own. I didn’t offer anything to the friendship group as a single person.
The ex moved out of our home city so effectively took himself out of the equation. He was the one that drove so we’d be able to visit these friends on birthdays, Christmas, New Year etc. I was stranded. And I felt useless to them.

I don’t drive. I work full time. I’m at my place of work around 9 1/2 hours a day in total. Add on the traveling time and I’m out of my house 10 1/2 hours, 5 days a week for work. Out of the 16 hours a day I’m awake, the majority of that is work related. Most of the old gang don’t work weekends. I work every Saturday. By the time I’ve got home, sorted the dogs, eaten etc, I literally don’t have the energy to go back out. On that note, only one of those couples live within a reasonable walking distance. I certainly don’t have the money for taxis. They all drive. A few times I suggested coffee in town, they’ve said they’ll let me know and never have. I haven’t fallen out with them. I guess we all stopped trying.

I think perhaps I over compensate now. Perhaps I try too hard to be a good friend. To prove that I, on my own, can offer someone enough for them to want to value me as a friend. I get too involved, for fear of losing people all over again. Back then, there was also the knowledge that my ex was posting some not true, often nasty stuff, about me online, open for our mutual friends to see. My paranoia led me to think they’d all believed it, as not one asked me directly what was going on. I stayed quiet about the break up so they only had one version of events on show to believe. Although I never lied about the break up, by staying quiet I now feel by not just telling my story from the get go, I lost everyone. I don’t blame anyone for those old friendships dying out. I’m as much to blame as them for not keeping in touch.

I haven’t changed since my marriage broke up. I am though, more real and genuine than I was for the almost 18 years that he stifled me. I had disappeared under his shadow, swept aside for his ego and bravado to take the spot light. Being polite, and quiet meant I got forgotten. Since spreading my wings and speaking my mind, I reckon people don’t know how to handle me anymore. Or maybe they’d seen me supposedly fall for a whole load of lies they felt sorry for me. If that’s the case, they needn’t of worried. I’d long known the truth, I just couldn’t prove it at first. Losing those friends, I felt I was having to start all over again with building a new friendship circle. Rekindling old friendships and indeed forging new ones entirely.

Now, since losing that tight knit of friends I used to have, if I have concerns about the people I care about, I can be like a dog with a bone. I doubt peoples motives if I think they aren’t telling me the truth. I also struggle to work out who is in this friendship for the long haul, or who just wants to stick around for a while, for the good stuff, before normal and boring sets in and they’ll flit off to the next shiny new person. If I have doubts- I won’t give up till I’ve proven myself. Guess my concerned nature comes across as interfering? Perhaps I actually do try too hard. That’s because I don’t want to lose you. I make myself too available, 24/7. Just to prove I’m there. To prove to myself, as well as my friends, that I have something to offer.

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I spoke in a previous blog about my five closest friends, and how I wouldn’t let go of them without a fight. Hindsight says I’m a little naive about that. I whole heartedly admit this- if I feel I’m putting in more effort to keep a friendship alive than the other person now, I freak out, I worry they are no longer there for me. I know this has caused friction and potentially pushed two of those five away a bit. So, I take some of the blame. However, they know me. They know my paranoia and my insecurities. They should realise how I am and understand where I’m coming from. I like to be checked in on. I like to be asked how I am, as much as I ask you. If caring too much is a bad friendship trait then yes, I’m guilty.

Although not heavily into star signs and things, a common trait in people who are of the Taurus sign is stubbornness. Being stubborn. Yes, I’m stubborn. If I feel I’m the only one making an effort, I will dig my heels in and refuse to make the next contact. I don’t need fickle, “good time” friends. I want honest, trustworthy, reliable friends.
However, it’s not long until another trait kicks in. Loyalty. Eventually I back down and ask “How are you”? for fear of losing that friendship altogether. Then I get angry with myself for giving in, as I haven’t proved or discovered if that person would’ve ever checked in with me. I create my own vicious circles. Totally and utterly guilty of setting traps to see if the right people bite in the way I hope they would. I never saw myself as needy. I’m very very happy in my own company, with my son and my relationship with my partner, but I still have an underlying worry that no one likes me. I’ve probably always been the quiet friend, the “nice” friend, the inoffensive friend, the sensible friend. Losing a big group of close friends in one go, made me the over concerned friend, the over emotional friend and the honest, straight talking friend. I’m starting to find that not everyone wants to hear the truth. They want to moan, vent, grumble about stuff they are going through, but most people wanna hear whatever agrees with the way they are thinking or acting, rather than the truth. They expect you to support them even when you think they are making a mistake, and still be there when it all goes terribly wrong. In my desperation to be a good friend I’ve recently taken an honesty is the best policy stance on my friends issues and discovered one of two things. They either choose to lie to me about what actions they are going to take, or dump me for a less serious offer of “sod it lets go get drunk and ignore the problem”. .
My good nature gets taken advantage of. Again. Time and time again. People think it’s ok to fool me into believing an untrue version of events, because I’m trying to be such a good friend that they actually think they can get away with it.

Do I have “take me for a mug” tattooed across my forehead? Or rather “take me for a mug, go on, try it, I dare you”. The most difficult part of being a paranoid, intuitive weirdo is that the majority of the time, my intuition is right. So, you think you’re fooling me, taking me for that mug, when in reality, I know the truth already. It’s almost impossible to pull the wool over my eyes. If you are lying to me to try and hide something from me, the chances are, I know. I’ve said before that the stuff on my mind turns to worry, out of concern, and I go over and over something playing out every single scenario until I stumble upon the only only one that makes sense. Then I manage to prove it. I wish I could let go, but because I care, for some unknown reason, about those very people that lie to me, I can’t. I understand why they lie. They know the truth will hurt or upset me. What they don’t realise is that not trusting me to deal with the truth actually hurts me a lot more. I offer my support, my friendship yet still people think I’d push them away if they were completely honest with me.
I get involved because I care.
I tell the truth because I care, because I’ve found out first hand that every single lie will eventually be revealed.
Staying quiet loses friends.
So, it seems, does speaking the truth.
If I’m too much, then here’s the deal.
It’ll be your loss.
Be truthful with me and I’ll have your back, and you’ll have the most fiercely loyal friend and as much time as you need to talk and sort things out.
Lie to me and watch me back off.

From this moment:-

I won’t apologise for being opinionated.
I won’t apologise for wanting, once in a while, for you to ask me how I am.
I won’t apologise for caring and worrying about you.
I won’t be easily contactable on social media after 7.30pm unless it’s an emergency.
I’m bloody happy with my life now and I’m having to accept that I can’t lose sleep over, or spend time worrying about, those who will carry on regardless no matter what I say.
So forgive me, now, for deciding to cut the emotional ties that make me hang onto those people who take advantage of me, and I’ll take back my own life.
Let’s face it, you all know there’s enough going on in my head without having to worry about those that don’t deserve it.

 

Version 2.0- User Manual- Inner workings of an over thinking paranoid mind. Nov/Dec edition

​Upon meeting me for the first time, I probably won’t reveal an awful lot about myself. I imagine I give off the impression I’m confident, talkative and quite strong in mind. After a few meetings or conversations, I may start to tell you the things that have happened over the past few years, the things that essentially have made me into the character you meet today. Even then, I’ll appear to tell you with confidence, you’ll think I’m coping quite well, I’ve even been called brave. Someone once said “inspirational”.
I’m not brave.

I’m not inspirational.
It’s an act I’ve rehearsed, and practised, and honed to perfection in order to get through those conversions without letting out the blubbering wreck that still lives with me, albeit it occasionally, in my busy, over thinking little head. It gets crowded in there. In my little head. So every now and again, I have to let that blubbering wreck out, so the confident, coping version of me can stretch it’s legs and limber up for the hardest season of the year. Winter is shit. Yearly I feel the need to write something like this as, with each year that passes, new people join my life and those people have only ever known the version of me that I now portray on a regular basis. They might never have witnessed my very rare breakdowns, as they only happen in front of people that know me, know why, and I feel safe doing so in front of. However, if you’re still around in my life in November or December, the chances of meeting the wreck is increased, so you kinda need to know the warts and all “me”. Both versions.

 

The prompt for this particular blog is the fact that on Friday 26th October, I had to kick the emotional wreck out of my head for a short while so that I could process stuff on my own without her snivelling in my inner ear. So, out into the real world she came. Tears and all. Whilst I was at work, on my own. I had to get my Mum to phone the shop to speak to “her” as for that short time, rational me couldn’t get through to “her” , and to be frank, “she” needed to let it all out before I let “her” back into the safety of our shared accommodation in my head. 
Now let’s face it, the saying goes “there’s a time and a place for everything”, and that wasn’t the time or the place for that to have happened. I didn’t see it coming and certainly didn’t plan for it to happen right then and there. But it did. And here I find myself explaining why, and also preparing those of you who have only known me this year, that early year me is a very different jigsaw puzzle to the one you’ll have to try and figure out in any given November or December going forward. 
So here’s the re-cap. The full stories can be found in previous posts so a little scrolling back is in order.
On December 28th 2013, my older sister passed away suddenly, aged just 39. Having seen her alive and well on Christmas Day, it was the biggest, most shocking event of my life to date. No time to mentally prepare. No chance to say goodbye. On November 6th, a week today, she should be celebrating her 44th birthday. Instead, she’ll be 39 forever, with 5 birthdays celebrated with the stars. It kills me each year that I’m now older than my older sister. It’s not right. It’s not normal. My family no longer has a normal. 
On December 11th 2014, my husband of 14 years, partner for 17 years, told me he couldn’t give me a hug as I cried over the approaching one year anniversary of my sister’s passing, because he no longer loved me and apparently hadn’t for two years. As he fell asleep and snored upstairs, I cried downstairs until, at 3am, I decided to kick him out and off he went to his parents. 

I do not mourn my marriage ending in December, but I will never forgive the timing, the way it all happened and the way it’s been ever since. Also, nothing could’ve felt worse than losing my sister the previous year. Compared to that, this was nothing. Plus certain actions and behaviours on his part made it very easy to move on from the break up and find myself happier in a relationship than I’ve ever been in my life. But I still resent the lies and deceit behind the whole charade leading up to that event. I am bitter. I won’t forgive or forget because it wasn’t as simple as it was made out to be. 
So, perhaps unsurprisingly, the next two months are always hard for me. It is inevitable that the face I present to the outside world will crack occasionally. 

Fast forward to Friday 26th October 2018 and a series of unfortunate events that led to the release of my weaker self. Some events directly associated with my own circumstances, others not, but they were certainly a contributing factor. 
On the Wednesday, I’d seen my best friend for the first time, properly, in a long, long time. She’d been dealing with a lot of stuff, illnesses in the family, work, sleep issues, relationship yours ups and downs. Through messenger and WhatsApp, I was getting half a story, and I’d been frantically trying to pin her down for a catch up for weeks because I was worried. I’m a worrier. Always have been, always will be. I had wound myself up in knots about not being there for her when she needed me. She was there for me throughout the two most shocking events of my life and I desperately wanted to return the favour. I know she has other people she can talk to, but I need to be there for me, she means the world to me and I was reduced to tears each time a meet up couldn’t happen. I knew there was more going on in her head than was being revealed by typed messages. So, when we met, I let her talk. By the end of our evening together, we were having a laugh. The magnitude of what she was dealing with and the fact she could still go on to have a laugh made me realise, she’s the brave one. She’s inspirational. Not me. On the Thursday night, the night before my break down, she needed me so I called her and spent the best part of the evening on the phone to her as she poured her heart out and battled with her thoughts. I was pleased I could be her shoulder to cry on. I can’t fix things, but I can fill my role of best friend and listen.
Another good friend of mine was spending her last week off work before working straight through over Christmas and New Year, visiting her Mum, who had taken ill suddenly, in hospital. Again, not being able to physically do anything to ease her pain, it hurt me. I kept in touch, and thought of her daily.  No one should go through something like that alone. She returned to work this week, not knowing what was going on and literally having to take each day as it came. That’s brave. That’s inspirational.
I love my friends like family. When they hurt, I hurt.

On my break down day, I’d said goodbye to my son as I left for work and he left for school, knowing that I’d be going home to an empty house and not seeing him again until the Tuesday. Although grateful he still has two parents that love him and want to see him, I still hate it. I have a feeling that his dad thinks I use that time to go out and party, when in fact the opposite is true. More often than not, I’m sat home alone in the evenings. Sure, I’ll see my other half when his shifts allow it to be so, but sods law often has it that when my son is away, my partner works late shifts. I didn’t sign up for sharing my time with my son. I signed up for a family unit. I’m traditional in that respect. I wouldn’t change a thing in the way my life has turned out since the bad stuff. Except that. I’d change something so I never had to say goodbye to my son, only “see you later”. I know that can never happen, as, when he gets even more independent and older still, he’ll eventually be leaving home and going away. I can handle the thought of that though, as it means he’s making his own life. At the moment I feel it’s been taken away from me.  On top of this, my ex has already indicated that he wants our son for at least half of Christmas Day this year.  Now bear with me as I explain this one before you think I’m being an unreasonable, selfish, bitch. Selfish is one word I would never use to describe myself. When we spilt, as it was already fairly close to Christmas, I made it clear that I would never, ever stop him seeing our son on Christmas Day. The first year was awkward. He came round in the morning and we handed out the gifts I’d bought from “us” . Awkward, but worth it for our son. 2015 I think was pretty much the same deal. The following year, I think he decided to have our son in the week running up to Christmas Day and brought him back on Christmas eve. His choice. Seeing him Christmas Day was not discussed. The option, as has always been was there. He chose not to take it. Last year, the ex and his partner went away to a secluded cottage for Christmas. Again, his choice as to whether he saw our son or not. So imagine my shock when this year he suggests having him for half the day, in a text which, quite frankly, ignored the fact that the last two years he chose not to see him at all. A text which suggested that as I’d had “the boy” every year since we split, it was actually now his turn. I HAVE NEVER EVER RECINDED THE COMPROMISE OF LETTING HIM SEE HIM. ALSO, I WILL NEVER EVER CHOOSE A SCENARIO WHICH MEANS I WOULDN’T SEE HIM. Even as an adult, I have seen my parents every single Christmas Day. My upset comes from the fact that for the first time in my 41 years on this twisted planet, I face waking up on Christmas Day alone. Sure, I’ll see my partner, but not until the evening as the Christmas eve shift usually renders him useless until about mid day. I could go to my parents, but they usually have my nephews round in the morning with us so that they can give their grandchildren their presents together. My sons absence means that if I do that, they won’t get to see him Christmas Day. Why should they miss out? Christmas Day after lunch, my son and I watch TV and eat junk. I don’t drive, so with the current proposed plans, I’m going to have to walk round to my parents in the afternoon instead, which means potentially missing my nephews. It’s screwed up what we have salvaged of Christmas just because this year, it suits HIS plans to see him. Also, he’s always had him New Year since the first year when he thought better of leaving me on my own after being dumped. This year however, he said our son will want to be with his friends this year. Our son is 15. You tell me where he can go at that age on New year’s eve!? Again, I strongly feel this year they have New Year plans that don’t accommodate a teenager, so he dictates I can have him. Knowing also that I’ve spent New years eves with my partner. 

I am truly terrified of Christmas this year. Christmas for me is family and home. I don’t want to go to the pub. I don’t want to see friends just because I’m on my own. I have a traditional idea in my head of what the festive season is like and I don’t want to accept that this year will be so far removed from that. I don’t want to “have our Christmas Day on Boxing Day”. 

So on to potentially the hardest part of my blog..

The day we lost my sister, has been a date I’ve been unable to work since it happened.

However, it is becoming problematic at work.

Last year, for example, Christmas Eve,Christmas day and Boxing day all fell in the same week as the 28th of December.

As a retail worker, I only get two days off a week.

For me it’s been an ongoing problem to try and have either Christmas Eve or Boxing day off along with Christmas day, and I do the same thing for all my staff in order to give us all a fair Christmas. However with me wanting the 28th of December off too, this causes problems. Last year the area manager kindly let me take 3 days off Christmas week, and only have one day off the following week, the week between Christmas and New Year.

Not only did this mean I was incredibly tired the week after Christmas, with the January sales kicking in, it also meant that the week that my son was at home before he went back to school, I only had the one day off with him.
I don’t know how I’m going to be on that day, but I feel I need to try. What are my other options, never work that day ever again in my life? 
I do nothing on that day when I take it off, I sit at home I think and basically I waste a day off.
There’s nothing I can do. This will be the 5th year without my sister, and in all honesty I think I need to move on. It will never get any easier, it will never get any better.
It definitely won’t bring my sister back. And all I do is waste a day with my son when I don’t do anything with him. I’m not prepared to do this anymore. I need to be here for the people that are still here, the people that are with me today, and the people that still love me and I love them. 
It could be a day when the blubbering wreck is the only person you see. But until I work it, I just don’t know how I’m going to be. But I do know this..

I want to spend more time with my son.
More quality time, where I’ll be free of mind to do whatever I wish with him. When “she” has been locked up again for another 10 months. 
I hate being like this. Over thinking and worrying take over my life. I reveal to very few people what I’m like. You meet a confident, happy person who appears in control of what life throws her way. You don’t see the person sat at home, desperately wanting to go out but instead has wound herself up in knots about something she can’t control and the evening just passes her by. 

At any given time, I am dealing with a thousand different things in my head. I can’t talk about them. I don’t want anyone to fix me. I will stew them over and over on my own. No-one can do anything to help. All you can do to help is remember that behind the confident facade, I am.struggling. Remember that. If you think I’m being offish, it’s not intentional, it’s because I’m working through something in my head, trying to keep the wreck inside. If you think I’m being anti social , I’m probably sat at home having a battle with “her”.

I will be there for you if you need me. I’ll never let you down. I’ll offer you coffee, companionship, whatever you need. 

You’ll rarely see “her” , but she’s always there, often forced to stay behind the divider in my mind so that I can help you instead, because I want to. It gives me a purpose. Left to my own devices, “she” makes more appearances. 

All the above has led me to the decision to come off Facebook for the foreseeable future. Facebook is full of irrelevant, silly stuff that we all spend so much time idly scrolling through, not looking up to take stock of what’s going on in the real world. Facebook, and social media in general, also ruins friendships. Blatantly and obviously screaming “look what I’m upto” , knowing no invite to join such shenanigans had been offered your way. Quite frankly, while my already over thinking, paranoid brain struggles even more over the next two months, I don’t want a part of the petty competitions that play out in front of my eyes against the white and blue background of Facebook. I am simply not playing. Real life is not a competition. Even if it was, for two months at least, I don’t have the fight to compete. I’m throwing in the gloves. And the towel. Time out. I lose. 

I will be here for anyone that needs me.Always and forever. 

But please remember all I’ve said above. I am writing this to inform the new people in my life what I go through internally. I won’t talk about it often. I’ll never use any of it as an excuse, even if it is the reason behind my actions.

Do not take advantage of my good nature. I’m the girl that will always ask how you’re doing. I’m the girl that will always ask if there’s anything I can do. I am the girl who will always listen, even if I can’t fix anything. 

Exclude me, and I’ll back away. I’m fighting enough battles as it is. 

The things I used to trip upon, I walk all over now. 

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“A little story about quotes”

​I’ve not written a personal blog for quite some time. I usually write about worries, insecurities, things that irk me. My paranoia is also a huge contributing factor to the basis of my blogs. 
The reason I’ve not written?
I’m in a good place. 
A very good place.
Don’t get me wrong, that place isn’t completely trash free. But me, well, I’m coping a little better than I ever used to, and that in itself is a huge achievement.
Making decisions to let things go, not worry or dwell on them, has made such a huge impact on my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a paranoid worrier who thinks I might upset someone just by the tone of my voice when I say “hello” , but essentially I’ve made friends with “reason” . Things bothered me more before than they do now. 
There are a few phrases I’ve used over the last couple of years that I’ve adamantly decided need to be put to good use. Practise what I preach, so to speak. And you know what? It’s not all mumbo jumbo inner self spiritual shit either. It’s worked. Or rather, it’s working. In progress. Some areas still require attention. But I am getting there though. I truly am. 
So what are these phrases and “rules” I’ve applied? Trust me, none of them are unachievable. 

 “Let go of what doesn’t make you happy”

It seems ridiculous that I even have to “action” that one, but I do. For some reason we all cling onto things just because once, at one point in our lives, it made us happy. Even though it has long since stopped enriching our lives, no longer provides any sort of enjoyment, we still keep it because once upon a time, it did. By this I mean friendships, relationships, clothes, trinkets and even memories. We clutch onto these things “just incase”. You know that drawer you have, full of bits and bobs, chargers for devices you no longer own, random bulbs and cables, that no longer have a purpose but you keep just incase they become useful again? Well our brains and hearts have the same compartment for feelings and emotions. But, just like that drawer, every now and then we need to have a clear out. The phone cable that charged your very first mobile flip phone, which was more than adequate to text and call could never be powerful enough to charge your all singing all dancing iPhone that you use as a diary, planner, camera, alarm etc that you have now. It doesn’t even fit. Just like the friendship that once helped you get through your awkward teenage high school years, is now not proving capable of having your back through adult problems. It doesn’t fit anymore. See my point? It can never be what it once was. It’s served a purpose for a while, but no longer does and never will again. There’s no point in keeping hold of it as it will never be able to offer the same function or fulfilment ever again. You’ve out grown each other. Accept it and move on. 
So many people stay in loveless, mundane, boring relationships because they made vows, promises, to a person who once upon a time gave them every reason to smile but now makes no effort to keep that spark alive. Despite trying everything, the relationship has naturally run its course. But rather than break free and seek what they crave, they stick with it because maybe, just maybe it’ll reignite itself. People stay because of the children, thinking it’s the right thing to do. It’s not. Kids pick up on unhappy vibes and it has long term and detrimental effects on them too. There is no shame, if, after trying everything, the relationship brings no enjoyment to anyone involved, in saying goodbye and parting ways. I was guilty of this, staying put when no longer happy, and all that ended up happening was me getting hurt, because I wasn’t brave enough to walk away earlier. Buried my head in the sand and went “la la la” and pretended it would all be ok in the end.  It wasn’t. It got worse. I saw the signs and ignored them because of what I then believed to be the right thing to do. Doing the right thing isn’t always rewarded,I know that now. I shouldve walked away when I’d started to feel lonely and question whether he even wanted to come home. But instead I chose to stick with it because I’d made vows. I was a proud woman and didn’t want to appear like I was giving up. 
I once kept a dress which had long since become too big for me, but I absolutely loved it and I wore it for such a special occasion so I couldn’t get rid of it. It was a big, full length dress that took up a lot of space in my wardrobe. It had been too big for me for 3 years when I finally got rid of it. Although the occasion I wore it for was of huge importance and I felt amazing in it at the time, I was only keeping hold of it for sentimental reasons. I never intended to wear it again. By keeping it, wasn’t I just setting myself up for being a bigger girl again – I’ll keep it just in case I’m ever that size again? If I do get bigger again, so be it,  I’ll just buy a new dress for a special occasion.
Get rid of anything stale and stagnant, physically and emotionally. 


 “Choose Happiness”

I recently went through a run of bad luck, some of it still hanging around like a shadow following me everywhere. One thing after another rained down on me and the weight became hard to carry. They say bad things happen in 3s. Well my quota was up before mid day and it wasn’t showing signs of stopping. I struggled to get motivated at work, my already crap sleeping pattern became even more disrupted, my skin was worse than ever. I was down. I was defeated. I forced myself to do a Happy Days challenge, where for 100 days, I post about something good that has happened that day, to prove to myself that even on the worst days, there’s a little glimmer of sunshine. Some days have been easy, days out with my other half, lunch with my parents, time with my son etc. But other days really were/are a “challenge”. As I write this, I am 53 days into my current self set challenge. And I’m proud to say, so far I’ve succeeded in finding something that has made me smile every day, even if just for a moment. The good things really do out weigh the bad. On the toughest days, I have felt like saying sod this, nothing’s gonna cheer me up, but then I decide to be happy, snap out of it and lo and behold something catches my eye and makes me grateful for the day after all. If you wake up hating the day before it even begins, you are on a downward spiral that you’ll struggle to get out of. Knowing I’ve set myself a silly little challenge to find that happy moment, I know I’ll be actively looking for it all day, thus forcing me, willing me, to make it appear.  I’m not trying to say to the world “look at me, I’m so happy, life is perfect”.  I’m simply trying to prove that a positive mind set can turn a negative, bad day into something not so bad after all. 


” Let whatever happens be ok”

Ok, ok, this one isn’t mine. I stole it from a friend and I know they won’t mind me using it. This is one I NEED to get on board with. I lose hours, day time and night time, worrying. I worry a lot about stuff that doesn’t matter. But mostly, I worry about things I have absolutely no control over. And it’s moments like that where I need to remember this saying. No matter what I do or don’t say, what I do or don’t do, the result will be the same. I can’t change or influence it. All I can do is hope that whatever does happen will be something I can cope with and deal with. I need to accept that some things are bigger than me and what happens will happen whatever I do or don’t do. I’ve always been brought up to be responsible for my own actions, so when events happen that are out of my control, I have a hard time letting go of the responsibility, even when it’s not mine! For example, my mum had an operation recently. No amount of worrying on my part could change the outcome, or assist the doctors. All I could hope for was that the procedure went well and my mum recovered quickly. Wasting a day fretting and pacing would’ve done no one any good. 


 “Be the bigger person”

Over the last few years, I’ve been lured into some serious games of tit for tat bickering. At first, my desire to defend myself was so strong, I retaliated and just ended up miserable and frustrated about what version of events people were believing. Until I learnt to ignore it and let go. Let the truth find its own way out. Stand down and let everyone else carry on digging their own holes. No matter how much the proverbial bear was being poked, I stopped biting. I refrained from bringing my opponent down. And it felt, no feels, so good. Slowly, slowly, by keeping my composure and not hitting out in defence, people are realising that things aren’t quite as they are being described. It pays to hold your head high and say “I’ve done nothing wrong”. There are various quotes about truths but mine is “there are three versions of truth, yours, theirs and the Chinese whispers created by those who mix the two”. When an untruth is told so many times, the person speaking it starts to believe it themselves. When you reach this stage, there is no point trying to prove they are lying anymore. Sit back and watch them tangle themselves up on their own lies.


” Life’s too short”

Since losing my sister in December 2013, this is the one saying I’ve grabbed hold of more than most. My sister was 39. No age at all. Chances and opportunities taken away from her with no warning. For the sake of my parents and my son, I’m not going to waste another day. This saying is the umbrella underneath which all the others sit. It encompasses everything I now believe and strive to put into action. 
Life’s too short to not be happy.

Life’s too short to waste time worrying over things you can’t control.

Life’s too short for regrets.

Life’s too short for “what if”.

Life’s too short for “if only”.

Life’s too short, eat the cake.
My sister didn’t know it was going to be her last day, the day she passed away. She thought there was a tomorrow. A next week. A next year, when she should’ve turned 40. There wasn’t. And it hurts and upsets me deeply that there were so many things my sister wanted to do but didn’t get chance, because she thought she had plenty of time. Don’t put off until tomorrow, things that you can do today. Tomorrow isn’t promised. I won’t waste a day. Even on a day off with nothing to do and nowhere to go, I go out at least once, just for a walk by myself, fresh air and exercise. I purposely take time to appreciate all that life has to offer. 

Another good friend of mine uses “Not my Llama, not my zoo”, which is her version of the phrase :-

not my circusnot my monkeys”  meaning its none of my business and indicates that one is not responsible for controlling or changing a volatile or delicate situation.

A lot of our time is spent stressing over other people’s situations, things that not only don’t affect us, but that we can’t do anything about anyway. I’m not saying we shouldn’t care, but why stress over something you could potentially walk away from? Why overload your plate even more when you’re already struggling to balance things? Leave it to those involved to sort out. 

I asked the question about what quotes do you live by to a forum I’m a member of on Facebook and the response was immense! So much inspiration! A couple I loved were along very similar lines as each other.
“Be yourself, everyone else is taken”

“If you walk in everyone elses foot prints you will never make any of your own” 

Be yourself. Make your own choices. Act how you want to act. React in a way that comes naturally. Laugh when you want to laugh. Cry when you need to cry. Wear what you want. Eat what you like. Hang out with whoever you want. We don’t need to justify ourselves to anyone. Our individual selves are the most beautiful versions of ourselves. No need to blend in. No need to pretend you’re ok about something if you’re really not. If you want to wear the short skirt , wear it, don’t worry if people are going to think you haven’t got the legs for it. Approaching summer I saw a great post being shared on social media. The caption read “How to get a bikini body in time for Summer”. The pic showed a beautiful plus size woman wearing a bikini. Underneath the picture, the answer said “Buy a bikini. Put it on”. I absolutely love that statement. 

I should probably also say that I have a friend who was born with no legs. His saying is #nolegsnoproblem . His attitude to life is so refreshing. Yeah, he can moan, but never ever about the hand life has dealt him. I think we could all learn a lot from him.

I think the answer that came up most when I asked which quotes people live by was simply
 “Fuck It”.

I can’t change who I am. Paranoid, over sensitive, worrier. But I can change whether or not I care.
Team the popular quote above with my all encompassing quote and, at the age of 41, I have discovered a motto to live by. 


” Fuck it, Life’s too Short”.