10 things 2015 taught me about mental health, blogging & life

This year has been the most difficult for mental health I've ever faced, and it has also been the year of the most personal growth.

10 things 2015 taught me about mental health, blogging & life

Here's what this year has taught me.

  1. Family is everything, even more so than I thought before, and I was already very close to my family. Cancer is something which throws everything else into perspective pretty damn quickly. I hadn't realised exactly how much of my happiness depends on my family being well. My step dad's cancer and the impact of it on my mum meant I was worried sick about them for half the year, and everything started to fall apart. I have additional stress/guilt for moving away in my teens and not being on their doorstep when they needed me. I love my family more than ever. They're the glue that holds everything together.
  2. Looking after myself/putting myself first isn't selfish. It's essential when you're depressed. If you don't look after you, how can you look after anyone else? Your order of priority needs to be you, family, then everyone else. So often we put ourselves last in the order of priority then wonder why we can't cope. I now schedule in every Tuesday as a mental health day and do things for my benefit all day long. It might be an extra long lay in, wearing a cosy blanket around the house, or watching my favourite film. It's not a 'lazy day', it's a bloody treat and pamper day. No beating yourself up for treating yourself gently, OK?
  3. I'm more than my productivity. I'm on basic functions only because it's all I can cope with now. Because I'm not doing/creating much I feel like I've lost all my passions, that there's nothing to me and that I'm of no consequence. You still matter even if you're unable to take part in life as much as you'd like. Even if you haven't showered in a week, your dressing gown has become like another layer of skin and your bed hair is worse than Donald Trump's comb-over. It's hard to divorce feelings of worthlessness when we can't do or be all we want to be, but we have to shut them out and remember we are battling, and we are more than what we put out into the world in times of crisis.
  4. Never compare myself to anyone. Ever. The urge is there when depression hits as I feel so useless, but it's a self-defeating behaviour. It crushes what little creativity or spark I have left, messes with my head and is so incredibly destructive. When I feel the urge to beat myself up it's time to avoid technology for a while so I can't compare myself to anyone else. If you get the urge to compare yourself/your body/your achievements to anyone else, remove yourself from the situation where possible. I'm not me when I'm jealous of other people, because well and centred me loves good things happening to people. But when I'm hormonal or feeling terrible about myself, social media is the way I beat myself up. I hate myself for it and it's so masochistic. 
  5. I'm happy with the way things are with my blog. Really! No one's as shocked by this as I am. Hah! I'd like to be creating more posts than I am right now, but this extended MH slump has made me realise I've got to drift along at my own speed or life will end me. I haven't got the energy or the creativity to be ambitious at the moment, and that's OK. Nothing stays the same forever and if/when things improve then I will reassess. 
  6. Everyone has value. You don't have to fit in to be worthy. This was the year I realised that I'll ALWAYS feel like an outsider, and that's OK. It may not even be true that I'm an outsider (in any respect of my life), but I think I am, and what you think about yourself determines everything in your life - especially the way you see yourself, and that instructs others how to treat you. If you think you're awesome, other people will too. I've never really felt like I belonged anywhere, and that's my baggage to deal with. Now I've realised it's more to do with me than other people, I feel fine being/feeling like the odd one out. All the cool kids are weirdos anyway. ;) If you feel you don't fit in, it's OK. You were born to stand out, not fit in. Find your tribe of oddballs and be weird together.
  7. It's OK to let go and trust things will be OK. I had to let go from the plus size community for the sake of my mental health. I was way too invested in it - most of my waking hours were spent reading blogs, writing mine and talking to other bloggers. I stopped feeling I had to be everyone's friend and supporter, realising that not everyone can get along and that's not a huge failing on my part. I removed myself from a couple of plus size blogger Whatsapp chats because group chat settings are the pits for my mental health. Being ignored by a group of women is worse than talking to myself. Just awful. Do I still care about these women? With bloody bells on, but I have to care about me more. My life was totally unbalanced in favour of blogging and now it's great.
  8. Too much social media isn't healthy. I crafted a social media world made up of friends, family, acquaintances, and lots of bloggers. I had given myself no break from blogging/bloggers and I was seriously contemplating giving up my blog as I was mentally saturated with all things blog. I needed to do a Gwyneth and Chris and consciously uncouple (lololololol) to find out who I am and what I have to say. Every time I have a weekend away and spend time away from the computer I feel great. Go on a social media detox about once a month. It'll do you the world of good! There's a life out there.
  9. Great things can come from times of hardship. Would I choose to go through 2015 again, especially the latter half? Hell no, but the lessons I learned were invaluable. When the shit hits the fan you learn so much about yourself. Finding a positive from a negative is a gift. Be willing to listen.
  10. My husband is a bloody rock. This kinda ties in with point 1, but is also worth a mention of its own. He dances around in his pants to cheer me up when I'm sad, never grumbles at me if he finds me in bed crying when he comes home from work, and he puts up with my spending habits because he know purchases cheer me up. I'm closer than ever to that little weirdo. He's the best (even if he does scatter dirty clothes round the house like rose petals).
Did 2015 teach you anything?

Leah xoxo

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