January Blues

January blues…a term flung around so often, and unfortunately so flippantly. Growing up, I was ignorantly unaware of the significance and sheer weight of the term’s meaning and the inner struggle it truly represents. Over the past couple of years more notably, I have noticed January’s eerie presence. A sudden realization of pressure. Pressure of upcoming university deadlines. The draining of finances mounting up to cause the collapsing pressure of your lungs; the shortening of your breath and sometimes more damaging the quick fire of your nerve, your patience. All building up to the melting of your character and the whimpering residue left behind of your spirit and soul.

The New Year so often not the song and dance it is built up to be. How do I deal with it? Unfortunately, I don’t. The turning of the year often tumbles down on me and sets off a spiral of anxiety and internal panic that rips me from inside out. Second guessing every decision, every thought and every impulse. I’m trying to say that I am just like you. I worry about the most insignificant and irrelevant things, building them up in my mind to the most monumental and unreachable summits. Try and breathe. Step back. Open up and talk to a loved one. Share that weight upon your shoulders. Take each day as it comes. The soothing sun of February along with its crisp cool air shall soon grace it presence upon your face and give you a new lease of life. Keep pushing. Keep fighting. Keep breaking down barriers and telling yourself you can do this, you will get better and you are never alone. I know this helps and this is true because this is what I tell myself every single day. A down day will pass. A new day will come and I count myself lucky for all the love in my life and support.

Followers of Finding Heather may have noticed recently I have been M.I.A. It is not because I don’t love writing and sharing my experience and struggles because I do, it is all a healing process for me. But, unfortunately recently I have myself been in a deep dark, lung squeezing battle with the January Blues. Fighting through each day and putting it into perspective. Please if you are struggling yourself this January, or any time or year, any stage of your life, do one thing. Open up, share your worries, your fears and your insecurities. It will help more than you think, it certainly has for me, I don’t want to hide in a box any longer.

Struggling to Breathe

An eerie sensation I can tell you. Staring into limitless horizons, surrounded by a bustling lively crowd. Yet still…struggling to breathe. Feeling your lungs begin to collapse, your muscles tense up, your body slip into overdrive. All these things happen to me on a daily, if not hourly basis. Anxiety is much more harmful and nullifying than most realize. For me, it optimizes my struggle. No matter how much I try to calm myself, dismiss my worries and think clearly; I am swallowed by a thick mist of angst – setting my whole being on edge. Lately, I won’t lie, this unwelcome closing of the walls in my chest has become a regular squatter in the deep depths my soul. I cannot help but fail to dismiss the negative feeling that there are some things you can’t shake, some habits and patterns of thoughts are ingrained in my very nature, intrinsic to my material makeup. This damaging thought, I know not to be true but so often it clouds my vision and creates havoc in my brain, alarm bells ringing, panic mode sets in.

Worries swallowing me whole. In that moment I feel completely dissipated into thin air, erased from existence, hollow inside and a mere puppet to the dark depressive demons pulling the strings on my soul – yanking it into an explosive lava pit, burning. Scorning any sense of self-esteem, obliterating any ounce of confidence. Anxiety completely consumes my life, I always have to check myself before getting carried away, too ambitious, too starstruck with possibilities. Why? Simple. I can’t control my nerves, my worries and my irrational instinct to self-destruct, sabotage and scupper any chances of complete fulfillment. I must admit I am pretty close now but that has been a long time coming; through pain, grief and quivering self-hatred, I can finally fully embrace me.

However, I must admit that even just trying to write this post is making my heart thump, my head spin and this sickening feeling stir in the pit of my stomach; causing such a simple act of breathing to become exhaustive, stressing and asphyxiating. The dizziness is dreaded with every thought, every action and every sentiment passing through me each day. Such tightness on my windpipe is honestly the worst feeling I have ever encountered. Nothing enhances this crippling, demeaning sensation as much as expectation. Expectation is the bane of my life. My biggest worry is letting people down. Not being good enough. Falling short. The walls of my lungs tighten, beginning to close in, trap me in a claustrophobic state of wheezy closeted panic, overdrive if you will – rushing to please, fix myself to fit the criteria of who ever is in front of me, rather than just relaxing and being un-apologetically Heather.

I wish I could be that free. That care free. Let my soul truly roam free. Be unleashed to accomplish whatever I put my mind to; not to please, to constantly second guess each action, movement, sentence or word choice. So, I think heading into 2020 I shall do my upmost to put the fear of letting loved ones down on the back burners and concentrate on pleasing me and letting that be enough. One day I aspire to be that strong woman that I know I am and brandish that empowering strength all women harbor within. But at the moment I know I am not quite there yet. Unfortunately, still feeling the wrongly-placed shame of being on antidepressant and anxiety meds, being self-deprecating and worrying others viewing it as a crutch. Nevertheless, racing into the new year I want us all to discard the stereotype and sometimes taboo nature of antidepressants. For me, I would not have made such transformative progress without them and I am truly in a much better place for them. So, I want people to increase awareness for the understanding of the place and importance of antidepressants.

If anything in this blog post or any previous posts has hit home and you are yet to have reached out, then please know there are people who love you, people who want to listen and your local GP is always a trusted point of call. This Christmas try to relax, break free from that struggle and loosen the chains grappled tight across your lungs. I am, so you should too!

The Holiday Season

Like many, Christmas with the winter festive cheer is my favourite time of year. The child in me is rekindled and set alight. I become un-containable and overcome with excitement and anticipation for the time of giving (and receiving of course)! Somehow no matter what I am going through or where I am in my life the Christmas magic never fails to momentarily heal me and take me back to what really matters – my family, my friends and making them smile. This year I can’t even imagine the season I have ahead of me. Spending the first Christmas together with my girlfriend and her family, I cannot put into words how much it means to be invited and welcomed into an other persons home and treated truly like family. This year I can already feel that it is going to be magical and show me a different side to the holidays, like no other.

When Christmas comes around it feels like sometimes we rush to count the days away to ‘the big day’. Eager to see our loved ones faces opening that long sought after gift. Itching with anticipation of the surprise to see what we have received. But this year I really want to take time to notice the little things. The arrival of the first Christmas card. The glowing lights illuminating streets and homes alike. The careful wrapping of the presents. The decorating of the tree; delicately placing the worshiped and so dearly held baubles and the angel. The precision of decoration placement, abiding to tradition so closely, you can’t help but feel warmed inside and taken right back to the years of listening out for Santa and all his reindeer on Christmas Eve. Honestly, I can’t help myself but to fully embrace and almost embody Christmas and all my families traditions. Every year I fell like I’m 8 again. I suppose it has a lot to do with my Nana. To me she really was Christmas. She was the most loving, caring and giving person I know and anything I can do to honor her memory and keep her close at heart like she always is I will. With the nights closing in and lights shining brighter than ever, I always feel closer to my Nana around this time of year as her birthday follows straight after Christmas on December 28th. The picture above was taken when I was 18 – my last Christmas with my Nana. If love could have saved her she truly would have lived forever and for the rest of my life I shall do my upmost to make her proud and be more like her. In this time of giving, my Nana is at the forefront of my mind and she always manages to make it feel like Christmas, even in memory.

However, with Christmas comes stress. Stress of finding the right present to show your love and gratitude. Stress of decorating. Stress of having everything sorted in time for Christmas. And for the cooks in the family I imagine the stress of cooking the turkey or that nut roast just right. Some people are so tuned in and manage such havoc and rising tides before Christmas so efficiently and are the picture of serenity and calmness. As you’ve probably guessed, that is not me. Unfortunately, as I’ve got older the pressure seems to mount, the pinnacle of Christmas joy seems to be more of an illusion in past years when struggling with mental health. Although the season never fails to pick me up, my anxiety builds exponentially but is masked by winters snow and chocolate caked yule logs. I wish it was something you could turn on or off because for years I have tried to turn off my worries, worries about worries, to break free from the clench grappled around my lungs suffocating me but all that comes in the new year is a flood back of emotion, self-hatred and self-sabotage. So this year and the holiday season I am trying to acknowledge my worries, nurture my anxiety and not let it railroad or control my life anymore. I have learnt so much in the past year through confronting my mental health struggles with depression and anxiety but the most revolutionizing food for thought was just this weekend when my girlfriend said to try and let go, there is no point of worrying about things so far in the future, things out of my control. Despite having heard similar advice a million times over from others it was the true sentiment and thought provoking feeling of love for each other that made me really hear those words and reflect. Now I can’t say that I am no longer anxious, worrisome Heather but I can say that it has made me want to reflect and unearth my feelings to truly heal the most sabotaging and tormenting demons of my soul.

So I guess what I am trying to say is that with this holiday season embrace it, let the joy take over you and let your childhood spirit be rekindled with the magic of Christmas. But pay attention. Pay attention to your loved ones around you and even mere acquaintances. A simple dose of Christmas cheer can make them feel wanted, feel cherished and feel at home. In a time of giving lets give love, give care and give friendship. Something so simple can help mend a broken soul, and find the true hidden identity of a lost spirit begging to be found and sucked out of the depressive abyss into the light. And please if you are like me and struggle with your mental health don’t hide it and be in a constant trance of denial because the wound only deepens and makes healing that much harder. Reach out. Open up. And most importantly love; love Christmas, love your friends, love your family, love your partner and as always find it in you to love yourself again.

Sabotage

I have alluded to such bulldozing force of ‘self-sabotage’ in previous blog posts to spread mental health awareness and promote visibility of such a dilapidating illness. I now would like to share a poem I wrote 1 year and a half ago and the words flooded out of me. I have never shared this before because I truly feel like I am bearing my darkest moment of my soul for all to see. But, with all the support I have received from previous posts I feel like now is the right time to publish this poem for all to see, and hopefully people will begin to truly grasp the seriousness of mental health.

Sabotage

Nothing great lasts too long
Such things are tampered with
Discarded
Railroaded
But by what you may ask?
Or maybe the more poignant question, by who?
Well that remains to be seen
Before I ever recognise any sign of fulfillment I am always greeted by the awareness of its absence
Dampened by the sodden tears of loneliness
Drowning in the she absence of joy

Why?
Maybe there is some truth with such wives tale
You never know what is good until it is gone
But what is the cause of such vanishing act of contentment

I have a persistent stomach churning itch of a monster lurking in the shadows
Again…only becoming aware of its actions after the fact
When the arms of havoc let emptiness embrace me
Gaining a tight suffocating grasp upon ME…the real me
Is this monster the cause of such depression?
Like an old friend it greets me with a certain familiarity
A friend it is not
As with is it, it brings unerring unpleasantness
And unwelcome attendance

With one set in stone intention
To break the status quo and sabotage
Sabotage any flickering light of hope
Sabotage any chance of redemption
Sabotage any chance of recovery
And finally sabotage any chance of peace my soul is yearning to find

It’s come the time where this unrelenting sabotage has caused me to feel an unbridgeable void to happiness
An unbridgeable void to belonging
An unbridgeable void to the old me, the best version of me

I crave to unmask such monster
Expose the true agent to this devastating sickness
However it clings to me
Torments me
Controls me
Possesses me
And inconceivably and senselessly crushes my soul

What is left is I in anguish
I in irreparable despair
I in unimaginable rage
Despite all that is left it is the monster whom is responsible for the actions of unrelenting disparity and sabotage
So why is it I who is left with a lump in my throat
Tears gushing down my face
Drowning me with guilt
Self-hatred

Why?
Because after such devastation every time the monster is unmasked
All I can see is a reflection
Adjoined with the realization that I am the monster of my own demons
I am the chains that bind me to this sickness
I am the master and deceiver of such demoralizing soul sucking self-sabotage
I find it unstoppable but unbearable
Fully aware of its deafening presence yet having no choice but to obey the laws of physics
Move out of the unstoppable forces way because that’s what makes it an unstoppable force

I am, however, aware that I have given it omnipotence in my mind
The destroyer or savior of my life is embedded in my mind
To save my soul I must save my mind
I must abuse this self-sabotage how it did to me
Bludgeon this self-sabotage how it did to me
Asphyxiate this self-sabotage how it did to me
Erase this self-sabotage how it did to me

All I have to remember is that my mind is my phoenix
My sickness is my flames
And one day I shall rise