Sunday, 29 November 2015

Finding time for the beautiful things in life: being kind to others and yourself

Climbing the rocks at the beach (shoes on because it was winter when this was taken)

I've been struggling a lot lately, its not so easy to admit. I always wanted this blog to be more personal than it is, I always wanted to post more than I do, but I've struggled finding the right words and the right balance of the sticky-icky deep parts of my soul and the person I want to be. I haven't been well lately, mentally or physically. I think my own personal obsession with perfection has consumed me to a point where anything less than perfect is not worth doing and if I can't be the best then what is the point. Exams are a very taxing time for me, in fact the whole academic year is, I give up my favourite parts of myself to achieve something I've wanted for a long time. Going in for the long haul I guess, but this gets interrupted by the little voice in my head telling me to go hard or go home. Do better than everyone else in my year for my degree, get into honours, get into masters, get the job I've been waiting for my whole life, maybe do a PhD. Part of me believes that if I don't achieve the very best then I am nothing. But isn't it ironic that the degree that I'm doing is psychology and that the job I am aiming for is to be a clinical psychologist. It's so hard to work on yourself and be objective, but then again isn't that why jobs like that exist? Because no matter what, sometimes we need someone objective to help us look at ourselves in a new way, to help us move past personal trauma and deal with mental illness. 

In addition to this I have been struggling with chronic migraines, I get one at least once a day or every second day. They can last for hours or days. Its not easy to sew, study or be interesting when so much of your life is taken up by agony. I had an MRI done and I am so lucky and feel so blessed that nothing obviously structural was found, so although I may be in pain at least I know that my brain is okay, which makes me feel so lucky. I can deal with chronic pain, I have a high pain threshold and have been dealing with it for years through a bunch of different chronic disorders or deformities so I am no stranger to the effect it has on my life. I try to keep positive and although I may never be completely free of pain, mental or physical I've found it helpful to find time for the beautiful things in life, whatever they may be. 

  1. Finding time to listen to the sounds that I love: The sound of my mother walking up the stairs, the sound of my dogs footsteps on the floor, her name tag 'chinking' on the edge of her water bowl when she drinks or the sound of her 'happy talking'. The sound of my partner when he jokes about not bringing me a tea when he has one behind his back. The sound of my father coming home from being away. The hum of the train, the gentle crashing of waves at the river, the sound of rain.
  2. Taking time for me: Running a bath, putting some classical music on (or 90s/early 00s trashy pop if I'm feeling like it), lighting some candles, making a pot of tea and laying back into a sea of bubbles. 
  3. Keeping spiritual: Although I am not religious I find myself quite a spiritual person, I find immense beauty in many different religions and try and base my life on key principles of being kind, being open to others, giving care to those who need it and pushing away the darkness in the world with light. 
  4. Remembering the good in the world: It can be so disheartening to constantly turn on the TV and see bad things happening and it can seem like the easiest thing is to ignore them. One of my favourite figures at the moment is Susan Carland, an awesome and extremely intelligent Muslim academic who donates $1 for every mean spirited tweet she gets to UNICEF, which I think is the coolest way one can respond to hate, as of October she raised about $1000 which when put into perspective is 1000 mean tweets from 1000 mean people.  It is also helpful to remember this quote “Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” - Dumbledore. 
  5. Remembering all the things you have achieved: I am a survivor of sexual assault, of PTSD and extreme depression, I battled scoliosis and had a curvature exceeding 60 degrees which absolutely crushed my self confidence and self worth, I battle and still battle to this day with pain despite having surgery, my body didn't get the memo and seem to be trying to pull my spine back into its old position (two titanium rods ain't gonna let that happen though). Three years ago, after my surgery I learn to walk again, found muscles that hadn't been used in close to ten years due to the way my spine twisted and bent (like a corkscrew). I missed out on most of my schooling from year 10-12 and ended having to drop out because of chronic undiagnosable stomach issues mixed with a whole lot of anxiety.  Despite all of this I eventually made it to university, which I feel is one of my greatest achievements. Walking into campus on my very first day made me feel so proud and so lucky. I had spent years confined to my bed or the lounge room and taking my steps into uni felt like winning the lottery and knowing that did it on your own. 
  6. Being present: Being present is so hard these days, we are either looking back or looking forwards. Mapping your life out can be good and is necessary. So is looking back, looking back gives you perspective and helps you understand your situation and yourself much better. However, you must always be grounded in the present, I find exercises like these help a lot, whether you are anxious, feel detached like life is moving too fast or find your mind 'floating'.  Being present and grounding yourself in the 'now' can be such an effective tool for many people to use and it helps me a lot with my anxiety. One of my favourite grounding things is to go to the beach, to climb the rocks and feel the grooves and ridges under my feet, to squish my toes in the sand and feel the water dance up around my ankles. Smell the salty air which smells like home and to breathe it deep into my lungs. Counting the waves as they roll in and the creatures nearby.
  7. Be your own best friend: Just like the song by Beyonce. Remember to be good to yourself, to believe in yourself and your worth as a person. For some reason as a society we encourage self loathing, you're not allowed to say you are good at something or that you love yourself as a human being, or that you are happy with something you have done without being looked at as boasting or being narcissistic (narcissism is much more than someone being proud of something they are good at or being at peace with their appearance).  
  8.  Be kind to the people you love: This is pretty self explanatory, you never know what life has in store so give extra hugs, say those extra "I love you's",  forgive easily for those who deserve it (definitely not encouraging forgiving someone who hurts you, because that is not love). This extends to family, friends and animals...pretty much anyone whom you have a strong connection with. It is not always easy as we are human and we are all emotional beings whether we internalise it or externalise it. It doesn't always have to be a large spectacle, running a bath for your significant other, making someone in your family a cup of tea unexpectedly, remembering the little things such as when their favourite TV show is on, friends birthdays and little 'I'm thinking about you' reminders when life seems to run away from you
No matter how frequently I post or how terrible the content is, just know that I am thinking of you all and hope you are all well. 

Alecia xx

3 comments:

  1. Oh Alecia! I couldn't read this and not comment. You sound like a super strong person, to battle your demons of the past and deal with uni whilst being in chronic pain.
    I like your positive steps that you've implemented. I'm sure that focusing on them, day by day, will help you to achieve inner peace.
    I too am a bit of a perfectionist but it makes life so much easier when you just say to yourself, "You know what? I'm just gonna do what I need to do, and it doesn't matter if I'm the best/ smartest/ fastest."

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    Replies
    1. Thank you :) That's very kind of you! Sometimes it is tough, but I try to remind myself that I am extremely blessed in many other ways.

      Exactly! Sometimes you just have to let yourself off the hook a bit and accept what you can do. Nobody is absolutely amazing at everything so I don't have to be either. I just have to try....although saying that sometimes it is hard. Even with sewing I feel like a failure sometimes because I want to have the talent of a dior haute couture seamstress, but I find it hard to accept not being perfect straight away and easily give up. I have so many unfinished items in my box that its not funny! But hey, if you don't keep at it you don't get better :p

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  2. such a beautiful post, thank you for sharing. hope you are ok, try to be kind to yourself :) x

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