Tag Archives: death

The Demon

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. I considered posting on social media about my own mental health journey. But I decided against it. What if my housemates/family/extended family read it? 

Revealing my deepest darkest demons could work against me, I feared. So I kept silent, ashamed of what I’ve been through.

But today, a sadness overwhelms me. So many gorgeous, creative, fun people come to the conclusion that the only solution is to die.

I pause in remembrance of these people and all they had to offer the world. And this blog post starts bubbling up inside me. And when that happens, I have to stop everything and write.

I was a sensitive child, one who thought and felt deeply. I still do. I grew up to be extremely insecure- lacking confidence and filled with fear.

I had my good times of course, periods when I felt and looked good. When I excelled at school and college and when I was prolific in my writing. When I enjoyed hanging out and partying with friends, flirting with men, holidaying on Greek islands and adventuring across continents.

But the demon was always lurking, only a scratch beneath the surface. Ready to remind me that I wasn’t good enough, that I’d fail, that there was something wrong with me. That I’d never be fixed.

Brainwashed by this beast, I hated myself and wished I were different. I’d try to be normal but my version of normal was an unattainable, unsustainable perfection. I’d push and compare and question myself so much that I’d eventually be spent, both physically and mentally.

Devoid of energy, I’d withdraw. Afraid to show my face. Feeling as ugly on the outside as the inner voices that belittled me and held me back.

In my teens, I developed an eating disorder and in my late teens, I was put on antidepressants. I stayed on medication for years, hoping to feel better, do better, be better.

But my low self-esteem brought me to people and situations that reinforced my opinion of myself. I gave up hobbies, left jobs, dropped out of college and went on the dole. I didn’t believe myself capable of anything more.

depression

At 22 years of age, I met the man who would become my husband. He begged me to stop smoking and drinking alcohol. He asked me to dress differently and not have male friends. He convinced me to start practising Islam. He wanted me to change my name and wear a headscarf.

I knew I couldn’t succeed at my own life so why not take on a new identity? Losing myself in baggy robes was a relief. Maybe I could be saved.

The relationship was tumultuous. He wanted a completely different wife. Here was yet another example of my inadequacy.

After we got married, I hit a really low point. I was so agitated, I wanted to bounce my head off the walls.

I took a few days off work and when I admitted to my boss that I suffered from depression, she fired me on the spot. I didn’t contest it. I wasn’t able for anything. I wasn’t able for life.

Family and friends marvelled at how I wasn’t fulfilling my potential. I was academically clever and I won awards for my writing. I was attractive, articulate and athletic. Yet I consistently doubted myself and gave in to the negative self-talk.

Time and time again, I’d make a decent stab at living in the real world. But before long, I’d wear myself out, self-sabotage then crawl into a hole for another while. I simply couldn’t handle grappling with the monster in my mind AND being a functioning member of society.

In those moments, I honestly believed that I’d be better off dead. I felt lost, alone and so broken that nobody could get through to me. Nobody could love me out of the chasm.

It’s taken me many years of highs and lows, hard work and self-care to get to where I am now. I’m proud to say that I’m doing well.

I’m living on purpose and helping others to do the same by sharing what I’ve learned. I’m showing people that they’re not alone, that we all go through hard times and that there is a way (there are many ways) out of the demon’s stranglehold.

The monster is still only a scratch beneath the surface. When I don’t practice self-care, when I’m not true to myself or when I have a few too many drinks, I tunnel under to where he’s waiting for me. And then, despite all the personal development I’ve undertaken, I can still be hypnotised.

Thankfully, I always catch a glimmer of light and I pull myself back out again. Then I shine that light on the monster and ask him what he wants. I understand where he’s come from and I listen to what he tells me. He’s not as scary as I once believed.

The purpose of this blog post is to tell you that I know how it feels – I’ve experienced the craziness and the desperation to make it stop.

What I’m trying to say is that you’re not alone. How you’re feeling right now won’t last. Nothing does. You will feel better. You’re worth fighting for. Look for the light because it is there.

hand-reaching-up-to-light

Images: Google

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First Dates

A couple of friends recommended watching First Dates, a television series that films real first dates in a London restaurant. I’ve since watched the entire first season and it’s totally addictive.

As I binge on this hilarious reality TV show, I laugh a lot. But I also shed a few tears.

I can see the beauty in every single singleton. The daters differ in appearance, creed, age, personality and life experiences. But they’re so similar too.

They’re all self-conscious. They all have fears and insecurities. They’ve all lived through hardship, be it heartbreak, illness, loss or rejection.

And they’re all holding on to hope. Hope that they’ll finally find connection, affection, partnership and love. They all want to share their lives with that special someone.

One man, who’s been single since his diagnosis with HIV five years ago, admits: “I just want to be loved.”

This heartwarming show highlights how quick we are to judge our potential partners. I don’t like his receding hairline. I prefer women with smaller bums.

Interestingly, we’re also quick to judge ourselves. I’ll lie about my job because I don’t want to put him off. She’ll never agree to a date because of my height. I’m punching above my weight with her. I’m not as skinny as the other girls.

I believe that when we stop judging ourselves, we cease judging everybody else. When we love and accept ourselves, we become free to love and accept others.

I also believe that we get what we give. So when we give love, we receive it.

I have a friend who loves her dogs more than anything. Recently, I spent an evening at her home. One of her dogs burrowed his way into my arms. Later, he lay on my friend’s lap, his body splayed open, as my friend hugged and kissed him.

It struck me that this dog is full of love. He’s open and trusting and loving. And it’s such a good feeling to have him in your arms.

And my dog-loving friend is perfectly at ease with herself. She’s open and happy and loving. And when I’m around her, I am too.

It’s so easy to give love to a person who’s open to receiving it. And when someone gives love with unconditional abundance, being a recipient of that love feels effortless and unselfconscious.

It’s when the fear takes hold and the thinking starts and the barriers come up, that we block the love. We’re afraid to give love in case it’s thrown back in our faces.

But my advice now is to give love. Give love to yourself. To your friends and family. To your pets and your plants. To everyone you encounter.

Be yourself. Be open. Be present.

Laugh. Flirt. Have fun.

Give love. Accept love. Be love. And I guarantee that you’ll experience love.

So I’ve rejoined Tinder. Again.

P.S. When searching for an image for this article, I browsed the internet. Suddenly, I realised that I’d forgotten to type “Love” in the search bar. “Have I put love in?” I asked aloud.

Have I put love in indeed.

reggg.com

reggg.com

Just Doing It

I’m currently making my way through Susan Jeffers’ bestseller Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. So far, I’ve learned that there’s no point in waiting for the fear to subside before you tackle something.

There’s also no sense in assuming that none of those successful people out there experience fear. They do. To quote the book title, they feel the fear… and do it anyway.

I know somebody who’s recently got a big job promotion. She admitted to me that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. Nonetheless, she’s doing it. And the likelihood is that this daunting place she’s now in will soon become a comfort zone. As the saying goes, you’ve just got to fake it ’til you make it.

Susan Jeffers suggests doing one thing each day that takes you out of your comfort zone. Because the place outside of that zone is where you’re challenged to grow.

That magical place is where opportunity manifests. And the contentment (or misery) that you were once resigned to transforms into an energy and fulfilment that you could never have imagined.

I’ve decided to accept Susan’s challenge. So far, the things I’ve done aren’t particularly dramatic. But they’re getting me used to changing my perspective, pushing myself and trying different things.

In the last week, I’ve showered at the gym and done my makeup in the communal mirrors (my comfort zone would be to come straight home after a workout). I took myself to a different venue for coffee and I drove somewhere new.

A couple of nights ago, I spotted an interesting man on an online dating website. Out of habit, I exited his profile.

I don’t initiate conversation with men, I thought. That’s their role. They prefer the chase. And that suits me because I don’t have to risk rejection.

Then I remembered my vow to feel the fear and do it anyway. So I messaged him. I haven’t heard back from him. The ego took a slight kick to the nads but that’s all in a day’s work for a fear-feeling go-getter.

And over the weekend, I used the gym (fitness classes are my comfort zone). I even requested an assessment with a trainer who could design a programme for me. The receptionist booked me in for an appointment with an instructor who I really fancy.

This morning, my fit fitness instructor took me to a private room where I had to take off my shoes and socks (I’m very self-conscious about my feet). He weighed me and told me how fat I am (well, the percentage of fat in my body).

Then, he devised me a programme and showed me how to do all the exercises. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him work (yes, I’m a total perv!)

I just got motivated.

I just got motivated.

In other news, I was very saddened yesterday to hear of inspirational speaker and author Dr Wayne W. Dyer’s passing. Wayne Dyer was my first introduction to the self-help genre. I got so much from his talks and radio shows. He was a truly excellent speaker.

A few years ago, I attended an event in Glasgow that Wayne spoke at. During the lunch break, my friends approached the speakers with books for them to sign. Striking up conversation with these people was something I shied away from so I took myself for a walk instead. After lunch, my colleagues gushed about meeting Wayne Dyer and the other amazing speakers.

And during my very first Life Coaching session with a fellow student, a suggestion was made that I contact Wayne Dyer and ask for advice on my business. I recoiled from the idea and never followed through.

I’m not beating myself up now for missing these opportunities but Wayne Dyer’s passing has highlighted the importance of embracing the moment rather than shrinking from it.

Wayne Dyer did so much good with his life. He helped and inspired so many people. He wasn’t afraid to shine his charismatic light that illuminated the way for so many others. Or maybe he was afraid. But he did it anyway. Thank you, Wayne. All my love.

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway opens up your world to an abundance of happiness, scariness, rejection, excitement, achievement, failure, success, growth, learning and fulfilment.

All you have to do is acknowledge the voice that constantly denies and declines, warns and negates. Realise that it’s perfectly normal to be afraid. Then muster up the courage to propel yourself out of your comfort zone and into the unknown.

So my advice is to feel the fear and go do it anyway. You’ve more to lose by not doing it.

You may think you know best but all you know is what you think you already know. However, when you plunge into the unknown, you know nothing. And that’s when the world knows better. So life gets better. You get better.

Good Cheer

The other day, I was listening to a show on Hay House Radio. The topic was the importance of having your own personal cheerleaders – friends who will rally around during the tough times and cheer you on to succeed.

One of the women referred to a time she was speaking at an event. She asked the audience: “Who here has someone they can call when something goes wrong?” Everyone immediately raised their hands.

Then she posed a different question: “And who has someone they ring up when something really great happens?” A few hands went up slowly.

Interestingly, people seemed reluctant to share good news with their nearest and dearest. I wondered about this.

I imagined asking the audience to explain their hesitation. They would probably confess to not wanting to brag. Some would worry that their happy news would make others feel miserable about their own lives. Others wouldn’t want to invite envy or begrudgery.

And a few people would be afraid of “jinxing” it – admitting that things were going well would put a curse on it and cause everything to come crashing down around them. And they’d all suffer terribly and die an excruciating death. Or something equally calamitous.

weheartit.com

weheartit.com

Why does it seem more acceptable to regale others with our misfortunes than with our achievements? As children, we were warned not to get too big for our boots. Who does (s)he think (s)he is? was an oft-heard phrase describing anyone who dared to exhibit a dirty word called confidence.

Thankfully, I now think for myself and I’ve decided to work on my confidence and look for the best that life has to offer. I hope that the people around me wish me the best. And I wish them the best too.

There is actually enough good stuff to go around, despite what the superstitious old wives told us. One person’s success doesn’t guarantee somebody else’s failure. It doesn’t work that way. Believe in abundance and you’ll be rewarded with it.

The older I get, the less patience I have for people who wallow in negativity. Of course, we’re all entitled to a shoulder to lean on during the challenging times. We all need someone to vent to.

But there comes a point when you’ve got to change the record. Stop complaining and start brainstorming.

What you focus upon multiplies. That’s why I like to spend time with positive people. That’s why I give daily gratitude for all the wonderful things in my life.

And that’s why, when I heard this discussion on Hay House Radio, I was instantly able to think of a friend who I can contact as soon as something amazing happens. I can gush and glow, boast and bow, and do a little self-congratulatory dance in front of this friend because she’s the type of person who genuinely loves when good things happen.

And she’s not just a fair-weather friend. When I told her about a funeral I was attending yesterday, she instantly offered to accompany me. Her mere presence beside me in the car as we drove towards the church was enough to make me feel secure.

And guess what? I’m going to brag just a little more. I’m lucky to have other friends and family members who I can go to with my happy-clappy tales and with my woe-is-me soliloquies. And I know that I’m that go-to person for lots of people too.

Do you have a personal cheerleader for when something fabulous happens in your life? Do you have someone to call upon when you’re feeling overwhelmed? And are you that special someone for anybody? In both circumstances?

Do you concentrate more on the feel-good or are you a victim to negativity? Remember, wherever you put your energy is where the energy will go. Think about it…

fitnessandhealthspot.com

fitnessandhealthspot.com

The Calm During The Storm

The last few days have been strange. I went on a date that ended horribly. A man from my hometown was assaulted and later died. I visited a woman I know in hospital who was badly injured in an accident. And a client of mine passed away. She was a really lovely 36-year-old woman who is leaving behind a loving family, including three small girls.

What I’ve realised over these past few days is how much I’ve changed, how different my reactions are, and how grateful I am.

On Saturday night, I thought enough of myself to leave the date. I didn’t take it personally. And on the dark, wet drive home, I comforted myself with my favourite songs. It was good to find out what this man was like after only two dates and I was glad to get home safe.

Last night, after meditating, I stretched pleasurably and felt grateful to be able to move, unlike my friend in hospital.

And this evening, after attending my client’s funeral, I participate in a Mega Mix fitness class. The music is loud and fast and the instructor is fit in every sense of the word. We jump and squat and plank and it’s all a bit manic.

I have a sudden urge to burst out laughing. I feel so happy to be alive and healthy and able-bodied.

I feel lucky to have great friends and family, a business that I love, and a car that can whisk me towards dates and adventures and crazy fitness classes.

And most of all, I’m grateful for how far I’ve come. For how deeply I can appreciate this moment. For how present I am. For how much I love myself. For how centred I feel.

And for how I trust that everything is unfolding perfectly and for my highest good. I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.

So I hop and skip and sweat and eye up the fit fitness instructor. And I breathe.

benefits of gratitude and meditation

Life.

Yesterday morning, I walked. The wind stirred the leaves, mimicking a melody of foaming sea to shore.

Yesterday evening, I received very sad news that had me sobbing.

Last night, I worked at the laptop. My housemate came in and out of the room, making welcome conversation.

This morning, I panted on a gym floor.

This evening, I made dinner for a couple of family members in need.

Now, I put on my favourite tunes and hike up the speakers. For just a few moments, the sun escapes from behind the stubborn clouds and beams directly on to my smiling face.

And I dance.

The Judge

Yesterday, I came up with an exercise to assist people to get to the root of certain destructive behaviours or patterns. The behaviour I had in mind when I designed the exercise was that of judging or criticising.

Last night, I wondered if I could do the exercise. Who am I judging or criticising? I realised that the person I’m currently judging most is myself.

So I completed the three steps to this exercise. The first step is to ask yourself these questions:

1. When you’re judging, is there an underlying fear? If so, what is it?

My answer astounded me and brought me to tears. My fear is that I’m imperfect. I go deeper with this realisation. If I’m imperfect, I believe that I won’t be loved or accepted. I go deeper again. Then, I’ll be rejected. Cast out. Abandoned.

Suddenly my mind is flooded with snapshots of childhood, teen years and early adulthood, where I felt my imperfection brought about rejection, humiliation, anger, fear and withdrawal of love.

Messages I internalised from an early age convinced me that I had to try to be perfect in order to earn love or even just acceptance. I couldn’t be myself or feel the things I was really feeling. I had to try to be what others wanted me to be. Otherwise, I’d be left alone in this world. And to be all alone in this world means certain death.

This made perfect sense when I read Harville Hendrix’s brilliant book Getting The Love You Want. Hendrix describes the structure of the human brain.

The brain stem, which is the most primitive layer, oversees reproduction and vital functions such as breathing, blood circulation and sleep. Then there is the limbic system, which generates vivid emotions. The main concern of this portion of the brain is self-preservation. It is constantly on the alert, trying to ensure your safety. Hendrix refers to these two parts of the brain as the “old brain”.

The third part of the brain is the cerebral cortex, which is most highly developed in Homo Sapiens. This section of the brain deals with cognitive functions. It’s the part of you that makes decisions, thinks, observes, plans, organises information and creates ideas. Hendrix calls this the “new brain”.

The new brain is logical and tries to find a cause for every effect. This part of the brain can moderate some of the instinctual reactions of your old brain.

With regard to my self-judging, I believe that I need to be perfect. If I’m not perfect, I won’t be loved. I will be abandoned. This primeval fear comes from the old brain logic that tells me that the world is not safe. When love is withdrawn from me, I am filled with a fear of death.

So, in answer to the first question about the fear underneath my self-judgment, I am afraid of abandonment. I am afraid for my very survival.

This leads on to the second part of the exercise, which is to ask yourself the following:

2. When you judge, what are you hoping to achieve?

When I judge myself, I’m hoping to change aspects of myself. I’m longing to be perfect. Maybe if I criticise myself enough, I’ll change. Then I’ll be loveable. Both to others and to myself.

I am hit by another huge insight. When I see myself as imperfect, I question my right to be loved.

This makes me feel depressed. I close off a part of myself. My vital force shuts down. I no longer feel alive.

I am abandoning myself. I’m actually killing off a part of myself. Yet again, the old brain is pretty sure I’m going to die.

Having answered these questions and hopefully arrived at some interesting insights, you’re ready for the third part of the exercise, which is this:

3. For one whole day, every time you notice yourself judging, stop and ask yourself: “What would it be like to accept this?”

Yes, it’s good to be the best that you can be and to do things that make you feel good. But for so many years, the only way I could silence my inner critic was to do do do.

However, this was just a temporary fix that didn’t unearth the root cause of the problem. And so these deep-seated beliefs, fears and behaviours were repeatedly resurrected. When I got sick or tired, or when I just couldn’t do all the things that boosted my self-esteem, my superficial confidence crumbled.

Finally, I was no longer prepared to continue running on this ridiculous treadmill of turmoil. I kidded myself that it made me feel good to be doing something but it got me nowhere and, every so often, I’d slip off and smack myself in the face.

So, I’ve stepped off and decided to look deeper. And this exercise has facilitated the process.

Now that I have an understanding about why I’m so self-critical and why these judgements make me feel so bad, my behaviour ceases to be unconscious. I’m now conscious of my seemingly destructive patterns. I understand what’s happening and why it’s happening.

Therefore, I can consciously introduce a new way of thinking and behaving. A way that’s healthier and more beneficial than my previously misguided, outdated attempts at self-protection.

The next time I call myself fat or wince at my grey hairs, I’ll remember that what I’m really experiencing is fear. My critical voice is just trying to prevent me from dying. It wants me to be loved.

As an adult, am my primary care-giver. am responsible for caring for me. I have a choice to love and accept all of me as I am. I’m not going to abandon myself any more. I am safe.

This exercise can be applied to any thought process or pattern of behaviour that is causing you to suffer. Remember, the old brain got its name because it’s been here for a long, long time. So be patient with yourself as you recondition your thinking. And know that you are safe.

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