6: Ending the Suffering

There comes a time in our lives when we need to hold onto people, places and events. Alternatively, there comes a time when we need to let go of them too. Some of the people we meet won’t stay in our lives forever. They come to teach us a lesson about the world, who we are and what we need in our lives. Some of our experiences will be pleasurable and some will be painful. Yet simultaneously, both allow us to grow. There is opportunity in every experience. Pain in life is inescapable BUT it drives change. We need to understand that in order to appreciate the good we must experience the bad. There is no light without the darkness.

It is important that we allow ourselves to feel pain for some time as a natural response to painful events. If we repress our feelings they will eventually simmer for so long that they’ll come to the surface. There is a distinct difference between pain and suffering. Pain is inevitable and suffering is not. Pain is the root of our suffering. Suffering is the biproduct of pain and non-acceptance. We cannot change our circumstances or what we feel unless we first accept it for what it is.

For most of us, when we experience a painful and traumatic event we are likely to fight the reality of the situation. This is common in trauma or losing someone you value.  There is a technique in one of my favourite therapies, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, called Radical Acceptance. Essentially radical acceptance is about saying yes to the reality of our past and present moments. NOW before anyone jumps down my throat about how insensitive this is to trauma victims- HEAR ME OUT…

Radical acceptance is NOT:

  • Agreeing with what happened.
  • That you are okay with what happened.
  • That you allowed it to happen.
  • That you like what happened.
  • That you take on full responsibility for what happened.
  • That you can’t do anything about what happened.

Radical acceptance IS:

  • The acceptance of things as they are.
  • Understanding what we can and cannot control in life.
  • Being non-judgemental.
  • Acknowledging our situation.
  • Letting go and not fighting against reality.

Initially in my own personal experiences I struggled to accept the things that had happened to me in my life. Instead of accepting my experiences for what they were, I simply questioned why I had experienced them at all. This led to a lot of self-blame and invalidation. I thought that there must be something wrong with ME. The reality was that I could not control every person that walked into my life or every experience I encountered. Once I began to understand this, I was able to realise that not everything is my fault, I don’t deserve bad things and I am worthy of happiness.

 I do not agree with the actions of those that have brought me pain… but I accept that these people and experiences exist. I accept that I tried my best.  I accept that pain is a natural part of life. I accept that there is nothing wrong with me. I accept that the pain inflicted upon me was a reflection of those people, not a reflection of me. I accept that these experiences make me the person I am today.

Accepting meant that I was able to let go of the pain attached to these experiences. Once I accepted everything it gave me the power to decide how I wanted to be impacted by these individuals and events. That is one of the very few things in life we are able to control: the level of impact.

And that, my friends, is how you decrease the suffering in your world. Accept experiences for what they are. Acceptance will lead to change. Change will lead to happiness. And I wish you all the happiness in the world.

-B

5: Mental Wellness Tips

In 2019 we’re all looking to stay mentally and physically healthy. It’s normal for people to go through periods of higher and lower moods. The frequency depends on their situation and personality structure. You can’t avoid having periods of lower mood, but you can change your mindset around it. There are so many physiological, psychological and social contributors to one’s overall wellness. Below are my top tips to a happy mind:

1. SLEEP

Sleep is one of the things we all tend to underestimate. When we are tired we become more vulnerable to our triggers and emotions. I know that when i’m tired I’m far more impulsive about little things like my food choices. I won’t lie, I can eat an entire block of chocolate on minimal sleep. The optimal amount of sleep differs per individual but aim for 7-8 hours per night.

2. EXERCISE
I’m sure it isn’t a shock to you that exercise has made the list. Exercise allows the body to release endorphins so we FEEL emotionally better. Exercise for me is an outlet, a distraction and an emotion regulation strategy. You don’t have to become a body builder, you just simply need to take a walk regularly. Exercise increases the chances of better sleep.
Tell yourself you don’t have time? Stop lying to yourself there’s 24 hours a day. Don’t have the motivation? Neither do I 50% of the days but I do have routine and discipline. Create a habit and increase your mental wellness!

3. NUTRITION
Eat your fats, proteins and carbs. Don’t restrict. Find balance. It is literally as simple as that. Fuel your body for a good day, every day.

4. INHALE POSITIVITY, EXHALE NEGATIVITY.
You are surrounded with both negativity and positivity every single day. How many of your thoughts are based around something you deem as negative? Finance? Relationship stress? Work? Self-image? What other people think of you?
A few years ago I remember being someone that only heard the one negative comment amongst three positive ones. Some of our minds are trained to focus on the negative and this is often related to our childhood experiences. This also depends on our values and what we as individuals have constructed as negative and positive in our minds. The truth is every aspect of our lives comes with a negative and positive aspect. Learn to hold onto the positive and let go of the negative. You can’t please everyone. You can’t be perfect. You CAN choose happiness.

5. GOOD COMPANY
Surround yourself with people that make you feel worthy, wanted and lift you up. If you think there’s a toxic relationship in your life then you are most likely correct. Those kinds of people bring negativity with them, so let them go. They can take that negativity/toxicity into some other humans life because you are prioritising what YOU need! Choose individuals that compliment your own values and are willing to give you support when required. Talk about what’s going on for you and listen to what is going on for them.

6. SELF-CARE
Be kind to yourself. You deserve wonderful things in this world, even when your mind tells you otherwise. Do something that ignites a fire in your soul. Give back to your body because you put it through SO much every day. De-stress. Some common methods of self-care are: Massage, pampering, meditation, learning muscle instrument, reading, watching a movie.

7. MINDFULNESS
Yes yes, we all know it was going to be on the list. If you’re groaning at the sight of the word- I HEAR YOU. I’m not saying you need to go full on yogi and meditate 3 hours a day… Meditation and mindfulness are different things. Either are going to be beneficial to your mental health but when you are mindful you don’t necessarily need to be in a room alone. Mindfulness is described as “paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity and without judgement” (Smiling Minds- i’ll link below).
You can do this easily as you go for a walk. Notice the air. Notice the sounds you can hear. Notice your feet as they hit the ground. Notice what the air smells like. Notice what is going on for you on the inside- are you anxious? If so, where do you feel that? Do you feel heavy or light? Is your mind racing or is it calm? Is your heart beating fast or slow?
There are a million apps to help you out. Some of my faves include: Headspace, Smiling Minds, Calm and Insight timer. Give it a go and watch it bring clarity and clearness to your mind!

If you need any further help send me a message! Best of luck,
-B

https://www.smilingmind.com.au/mindfulness

4: Negative Body Image Days

There are days when I’m super feeling empowered, loving my body and my mindset is beyond amazing. However, there are also days when I can stand at the mirror and pick at every flaw imaginable. Let me tell you, I can be bloody brutal. You know how people talking about our ‘inner critics’? Mine’s like being in a burning building on fire and the only way I’m going to be able to save myself is if I repeatedly insult every part of who I am.  Surely I’m not alone, right??

1. DITCH THE SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is probably the last thing I need on days like these. There’s nothing quite like seeing a bunch of super lean girls in minimal clothing to boost up your self-esteem… SERIOUSLY THOUGH, angles and lighting are such a big contributor to these Instagram posts with a million likes. I can promise you the photo posted is NOT the first picture taken and it most likely took approximately 58694 photos prior to the one you’re viewing. Yet on days when we get caught up on the little things about our bodies, we forget this. We forget that Instagram is the highlight wheel of people’s lives. You portray whoever you want to be on social media.

2. VALIDATE WHO YOU ARE AT THE CORE
You are not entirely comprised of physical characteristics. Even on my bad days I am not my chunky thighs with a dimple on the left leg, my large hips or my bloated stomach. I am so much more than that.  Even if you dislike the way you look, remember who you are on the inside. Looks can only get you so far in this world. Find 3 things that you don’t mind about yourself. WRITE THEM DOWN! I don’t care if it’s “my eyes are a nice colour” or “I am kind.” Either of those are valid because there is more to you than the way you look. If you do dislike your physical appearance, make a plan and CHANGE. Validate that you are spinning the wheels into motion for change.

3. RECOGNISE YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS
 You are what you tell yourself you are. YES, it is corny. BUT it has proved to be true time and time again in my life.  Limiting beliefs stop us from getting to where we want to be and achieving our goals. These are often automatic, and we rarely set aside time to question them. If I told myself every day that I am fat the chances are I’m far more likely to engage in a behaviour such as binge eating, which would ultimately lead to weight gain. Again, if I told myself I’ll never feel happy with my body I’m setting myself up to fail. Try your best not to sabotage your own chances at happiness.

4. RE-CREATE YOUR SELF IMAGE
You are the only person in control of your life. You have a choice to sit back and listen to your self-limiting beliefs or to do something about them. Think about the kind of person you want to be… Confident? Happy? Attractive? Lean? Intelligent? Tell yourself you are those things until they BECOME your beliefs about yourself. Act as if they are your beliefs. There will come a day when you reach a point that they become your beliefs and thus who you are.

Good luck!
-B

3: What is mental illness?

Let’s talk mental illness! This is by far one of my favourite topics and it never ceases to amaze me how powerful our minds are. Periods of sadness, anger, grief and guilt are normal. We all have differing emotional ranges and therefore it really depends on what is abnormal for the individual. This is where our temperament and personality structure comes into play… I have what I would consider to be a higher physiological baseline than some which can make me appear more anxious or highly strung . However, I know that this is MY normal. What wouldn’t be normal for me is if I spent all night unable to sleep and worrying about if my doors were locked and if I’d washed my hands 37 times. KNOW YOUR NORMAL AND ABNORMAL.

Mental illness impacts our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It is thought to arise from both the interaction of genetic vulnerability and life stresses. What would happen if your uncle died unexpectedly?  You would be understandably sad and experiencing grief. This is a normal response due to a triggering event. Eventually you go through the process of grief and you find ways to manage the death of a loved one. A mental illness is ONGOING in frequency for long periods of time. If you were crying every day over this uncle two years later, I’d be questioning the stability of your mental health. Mental illness impacts an individual’s daily life functioning. Unfortunately, there comes a lot of stigma with being diagnosed with a mental health condition. I’ve ALWAYS been a big advocate of decreasing mental health stigma. We can’t blame or judge others for their internal experiences out of their control.

I don’t want to bore you with the literal hundreds of mental health disorders so from here I’ll discuss some of the common ones in Australia but also list some of the other prevalent ones. These disorders are listed within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (V5) of Mental Disorders and this manual is used widely across the world to assist in the diagnostic process of mental illness.

Mental illness is more common than you’d think… Mental health statistics show that 1 in 9 Australian’s are currently experiencing high or very high psychological distress. Often the onset of mental disorders is around mid-late adolescence when our personalities have been grown into and explored. This is especially accurate when it comes to personality disorders as they look into individual traits and personality structure. The most common mental disorders in 2019 are anxiety and depression.

DEPRESSION.
Depression has the highest lifetime prevalence- 1 in 7 experience depression in their life time. At present 1 in 16 Australian’s are experiencing depression. Depression is a mood disorder that is characterised by persistent sadness and hopelessness with a lost in activities one once enjoyed. Mood disorders are more common in females. This needs to last for a two-week period and at least one of the symptoms need to be either (1) a depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure. Below are the diagnostic criteria as per the DSM 5:

1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
4. A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
5. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
6. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
7. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
8. Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

ANXIETY.
¼ of Australian’s will experience an anxiety condition in their lifetime.  Currently in Australia 1 in 7 people are experiencing an anxiety disorder. When people speak of anxiety they are most likely referring to Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Below are the criteria for GAD:

  • A. Excessive anxiety and worry (apprehensive expectation), occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance).
  • B. The individual finds it difficult to control the worry.
  • C. The anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) of the following six symptoms (with at least some symptoms having been present for more days than not for the past 6 months): Note: Only one item required in children.
    – Restlessness, feeling keyed up or on edge.
    – Being easily fatigued.
    – Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank.
    – Irritability.
    – Muscle tension.
    – Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep).
  • D. The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Other types of anxiety disorders include:

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • specific phobias
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder

PSYCHOTIC DISORDERS:
– Schizophrenia
-Schizoaffective

BIPOLAR DISORDERS:
-Type 1
– Type 2

OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE & RELATED:
– OCD
– Body Dysmorphic Disorder
– Hoarding

TRAUMA & STRESS RELATED DISORDERS:
-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
-Acute stress disorder
-Adjustment disorder

DISSOCIATIVE DISORDERS:  
– Dissociative Identity Disorder- Also known as MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER
– Dissociative Amnesia

Having a mental illness doesn’t decrease your worth. We all experience the world differently and are unique. The culture around mental illness in 2019 is SLOWLY becoming more accepting. Please don’t be ashamed of the way you think, feel or behave. Know that there is help and recovery DOES happen.

If you relate to any of the disorders I’ve discussed please seek a medical professional (GP, psychologist, counsellor, social worker). I’ve attached a link below which has an online mental health assessment which may help you decide if you should seek help. Additionally, I’ve included a website where you can take shorter quizzes for the specific types of mental health disorders.

Much love,

-B

https://psychologytoday.tests.psychtests.com/bin/transfer?req=MTF8Mzg4NXwyNjEwMzI1MHwwfDE=&refempt=

2: Kick the Toxic

My first blog of full content, as requested by a close friend, is based around toxic people and how to deal with them. The term ‘toxic person’ is often interchangeable with terms like narcissists, sociopaths, manipulators and compulsive liars. Unfortunately, toxicity is all around us and I’m willing to bet that as you read this one particular person will come to mind.  You know that one person that makes you feel constantly on edge and as if you’re ALWAYS in the wrong? That’s a toxic person. I’ve had my fair share (and maybe a little more) of toxicity in my life. Toxic relationships come in a variety of shapes and sizes: friends, parents, lovers, ex-partners.  

It has taken me a long time to learn to be able to recognise myself that someone is toxic. I am an empath. Empaths attract narcissists. Empaths are naturally attuned with how others are feeling. Empaths feel other people’s feelings, are ridiculously empathetic and can easily become emotionally drained in the presence of a toxic person. The key is to realise someone is potentially bad for your wellbeing before they manipulate you into seeing otherwise. Know the warning signs. Some of us never get the opportunity for this… I have a feeling that many of you are living with toxic people in your lives without even realising it.

Here’s what a toxic person might look like if they were in your life:

  1. Toxic people try to control you.
  2. Toxic people disregard your boundaries.
  3. Toxic people take without giving.
  4. Toxic people are always right.
  5. Toxic people are dishonest.
  6. Toxic people love to play the victim role.
  7. Toxic people don’t take responsibility.
  8. Toxic people lack empathy.
  9. Toxic people are selfish.
  10. Toxic people make you feel guilty and exhaust you.
  11. Toxic people hold grudges.
  12. Toxic people leave you feeling as though you never truly know where you stand with them.
  13. Toxic people make you feel on edge, yet something still makes you want to impress them.
  14. Toxic people make you feel like you need to constantly walk around on egg shells.

It’s important to separate the behaviour from the person. It isn’t necessarily a person that is toxic, but more so their behaviour or the relationship you have with them. It’s no surprise that we all have an ugly side and thus the ability to behave in a toxic manner. A relationship has two sides. Yet when we think of toxic relationships we automatically think that person A (toxic) has all the power and person B (victim) has no power. This is by no means true. Often in toxic relationships it is the response that person B gives which continues to fuel that toxicity and keep the cycle going. You are not powerless. You have a choice, remember this.

If life played out in an idealistic way I’d simply say cull the person/people you’ve just recognised as toxic. Sometimes we can justify cutting off people we deem toxic. You could dump your partner, block them on social media and never see them again. Go on a toxic cleanse…However, life isn’t always simple and sometimes there are people in our lives that can’t be avoided, such as family.

My first piece of advice is BOUNDARIES, BOUNDARIES, BOUNDARIES. Reinstate them. You can’t please everyone, nor should you try to. It’s time to prioritise yourself! Secondly, you can try creating distance rather than complete separation. Don’t spend as much time with this person and make them a less influential part of your life. Something I learnt in my own journey with toxic people is learning not to make yourself so vulnerable to their toxicity. Understand that you are worthy enough NOT to live with such toxicity. By increasing boundaries and making ourselves less vulnerable we can prove we hold the power in our lives.

Hope my ramble helps someone make a good decision out there somewhere! Any questions or future requests let me know. Until next time,

-B

1: New Beginnings

Hello wonderful humans,

Welcome to the beginning of my newest blog containing all things mental health! I’m sure you are probably aware of the rapidly increasing rates of mental illness. However, if you’ve been living under a rock recently here are a few facts to enlighten you:

  • 1 in 5 Australians 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year.
  • Every day at least 6 Australian’s DIE from suicide and a further 30 make an attempt to end their own life.
  • Men are at greatest suicide risk, but also the least likely to seek help.
  • It is estimated that 65,300 people in Australia attempt to end their own lives in ONE year.

If you’re sitting here reading this thinking ‘HOLY SHIT BALLS, THAT MANY????’, don’t be alarmed. This is a perfectly normal reaction. Often we aren’t aware of how significant something can be until we experience it for ourselves. For those of you reading this that have struggled with your mental health- I commend you. You are here. You are strong. You are brave and inspiring. Plus, you’re reading what is potentially your new favourite blog . I hope this blog is something that will inspire you, give you something to relate to and allow you to explore different ways of coping. If you’ve never experienced mental illness I hope this blog can be something that will enlighten you. The rates of mental illness are so shockingly high that the chances are people around you may be struggling. It’s perfectly normal that you may not know how to approach them and this is something that will be covered in later posts.

Before we get down to the fun stuff here’s a little about me… I’m 23. Undergrad in psychology. Masters in social work. Optimist, mostly. Struggled with my own mental health from 16 onwards. Over time the maladaptive coping strategies I’d learned were transformed into less destructive ways of coping. Ever felt like you’ve gone around and around in the same old self sabotaging destructive circle a few too many times? Yeah, that was my life. However, our experiences help shape who we become. Even those experiences that feel too painful to get through. These are the ones that build character the most. If you’re going through one of these currently, I am telling you right now that you WILL get through this. Recovery is 100% achievable. I don’t regret any of my experiences and choices because they’ve led me to become who I am today.

Here’s some content I’m intending to cover:

-Instagram Vs Reality: The ‘idealised’ self
– Depression & Mood Disorders
– Anxiety Disorders
– Mental Wellness Tips
– Perfectionism
– Dealing with Narcissism
– The Formulation of Mental Disorders: Nature vs Nurture
– Motivation & Habits
– Limiting Beliefs & Self-worth
– Self Sabotage
– Healing from Trauma
– Grief, Loss & Guilt
– Personal Development & The Growth Mindset
– Attribution Styles
– Radical Acceptance
– Abandonment & Rejection

If there’s anything you’d like to see me write about please send me a message!
Until next time,

-B