Oh hey, New Year: Three life lessons I learned from the Breakdown of September 2017

Hi there!

Yeah, it’s been a while since I blogged.

Let’s just say that my whole “recovery”/”spiritual healing journey” hit a bit of a speed-bump in September. This speed-bump came in the form of a flu-inducing tick bite, followed by the stress of catching up with work, segueing nicely into a nervous breakdown.

I know, I know… “healing isn’t linear!” Pinterest said… “life is a rollercoaster” a wise Irishman once professed. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” said many, many shrewd individuals.

But was I singing along to Kelly Clarkson when I dragged myself to a work event only to get sent home immediately by the big boss because I was essentially a walking infection? Nope. Did I walk away with my head held high when I cried to my manager about how “unfair” my job is? No freakin’ way. Was I thinking of all of these Insta-worthy quotes when I was lying in bed, so depressed that I was too weak to even shift the duvet over with my foot? Hell. No. It was a shit time, make no mistake. I was anxious, depressed, nihilistic and oh so self-absorbed. In fact, I was in precisely the same state I was this time last year, the time that prompted me to blog in the first place.

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Saturday night (flu-induced) fever.

Returning now, though, I guess I’m kinda humbled (again). I thought I could strut about like a self-help-author-in-the-making proclaiming I’d found the cure to Anxiety and Depression after just a few months of spiritual curiosity. It certainly helped me get my shit together to some degree, but to be so disappointed that it didn’t work out within a year was a bit misguided on my part.

Mmmm. I could have just written “I’m a millennial with a quarter-life crisis, please love me” and that would have summed up all of the above just as well.

So what’s the point in this blog post?

Well, it’s not just because I recently saw the annual WordPress fee leave my bank account #gettingmymoneysworth… but also because it’s good for my mental health.

In other words, this is all about me. (“Gee, you’ve come so far!”)

But just in case anyone has come into 2018 thinking, “man, last year was NOT my year after all”… maybe reading this will be a little reassuring.

Without further ado, here are three lessons that summarise what I learned from ‘Breakdown: Part II’.

Lesson 1: Only YOU! [theatrical-finger-point] can decide what’s good or bad for you.

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Sooooo yeah my last blog post talked about how amazing I was for quitting alcohol (I should probs archive those posts). I’m deffo partial to a glass of wine here or there these days. My bad.

That being said, 100 days (yes, one-hundred days!) of abstinence was just what I needed. My nervous breakdown happened straight after ‘quitting’. But if I had turned to alcohol as normal to cope with the stresses of life back then… I may not have been happy or well enough to write this blog post today. I kinda believe that drinking doesn’t make problems go away (unless your problems are your ‘friendships’, ‘relationships’, ‘career opportunities’…). Certainly the problems I’ve tried to drown out in the past have come back to haunt me over and over, until I finally caved and curled up in a sober ball screaming “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!”

When I recovered from being unwell I decided, “sod it – get the prosecco”. But after one glass, I was over it. Nowadays, one occasional glass (two for the tougher days) is all I want – not need – and even then I can take it or leave it.

I’m no expert… but here’s what I figure: it works way better for others to quit and quit for good. And for some quitting is unnecessary – alcohol is a non-issue. What’s important is that it really comes down to what is good for YOUR health and wellbeing. There are plenty of books and blogs that go into detail about the benefits of quitting (Hip Sobriety, Soberistas… anything by Gabby Bernstein), but ultimately, if all your past and present experiences and persistent cravings lead to the same outcome of feeling horrendous, depressed and unhealthy the next morning (or evening for liquid-lunchers)… maybe alcohol isn’t your bag. If you were young and reckless before but decidedly more in tune with your limits now… maybe moderation is the way forward. And if you’re a hedonist, ‘live fast die young,’ kinda person… have fun with that!

If you’re like me and feel wobbly or groggy if you push it one glass too far, but you’re not dependent on the stuff for good times, perhaps you should just take it easy and make a judgement call on the day/night. Even if you don’t want to admit it, your body will let you know what’s good for you there and then. But don’t panic and make major life commitments over one bout of hangover blues. It’s alcohol, not marriage.

Lesson 2: It’s okay NOT to be dramatic.

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As a Drama graduate, performer and self-absorbed millennial, this lesson is still VERY hard to swallow. But my 2018 mantra is, “no dramas”, and it works like a chuffin’ charm.

I had to deal with a pretty harsh reality: all the crazy-horrible drama I was experiencing? I was responsible for attracting it into my life! In search of meaning/purpose/whatever, I wanted my life to pan out like a movie. Sure, there were no car chases or Samuel L Jackson monologues, but I had a tendency to latch onto anything remotely unusual or eventful and make it… ‘a thing’. If drama creates pleasure, joy, and positive vibes, then you don’t have to change one bit. But if, like me, drama creates panic, low mood and fatigue… it might be high time for a low-key year. Of course, some dramas are unavoidable: serious family matters, work-related crises, the impending Nuclear War… but to what degree does this drama belong to you? And what purpose will this drama serve? I find that it’s possible now to decide whether such drama is going to affect my health and wellbeing, and that making a conscious decision to reject drama in favour of better mental health makes it much easier to spot when drama is “theirs”, not mine. To help someone in crisis doesn’t mean internalising the crisis yourself. You’ll help them far more by being a calming presence, amiright? This leads me nicely onto…

Lesson 3: Self-care ain’t selfish! (said literally everyone on Instagram).

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Self-care is a bit of a buzzword at the moment… but I don’t give a damn, it’s a bloody good idea. The two above lessons fall under the umbrella lesson that self-care is not just necessary… it’s a priority (that was so corny). Especially if you’ve been giving yourself a hard time for most of your life. Whether it’s just brushing your teeth before bed, or [cue big intake of breath] joining a gym and actually going to it… I believe your mind and body would be thankful for the very fact that you actively showed up for yourself in some manner.  I’m not a pampering kinda gal, but doing a bit of exercise, choosing nourishing food and going to bed at a reasonable hour no longer feel like a waste of my life now I understand the positive impact conscious self-care has on my mental health. If I could give myself a warm embrace and say “YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY”, that’s what self-care would feel like to me.

So, er, yeah. I’m totally done writing this blog post now. Maybe I’ll keep blogging now, or maybe I’ll get bored and find something else to obsess over. In any case, I wish everyone reading this a happy, healthy, hassle-free 2018!

K, I’m done.

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Peace, love and happy soul-searching x

 

 

 

 

 

 

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