Mental Health

Your Own Worst Critic or Your Own Best Friend

You’re useless! Stop being such a pathetic coward. Grow up, don’t be such a baby. Idiot! Why did you say that? Now everyone knows how stupid you are. You can’t do anything right! I don’t even know why you bother to try! Just be quiet and stop annoying everyone.

Does this sound like something you would say to somebody? I’d like to presume answer is no (if it’s not, we can’t be friends). The words are cruel, vile and unnecessary and the thought of saying something like this to another person is vulgar. Yet, I’ve been guilty of saying these words many times over in the past and still do from time to time – not to anyone else, that’s unimaginable, but to myself.

To judge ourselves harshly, to berate and loathe ourselves seems to be socially acceptable and an ugly part of human nature. We seem to somehow justify it. It’s as if it’s okay to treat ourselves in this awful way, a way in which we would never dream of treating another living being.

I really think we need to start being a lot kinder to ourselves, to show patience and compassion. To realise that it’s okay to be scared, unsure, weak, tired and falible to – that’s part of being human. Nobody expects us to be perfect, so why on earth do we expect this of ourselves. Setting such unachievable standards is a guaranteed road to failure. Putting so much pressure on ourselves is what leads to the self loathing when we don’t live up to our own expectations. We feel so angry when we think of our own inadequacy that the only emotions we can feel are bad ones.

It’s one of those vicious circles that keep us spiralling downward. The worse we feel the more we hate ourselves, the more we hate ourselves the worse we feel, until eventually we are a blithering wreck with no confidence or drive.

So what if instead we try to talk to ourselves as if we were talking to a friend, or better yet the child version of us? Would you really want to make a child feel so worthless, sad and scared? Of course not, only a sociopath would want to bully a child.

What if we were to carry around a picture of the little version of us, either in our head or as a photograph on our phone, and look at that picture every time we start telling ourselves we aren’t good enough and imagine what we’d say to that child instead? In our heart, aren’t we all just the child version of ourself, trying desperately to get through this crazy life unscathed?

Perhaps it’s time we came to our own defence? To stand up against the part of us that is quick to bite, to judge and to scold and instead to say, “It’s okay, you did your best and your best is good enough – and I love you little one, you’re doing fine”.

Mental Health

DON’T PANIC…(But If You Do, That’s Okay).

It’s easy to talk about how there’s nothing to feel ashamed of when you have a mental health condition. There’s no need to feel embarrassed any more so than if you have a headache or a cold. I tell people all the time and I firmly believe it. But saying it is one thing, feeling it when you are having a panic attack, or in the midst of a depressive episode, is quite another.

I recently had a bit of a set back and found myself having a panic attack at work. My managers were great, my colleagues also. Everyone was so supportive and yet I felt like I had failed. I felt weak, and like I had let myself down. I was a disappointment, embarrassed and ashamed. I felt all the things I so strongly believe nobody should have to feel because of something that isn’t their fault. So why did this feel like it was my fault? I should have been able to stay in control, stay composed, swallow down those feelings. I’ve been there before, right? Shouldn’t I have a handle on it by now?

When I thought of people at work seeing me in such a dishevelled state I was mortified. My swollen eyes, puffy face, hyperventilating, out of control in panic. A panic I couldn’t stop from building up, sweeping over me washing me away to a place where I couldn’t feel my feet on the ground.

Obviously, rationally I know its okay to go through stuff. I know my mind is as unique as the next person, we are all wired differently and some of us are prone to these feelings. I know it isn’t my fault and it’s okay to break down from time to time. I know all that and yet I still feel these feelings.

But do you know what? That’s okay too. I’m not going to sit and dwell on these feelings because that is only going to make me feel worse. They will pass in time and I’ll once again come to the point where they don’t embarrass me any more and I don’t cringe and recoil at the memory.

But, until then I’ll live with it, accept it and forgive myself for feeling like I need to forgive myself. Moving forward one day at a time on this journey that is my life, trying to understand what makes me tick until I can live happily and comfortably in my own head again.