I feel there has been so much going on all at once but nothing particularly discernible – perhaps this is a result of the last leg of lockdown 3.0. The past few months have been difficult for almost everyone I know, especially in regards to mental wellbeing; which of course, given we’ve been isolated from the outside world (no matter how necessary) is entirely understandable. However, it isn’t just the pandemic which plays into mental health, but the individual factors, and I’d like to take the time to share with you how I’ve been lately, and how the pandemic has both worsened my mental health, but forced me to spend more time alone, in turn allowing me to understand my boundaries, triggers, coping mechanisms, and why they are present.
Of course this is purely from my own interpretation of my mental health as I am by no means an expert or professional in the field, so please proceed keeping this in mind, whilst simultaneously understanding that this is my lived experience, and truth.
Within recent months I have experienced numerous set backs and obstacles to both acknowledge, and work to overcome – all of which surrounding my mental health with a particular emphasis on how and why I respond to stress the way I do, and both recognising and understanding triggers.
Upon reflection I understand that my reasons for feeling highly nervous or stressed when there isn’t harmony in my friendships and relationships is because of childhood trauma. Like many young girls, I learned to ensure I was partially in charge for ensuring I didn’t play into my dad’s stress and anger, and because outbursts were very upsetting for me as a child, my brain learned that to reduce stress and avoid conflict, I would learn to downplay my feelings, avoid addressing them in a healthy way entirely, or being assertive of my needs, because it felt like doing so would result in instigating an anxiety inducing situation.
Now that I have recognised my reason for acting the way I did, it helps to reframe my behaviour and responses to stress inducing situations, for example I find I struggle to navigate any form of conflict without being a truly present advocate for myself, because I am filled with anxiety and feeling dependant for the other person’s response, and prioritising this over my own needs.
Therefore, as always I have to remind myself, and those out there that affirming your worth and practicing regular affirmations which relate to your mental health and personal feelings and insecurities is so important! About a week ago I started making affirmation cards to accompany those my friend sent me, which were pertinent to my situation. After due consideration I realised that I needed to nurture my inner child, and by reframing how I felt, I felt a deep rooted sense of validation which has gone unnoticed and unaddressed for years. So, I followed in my friend Ana’s footsteps and took time to listen to my inner child, what they require in this very moment, and reminding myself of what they needed to hear all those years ago. It has been a journey I wasn’t expecting to travel down, but believe my when I say this year has been full of self-discovery, and unearthing repressed and disregarded experiences and feelings which were permeating my present reality.
Practicing saying ‘no’
As to be expected with M.E/CFS, the stress I have experienced over the past few weeks has taken both a mental and physical toll on my energy levels, rendering my usable energy to be in very small quantities, or none at all – which is incredibly frustrating when you feel both lonely (because of depression and lockdown), and so tired you don’t have the drive or energy to talk to those who provide company. So, I’ve decided to use this time to further practice saying no, rather than trying to fight through even though every element of my body is telling me to do otherwise. By nature I am a people pleaser, so saying no or cancelling plans isn’t the easiest thing in the world – but with practice comes experience and ease.