This week I was invited to chat with Kelsey Parker (tune in here) all about staying positive through it all. A topic I love to chat about but wow can life throw us some curveballs. I shared on my own podcast last week about some tough times I have had recently. Times that it would have been all too easy to just get really bitter and angry with life. I have often said that life is not meant to be easy. But there are times I have questioned why. Why can it get so hard? Why do people suffer? I think the hardest thing for me is that when I have been unwell, I have had no control. All I have ever wanted is to spread love and make people feel heard, understood and amazing. That’s what I do. But the unwell me can at times get massively in the way of this. Perhaps we should name her. Let’s go with Greta. Greta can literally piss all over my picnic. She can at times strip me of my privacy and my dignity. She can do things I would never do. Sometimes she is creative, hardworking and so much fun. She is desperate for love. But she can make some bad choices. She can also act like a dickhead. I then try and justify it by thinking of the people I can help as a result once Greta pisses off. I tell myself I will be stronger for it. What did Greta teach me? But then my mind likes to remind me of things. Because my mind is working well now, it’s smug. I could be having a lovely walk, enjoying some music or laughing with my kids and then my cocky little mind will whisper:
Do you remember when Greta did that? Cringe, so so cringe.
What a disgrace.
Everyone will just put you in a crazy box now.
I love crazy by the way. But not the delusional sort of crazy my mind whispers.
I was having coffee with a friend recently and she was calling me out for being way too self critical of things I said or did when I was unwell. Things that Greta did. I was being pretty nasty to myself, despite everything I teach others. She reminded me that it wasn’t a personality trait, it was an illness. A week later, in a meeting with my psychiatrist, she said to me:
‘Jojo, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your personality. You have an amazing personality’
I then went into detective mode and asked her some questions about personality types (yip, these are meant to be healing sessions but I often like to use them for learning). For example, a person who is considered a psychopath has a personality disorder that they were born with. It’s a personality trait. They know when they are causing harm to others and will often enjoy it. Those who experience a mental illness will not know what they are doing. They will lack capacity for a period of time. This did make my mind go a bit easier on me. I also started to think about those people who know they are doing evil and they enjoy it. Should we blame them if it is a personality trait they were born with? Is there therapy to help them to be kinder? These are the types of thoughts I have.
I hear of so many that can be hard on themselves after trauma. The mind loves to blame. If I was speaking with a friend who had acted out of character during a period of trauma/ ill health, I would be reminding them of who they really are. I would tell them that it didn’t matter what they did, I would love them. Yet, there is so much shame. I find it hard to take my own advice. I hear of people who never want to leave the house again because they are so embarrassed (I totally relate to this). Or those who give up their hobbies and passions because a mental illness has ruined it. I get this too.
What also really frustrates me about a mental break is the fact that it can piss all over any hopes and dreams. It can edit, adapt, add a twist. I hate all talk and no action. If I have hopes and plans that mean something to me, I tend to follow them through. Many will totally over share their biggest dreams when they are unwell but then when they get capacity, they are too embarrassed to mention them again. It is so hard to draw the line between real life and illness. Illness can spoil dreams.
I am aware that this blog is called staying positive through it all and the first half is pretty negative. But we need to talk about the hard stuff and this happens to be mine. I am sharing in the hope that you feel less alone. Whatever your story is, let’s think about how we keep our chin up when it feels like we are being constantly slammed.
For me, it starts with the small joys. So let’s push those magical beaches and sunsets aside for a bit. Let’s put less focus on the big goals and passion projects. Instead, let’s focus on the simple things. Find a few things you can enjoy in the day such as reading, walking, writing, cooking, listening to music, getting lost in a great show on tv. Hold onto those small joys for dear life. I could be lying in my comfies with a blanket wrapped around me, reading a great book and feeling sheer joy. Granted, my mind can be an asshole 5 minutes later, but I try to focus on the happy moments. When I enter the room, our little puppy is so happy to see me that he pisses himself (just a tiny bit). Yip, he doesn’t care about the past. He is all in for the moment. We can learn a lot from our pets.
I think it is so important to focus on our soul over our mind. So when the mind is being nasty, take some deep breaths and try to get to a calmer, more compassionate place. There are no gremlins in nature. I get into nature every single day. Being open to our spiritual health and the power of having faith in the things we can’t see is key. I spoke to Kelsey about this on her podcast and she was delighted that this topic came up because it means so much to her after the loss of Tom, her husband. The mind won’t be too keen on this kind of woo woo chat as it thrives off control. It’s not that happy about the unseen. But knowing there is more helps me. Being open to signs each day helps me. I get excited when I see them. It was lovely to hear Kelsey talk about signs she has had from Tom. She was a total sceptic before.
I like this simple quote:
Stay soft. Do not let the things that have hurt you turn you into a person you are not.
Whatever trauma you have been through, please be kind to yourself. Please remember that you deserve to be happy. That you are strong and that you can pick yourself back up. Even when it feels impossible. Things can change. Time can help us to heal. Be kind to yourself. Call out your smug little mind. You got this. I’ll try too.
All my love. Jojo x