A Life and Travel Blog for the over 30's
Ok, buckle up people. This is one of those posts that I start writing, never knowing if Im going to hit publish on it, but feel the need to get my thoughts out. Im not sure myself where its going to take us, but all I can tell you is that Im writing it in full flow. The words are tumbling out and my fat little fingers are tapping away on the keys, themselves almost independent of me, anxious to try to get my thoughts out of my head and written down. When I have the feeling like this in a post, I know its because I am going to be revealing a little of my soul here, and I am never sure that I want to. But, I know I need to. But, I know Im scared to.
This post was the result of a really, really bad time that I recently had. My mind was my enemy and I really had to rally my mental army to fight off the feelings that were crashing around me. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen a little of where my head was at around August/September, I did touch upon it at the time, but as is typical with me, I am not one to put it all out there until I have worked through it myself. Only then will I put it out there if I feel its useful to discuss. Im not one for gratuitous sound boarding. I have my friends and family for that task! Anyway, when the fog began to clear, I began to see that I had some work to do on me. It made me realise that bad days can actually be a gift. Its your soul telling you to figure it out. The rubbish days are telling you to ask yourself the question, What are Your Bad Days Trying to Tell You?
So, without boring you all to tears, but to help you understand me a little, Im going to tell you a little about me. Not my bra size or anything, just a little how my mind works. Im tough, because Iv had to be. Im strong, because that is my nature. Im incredibly perceptive of myself, situations and my own mind, because I have learnt to be. Im positive in life because I choose to be. All of this does not mean however, that I don’t have bad days. Im not just talking about having an emotional day, or a shitty day at work. Im talking about those days that stretch into weeks, that arrive unannounced, and make you feel like you are going through the motions of life, but not living it. Like your watching other people live through a crack in the door. Im talking about those days where you feel so deeply, desperately, heart heavy sad, but don’t know why. Those days where your heart is constantly running at a million miles an hour, and you feel breathless, sick. The days you have to go through coping rituals that you have developed over the years, just to get out of the door. The days where you are in full fight or flight mode, just hanging on to the edge. The days where you feel that all of your achievements in your life have been worthless. These are the days that I am talking about.
Well back in August, I felt the crash of these days start to tumble down around me. Im not going to go into the details of the triggers and what led to it, but I will tell you it was the worst bout of it I have had for about 3 years. Anxiety, worthlessness and self doubt were tearing at my confidence. Comparison was kicking me repeatedly in the head. I felt scared. I know thats a strange word to use, but when I get these awful times, I feel fearful. I fear that I am not going to recover this time. I fear I will unravel completely and be too tangled to go back together. I fear that my kids will think less of me as I’m not the lioness Mum that they thought they had. I fear that my husband, who lets face it has enough shit of his own to deal with, will realise that I am not as strong as he thinks, come to his senses and do a bunk. Now, let me be clear here, when I am rational I have NONE of these thoughts. We are a tight knit family, all got each others backs a million percent, but this is where my mind leads me when my anxiety gets the better of me. Its terrifying. I am the one who sorts shit out in my family, both immediate and extended family. Im the one that has the rational mind. Im the one that always finds a way to sort things. The do-er. The make-stuff-happen girl. But not at those times and it scares me……
After about 6 weeks the rational Kerry started to claw her way back in. My mental soldiers come out of the trenches and start to regroup. They were able to be my front line again. Its in this recovery time that I start trying to work out what it was all about. I knew that working out why I had been able to be triggered had to be worked through. Due to a few things in my past, I have done many, many years of soul work on myself, so I know myself. I know in order to move forward fully, I have to figure out what happened. I also know that there is a lesson in this episode somewhere. A very wise friend once told me, “If you keep getting the same thing happen, then you haven’t learnt the lesson. The lesson will keep being presented to you until you fully learn it” She is so right! Let me elaborate.
You know those friends we all have, that have times where they are upset over something. They tell anyone that will listen how they are feeling. Then they “see the light” and claim they are over it, that they have a brand new mindset, never to feel that way again. They are off and running again. However, a month later, they are back banging the same drum. You know someone like that yes? Well, they are the ones that don’t fully and completely work through the issue that caused them the pain. They say they do. They shout from the rooftops that they have a new way of looking at it etc. But they don’t fully. They just paper the crack. So, the lesson comes back again to hopefully make them learn the next time. Does that make sense? I refuse to be on that hamster wheel. I have to learn from these bad times.
So, I started to work through it all, unpicking myself thread by thread. Laying every thread down and looking at how it got frayed. This takes me days, sometimes weeks. But, I always, without exception, figure it out. What I realised this time though, and maybe because it was such a vicious battle, is that these episodes are actually a gift that Im given. Its my mind telling me that I have to make some changes. Its working out what my bad days are trying to say. That some behaviour that I was entertaining was perhaps not healthy for me. I was being made to look at why I had reached such a low point, and learn the bloody lesson, remove the cause, so I don’t sink again!
One of the big things that I realised, was that I had fallen victim to Imposter Syndrome. You know that feeling when you feel like people think your a certain way, and you are so afraid that you are going to disappoint them. I had been invited to a couple of events that I felt were out of my league, as well as been offered a couple of wonderful opportunities, and I was over the moon. However, elation was replaced by the self doubt, telling me that I was going to be so disappointing to them. That they were expecting ABC, I was going to give them XYZ . I started to feel panic. I started to feel like a fraud. I was scared that they had put faith in the wrong person. That I wasn’t up to the job. All of these negative thoughts just barged there way in to my mind and took up residency. It was awful and debilitating.
Then came the fall into the comparison vortex. This is not something that I usually do, so I was surprised by this. Iv wrote about comparison before, (Comparison – The stealer of Joy) and usually, I have my ducks in a row on this subject, so why had it raised its ugly head? During these low weeks my mind had been taunting me. Whispering in my ear that I was not a good Mum. Hinting that my husband would be better off without me as I was a wild one. Thoughts were asking me why I even bothered writing, I was shit at it. It was telling me that I will never be worthy. I was re-reading recent blog posts I had published and thinking how rubbish they were. Even my stats, there in black and white, were not quenching this self-flagellation.
I suddenly felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere, that I wasn’t sure what my goal or purpose was. I didn’t have my “online squad” and everyone else did. The cliques etc on social media suddenly felt huge, daunting, impenetrable. I felt like I was adrift. My anchors had gone and I was drifting away, getting further lost. I was questioning myself constantly, and I mean constantly. I felt like a stranger in my home and in my mind. It was the worst few weeks. Exhausting in all senses. I found I was comparing myself to people on social media. We have all seen those that are constantly stressing about numbers and followers, which I usually ignore. However, I started thinking that maybe this meant that I didn’t care enough about my writing and blog as I wasn’t stressing about numbers. I wasn’t focused enough or involved enough. I was getting anxious over their anxiety over numbers. I mean, WTF! It was a truly awful 6 weeks.
So. I have made some changes. I have to make these changes as I never want to feel that low again. I have muted a few people on social media that make me feel anxious. I don’t want to unfollow them as it is not their fault that they trigger me. Its my issue. I have also limited my time on social media. I have gone back to not going on for one full day a week. I have set my “screen time” on my phone to limit my sessions and time on there. I have reminded myself that these things do not validate me. I have also learnt that I have to recognise what I was envious of in other people, and make changes to achieve that goal if its important to me. Sometimes you realise that actually, its not important! Instead of thinking how far I have to go, I needed to look at how far Id come and what I had acheived so far in my life.
I also learnt that by comparing myself to others, I was putting the focus on the wrong person. I was looking at what they had achieved and I hadn’t, instead of looking at what I needed to do to get where I wanted to be. Also, I had to rationalise and start putting a human element on a perceived result. So, for example, lets say Im comparing myself to someone with thousands of social media followers. Instead of feeling envy, I needed to start looking at how they would have got there. I know they would have to spend many hours a week focusing on building their following, posting, engaging, insta-storying their every move, etc. Reminding myself that I had most likely spent the same amount of hours reading a fabulous book, talking with my friends or spending time with my family. The realisation then comes into focus and you see what you would benefit more from. You see? Its breaking it down to see if it really is that important to you, to see if you would want to sacrifice the things you spend your time doing!
Well, Im pretty sure I have probably waffled on enough now. If your still here, well done to you. I told you I wasn’t sure where this was going! I guess what Im trying to convey, is yes, we all have tough times. We all have times where we feel low. But, trying to turn the negative into a positive, can make those shitty days more useful and not a waste. Working out why we felt a certain way, and what set us off will guide us towards the lessons, and perhaps changes in behaviour, that we are being shown we need to make. That can only be a good thing. Every day is the chance to learn and grow as they say!
I hope that this makes at least a little sense to you! I know it was a bit of a brain vomit. It all just came pouring out.
Id love to know your thoughts on this. Can you see how your bad days can actually be a good thing if you turn it around? Can you relate in any way to the imposter syndrome or comparison trap? Do you understand the points I am trying (really badly) to make haha! As always, I would love to hear you thoughts and feedback. Let me know xxx