As I sit here blinking at the brightness of the screen with Archie the cat led across my stomach, I am unsure of what to write yet I have felt the longing to blog almost desperately for over a week. The mental health community recently lost a powerful voice, Amy Bleuel, to suicide and it has hit me and many others pretty hard.
Amongst hearing of the death of one of my heroes, the past few weeks have been stressful. And amongst work, job hunting / interviews, moving house plus celebrating my entry into my thirty-first year, I have been trying to keep my shit together. This time of year particularly is difficult because for as long as I can remember April has always brought with it its own weather, usually a cloud of depression. It’s part of my cycle.
But keep our shit together we must.
Be Kind to Yourself.
I know why I’m keeping it together. I’ve learnt to be kinder to myself. I have learnt my signals, my triggers and most importantly I finally understand my brain. Some people call this mindfulness, I call it two and a half years of weekly therapy and a ton of hard work. Being kind to yourself is not always easy, some people manage it effortlessly but if you’re like me always putting others before yourself, always piling on the pressure to be better, to be a better human. Then you know how hard it is to give yourself the time your brain and your body is telling you that you need.
Knowing how busy the last few weeks have been I promised myself that I would spend the Easter weekend looking after myself in whatever form my brain / body was telling me… And I’m grateful that I am listening… I really wanted to fall into old habits and sleep in but fortunately the SAD lamp I received for Christmas is doing it’s job and has changed my bodyclock so I actually wake up at a reasonable hour. I decided however not to get up and busy myself but to listen to what I really needed, this turned out to be 3 hours of listening to music with the cat curled up next to me. I then spent the remainder of the day making my house a home, unpacking every box in my new flat, so when I get back from a stressful day at work or job interview that I can feel grounded and settled.
It Doesn’t Matter What it Looks Like.
Something that I have learned is that kindness to yourself doesn’t need to look like some yogi-centric, gym going, healthy eating, victoria secret model instagram account. No, kindness to yourself is discovering what makes you you, what makes you tick and making the most of it. Even when you don’t want to. Even when you feel like you should be doing everything else except that. Kindness to yourself is allowing yourself the cravings and the needing. It’s about listening to you, listening to your gut and acting on it. It’s about trying. You don’t have to put yourself first 100% of the time to be kind to yourself, but you should at least acknowledge who you are and what makes you great. We can’t all be saving the world, we can’t all be a size 8 health buff, or a plus size model or making the environment better, we can’t all be mothers, we can’t all speak with passion and move a nation. But what we can do, you know what I’m gonna say already, is be KIND.
Be Kind. Be kind to yourself, be kind to those around you, those you like, those you don’t. Listen to yourself, trust your instincts because even when your brain isn’t playing nice, your instincts will guide you through it. So if you’re reading this and feeling guilty about the 10th biscuit you ate in a row, or you’ve been to the gym every day but couldn’t manage it today. It’s okay. Accept it… be kind to yourself and just keep trying to be the best version of yourself you can manage.
I’ve always promised myself that however I have felt I would always try, and that I would use that semi-colon and never give up, even when it’s felt like I’ve been drowning and my lungs empty. Even when I’m not being kind to myself and I’m hating on my brain, on what makes me me. When I get upset because my kindness or niceness to others isn’t always seen as genuine or when I get upset because I want to be all of the things and it seems impossible.
I remind myself that I don’t always feel this way and that it will pass, sometimes that’s all of the kindness you need. Other times you may need to throw it around like confetti.
In loving memory of Amy Bleuel. A hero of mine & the mental health community and a constant reminder to be kind to ourselves.