Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Being 'selfish' and looking after number one

Currently suffering with a case of Post-Sam depression, an illness which occurs in the week following an amazing few days with the gorgeous Samantha ( It's been a week now since our fabulous meet-up and I'm reminiscing the memories as I type with many wide grins upon my face. Thank you!

Despite the great few days I spent with Sam, I've had a few dark moments along the way too. I have learnt a few things as well though, as often we learn from our experiences and thoughts, whether we realise them or not. I guess one thing I have learnt in the past week is that I need to learn to be a little bit more selfish.

We hear the word 'selfish' and automatically assume it as something negative. But in the case of mental health recovery, can selfishness ever be negative?
One thing I've realised over the past few weeks is that I've spent the almost 21 years of my life focusing on pleasing others, and this has come in a variety of different forms. I've always been a people-pleaser but always assumed that this only extended to school teachers and the like. Recently I've realised that this people-pleasing has extended to my family, friends, colleagues and managers, university staff as well as those whom I have made friends with through this fantastic online community that we all know and love, for the most part.

I often tell those online and in real-life that I'm 'always there for them' and 'am here anytime'. Which is true, for the most part. But what if I'm not in a position to dish out advice and console those in need? What happens when it all gets a little bit too much? What if, without realising, this ability to be there for everyone is really hindering your own recovery?
I have spent a lifetime consumed around mental health. Eating disorders, depression, anxiety, body image, self-harm, suicide, I live and breathe it all. I talk about it to friends, family, the majority of my friends suffer from the same kinds of illnesses, I am currently a Psychology student (which I wish to change), I go to counselling sessions once a week and discuss mental health, I blog and vlog about mental health, I go to the doctors more often than not to receive medication for my mental health. I work for mental health charities. Quite honestly, mental health dominates the life I live, internally and externally.

People often ask me why I'd want to be so involved in mental health and working alongside mental health having suffered from it for so long. 'Don't you get fed up of it?' they say. The truth is, I do.
I work to raise awareness of mental health not just because I want to and because I've been through it. That, of course is a massive part of it but at the same time that people-pleasing aspect of me feels that I need a life centered around all of this due to my experiences. I NEED to help people, before I've even worked out what I want to do and what I want MY life to be. And that's just part of the person I've always been. I've always put others before myself. I'd much rather buy a present for someone else than spend my monthly wages on myself, I'll sacrifice my health to work a few extra hours at work because I'm afraid of letting them down and I spend my life volunteering, writing blogs and dishing out great advice to those who call me an inspiration where realistically I can't be one. If my life doesn't even have a focus then how can I help others so that they can achieve the same dreams and goals?

The truth is, right now, I need to make decisions that are selfish. If something doesn't feel right and I feel like it's detrimental to my recovery, I need to avoid it. If something is making me unhappy, I need to change it. I'm finally beginning to realise that in order to fully recover you need to not just be happy, but happy within YOURSELF and your life. Right now, I'm not happy. At all. I'm back on medication, back in counselling, back into eating disordered and depressive behaviours and losing focus and direction. But perhaps a reason for that is because I never even think to stop and focus on myself once in a while and spend too much of it worrying about others.

That's not to say I will never be there for anyone and will never be a source of support for others. That's not what I am saying at all. But we all have our own lives to live and it's important that within all the hustle and bustle of day to day life we focus on ourselves. It's time I stopped thinking about what others will think if I do something that's actually right for me. Sometimes, I need to take a little step back from life, the internet, and all its burdens. There's only so long I can talk about mental health until being in this environment does nothing but just 100% trigger me. This is my life, and no-one elses. We all wish sometimes that we can be a different person but realistically we can only be the best version of ourselves that we can be. And a way to start doing so is to treat and look after yourselves once in a while. Be a little bit selfish. It isn't always a bad thing. We'd be complete hypocrites if we promoted positive self-love and care if we didn't do it ourselves wouldn't we? And we all deserve it. Each and every one of us.

Every month after I get paid I try and go on a little trip and buy myself things I wouldn't always buy myself. Mainly because I feel like I don't deserve them or can't justify any reason for buying them other than simply 'wanting them'. But over the last few months Nathan has really helped in encouraging me to start treating myself and indulging in a little bit of 'me' time, now and again.

Here is an example of today's purchases - a short but sweet shopping trip in which I purchased items that I didn't really need, but wanted.
I also went into HobbyCraft today during my travels and picked up a huge plain scrapbook, stickers, and colourful papers in order to make a recovery focused scrapbook. Full of inspiring pictures, quotes, words of wisdom, dreams, places I want to go, pictures of friends and family, I want it to be a reminder of why I need to be here. Why I need to keep fighting. I've never done anything like that for myself before. Better to start late now than never huh?

I guess I've never really thought of myself as someone who 'deserves' recovery before. Someone who deserves to do what they want to do and a life away from mental illness.
But we all do. Each and every one of us. No matter what stage we are at or the mistakes we've made. I've still got such a long way to go, and quite honestly, there is a bigger part of me that has lost hope than has gained it. But I'm confident I'll find it from somewhere. I just need to start appreciating myself for the person I am, take care of myself and my well-being.
Time to start being a little selfish, eh?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Amy-Louise,

    Yes, it is very important to look after yourself. Not looking after yourself can be selfish behaviour, because it can put an unnecessary burden on those around you and is not in the best interests of those you love. I see that your are "in love" - such a wonderful feeling. I'm jumping the gun here since you're only 20, but particularly because you appear to be prone to negative feelings and because this relates to selfishness. It is very important that before entering into marriage you have a conversation about leadership & followership (who will lead, who will follow, what will their roles be etc). The best leaders and followers demonstrate selflessness. Clearly defining these roles will make your married life much happier. Hope this helps.

    Little Gumboot