Monday, 7 November 2011

mental health monday - perhaps some positivity

My last session with the Brain Man was interesting.

I think I've finally realised that I cannot control the external influences which are affecting my recovery. The external messages may be right (they aren't for the most part - why are people so cruel?) but I don't actually have to listen. I understand you have to be pretty insecure yourself to treat another human being so monstrously but that is no excuse.*

The internal voices are still strong. However my anxiety is not internal. (Depression yes it probably is but that's another story). I am learning to isolate my strong anxiety and remind myself it is a separate entity. For me it is not even my own voice. How very telling! 

Indeed the Brain Man has given me the rather thrilling idea of engaging with my anxiety and self doubt. Telling it that I will talk to it but to my timetable. No more will I lie awake at 3am and listen to all those hideous things I have previously told myself. I will tell it to fuck off and that I will listen and respond at 10am. A civilised hour where we both have a level play field. Tonight is my first attempt. I'll let you know how I get on.

So say hello to positive Anna. Oh she's coming and she will be triumphant!

I think this be the last time I was truly happy. (What sad admission but true nonetheless)

Turning 30 does not scare me (save financially) but I would be lying if I said I don't oft think about what could have been. I was bright, inquisitive and happy. I could have been a great member of society yet I feel I have contributed nothing. This stops now. I want to leave a legacy. 

I am not going to allow certain people drive me away from my happiness. Whether they be online or not. I shall not be used and abused anymore.

Haters can hate. I'm done.

I am not weak for listening to them but I am never going to be strong if I continue to do so.

I am going to be me but what I always imagined I could be on a very good day.** I have the capacity to be exceptional. (I think!) 

Today is Marie Curie's birthday. She was my inspiration as a child. I thought she was one of the strongest most fabulous woman I had ever read about. She was who I wanted to be. She is a role model. She is who I still want to be. I want to be a role model. Crippling self doubt has no place here anymore. I want to show people things can get better after the darkest of days. Oh, the sun is starting to shine.


I will still talk about mental health issues because I do think that talking about them can be a very positive step. Stigma is a bitch. I refuse to accept that just because I do not have a media friendly disease I should be shunned. I am not proud to say I have depression or anxiety. Gosh, of course not. The media does paint certain mental illness as the new black. Yet there is a difference between being allowed to talk about being ill (and getting better and trying to help people who are in a similar situation) and saying "woe is me." Woe is not me. 

Who are you role models? (You can say me - of course!) What do you take from them? Where do you find your strength?

As always I love to hear from you. I know I write a lot and I'm not exactly Sartre but I really do benefit from your kind and intelligent words. I have to be honest with you. One of my worst traits is to assume I can mind read. When I don't hear from you I assume I'm an idiot and that I am worthless. Yes I know having an external locus for my self esteem is not wise but it's all I've got right now so help a sister out! Pressure much?! Sorry the honesty is good for me right now.

*Also playing the naive girl because you know I will be generous and kind is an extremely cynical and almost evil game to play. I hope you are proud of yourself. 
**I may even start taking Berocca!


  1. Don't start taking Berocca! Look at what you have written. That is emotional Berocca. You are pepping yourself up. I am cheering you on over here!

    For some reason this post reminded me of a conversation I had with J last night. He said something along the lines of "I like that you blog. It is a good outlet for you." At the time I paid no attention. But now I am annoyed. I feel like he went all Brain-Man on me (he has a degree in Psychology) and I HATE that as it makes me feel weak, like he sees me as a test subject. Which of course he doesn't. But, my point is, I think the same feeling is showing here. You don't want to seem weak. You are strong. You want to forge ahead and blaze a path. And I am so proud!

  2. "I could have been a great member of society yet I feel I have contributed nothing." I get the *feeling,* but know that this statement is rubbish. I know I only know you through the lens of this blog, but to me you have done a lot and contributed a lot, on your own terms.

    I am so glad for this upswing. You're already exceptional, but I hope you can prove it to yourself in the coming days.

  3. I think.continuing these posts is brilliant. The stigma is horrible. Posts lille yours that acknowledge this as just an illness luke others are very powerful.

    And the notion you have continued nothing seems wrong. But I can't stop you duelling like that by telling you that. I hope your new approach works Everyone needs to find the one that works as this illness has so many iterations.

  4. I agree with all of the above. I'm a newcomer to these industry blogs but yours is one I adore for many reasons, but primarily your honesty. It takes guts.

    Hope that rescheduled 10am 'session' works out well. Keep on keeping on etc. A very insiring post. Thank you Anna.

  5. Berocca rocks my socks because it turns my wee orange. And for that reason, I will never be a role model to anyone.

    You wanted to know who our role models were though, and I've been sat here for ages thinking about it. And I can't really find one. I think it's because my flighty Gemini tendencies mean I crush passionately on someone for all of 5 minutes before getting bored and running off to do something else.

    I do know that on the Wall of Inspiration next to my desk here, I have a whole variety of pictures of strong women, from Liza of the Minneli to my very own mother (yes, even she!), as well as pictures of frolics with wedding industry friends and even some lovely cards from yourself. These are what make me stronger.

  6. My Grandad is my role model. He died almost three years ago and it ripped out my heart because he was the one person who i connected with on a level I have never connected with anyone else. He had so much compassion, sincerity, honesty yet unbelievably witty and he would make me feel so special because we are all special!
    It wasn't until attending his funeral I learnt my Grandad had suffered with depression himself during the 1950's-1960's. On hearing this information I was not surprised, no wonder he was such a great listener, had a wealth of wisdom and genuinely showed how much he cared for others. He was ace!

  7. Aagh, it wouldn't let me edit my comment. Anyway the bit I wanted to add is:

    He was ace! He was real!

  8. Marie Curie is such an idol. I don't really know who my role models are but I do know I aspire to be a force of good in some way or another.

    I really enjoyed reading this Anna, it's great to see the stepping stones you're taking on the journey to being better.

    And I'm sure I had that same dress as a little one!

  9. Anna I'm so pleased to hear you're making really positive steps. Your brain man sounds very good, unlike the brain lady I went to see who just told me off for not making eye contact enough, Ugh!

    I don't have any role models, and perhaps that's because I'm at the beginning of a long journey like yours. Maybe you should be my role model.

  10. Let me let you into a secret - EVERYONE has an external locus -or loci - for their self-esteem, just dig deep enough. But I think you're right about hanging your self-esteem to one post's comments not being a good idea. May I make a suggestion? Make a folder - real or mental - of positive comments and work you're proud of. And whenever you start feeling worthless, revisit it.

    ps - did you see a cup of jo's post about anxiety? And allie brosh's adventures in depression? It's good to talk about this stuff :D

  11. Wow - I think you are really brave and one gutsy little lady! I really admire your honesty here and thank you for getting it out there! I feel it for you - this time last year I had really debilitating anxiety attacks (the worst saw me admitted to A&E thinking I was having a heart attack!) but I kept it to myself and close family. Even my time off work was signed off as a very neutral-sounding reason for absence: 'palpitations'. I have definitely learned to manage this but I can't say I've kicked it entirely... It's a slow process. But having supportive people at your side as you make the climb back to you makes it easier - I'm sure this post will help so many people. Thanks for your refreshing honesty!! x
    Emma x

  12. I think what you're doing is fantastic. Using this forum for a great dialog, setting goals for where you want to be, etc. I'm excited for you!

    I also have a challenge for you (or, if you don't like challenges, a suggestion). List the things you do well ALREADY (there's lots, I promise). Either think of something to add to the list at your 10:00 debrief or -- even better -- challenge yourself to think of something good about yourself each time you think something negative.

    I'll start: you're such a kind, welcoming soul. I can tell from across the Atlantic and through the interwebs.

  13. I have exactly the same problem when no-one comments. I am the biggest worrier and if I put something out there for it to get no love back then I just assume the worst. I hate that about myself. I'm the same in every side of my life. It's a trait of mine I hate.

    However, you should be proud of yourself for being so open. It takes a lot to do that - something I have failed big time at, especially because of haters on the internet. Turning 30 was a big learning curve for me, I've done a lot of soul searching since and I dealt with loads of issues I didn't think mattered when I was younger. But I feel a damn site more grounded for it.

    Who's my role model? Someone who I've been missing terribly recently - my Auntie Gloria. She was one of the most courageous and fair people I will ever meet and not only that, she was the person who taught me I should fight for what I believe is right. Sadly, Glo died of cancer at a fairly young age and she's left a huge gap in my life that I know I'll never fill.

    Please keep on with these posts Anna as they give me the courage to find my voice about the feelings I hide away.

  14. Anna, your honesty is so brave and admirable. We could all learn something from you. I'm so glad your feeling more positive. You are indeed a role model yourself! I'd love to hear how the engaging with your anxiety goes, really hope the 10am schedule works.

    I'm trying to think of who my role model is, and if someone doesn't immediately spring to mind I guess that means I don't have one particular person. Though I think my Dad has always been someone I look up to and try to learn from, parent's approval and everything!


  15. Ladies seriously thank you.

    You are rather inspiring aren't you!

    I will continue to talk about mental health because it is so important.

  16. Anna you are so brave to talk about this I really admire you.
    My mum has been suffering from anxieties and depression since I was a small child and it really saddens me that she has never been properly helped with it. The doctors perscribed her with antidepressents which she then became addicted to (the doctors said she couldnt!) she weaned herself off of them and then has for the last 25 years learnt to deal with it. It makes me so sad to see my mum not being able to do simple things like just go out without having to deal with panic attacks and tension headaches.
    When Guy and I got engaged one of my first thoughts was I really want my mum to be able to come to my wedding and be able to enjoy herself. I had been told about a lady who did hypnotherapy and to my suprise my mum was up for trying it out. She had about 3 sessions and was able to come to the wedding and enjoy the day I was so proud of her she was amazing. The only thing is now she can go back into her shell with not wanting to go out again, I can't pretend to know how she feels or what goes through her mind but I try to understand and I really wish I could help her. She can be a really strong woman she passed her driving test at the age of 40!
    So who do I admire? well I admire my Mum and you Anna, I really hope you are finding what you need to help you.

  17. I've always been one for allowing others to dictate my levels of self-esteem and know how debilitating it can be. I'm like a baby deer most of the time struggling to stand on my own as I need validation that I'm doing the right thing. You may have noticed this.

    As for role models, I admire those women who just go out there are do it. Anyone who has the guts to go to do those things I just sit and worry about. Those people who aren't afraid to fail, they are my role models.

  18. Good to hear the Brain Man is being useful and get well soon (sounds trite but still worth saying).

    Funnily enough, it was another Brain Man who is my role model - Richard Feynmann ( If you look past the physics stuff (which was fascinating but baffles me) was the living epitome of someone who grabbed life by the scruff of the neck and squeezed the marrow from its bones.

    I'm not sure if medically the marrow comes from the scruff of the neck but you get the point.

  19. Anna, I think it is clear from comments on here and Twitter that you are an inspiration to so many women just by being who you are. In all your imperfections and anxieties. They make you a more caring and compassionate person than someone who has never known what it is to question your own competence.
    I love the idea of engaging with your anxieties on your terms - that is genius! Please let us know how it goes. I have had a battle with negative thoughts "stupid woman", "you're hopeless" etc but I am working hard to simply stop thinking like this about myself. I am pretty sure that nobody else does, so why do I? I have never accepted praise readily simply because I didn't believe it, I thought is was false and well-meaning but shallow. I am learning to simply smile and say "thank you" when someone pays me a compliment and try not to downplay what I am doing or have done by over-analysing it.
    This is my third bout of depression - on the first two occasions I took the pills and waited for it to go away, but the fact is that it never really does. It is like any medical condition - if you had in injury that was likely to give you bother for the rest of your life then you would have physic and learn how to manage it both to avoid making it worse and to treat it when it is bad. Most of us never get the opportunity to realise that depression and anxiety is like this - it will never go away, but you can learn how to recognise the symptoms when it is getting worse and what you can do to avoid it becoming debilitating.
    I love what you are doing on your blog because you give so many of us hope (and an outlet!) Never underestimate the good you are doing by talking openly about this. Also never underestimate the respect that people have for you.
    Do let us know how the negotiations with your anxiety went and do keep at it - it may not be easy but it is worth it :D
    Big hugs

  20. Ooops, I seem to have posted another big ramble *blushes*

  21. Never a ramble on here!

    Indeed Feynman continues to be an incredibly inspiring chap.


So, I really love all the sweet and/or informative comments that you lovelies leave. Yet if you feel the need to be unnecessarily rude or offensive I will delete your comment and not feel bad about it. So just be constructive alright! Hugs to all you wondrous others.


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