16 May 2018

Happiness


Happiness - Maggie May

A year has passed since I published that post. 

And how do I feel one year on? Pretty damn good {Note – I am writing this whilst sat in my garden in the sunshine, so my view may be slightly skewed at present}.

I haven’t had any relapses – touch wood – although I do still get affected by my anxiety now and then. It’s strange, as while I had always been aware of my risk of becoming depressed again, and felt like I recognised the symptoms and signs quite well, my diagnosis of anxiety really took me by surprise. I won’t bang on about it again now as I wrote about it here, but I still find it odd that it’s the symptoms of anxiety which tend to rear their ugly head in my day to day life as opposed to low mood.

I feel like my experience taught me a lot though. Having engaged with cognitive behavioural therapy, CBT, I have been able to recognise patterns of behaviour and triggers which I wouldn’t have been aware of before. I still don’t get it right every time {who does?!} but at least I know now that I am taking notice of my mental health before big problems arise.

So what have I learnt this past year?

That you should say yes to things – for example, invites to social events, or opportunities which would normally pass you by – but at the same time, you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you want some introverted time to yourself. Meeting up with friends for dinner and drinks is lovely {especially if you’ve got a bunch as great as mine!} but if you want an evening on the sofa with a pizza and boxset instead, that’s totally fine too. It’s all about balance – we still exercise when we don’t quite feel up to it, and are then glad afterwards that we pushed ourselves to do it. But would you still force yourself on a run if you’d pulled a muscle and it was aching? No, because we listen to what our body’s telling us – and we should listen to what our mind is telling us too.

Happiness - Maggie May

On that note, I’ve learnt that exercise can definitely give you the boost you need, and I know many people who rely on their gym sessions to keep them sane. I must admit, I’m quite a lazy person, and so the thought of hitting the treadmill everyday fills me with dread. But when I play squash with Mr MM, which is usually fortnightly, and when I go to my weekly pilates class with my girlfriends, I always feel good afterwards. It’s a distraction for an hour or two, a time when you can focus on something other than your worries and stresses. It gets you out of the house. Do you know what else always makes me feel good afterwards though? Eating a massive slice of cake. The pure joy that a good piece of chocolate fudge cake brings me is something I am not willing to leave out of my life, and quite frankly, when I’ve been working hard, I think I deserve it. So I’m going to crack on with my pilates and cake eating, and you should too.

I’ve learnt – although I knew it already – to be even more thankful for my friends and family. I don’t need to gush about them on here because they already know that I’m grateful {and it would probably embarrass them} but I have become so aware of how lucky I was to have a support network like mine when I was struggling. In your darkest hours, thoughts cross your mind which you never in a million years imagined would appear in there – that’s the black dog for you – and the only way you can get through those numbing, hopeless moments is by hearing that things will get better. It was my loved ones who kept telling me that.

I’ve learnt to spend more time thinking about memories and the past – in a good way! One of my projects this year has been to sort through our thousands of photos, print them, and sort them into albums. I’ve created albums for family members, based on certain holidays or times in our lives, and have filled a whole bookshelf with mine and Mr MM’s snaps. We sat in our living room a few weeks’ ago with my parents, each nursing a glass of wine as we flicked through an album each, laughing hysterically at haircuts from the Eighties and highly embarrassing baby photos. So simple and easy to do, and yet so rewarding. Life passes us by quickly sometimes, and when it does, it’s important to pause and remember the good bits.

I’ve learnt not to be attached at the hip to my to-do list – and this is a huge thing for me. It got to a point where I had a list of jobs that needed doing saved on my iPhone, and I would end up checking it every time I went to answer a message or look on social media {i.e. a lot…} Of course, it just kept reminding me of all the things I hadn’t yet got around to doing, making me feel guilty and stressed. Now, the list is deleted from my phone, and I have a pad of paper in the kitchen where I jot down the things that need doing {unfortunately I can’t cut out all lists from my life}. I try not to look at it too often, and instead try and tackle day to day life in a more natural way. While this means that some things may have been neglected slightly as I haven’t prioritised them as highly – for example, blogging, as you might have noticed by my less frequent posts – I certainly feel less stressed than I did.

Finally, I’ve learnt not to sit in the garden writing for an hour without any suncream on. #sunburnt
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