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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Destination: Stable

"Forward. Because it's the only place left to go."
Instagram | @ravivora

The past can be painful. If you don't know that already then I want to hit you on the head with a pole I envy you. I don't really know the demographic of my readers (if I even have any at all) but based on what I've been writing since about October of last year, I decided this post may be a useful one. Maybe, maybe not. But I guess it's worth a try. And it's been a long time coming; I started writing this back in December (whaaat!?).

When my world fell apart, I thought that if I ever managed to rebuild it, the pieces would fit in more or less the same formation as before. But I'm no longer the person I was before. The events of the past year have changed me in indescribable ways and honestly, I'm glad. For all of it. In my post, Finding Yourself (inspired by a feeling of peace that was short-lived at the time), I wrote about having to lose yourself to find yourself and maybe, juuuust maybe, that's exactly what I did. You may read something like that and feel inspired but let me tell you, losing yourself can be one of the worst times you ever go through in your life, regardless of the end result. It's an experience I'd like never to repeat but one I reckon I will. Which is partially why I'm writing this post. If this happens to me again, I want to remember how I went about taking control of my life once more. I'm going to be honest, I can't really say it's all in your hands because I 100% definitely would not be where I am right now if it weren't for the amazing friends I have. And if you're reading this thinking 'well great, good for you but how is that going to help me?' then think again. I've been there. And now I'm here. And here are some steps you can take to move you forward (hopefully) and I'm going to keep this as brief as possible:

My first and most important tip is to talk it out, it doesn't matter who to. Honestly, anyone. Talking really allows you to reach some form of conclusion which can be difficult to access on your own. It also helps you release what you're feeling and what you may be allowing to consume you. I know you most likely don't want to worry them, especially if you've been down this road before. But I know from experience, most people would rather you told them. And I know, oh boy do I know, when you're spiraling down, it's virtually impossible to see light. I can only speak for myself but when the storm kicks in, it's almost impossible to see clearly. And most of the time, you don't even know you're in a haze. Question what you think you know, take a risk and step outside your head - it's pretty incredible to witness the lifting of the fog. In other words, don't listen to yourself when you say they don't care. And if you think they haven't already noticed, you're probably wrong with that too. And if you really don't think you have anyone to talk to, there are always people you can contact, see here if you're in the UK, here if you're in the USA and here if you're anywhere else.

Another thing that helps with making sense of the confusion and storms in your head is writing it down. (The wonderful Kelly Bishop perfectly summed up some of the reasons why I love writing so much in this post). The amount of blog posts I've written and not published is insane! And, although it can be really hard, I found that those I did publish provided me with more relief than those I didn't. This comes back to talking it out, try as hard as you can to share your story (even if you think it's really boring, upsetting, ridiculous or anything else). And no, it doesn't have to be a blog, that's just what helped me. The idea that somebody may be reading what I had written allowed me to relax and think about something else. Plus, writing can help you find a voice and with that, you may end up finding yourself. One of my favourite methods of writing it down and sharing my story is through Stigma. It's a free app and it's great for so many reasons, I gave it its very own post (Self Awareness and an App Called Stigma). I also keep a regular pen and paper journal and write letters from time to time which I usually don't send.

This next one is slightly simpler and it's just to switch up your music. I found, especially when I was first falling to rock bottom, that most of the music on my iPod reminded me too much of who I was and what I was trying to let go of so I started trying to find new music. It's been a little frustrating at times but I'm making playlists of (almost) exclusively new music with no memories, positive or negative, attached. Save the others for the times you long for a trip down memory lane (still hasn't happened but I know I've got them, just in case). So find a new artist you love and download their album. In December, I discovered how amazing Ceremonials by Florence and the Machine is. New is the key here. And if you're struggling finding new music, just download Spotify and you'll be away.

Okay this one is a liiittle weird but try finding some potentially stupid, carefree thing to keep you busy when you have nothing to distract yourself with. Find a new hobby. I tried numerous things; I bought a ukulele (surprisingly straightforward to learn), started putting peas into desserts (pea cake anyone?), did loads of maths, categorised photos, found strange Star Wars merchandise online, walked around and around and around and around as many places as I could (kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, gardens...), and I even made numerous white wool pompoms which I called "indoor distraction snowballs". I think you get the idea... Find something new and throw yourself into it.

As I said earlier, sometimes you just need to step outside your head - go for walks and listen to music (none of that old stuff that's gonna make you feel all wrong and uncomfortable). Maybe watch a TV show (I recommend One Tree Hill, took me a while to get into but once you do, it's great). I often find that helps me take a step back from life and focus on somebody else's problems for a while. Sometimes all you need is a break. Find something to help you relax; take a hot shower and maybe even meditate - I've used Headspace before with mixed results but everyone is different so give it a go. As Coldplay's Chris Martin told us, "if you never try, you'll never know". (I really hope you sung that in your head... ;D)

Finally, give yourself time. There are likely going to be times in your life when you feel sad and maybe even spiral down to potentially dark places. Take the time to get to know yourself; learn what makes you tick and the things that make you happy, no matter how stupid they may seem. Learn to love yourself and remember your worthAllow yourself to feel sad occasionally- it's a perfectly natural human emotion. You have the right to be sensitive and feel down, don't let anybody tell you otherwise. You know yourself better than anyone so do what makes you happy. Don't ever feel guilty for how you feel; your emotional status is your business and nobody has the right to tell you how you should be feeling at any given time. Whatever you feel, be it good or bad or maybe neither, it's okay. It's okay not to know how you feel or why you feel the way that you do. It's okay to be unsure. Now believe me when I tell you that you are strongYou will get through this and you will find stability.

I believe in you.
Now all that's left is for you to believe in yourself.