Twenty-Four

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So tomorrow is my twenty-fourth birthday. If I could use one word to reflect on the year that has passed between my twenty-third birthday and now, it would be strength. I have found a strength that helps me to get back up when I fall. I have found an inner strength to do what I know I am meant to do, teach. The road to being a teacher is going to be a hard one but I know that my passion, dedication and strength will get me there.

I have also realised the importance of gratitude and appreciation of the little things that make me happy. It isn’t easy for me to be positive but I always try to think of at least three things I am grateful for each day. No matter how bad my day may be or how I feel about the direction of my life, I always try to step back and evaluate the blessings in my life rather than the imperfections.

Some days I do feel stuck, like the world is passing me by, the clock is ticking and I am no closer to getting the life I want, but I am learning now to stop, notice my negative thoughts, then change them. This is something I learned in therapy and I am starting to slowly apply it to my life.

I have to keep telling myself that my life path has its own timeline and what may take someone one year to do, may take me five, but it doesn’t matter. I strongly believe that in life ambition will lead you to success, perseverance will lead to positive actions and positivity will lead you to happiness. I remind myself on a daily basis of my goals and I always see each day as another small step towards achieving them.

My challenge for myself during the next year of my life (before I reach the grand old age of 25) is to start living in the present moment. This is something that I struggle with and is the root cause of my anxiety. With a combination of studying Buddhism, meditating and practicing yoga, I am slowly but surely on the way to learning how to be mindful and just ‘be’.

Another challenge in my path this following year will be balance. I know that when I start my teacher training in September (if I pass this maths test), I will struggle with the work-life balance. Finding time to relax and enjoy life, with the chaotic, stressful and challenging year of studying, working and learning.

Whatever happens in the 365 days between now and my twenty-fifth birthday, I hope that I find joy in the little things, I hope I learn to believe in myself more, to laugh, love and live each day with a positive attitude because life is passing me by and I don’t want to waste any more time worrying about things I can’t control or choosing to live an unhappy life or surrounding myself with people that don’t allow me to be the best version of myself.

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Nothing Lasts Forever

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Credit: Jacob Munro

The thing about life that I am learning is that nothing lasts forever. I’m starting to realise that despite my best efforts, I can’t control everything that happens to me and I can’t predict what will happen in the future.

This might be easy for most people to accept, but for me, it’s hard to let go of the ideologies and expectations I have for myself and other people. My anxiety is taking over a lot these days. I thought I had control of my insecurities and worries after doing weeks of therapy but sure enough, I’m slipping back into old habits.

I sometimes wonder what I would be capable of if fear did not exist. I would be unstoppable if I didn’t have my anxiety holding me back, reminding me of everything that could go wrong in a situation and all of the bad things about the world. I try to be positive and I’m bouncing back much quicker than I used to, thanks to the therapy.

However, when something out of your control happens and throws you back into the bad situation you were in before, how do you deal with it? I got fired last week and although I hated the job with a passion and didn’t want to be there, it was keeping me financially stable. Now I feel like I’m in deep dark waters once more, trying to keep my head above the surface and feeling tired from constant effort required to keep going.

After university, I thought I had it all figured out, I wanted to be a paid writer. Now I want to go into teaching, I’m currently volunteering at a primary school once a week and will hopefully be doing more days now I don’t have my office job tying me down.

I’m exciting about the new career path but at the same time, I’m terrified. The days I’m in the school, I feel overwhelmed because it’s new but happy because it’s a place where I want to be. The days when I’m not at the school are long and sometimes I slip into depressive moods and feel like I’m going nowhere.

Nothing lasts forever. I knew the job in the office I had was going to be temporary but I didn’t expect to lose it and be forced back into unemployment. Maybe this is life’s way of pushing me in the direction of a new career? I was getting too comfortable and I needed to be vulnerable again to really go after what I want.

The problem is, I have lost my motivation. After so much rejection and disappointment, I have no burning desire any more to fight for a purpose. That’s how I feel on what I call a ‘bad day.’ On a ‘good day’ I feel positive, ready for whatever life throws at me and content with the ways things are but those days are few and far between.

I want to believe in a bright future, I only have to see beyond the grey clouds and some days this is easier than others. I’m sure I will get everything I want in life but it will take time. Life is full of tests and I believe that this is just another test, a chance for me to prove that despite how bad things get, I can find the strength to be positive and keep on going.

 

 

 

 

Reaching A Mental Health Milestone

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During the past few years, I have struggled with my mental health. I have General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which means I constantly worry about everything and experience high amounts of anxiety for no reason at all. It took me a long time to accept that my anxiety was part of me, something that I couldn’t erase, something that couldn’t be ‘cured’ with a prescription of pills from the doctor.

A few months ago, when I reached a dark place with my anxiety and depression, I finally admitted to myself that I needed help. I would go days without leaving the house, I would sometimes sit and stare into space, pondering on the bad things that have happened in my life or bad things that ‘could’ happen in the future. I felt like I was trapped by my own mind, it’s a horrible feeling and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

Having an anxiety disorder is unpredictable. You may go through periods of time without any anxiety at all and then all of a sudden, it’s back and suffocating your thoughts like a dark cloud. I thought I was strong enough to battle my mental health issue on my own and convinced myself that I was ‘in control’ and my anxiety would get better over time, but it didn’t.

I had tried all of the ‘self-help’ options and nothing worked. I was crippled by anxiety, always worrying about the future or feeling sad about the past. I reached a dark place, where I thought medication was the only option for me to proceed. Then, a shining light appeared and everything changed for me. I found the strength to ask for professional help. It was a waiting game but I finally got on the list for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

I have to be honest, I was sceptical at first. I had convinced myself that my natural way of thinking, the negative way I approach life and every situation couldn’t be reversed. After a few weeks of therapy sessions, I started to notice a change. I had unconsciously started to think more about my ‘unhelpful thinking style’ and started to rationalise with the voice in my head when negativity surfaced. The great thing about CBT is that it strips back to the bare bones of how you think, how this effects your behaviour and how you can change this in the future.

David, my therapist was amazing. He was honest, critical and helpful in our sessions. Always sending me home with ‘homework’ to do, such as thought diaries and weekly schedules, he discovered what my triggers were and how to remove them from my life. For me it was during my alone time that I experienced more anxiety and more depressive thoughts. The answer for me was to always keep myself busy and distract myself by colouring, reading, doing yoga or simply doing some meditation.

Ever since I started CBT, I managed to pull myself out of the depressive state that I found myself in for months, started to fight against my negative thoughts and made small changes in my life that were going to improve my overall wellbeing. I am going to do yoga as often as I can, learn how to meditate, practice mindfulness and make sure I find time to relax each day. I’m going to still have bad days and now I realise that it’s okay to feel sad sometimes and it’s normal to worry, as long as it doesn’t take over your life.

I feel like I am reaching a mental health milestone. I have learnt in the past few months that anxiety cannot be ‘cured’ it can only be ‘managed.’ I have discovered that if I give attention to my anxiety and say to myself that I am mentally ill or there is something wrong with me, it only fuels my negativity and it will probably erase any progress that I have made.

I feel like I have reached a pinnacle of understanding. I accepted my anxiety was a problem, I asked for help and now I no longer feel alone on this journey to achieve a positive mindset. I have a long way to go but I finally feel like I can see the light at the end of a dark tunnel of worry, insecurity, anxiety and doubt. Like a butterfly, I feel free to go anywhere I want to go and do anything I want to do. I want to believe in hope instead of fear. I want to see the glass as half full instead of half empty. My anxiety will never ‘go away’ but I’m confident that I’m now in control of how I think, how I feel and how I behave.

 

True Blood Season 7 Episode 10 ‘Thank You’ Finale Review

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Above: The people of Bon Temps raise a glass to an easy life and a happy ending.

The last drop of blood has been tasted as the curtain falls on the last True Blood episode. 

The fans had high expectations of the finale season and even higher hopes for the finale episode titled Thank You. There have been many complaints about the way the supernatural TV show has ended but I have to say, I think although it was a safe ending, a lot of loose ends were tied up for all of the main characters.

The episode is an emotional one as Bill dies but what I and many of the other fans don’t understand is why he wanted Sookie to kill him? I mean, hasn’t he done enough harm to her? He wanted Sookie to use her light bomb to kill him which would give them both what they wanted, Sookie could be ‘normal’ and Bill could die at a time that was right for him. In the end Sookie decides to keep her light and I’m glad she did because it is a part of who she is and in the end she finds happiness with a mystery man, who appears to be human.

The biggest problem I had with the finale was that there was a gaping hole in the plot. During the last few episodes of season seven we are led to believe that Bill could possibly be turning human. He has many human visions, he tells Sookie that having Hep V has made him feel more human and Sookie reads his thoughts in the final episode. I think the writers screwed up with that one. It would have been a more sufficient ending if Bill turned human again and he and Sookie lived happily ever after. It makes no sense that Bill had a problem with Sookie being with a vampire when he didn’t mind Jessica marrying Hoyt, who is human.

I know what the writers were thinking with the finale, they wanted the entire story to go full circle. The first episode began with the people of Bon temps and that’s exactly how it ended. They used a flash forward to show the viewers what happened in Bon temps when the balance was restored. They paired Jason with Bridget, they had three kids. Arlene ended up with a vampire named Keith. Lafayette finally found happiness with vampire James (I’m still annoyed that he didn’t get his moment in the finale) and Sookie is pregnant and with a mysterious man which in my opinion should be Bill. The finale felt rushed and sloppy and I think the writers actually ran out of ideas. I still love the show and I, like many others believe that it had definitely ran its course as a TV series.

I hate to give it a three star rating but I was definitely disappointed in the way True Blood ended.

 

 

 

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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As a writer you have to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to like your writing or what you have to say. There are the good comments that you receive that make your heart swell with pride, when you realise that you have found the perfect words and when you string them together it says everything that you want to say and more. The bad comments are often constructive criticism and that’s okay because every writer needs it. Whether its just a small criticism or an honest opinion it’s easy to take it to heart but you just have to realise that every criticism you receive will only make you become a better writer in the future. Then unfortunately there are ugly comments or nasty comments, when people go over the line and it becomes personal.

I have been writing music reviews at Female First and I am not a know-it-all when it comes to music, I love most genres of music and I know a vast amount of musical terms but this doesn’t make me an expert. I just get given the CD’s for the week and I have to listen to them and write a review. I got given a CD by an obscure band called Wax Idols, a modern punk band from California. I give every album a chance and I listen to it twice before I start to review it. I didn’t like it. It was that simple. So I wrote an honest review and gave it two stars. It is my job to be honest and to review the music I am given and I did just that. I was going through my reviews on the website and saw that I received two comments on my Demi Lovato album review and they both said ‘Good Review’ This made me smile because it’s proof that I must be doing a good job.

Then I looked at the other review I had done and because I had given it two stars there were several people that didn’t agree with me. Nasty comments that said that I shouldn’t have the job and it was the worst review they had ever read, it did upset me, of course it did. After I got upset about it though I realised that sometimes people are nasty and I shouldn’t take it to heart. If people don’t agree with what I wrote well that’s up to them. I am there to express my opinion. I know that I am a good writer. I just think fans of the band took what I wrote too seriously. I had to write the truth and the truth is I didn’t like it. I have to accept that I will not always get good feedback on my work and if I carry on writing opinionated pieces there are going to be people that don’t agree.

I am okay with that now. Being a writer means that you have to be vulnerable, open and confident about your opinions. You are putting everything you have into your words and when someone doesn’t like what you have to say it can knock your confidence and even though it knocked me down at first I am ready to get back up again.