I went on a lovely (though FREEZING cold) dog walk today on one of the beautiful beaches near where I live. Whilst I don’t write much about nature or my everyday life here [excluding the mental illness part], I draw a lot of creative inspiration on my daily walks round and about where I live.
My dog walks represent my regular thinking time. Being outdoors surrounded by nature doesn’t tax my brain like regular modern day living does. Nature affords me cognitive and emotional SPACE, and I thoroughly appreciate that time everyday. I mull things over, set goals, allow my mind to wander and see (ideas-wise) where I end up.
I like to be unconstrained. I’m also a great lover of building things. I possess a drive to grow. I out-grow things regularly. Why? because I keep on pushing myself, so my comfort zone gradually expands outwards and frees up room for more and more positive things to enter my mindscape.
Maybe I wonder if I should re- brand this blog as a positive psychology blog in a more explicit way. Implicitly this is what summerSHINES already is-It is a place of purposeful writing and doodling, where my dreams of recovery are being expressed, explored and sometimes actually nailed. I’ve already enjoyed a lot of personal success so far this year. I am on track for achieving even more of my aspirations. The future is looking bright and shiny. My inner confidence is growing and I’m getting more and more external validation of my worth.
People see different things in me than I used to see. My self-concept is incorporating more and more positive messages from supportive and kind friends [and sometimes strangers] who accept me for me. We all want to be accepted for who we are don’t we.
It wasn’t always this way for me. My inner security is gradually establishing itself. I am seeing the world less as a dangerous place, and increasingly one of opportunity and positive possibility.
That isn’t to say I don’t get scared sometimes and don’t feel overwhelmed by my expansion as a human being, as I do…I very much DO feel insecure sometimes…but that is because I pushing beyond the confines of the usual mental health blogger who blogs cathartically just because they want/need to [for the sake of their emotional health].
I’m not knocking typical mental health blogging, as early on in my blog career when I was very much in the depths of illness-cathartic emotion/pain drenched blogging is what I did a lot of myself. It was exactly what I needed to do. I had to extract every bit of pain and get it outside of myself.
‘Get this mind-shit OUT of me’ I’d think in a panicked emotionally dysregulated way.
Writing released so much badness from me. It was like unloading shit heap after shit heap of crappy feelings. I’d feel awful sometimes after I’d wrote and published a post, because the act of focusing so intently on what I was most afraid of was FRIGHTENING, OVERWHELMING and RAGE INDUCING. It was FUCKING PAINFUL. No lie.
BUT… it did so much good. It was cleansing. It purified me. It made me lighter. My problems got unloaded. It made my problems external to me as I’d put them somewhere OUT THERE. They were no longer tied up and intrinsically connected with me.
I think also having a blog name that is different to my real name helped a lot. I could write in the third person about ‘summer’s problems’, and indeed that is something I still do. If you wanna know why I write things like “summer feels….summer thinks that…”, it’s a psychological distancing strategy that I use to trick myself, in an effort to make my own feelings and thoughts belong to someone else-someone stronger-someone that can take them and deal with them and ultimately overcome them.
Sometimes when Imani is struggling (my real everyday normal person name)-I have to pass those difficult feelings over to summer, so she can take care of them.
Summer is my post-trauma identity and summerSHINES is a post-trauma blog.
It is about shining after adversity- and for me SHINING is about the ability to stay grounded, the ability to stay sane in an insane world, the ability to take set-backs in my stride, the ability to deal with inter-personal hurts without excessive pain, the ability to fill your life with things and people that bring positivity in, and the ability to view your life and circumstances and relationships with a decent amount of elevated perspective.
In my mind’s eye, people who shine are positioned higher up than the pack. Not in a horrible narcissistic ‘I’m better than you way’-I mean, that people who shine have the advantage of a wider perspective, and therefore sit on an elevated perch which represents their blue sky vantage point on which to view the world around us.
If you’re in the gutter, do you see the stars or not? People who shine will see the stars, people who haven’t yet discovered their inner shine won’t.
Shining is not at all about your starting point.
Shining is about where you’re headed.
People who shine are headed in positive directions and tap into their inner resourcefulness to make fucking sure they get there.
People who shine are not lucky bastards. Shining doesn’t come easy to shiny people. Shining requires sustained effort and hard work.
You have to sweat to shine!
People admire those who shine and may feel envy…they may even resent you for it when they see the positive attention you’re getting for shining.
But people don’t shine without hard work.
It takes a lifetime to be an overnight success, so they say.
People may be envious, say of a comedian who has an arena tour that sells out in minutes…”that’s easy” you might think “it’s alright for some-getting paid a bloody fortune to tell jokes” you might sneer to your mates down the pub…..
….but, if you think you’re a funny person, yet not selling out arenas on comedy tours, have you ever stood behind a mic. with a spotlight shining on you, freezing on stage because you’ve just messed up your routine? You weren’t there when that comedian did the shitty gigs that no-one turned up too. You weren’t there when they were working their socks off to get where they are spending time in crappy hotels away from their families for no money.
People are sometimes jealous of those who shine…but we CAN all shine if we choose to. The thing that differentiates the people who shine and the people who don’t are skills/talents + more importantly, EFFORT.
I am building something here. SummerSHINES is my public blog platform for shining on.
This is my stage.
This is where I let the cyber world into my head, warts and all.
This is where I tell you how bad things were for me, and how I’m now doing so much better.
I will take part of the credit for things becoming better. I’m a hard worker. I’m a dedicated writer. I’m starting to develop my ideas in doodling form even though I can’t for the life of me draw! I’m challenging myself at every single turn. I’m advertising and self-promoting myself widely because I will no longer believe the negative conditioning of my family. I prefer to listen to all of you guys instead-the kind strangers who say you like my blog, the loyal friends who tell me you are proud of me. The people who message me saying I’ve inspired you.
I believe the world can be horrible, but isn’t always.
Blogging has allowed me to see the nicer side of life, because of the people I’m meeting along the way. (I’m leaving the trolls out of the mix as they are undeserving of head space.)
I choose to focus on the positive and enjoy it.
I also choose to block out negativity; whether that comes from a person, a situation, or something within myself.
I still have to manage my mental health on a daily basis. I am still a work in progress. I still feel downhearted and demoralised at times…and sometime life fucking HURTS, but I’m someone who has moved on from the Oscar Wilde phase of being in the gutter but looking up at the stars.
Today as I walked along the beach I studied the beach huts perched up high, built into the dunes…and I thought ‘that is my place’
That is where I view life now…not from the gutter, but in a beach house I built with my own fair hands [plus considerable help from my current and previous psychologists, my CPNs and my psychiatrist.]
I am perched up in the dunes…I have expanded my knowledge base so I understand more about what trauma is, (and isn’t). I work hard in therapy to understand myself and manipulate my typical reaction patterns in more helpful directions, (helpful to me and others). And I’ve brought into my life many more people that will enrich this second chance I have at living, because I owe it to myself to only allow ‘good vibey people’ in, and to rise above people who limit me and my potential, plus my emotional wellbeing.
Because of those deliberate actions, I’m sat in that beach hut, protected from the wind and rain and cold-I’m looking down at that seascape/mindscape with perspective. I’m not in the icy sea drowning anymore, though I can still see the waves lapping on the shore below me. I know danger is still there in the swell of the ocean, but I feel far enough away from it to feel confident that I won’t drown again.
I built this.
I built this hut so I can shine in safety.
I am a 35 year old mum of two, Imani-but sat with summer by my side, feeling the positive vibes coming off her, I feel stronger than ever :)