I’m feeling proud today, and totes emotes. I think today is ripe for a mental health blogger’s review, as it is already over half way through this year and I wanted to have a review of where I’m up to in relation to the goals I set myself. This year my goals were real ones, not just made up ones created on a whim just because it’s new year and everyone does it.
I have a notebook which I call my ‘boasting book’, but is really an informal working CV. In this notebook I jot down all significant things that happen, as they happen, and all milestones and successes that are the kinds of things that are worthy of being shared with future potential employers in a “I am pretty fabulous-why not hire me” way. I note key events, meetings, successes, networking successes and achievements that occur every month.
I started this ‘book of boast’ at the beginning of this year, as I decided at the beginning of the year that 2017 would be my designated YEAR OF SHINE. (My best year, post-breakdown.) The year when stuff finally got better and changed for the good. The year when I started to feel more in control of my mental health and I started to reclaim myself as summer- the blogger, wife and mother who sparkles and shines.
It is July now, and I have filled up nine pages of this boasting book already. That is a good sign! A still empty book, half way through the year, would not be instilling me with much of a sense of achievement or faith in myself and my ability to create positive outcomes. But nine pages worth of shiny goodness is pretty FAB; far better than I ever expected :)
I believe everyone should keep boasting books as a self-esteem boosting tool. You may prefer to call it something different, but whatever you decide to call your book, it is not narcissistic to remind yourself of what you are good at and what you are actually achieving as you go along through the year.
Often we go through life mindlessly, not noting how well we are doing as we go along. We hope our bosses or partners or parents or friends (all on the outside) will notice and provide us with the necessary cheerleading and reassurance we all secretly hope for and NEED to maintain positive self-esteem. But really, shouldn’t we be acting as our own cheerleaders? Encouraging and supporting ourselves? Congratulating ourselves when we do good things and make positive improvements and enhancements in our life circumstances? I think so.
I believe we SHOULD champion ourselves. I believe we owe it to ourselves to be the best and most reliable cheerleader out there. I want to love and look up to myself like my friends love and look up to me. They think I’m pretty cool, so why is it so hard for me to?
I will often sit in the therapy room chair shrouded under my depressive melancholic black cloud (with added stormy atmosphere and rain clouds), and proceed to tell my therapist just how shit I actually am in very long winded and repetitively negative self-accusatory ways.
I will describe myself as things such as ‘a stain on the earth’, ‘a toxic lump of sludge who isn’t good enough to breathe in the same air as everyone else’, a ‘waste of space’, a ‘freak’, a broken fucked-up person who is totally messed up, and a damaged person who will never EVER get better. I will sometimes speak about myself with pure hatred and contempt. I will attack myself in a vicious way like I would never ever attack another. I will express the angriest anger and the deepest dislike towards myself by cutting into my own flesh- the ultimate act of defiant self-anger and self-hatred. ‘I am harming myself because I DESERVE to be hurt’, goes the tape playing in my brain. I want to punch walls and break things and throw things because I am so frustrated with how much I despise my horrible self. That is what low mood does to me. It distorts everything so I see no light and only dark. I will get suicidal and despairing and wish my life away, but that way if being hurts, so I try and do the opposite. I boast as though I’m confident. I fake it, in the hope I’ll make it.
So keeping the boasting book is not an act of grandiose narcissism as it might initially seem, but it is actually a very necessary and healthy exercise to complete, to aim to counteract and balance out the excessive self-attacking I do towards myself on a regular basis. An antidote to melancholy.
The more I note my successes and improvements, the harder it is for my self-critic to rule the show. I am deliberately moving the spotlight of my attention onto the better aspects of me, the bits that work; instead of the bits that are compromised or faulty or mis-wired or even entirely absent from my psyche.
We all have a choice about what we mindfully focus our attention on, and focusing on our successes enhances our mood, while focusing on the rubbish bits inevitably drags our mood right back down again.
So my boasting book is a pocket sized mood enhancer, perfect to look at on bad days; and on good days like today looking at this book makes me feel bloody FABULOUS :P especially when I review the successes against my goals that I set myself at the start of this year of shine.
This year (so far) ……….I……
Raised £261 for Mind by completing R.E.D (Run Every Day) January, and created a spin off hiking group based on contacts I made there for my September Boot the Blues charity Hike for my local Mind (Tyneside and Northumberland).
Had a blog I wrote shared by national Mind about RED January and the positive mood enhancing benefits of running.
Was asked to join a focus group for a Victim Support Charity based in the north-east.
Wrote a piece for my local Mind, about the Safe Space group I used to attend.
Got taken on by Tyneside and Northumberland Mind as an official fundraising volunteer.
Was invited to become a media volunteer for national Mind .
Wrote a piece on PTSD/BPD for PharmaTimes in their Patient Files section.
Was interviewed for metro radio, TFM news and student radio.
Started empowerment work with my local Mind.
Investigated PSHE curriculum by asking questions to the head of education and volunteered to speak at high school, giving mental health awareness talks to sixth formers.
Networked with NHS communications team and local CMHT about my fundraising and media volunteering work. Featured in mental health trust bulletin, sharing my views on my NHS mental health care.
Had idea for social media campaign for local Mind. Due to be launched.
Had a BPD blog post shared by national Mind.
Was interviewed on ITV Tyne Tees news during mental health awareness week.
Contributed to a PSHE policy document based on request from Northumberland education representative.
Contributed to a policy document for national Mind about loneliness and mental health.
Raised £221 for local Mind by running a 10k charity run. Together with the five other runners we collectively raised over a grand for separate mental health charities.
Have been invited to attend a parliamentary reception related to the Jo Cox Loneliness commission. :)
Das is all good yah?!
That is why I am proud.
I could have done nothing of that. I could have not bothered at all, but I DID bother and I’m doing great and I’m proud :) Sometimes I struggle to believe my own progress. It feels surreal, as though I am commenting about someone else’s life. But it is my shiny life, and I’m making it happen because I’m working hard to contribute to my community and to the media. Some of my days are bloody AWFUL, but my achievements are certainly not as awful as my mood.
It’s good to review progress and give yourself pats on the back from time to time.
So what about the rest of the year of shine? What is in store next?
For the remainder of this year I’ll be mainly blogging, writing, schmoozing, talking publically about mental health, hiking, running, fundraising, doodling, and building up summerSHINES blog to the 1000 follower mark. If I could get my first book finished that’d be bloody marvellous. I also have an important project to get off the ground, which I won’t be sharing on the blog as it’s totes confidential but I promise you is very exciting.
That’s me and where I’m at. Made up, and feeling accomplished!