Buddhism – an anchor in the midst of depression.

 

Lo and behold, I found myself there again.

It was in between those drifting days in the space within Christmas and New Year, that bizarre time of the year when time slows down yet everything speeds up and the meaning to life is yet to be caught up with. Except my meaning, which had gone AWOL again, and had been in a place somewhere other than where it should have been for quite a few months.

It all started somewhere in between my car breaking down and a family member dying; I never had the strength to trace back and pin point exactly when. 2018 was hours away, a new year, new start! But my energies were lying in every single negative incident that made up 2017, every single one, which i’m sure there was something in the fine print that these major mess up moves were supposed to be spread out during the course of ones lifetime not in a single year, I wouldn’t have signed up for it otherwise, surely?

Anyway, the new year was set to be a write off. And then my mind made a flip move on to one that most people with bipolar or some other severe mental health issues do one in their lives; I started practicing Buddhism.

The past few months have been a blur, yet a positive enriched blur. I have followed closely the words of the Dharma, engaged in mindfulness and meditation, a whole lot of books, even more podcasts, taken up the precepts and signed up to my second Buddhist course of the year and attended classes where a lot of tears and a lot of hugs were exchanged (and only two months have passed). My perception on life as it was has pointed itself in the opposite direction. And what a life saver it has all been. I am 10 week medication free for the first time in four years (though I am not so immune and past it all to believe I won’t need them again somewhere down the line!).

To sum up the year so far, I am okay (even though I am still walking through a wreckage of a life that is not yet okay).

For anyone interested, I have listed below my recommendations for some beginners reading in to buddhism. Happy reading 🙂

 

Buddhist Bootcamp – Timber Hawkeye 

Buddhism for Busy people – David Michie

Teachings of the Buddha – Jack Kornfield

Buddhism for beginners – Jack Kornfield

When things fall apart – Pema Chödrön

   Buddhism is not what you think – Steve Hagen 

 

 

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The Recovery Letters – Addressed to People Experiencing Depression.

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Last year, I had the honour to be approached by the founder of The Recovery Letters blog, James Withey, who asked me to submit a letter for his upcoming book, the Recovery Letters – Addressed to People Experiencing Depression, which compiled letters from people who had once suffered – to the currently suffering.

My contribution made it through to final print, and when I got the package through from Jessica Kingsley publishers with a copy of the book, I wept with absolute joy. Upon reading the extracts, the book offers a real inspirational insight in to what it feels like to suffer, and each letter is raw with relatable stories, advice and hope.

Here is my contribution to the book.

 

From Megan. 

 

“Dear You,

 

Struggling with Depression is one of closest things a human being can endure to being stuck in time.

I’m sharing these thoughts from experience. It has been a journey I once kept contained within myself; one that I never thought I would even begin to understand, let alone gain the understanding of those close to me. The day I closed my eyes to the light and woke in the darkness was a day I was convinced that I’d lost myself completely.

 

How do you even begin to make sense of it when your life suddenly pauses and you find yourself stuck within an infinite stretch of nothingness; watching everyone around you carry on with their lives, running towards the future whilst you are left behind? That numbness you just can’t seem to comprehend, slowly replacing the oxygen you once breathed in, poisoning your bloodstream the more you struggle for air. The sadness you can’t shift, lurking around every corner you turn and echoing it’s cries through each painful movement your body tries to make. That vicious hum of anxious energy that strikes time and time again when you have your back turned, potent enough to stop your heart mid-pulse and cruel enough leave you hanging there until you are convinced it will be the last beat it will ever sing.

That desperate search to track down the glimmer that was once yourself, becomes a one-way road that always leads you back to where you first started. After a few effortful attempts running down the same path over and over again, you eventually find yourself getting more and more exhausted with every step you take; until your mind and your body begins to run on an empty soul; a dried up motor that rusts and cracks under the heat. Depression for me was a never ending moment in time, one which I thought I’d never escape from.

 

One of my first Therapists – one of many to follow – gave me some valuable recovery advice back then which has stayed with me to this day. He said to me;

 

“There is a clear difference between believing that you can’t, and knowing that you can’t.”

 

When I heard those words, my perspective finally shifted enough to stop myself from running down that same one path. The reason why I had stalled in this endless loop of despair and a tunnel vision of doom was because I had made myself believe that recovery wasn’t an option for me. But in reality? The opportunity to get better was there. My eyes just couldn’t shift the fog that was my own damned perspective.

 

And then all of a sudden, the possibility of recovery became real. It was as simple as getting out of my head and remembering where I was – more importantly who I was – at that very moment.  

 

So to you dear friend, please remember this. The next time you feel like you are stuck in time, the truth is; you are not. It only feels like you are stuck there. Remind yourself, that outside that perspective of yours, the clock really is ticking away. And it’s leading you to discover the most breath-taking, most beautiful opportunities you thought you could only dream of before now.

Hold on for hope, Recovery begins with you.

Love, Megan.”

 

Please do support James for all the hard work he has done by purchasing a copy for yourself, or even as a gift for someone you know is going through a tough time. Each one of these letters holds so much value and hope for those who are suffering. Details of how to purchase can be found in the link below, along with the Recovery Letters blog.

blog: http://therecoveryletters.com

‘Sharing Stories’ – Depression will always be with me, by Keigh Ahr.

“Not all stories about mental illness are dramatic. Some, like mine, are rather mundane; no hospital visits, no incarcerations, no shattered lives. Yet even a simple cut on the skin, or a garden variety cold, can lead to more serious conditions if not treated properly. That’s how I choose to view my own struggle with depression – what should have remained a minor problem became, through years of neglect, a significant burden that threatened to harm myself and my family. And I suspect my story, due to its very lack of dramatic detail, is actually quite common.

During my teenage years, I began experiencing moments of acute sadness and anxiety. I knew these episodes were different from the ordinary feelings of unhappiness and stress I also felt, because my behavior at these times would be far different. I would stop talking unless it was unavoidable; lay in bed on weekends for hours, lights turned off, in nearly catatonic paralysis; have no appetite and difficulty sleeping, and the lack of food and rest only worsened my condition. Some of these episodes had a triggering event (bullying, a bad grade, not landing a role that should have been mine in a school play), but others would arise for no apparent reason, like an earthquake in my mind. These episodes would last a couple days, maybe three or four, and often came with a conviction that the feeling would never end. I was a fool for believing I could be happy – now I know the truth, that I’ll be miserable like this the rest of my life. And then suddenly, the mood would stop, rarely due to a triggering happy event. I would feel “normal” again, and marvel both at my past behavior and sudden recovery. I didn’t understand what had happened to me, and my lack of comprehension made me very afraid. I hid from that fear, hoping against all reason that the dark moods would never return.

Years passed, turning into decades. A lifetime of graduations, jobs, hobbies, lovers, friends and family. Times both good and bad, pleasure and pain, victories and defeats. But even in years when I was generally happy and relaxed, those episodes of acute sadness and anxiety never completely left. I’d feel an episode come on, and would be powerless to stop it. The same conviction would return: This time it’s for real – I’m never getting over this. My behavior during these bouts became more irrational. Have tickets to a ball game I was eagerly anticipating? An invitation to a good friend’s party? When I was depressed, I not only couldn’t make myself go, I relished the sensation of disappointing myself. And then, just as before, the feeling would vanish, and I couldn’t believe the decisions I had made. By my late twenties, it didn’t seem right to continue experiencing these bouts of mental anguish. I sought counselling, which always proved effective (by the third session I’d feel energized and empowered) yet temporary (a new attack would come within months after the last session). Still, I had become a functional, productive member of society, and resigned myself to accepting these periodic bouts as just part of what made me who I was, as permanent and unchangeable as the color of my eyes and skin.

I then met a wonderful, patient women. We married, and brought forth two delightful children. These were good times, but while the attacks may have been less frequent, they certainly did not diminish in intensity (I’m grateful to have never become physically violent during any of these episodes). And when I regained my composure, I could no longer ignore the impact of my episodic emotional violence.

The truth can hurt as it sets you free. When the person whose happiness is so important to you says that she’s tired of walking on eggshells around you, or that your children are afraid of you, and her words speak to a reality you’ve already seen in the eyes of your family… those are words you cannot ignore. You are forced to react. You can respond by finally embracing those feelings you’ve feared for so long, and let the consequences be damned, even if you turn into a monster.

Or,

You get fed up with thirty years of denial. You realize you’ve been sick for a very long time, and won’t be getting better until you get help. It was the only choice that made sense at the time.

I’ve been in counselling on a regular basis, and taking antidepressants for a decade now. I had been concerned about the medication making me feeling ‘unnatural’, artificially happy perhaps, but that hasn’t been the case; I still feel as much disappointment, frustration, and sorrow as before. And if I’m not careful, I can still succumb to those agonizing bouts of despair that plagued me so frequently in the past. What’s different now is that I can sense when those feelings are creeping into my psyche, and have the ability to keep them from taking hold. I’m not cured, and doubt I’ll ever stop treating this disease. But my wife loves our weekend getaways, my children enjoy going to superhero movies with me, and my hope is far more powerful than my fear. Life, yes, is good.

I began this story comparing my depression to a minor injury or disease, as a means of summarizing what has been, for the most part, a fairly uneventful experience. But that comparison trivializes the impact depression has had on my life, so at the conclusion I want to pivot towards a different medical metaphor. I don’t know many diabetics (and apologize to any of my readers should this coming analogy not be true to your experience), but depression seems to me a similar chronic condition. There is no cure, and ignoring the problem can be literally fatal, but with proper medication and attention you can live a normal life, however you choose to define that term. Depression will always be with me – I don’t like that, but like a diabetic, I can’t wish my condition away. But I no longer fear it.

Thank you for reading. May you enjoy health and happiness you deserve.”

 – By Keigh Ahr

You can find Keigh Arh’s blog here at The Diligent Dilettante.

Stories are still needed!

Do you have a mental health/recovery story of your own that you’d like to reach out and share to others? Whether it be overcoming depression to addiction to eating disorders… no matter what your area, there will be a chance that your experience will touch someone elses life.

Send your story with your name to themanicyears@gmail.com and i’d be happy to publish on The Manic Years.

Sharing saves lives –

M x

The Power of Hypnosis – and how it plays a huge part in my recovery.

 

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I remember the first time one of my therapists in my early days of my recovery, gave me a disk to use for my homework to tide me over until we were to meet again during the following weeks appointment. The disk contained a series of hypnosis tracks, which were bestowed on me to encourage this phenomenon they called ‘mindfulness’.

My first thought?

What a load of bullshit.

There I was truly believing this guy was trying to pawn me off with some notion that deep breathing exercises can promote spiritual awareness and other flibbergabber, and in all it’s mighty enforce it’s healing powers, click it’s fairy dust fingers and fix me on the spot.

There was no quick fix for me, I was fully aware of this, which probably lead to me dismissing the hypnotherapy and meditation so instantaneously. I was too far-past-fucked-up for any alternate therapies to turn me in to the normal human being I was striving to be. But desperate as I was, I half heartedly gave it a go.

The first time I tried and tested this unusual exercise, I found myself laid on my bed, earphones in and compact disk whizzing away in my walkman, chuckling away at the guy on the tape’s creepy ass voice which was no relaxing than a failed attempt to be seductively chatted up by some drunken Smooth-Steve in a jazz bar.

 

‘Now close your eyes, and take a deeeeeepppp breattthhhhh in….’

 

How on earth was I supposed to relax when I had the feeling that someone was going to jump out at me and startle me in my trance? There was something so unnatural about lying there with my eyes closed without the intention of taking a nap, and even more uncomfortable with my earphones blocking the sound and therefore my awareness of my actual surroundings.

Despite my ignorance, I kept at it, and with a bit of practice managed to see past the giggle fits and the nonsensical nature of it. By habit, it became a valued piece of my nightly routine, and one that I comforted for when the day had ended.

A few years ago, I had long gotten over the CD and it was a forgotten practice, along with my CBT training and group therapy. At this point in my life, I had just been struck down with my Bipolar diagnosis alongside a very difficult split with my Daughter’s Father. I had lost my home and my sanity along with it, and I felt like my life had struck head first in to a brick wall; an obstacle I could not forsee any possibility of getting over. In a desperate attempt to grasp on to something to steady myself in that crazy time, I turned again to hypnosis. I found a hypnotist and life coach – Joseph Clough – downloaded his podcasts and away I tried to plod on with my days. I listened day and night, his voice was the only soothing sound which cradled my mind to sleep in the evenings, and the voice that pulled me out of my bed when the sun and my responsibilities rose up to start the day the next morning.

It was a difficult time, one that is hard to remember even a couple of years down the line, but those podcasts saved me. They were the motivator that adjusted my mind to start thinking anew – eventually leading to all the possibilities which were open to me – the opportunities I decided to take which lead to this point in my life today.

Joseph Clough’s work was to become friend to me for the next couple of months, as I carried on with his words of wisdom whilst pulling myself upright and slowly stitching my life back together.

As people with Bipolar disorder and other mental health issues probably know, insomnia can be an issue that marks a huge impact on our lives. Whilst the newly prescribed Quetiapine; the antipsychotic that was knocking me out cold when I first began to take it; was enough to settle me in to slumber in the evenings, the effect eventually wore off. I found myself tossing and turning a frustrated insomniac, relentlessly fighting for at least an hour or two before I was to face the day that was approaching. I turned again to hypnosis.

This time, I found an app of sleep hypnosis tracks by Darren Marks, and found my usual busy chatty mind drifting away to the sound of his powerful words in no time. Sleep that was once a battle, was now something that came automatically to me, and my listenings of sleep hypnosis tracks has chisled it’s permanent mark in to my nightly routine.

I have practiced the art of hypnosis every single evening for almost three years now, and it has never failed me. Whether it presents it’s purpose to reset my system after a long hard day, or to take a few quiet moments with the Headspace app in the middle of my lunch break at work  – it is one of the little luxuries I am sure to indulge in without fail; and thus, has aided a great deal towards my long term recovery.

You can find some of my top hypnosis artists and tracks in the links below.

 

Darren Marks: http://www.learnoutloud.com/Results/Author/Darren-Marks/19978

Joseph Clough: http://podbay.fm/show/369607516

Headspace: https://www.headspace.com

“Sharing stories” – A tribute to those suffering from Schizophrenia, by Jeremi.

 

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A tribute to those suffering from schizophrenia:

I wake up in darkness
I feel the eyes looking at me
Others say ignorance is bliss
But they can’t see!
I strap on my knife
They are out to get me
This blade will save my life
Take a toll or three

I argue with my thoughts
Why do I refuse to listen?
Why can’t I see thought’s roots?
Tormented by thoughts of poison
I predict their steps
Wish I knew how I do
They can’t explain this
Nobody has this ability too

My solace doesn’t solve
I feel so tired of the chaos
I plead myself for escape
My skin on myself feels gross

A taste in my mouth lingers
A tap on my shoulder from someone absent
The air entwining my fingers
Death’s sweet scent

You better run, my blade is thirsty

I saw you, you want to get me
I will take you with me!

Then she stops my arm
Looks at me with loving sadness
“You need help I assume”
Her soothing words all bliss

They gave me pills
My world changed
No more of it’s chills
I never knew that I was derranged

I lived with madness so long that I never knew what life truly is… I never saw my own fatal flaw

– By Jeremi.

Stories are still needed!

Do you have a mental health/recovery story of your own that you’d like to reach out and share to others? Whether it be overcoming depression to addiction to eating disorders… no matter what your area, there will be a chance that your experience will touch someone elses life.

Send your story with your name to themanicyears@gmail.com and i’d be happy to publish on The Manic Years.

Sharing saves lives –

M x

We need your stories!

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For the past few months people have been submitting in their experiences of mental health from a wide range of disorders and issues in the Sharing Stories series…So far, the stories have managed to speak out to those in need and even give others the confidence and support get the help they need –  opening up about their own experiences.

Stories are still needed!

Do you have a mental health/recovery story of your own that you’d like to reach out and share to others? Whether it be overcoming depression to addiction to eating disorders… no matter what your area, there will be a chance that your experience will touch someone elses life.

Send your story with your name and location to themanicyears@gmail.com and i’d be happy to publish on The Manic Years.

Sharing saves lives –

 

M x

‘Sharing Stories’ -Hypomania in Bipolar disorder, by Samantha Pottinger

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“When I went to my GP I described my behaviour and feelings. I was expecting to be diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, given that I’d gone from one extreme to the other in such a short space of time. The best way I could describe it was like the feeling of an overexcited child at Christmas.  My favorite foods and drinks tasted amazing, music sounded better, I would be overwhelmed by the beauty of scenery, my nephews and niece looked cuter, colours would look more distinct. I would get fits of the giggles and struggle not to burst out laughing whilst walking down the street. My mind would be racing and instead of having no business ideas I had so many I couldn’t switch off.

Hypomania does not mean that one feels happy all the time, it’s more like an obsession with engaging in hedonistic activities and an intolerance of displeasure. It can result in serious irritability and impatience. Although being overwhelmed by positive emotion is certainly more pleasant than being overwhelmed by negativity, it’s still uncomfortable. In a hypomanic episode I feel overstimulated and overexcited about everything, I really resent my job for taking up my time up and stopping me from doing the things I enjoy (whereas in a depressive episode my job is one of the few things keeping me going).  At work I get over excited by all the interesting books I see and take out several but then I don’t read them because I’m too restless and can’t sit still. I can’t watch films either because I have too much energy. I end up spending too much money because I get overexcited about everything I see and then end up getting frustrated for having to wait so long for the next pay day.  I have lots of pent up energy and get really frustrated if I can’t release it. I can even remember being jealous of people saying they were tired!

Although hypomania has its disadvantages, it can be quite a pleasant feeling. I think my hypomanic episodes are the reason I’ve never had any interest whatsoever in taking illegal drugs, I see my ability to feel high naturally as a blessing. I become more creative and my brain is a lot sharper and I’m sure my hypomanic phases helped give me the energy to fit my studying in with work and are responsible for some of my good marks.

Depressive episodes are certainly unpleasant but for me, the fact that I went for the therapy meant that I’m left with useful mind tools for when I see it recurring and I can empathize with and help others.

My doctor mentioned (but didn’t diagnose me with) a milder form of Bipolar disorder called Cyclothymia. Some people find labels helpful, others don’t. Personally, I feel that we are all prone to fluctuations in mood as we go through ups and downs and transitions in life, (who feels ‘neutral’ all the time?) I think that being a HSP or ’empath’ as I’ve talked about in my blog just means they are a bit more pronounced in me.  It can make life a bit more challenging to deal with but as you become more self-aware, you can learn to manage better and stop your condition from over-ruling your life.

If you have or think you might have a diagnosable mental health condition, don’t be afraid to seek support from your GP, mental health organizations or read some mental health blogs. But remember there is nothing wrong with or ‘freaky’ about you and having a mental health condition does not make you not inferior.

You are not alone.”

-By Samantha Pottinger.

 

Samantha incorporates her experiences with mental health and bipolar disorder in to her health blog Samantha the Sane Vegan.

 

Do you have a mental health/recovery story of your own that you’d like to reach out and share to others? Get involved! Whether it be overcoming depression to addiction to eating disorders… no matter what your area, there will be a chance that your experience will touch someone else’s life.

Send your story with your name and location to themanicyears@gmail.com, and i’d be happy to publish on The Manic Years.

Sharing saves lives.

M x

 

 

 

 

“Sharing Stories” – Alis Volat Propriis/She flies with her own wings, by Miranda.

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“Of all the things a preteen girl worries about; crushes, periods, schoolwork, and zits; sorting through the fear of dark mental and emotional issues while trying to self-diagnose and manage them shouldn’t be one. Puberty is confusing enough, but depression is often overlooked as a mere symptom of an adolescent’s move into developing and growing into the complex emotions of adulthood.

Growing up in home riddled with depression and anxiety, coming from a family prone to these conditions generations back, the oppressive weight and darkness that accompanies these conditions was my “normal”. The whispers of despondency began when I nine and grew louder into screams as I moved into my early teens. I learned to not speak of my thoughts because I was usually shut down by those who didn’t understand or have time to listen; my fears were outweighed by the trials of others and I needed to be strong and supporting. I saw the effects of medication on those around me and didn’t want to become that; to lose myself in a medicated haze. I wanted the voices to be silent but didn’t know how to quiet them except to turn them into white noise and learn tune them out.

I began to research depression when I was 12 hoping to find, at the very least, coping mechanisms outside of the pharmaceuticals, if not a cure. My immaturity and inexperience often drove me to suppression followed by lashing out at those closest to me, or giving in to addictive desires. I craved love but didn’t feel worthy so I built walls to hide the broken parts and protect myself from being hurt more. I built my identity around not showing weakness not realizing I never strengthened those parts of me I needed to support a healthy mind on my own.

My life was saved by life itself. There are several distinct points growing up were it was almost too much to go on when the sheer beauty of life itself shown in to light my way. Moments where a certain glimmer of light through the trees, a phone call from a friend reminding me of my value in the world, and moments where I discovered a power within myself to choose to be happy even in hell remind me that even with the darkness; life is worth living. Sometimes the dark and screaming are masked over and easily ignored, even forgotten; other times it roars. Most of the time, I have been able to find a level of happiness and contentment in the challenge of finding ways of living the life I want creating paradise in chaos, but sometimes that vision is dimmed when the baggage gets too cumbersome, or the road too steep. Is it worth it carrying on? Which is harder; putting in the extra effort to be normal, or letting go and giving into the darkness?

Now a couple of decades later the screaming has been filtered out by that beauty, though it is not silent. I’ve never sought a medical diagnosis short of observations made by various counsellors over the years; I go in every now and then for a mental check and servicing; to tune-up and tighten up the loose ends, validate the direction I’m taking, and receive unbiased constructive-criticism. I’m still afraid of medication so I run, I mange my diet, I keep busy and when the screaming gets louder I keep busier; anything to stay ahead of the storm. I was lucky to take on a career that put me in the role of providing communication training; my role required continuous self-evaluation and understanding of what makes me tick to find ways of managing those aspects in a way that was healthy, and fed my soul. It meant looking deep into myself to embrace and understand the darkness. My ambition is to be the person I needed when I was trying to find my way; someone to guide, help, and sometimes stand back to let me learn my own lessons. Someone who sees the struggle and acknowledges it; who can provide a safe place to let go. Someone who can help another fly.”

– By Miranda.

You can find more of Miranda’s inspirational words by visiting her mental health blog here; Uitwaaien Kairos.

 

Themanicyears is still looking for people to share their stories! If you have an experience with Mental Health you would like to share on here, please do not hesitate to drop me an email on themanicyears@gmail.com, and get your story published on our “Sharing Stories” feature.– M.

Sharing saves lives -Sharing Stories

The Manic Years will shortly be publishing Sharing Stories – a series of stories and experiences of people with a variety of mental health difficulties.

The series will aim to reach out to readers on an emotional level, by openly exposing raw thoughts, feelings and fears within real life encounters of people who have suffered at some point in their lives. There are so many people out there who still need help when it comes to mental health, who haven’t yet found the pathway to the right diagnosis, the confidence to ask for help and the voice to tell them that is okay to be open about what they are going through. There is so much value in even helping out just one person change their life.

Have you got a story, thoughts or advice to others you’d like to share?

If so, send in your story to themanicyears@gmail.com.

Remember, sharing saves lives ❤

 

Ten Things Thankful

Thankful

My Ten Things Thankful today was inspired by rosiesmrtiepants – Go check her blog out, its awesome!

So keeping up with the new positive charm of my blog lately, here’s the list of the ten things I am thankful for.

1. My Daughter – I have a stunning, amazing, charming, independent and intelligent little Missy named Lola. She is the centre of my universe and has taught me so much about myself in the past two years of her being in my life. She was the motivation that drove me to finish my degree as well as I did, the reason why I get out of bed in the morning and my icon who influences me to develop my character, better myself and my life – for me. Yesterday, when I was dropping her off at her Nana’s for the evening, she wrapped her arms tightly around me and said “I love you mummy, I miss you Mummy like the whole wide world!”

And that makes me the luckiest lady in the world to have someone in m life who makes me feel so important. I love you little Lo, thank you for being in my life. xoxo

2. The Besties – So… Not only did God bless me with one best friend, he blessed me with three! We are the ultimate Sex and the City quadruplets who have grown up with each other throughout playgroup, high school, right in to adulthood. They are the girls who I don’t even have to see face to face or even speak to each other for months, and I still have that security to know that we will still be in each others lives for the rest of our time here and beyond. Each one plays a different role in my life, we speak in code (seriously, have you ever met someone who you do not have a normal conversation with – you just communicate through silence, eye contact, facial expressions and made up languages and meaningful quotes and still fully understand each other??). We can skit each other, call each other names – and STILL be secure in our friendships to know that deep down they mean the opposite. The memories we all share together, and individually are enough to drag me out of the deepest pit of depression and lift my heart by making me smile, if only temporary.

And the most special thing about us all? Our bond has been stretched and tested all across the globe (one of them moved to Cyprus when she was 14 for 8 years, I only saw her twice a year – One of them travelled Asia last year and is now settling down in Australia making a life for herself) and it still hasn’t broken us, if anything it has made us closer and stronger.

Thank you for being in my life ladies and making a huge contribution to the person I am today.

3. My family – I have to admit I didn’t have the best time growing up family wise; my parents split when I was 7, my mum fell ill and my world fell apart.

Nowadays, I am super close to my Dad who took me in at 14 and brought me up. He’s my rock. He does his best to understand any struggles I face, even if it’s not in his blood to, always there to lend a helping hand no questions asked. I have the best dad in the world, he has taught me a lot. Thank you for being you, Dad.

Me and my Mum had a huge fall out when I left home, for years it was never the same. And then I had my daughter and everything changed. We put aside our differences and realised we have more in common than we realised. She has pushed herself to be there for me in time of need, offered unlimited and invaluable advice and been the best Nanna to my daughter I could have asked for. Thanks mum, you rock.

As for the rest of my family, my crazy aunties who treat me more like a lifelong friend, my cousins who will do anything for me, and the other side of the family who are always close my and always there to offer a helping hand.

4. My motivation – Yes, there have been countless times where I have quit. I have shut the world out and give in. But I can always rely on myself to pick myself up again after I fall down. The amazing things I have done for myself – having my daughter through out uni, continuing with uni and earning my degree, not giving up on the job of my dreams, no matter how much it beat me down. I do stumble, I do fall over sometimes but I can always rely on myself to just keep going. I know if I put the effort in, I can always unlock that unlimited drive power. It’s got me far, and I trust myself to continue to use it in the future.

5. My job – Again, its no secret that I absolutely LOVE my job. I have finally found something that I am good at, that I can go far in, it has already opened the door to unlimited opportunities. In addition, I’m highly grateful for a relaxed and super friendly atmosphere that I can work in, I have had jobs in the past where the environment was less than friendly and it doesn’t half kill your spirit.

Also – my boss is awesome. I see her more of a friend than a boss. Thanks guys, I’m so grateful for you all letting me be part of the team, and giving me the opportunity to begin my career.

6. The Cornwall Holidays – Every year, The Boy’s family treat us to a holiday to St.Ives for a week, to relax and spend time together. Last year I was going through a lot (me and The Boy split) and they still brought me along and treated me as part of the family. We are very lucky to have parents that do so much for our child, as I never had the opportunity to have breaks away when I was little (we were too skint!). Last year, no matter how alone I felt I used the holiday to have a break from the turmoil at home, from myself; let the warm sun kiss me better, let the wind embrace my hurt during long runs along the shore on the beach, and let the evening view of the stars over the sea take me away from this world, if it only dissolved my problems for a little while.

7. Music – Whether blasting out loud and aggressive music through my ipod on the bus during my college days (when I was going through a hefty self-injury phase), a relaxing piano session in the bath after a long day, motivational music during my runs or all the man-hater stuff after a hard break up – music has always been there and helped to guide me through the process of recovering from my downfalls. Music not only listens to your pain, but it reaches out to your soul and understands whatever the hell it is you are going through this week.

8. The Boy – ahhh, The Boy.

I haven’t written too much about him over the past few months I have been blogging, mainly as there is mixed feelings considering where we have been, where we are at and where we are heading.

The Boy is my partner and the father of our precious daughter. We first met 6 years ago – went through the boyfriend girlfriend stage, the moving in stage (twice!) and the parenting stage. We’ve been though turmoil during the ups and downs (literally) and the ‘I don’t even know what is going on’s’ of my illness, we have suffered many splits, many ego bruises, anger and a little bit of hatred. But we have been through it together.

After the major split last year it is clear to me that no mater how hard we try, things will never be the same romantically. He is my living partner, we bring our daughter up together and after all we have been through, we are still great friends. And I am thankful for all the help and the love he has offered along the way.

9. Hypomania –

…. I know those who have the luck to have gone through this are possibly thinking “What? What in this world made you include Hypomania on the list?! Are you mental woman??”

Here’s the lowdown; Yes, I am a little mental. But I wouldn’t be me without it.

Hypomania has gotten me in to SO much trouble. It has embarrassed me, hurt me, hurt others, confused the frick out of my life, changed my direction too many times to count, left me in debt, landed me in years of therapy… the list continues. But I always manage to ignore the other side of the list, and I think its about time I brought this in to light..

How many people can say that they have had such a surge of life enough to appreciate the pure beauty of this world? Colours are brighter, the world is magical, smells are intense, the air has never felt fresher. That’s an experience in itself. Hypomania pushes me to indulge in that beauty, totally get lost in this life and really feel what it is about. That pure joy I feel in my heart gives me a zest for life, it all good feeling balanced but come on guys, nothing feels as good as living. Really living. How boring would my life have been if I hadn’t totally engorged in it every now and again? How many opportunities would I have missed? How much more excited and fulfilling is it living on the edge rather than sat in the shadows?

I will not let this illness define me, however I am grateful for the life it is helping me pursue.

10 – and finally…

… All the boys who have broken my heart.

Heartbreak SUCKS. It hurts. Being messed about makes you feel under appreciated, unworthy, unwanted, ugly, used. I have been lied to, emotionally abused, discarded and swept under the rug.

The reason why I am thankful for all men who have messed me about is because without them I would not be the strong, independent woman I am today. Each one of them have added to my character, each one of them have been forgotten about  still remain part of my life today by contributing to one of my strengths.

Without the hurt I would not have learnt not to settle for second best. They have taught me never to let someone with a significance of a speed bump be a road block in MY life. They have taught me to raise my standards because I am worth so much more than to be treated like a girl by a little boy; I need a man who will treat me like a woman. They have taught me that I don’t need a man to help me click my heels and fly, because I am perfectly capable of doing that all my myself. I don’t need anyone else’s permission to be hurt, that’s my choice to make. They have taught me never to be anyone but my true self, eventually I will meet someone who’s worthy enough to appreciate the real me and lucky enough to have me by their side. They have taught me the value of enjoying my own company and feeling, well…

Free.

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They have taught me to love myself. And I am very grateful for that.

So cheers lads! Thank you for the pain and the heartbreak, if it wasn’t for you lot I wouldn’t have banked so much self-worth and self-respect along the way. You have helped me to grow by allowing me to pick out and bank the bits and pieces I needed from you all and invest in myself, adding to my true value. I am shining, and I am continuously moving on to better things.

So there we have it… my Ten Things Thankful. I feel somewhat relieved by completing this post, it has been such a strong reminder of the positive things I have to treasure in my life.

One last thing… I challenge everyone who comes across this post to stop what they are doing and continue the domino effect, by  spreading the positive vibe and allowing yourself and your readers to dig deep and bringing fourth their Ten Things Thankful. Happy Sunday 🙂