There is always a reason for hope / This Week

Hello!

This past week/weekish has been so busy, it feels as though everything is happening all at once.

We moved out of our old flat, it was an unhealthy situation for us to be in, and very gratefully into my parent’s home for the timebeing. It’s so lovely to be warm here, and to have as many doggy cuddles as we please. 


However, we won’t be here for very long as we have a new group, of wonderful and lovely flatmates that we are currently finding a place with. We are all friends, and it will be so healthy, and heaps of fun to live with them. They are also huge Harry Potter fans, just like we are. We are so thankful for them; the right thing seems to pop up in life just when you need it!

We are so very excited at the moment, because we have offically started working towards our next goal; saving for our own home. We have it all planned out and put a certain amount of money aside each week. It’s really cool to watch what you work hard for grow.

Currently I’m feeling very swamped with university, it’s crunch time where classes end next week and it feels as though everything is due all at once. I have also been working almost every night after university, which helps keep me productive, but is also stressful because I just want to sleep. For a very long time. I think once I make it through tomorrow things will be a little easier, as one more assignment (and one that’s been stressing me out at that) will be all done and dusted.

Lately I have been feeling kind of powerful, or maybe determined is the right word, but in my own life to be the best I can be. After so many years living in self destruction it’s honestly such a strange thing to experience, but it’s so exciting too. With all this stress that’s been about lately, often my mind reverts back to it’s old ways, but I am learning now when it’s making silly, destructive suggestions. I’m now trying my best to rest when I need to, to take breaks, to eat what and when I need to, and to talk to people. It feels so good. Who would have guessed?


(Image sourced from: angel-flowers.tumblr.com).


I’m learning that my past no longer serves me, nor the person I want to become. I’m trying to learn how to break free from that. Rupi Kaur’s beautiful words have definitely been helping.

The other day it was a friend’s birthday, and all my friends were eating cupcakes to celebrate. They weren’t vegan, and my legs were shaking, but I joined in, and I’m proud of myself for doing so. It’s these small, silly parts from the past that keep looming up, but they are on the way out. It’s onwards and upwards to better things from here.

Love & light,

Kaitlyn.

Self Care beyond Bath Bombs.

Hello!

Self care is something that has become far more prominent lately. It’s all over social media, tumblr tells us to buy fancy bath bombs and instagram tells us to share it’s rainbow glitter to the world. But self care can be so much more than running a warm bath at the end of a long day. Sure, painting our nails and taking this quiet time for ourselves can definitely be part of self care, but I’m starting to see that this is merely the tip of the iceberg.


(Image sourced from: Gonzalo Martínez Moreno).

I stumbled upon this quote recently, and it’s wonderful. We are so encouraged and expected to work hard, in a way that is often unhealthy for ourselves. The concept of “working hard” or “doing your best” is often skewed to give the meaning of working until it hurts you. Of working beyond what is healthy for you. Of giving all of yourself to something, until you have nothing left.

“self care is not a reward for being responsible or for working hard. you don’t ‘deserve’ or ‘not deserve’ to be nice to yourself. you are an alive person and rather than thinking of self care as incentives or bonuses you can get by adhering to and succeeding at abled standards (at a detriment to your health), you can think of it as: making deposits of self esteem by caring for yourself and allowing yourself nice things and feelings. you don’t have to deplete yourself to EMPTY before filling yourself back up again. you can do nice things for yourself before you hit the bottom.” (elvendork).


(Image sourced from: carloshache.tumblr.com)

In “doing our best”, I’m starting to understand that we also need to do what’s best for our own well-being. There is the very black-and-white idea of all or nothing, which is perpetuated within so many rivers in society. It could be exercising too much. It could be devoting all your time to work or study, so much so that you don’t have any time for your mind to rest. It could be staying in toxic situations. We shouldn’t have to drain ourselves of all zest and life before we feel that we deserve to refuel.

And deserve, this little word pops up all throughout self care. It’s so hard to believe that by simply being a person, this allows us the right of being kind to ourselves. I find it helpful to try and think of yourself as you would a friend or a child. They deserve to be treated with kindness and care. And they are you too.

Somethings that can really help with this messier, soul related self care are small things that can make a big difference to your mindspace. 

  • Make sure you take your medication
  • Eat all your meals
  • Plan in time to work and therefore too time to rest
  • Talk to those close to you
  • Tell yourself, regardless of how you feel, that you are strong in being able to leave toxic people and situations
  • Open the windows
  • Tidy your room
  • Head outside, even if it’s just on your lunch break
  • Find what makes you excited, and run to it
  • Choose the people who choose you

And absolutely, work hard. Define your dreams and chase them, wildly and freely. But remember first and foremost that you are a person, and just because you are busy and striving, that does not mean you are excused from the basics, from kindness. You need to have enough care from you to you, so you can run towards those dreams.

Take that bath with the beautiful bath bombs and enjoy it. But try and nourish that soul of yours too. Remember that if doing your best involves harming yourself in the process, it really is not your best.

Love & light,

Kaitlyn.

Changing Veganism.

Hello!

Today, well tonight, I’m going to write about something I’ve wanted to for a little while now, but I keep putting it off.

I feel so very guilty, and that’s part of the reason why this needs to change, and why I need to change too.


(Image sources from: lemonfed.tumblr.com).

About three years ago now, I became vegan almost overnight, removing all animal products from my diet quicker than you could say cheese. I had very good intentions for doing this; I had done all my research and educated myself on the awfulness of animal agriculture. I knew that I could no longer support the industry with my choices and money, because these sweet animals were no different to the dogs I call family.

However, during this time I was also very unwell, stuck in the depths of an eating disorder that thrived on restriction, and the knowledge of being able to cut out whole food groups beneath a sunny guise of ethics.

And these ethics, they are tormenting me. They truly are. My heart is in veganism, it always will be. It’s an act of peace, and of love, something that feels right to me.

But my heart is also trying to do what’s right in all the ways. For my body and my mind, and for my healing from the past.

I have decided that I need to ensure that I choose not to consume animal products only as a result of my most true, real beliefs, rather than any unresolved fear that I haven’t conquered yet. Therefore, for the time being, I’m making the choice to not label what I eat and how I eat.

I don’t want to have to face the guilt for eating something that I’m not absolutely sure is vegan, that I haven’t scrutinized the label over, anymore. I need to be totally free of this fear and guilt that is ingrained with eating.

For now, I’m choosing to still eat mostly vegan foods, as this is what I truly prefer most of the time, but if I feel like something vegetarian then that’s okay too. I will never return to eating meat, but simply am choosing to reduce my harm to both the animals, and myself this time round too, to as little as possible.

I’ve been putting off talking and writing about this because I’m so afraid of being judged. I’m also afraid of how I will explain this to those around me, how I will explain that my actions no longer always support my steadfast beliefs, or perhaps they do but in a different way. I’m writing this all out because it helps to get it clear in my head.

I know the horrors of our animal-consuming culture, how horrible it is, and that’s what makes this so hard. But this is something that I feel as though I need to go through, and a challenge I need to face, in order to get to where I need to be.

So for now, it’s not goodbye veganism, or even goodbye to my happy little herbivore self. But instead I’m just saying goodbye to a part of me that’s still holding onto a deep set fear from the past, in order to become a happier, healthier little herbivore.


(Image sources from: femmehealing.tumblr.com).

Veganism taught me so much about all the beautiful species that grace our earth, and now it’s time to discover this grace and kindness within a different context too; from myself and outwards.

Love & light,

Kaitlyn.

One Year.

It’s hard to know where to begin.

When did everything stop becoming too much, and I not enough?

Is that when it changed?

Or maybe, it’s all still the same, but I am learning how to cope now.

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(Image sourced from: http://rebloggy.com/post/love-art-quote-life-happy-depression-sad-quotes-beautiful-motivation-words-pain/118689143386).

Today, it’s been one year since I last self harmed.

And, I am so, so happy.

A year ago, I finally asked for help. Seven years too late, but just in time.

I remember trying to talk my way out of having to go. I remember breaking down in the doctor’s office. I remember how much it stung. I remember reading what was happening off my phone, because I couldn’t trust myself to actually say the words instead of just running out of the room.

The first thing she did was make me write down the number for the mental health crisis team. Then we did the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale. This became a regular feature over the next few months. I have lost count of the number of times that good old Kessler has calculated just how awful things were.

Then we talked about medication. She gave me drugs to help quieten the thoughts.

Every few days afterwards, my doctor would ring, just to chat. She would send me TED talks to watch. I was told to come back all the time. And I did. The medication was increased to the highest dose.

After my brain, and all the things whirling around inside, began to stabilise, I was referred to the local psychological services clinic. I spent a few months going there.

My psychologist taught me how to breathe again.

She also had some pretty interesting theories about how things got this way.

I’m still trying to work them out today.

I also did an online CBT course. It helped keep me accountable.

After eight months, my husband decided that I was ready for all of our sharp things to return. I remember we would chop up all our apples into little pieces, just because we now could.

I was so proud that day.

All the knives, scissors, keys, nail clippers, staplers, razors and pins were unearthed. They were removed from their secret hiding place. I still don’t know where that was.

And I could be trusted with them.

It was really, really hard at first, having so much temptation around me.

Sometimes it still is hard. But I can never go back to how things were.

I can never let myself cause that sort of pain to the people close to me again.

At least, that’s what I tell myself anyway.

Because the thing is, some days I really can. But I won’t.

I won’t.

I am so thankful, thankful more than words can say, for everything my doctor, husband, family and friends did for me.

I am so thankful that they never gave up on me, especially when I did.

Today, I am free from the pain that self harm has caused.

Free for 365 days, after years of  not being able to go more than a week without. Free from having to self harm multiple times per day, just to get my mind what felt like under control.

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(Image sourced from: http://tobereal.org/whatyoufeel/karenjames).

The scars still litter my skin, but they don’t bother me. They probably won’t go anywhere for a while, but that’s okay.

They are neither good nor bad. They are simply etches from the past.

And today, I’m learning to live in the present.

It’s so hard to get through to people for who this is their present, that there is more than this. Something that sticks with me, is that each of us had every chance not to be us. In terms of probability, we shouldn’t be here.

But we are. And we all deserve so much more than a life of pain.

Sometimes, when it’s so painful that you want everything to end, it feels impossible to cope in any way other than old, destructive paths.

But when have these ways ever helped you? When would you ever tell your younger self, or a friend, to do what you do?

They don’t. You wouldn’t.

Because we deserve so much more.

Today, I’m still taking medication. I’m still trying to deal with the diagnoses. I’m still trying to cope with the past.

But today, I have hope. And this hope makes me feel free.

And that life is worth living.

Love & light,
Kaitlyn.

Today as a Good Day

Today was really remarkable in the sense that it was just a really good, pure, wholesome day. I actively made choices that would reduce the risk of entering the overthinking -> bad thoughts -> unhealthy actions cycle, and it worked out wonderfully!

To do this I made sure to keep myself busy for most of the day, because this gives my brain less opportunities to conjure up anything and everything that will ultimately only serve for self destruction.

I started with going out to lunch with my lovely parents, and we sat outside where it was all sunshiney and beautiful. I got a roast vegetable sandwich which was so good!

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From there I went to my parent’s house, where we finalised wedding plans, and I played with the dogs. Being around animals is so therapeutic and calming. I gave Ruby a bath, and she was so well behaved; I was very proud!

Afterwards we drove out to a quiet beach where we spent the afternoon. It was magical to be outdoors and in all the fresh air, as living in the middle of the city in a studio apartment doesn’t allow for much freedom! The water was crystal clear and surprisingly warm.

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This evening I decided to get out of the house again, not only to keep myself safe, but also because I wanted to be within an atmosphere of freedom and space. I decided that it was time to write my wedding vows, and they are probably the most difficult words I have ever tried to write. There are so many indescribable feelings and emotions that my little human brain cannot find the words for. I walked to my favourite park and watched the sunset from the top of the hill. Just simply being outdoors and within nature, away from the four walls of my home, helped immensely to boost my mood and get the vows written.

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Something I love about being outside and watching the sky or the waves, is how small and insignificant it makes me feel. Although feeling insignificant is most likely not everyone’s cup of tea, it really helps me because it gives me so much hope. Hope that there is so much more out there in life beyond what is presently happening, and also hope that the darkness in my brain really isn’t all that much in the big scheme of things.

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A thought that has been prominent lately is that validation needs to come from within, and if it comes from other people too, then that is simply just a bonus. This is something I am going to try and work on. I have always been so focused and driven based on what others think, that for so long I never actually realised that I need to be doing all this for me. And as long as I am accepting and at peace with my actions and decisions, then this is what is important. What actually matters is that I focus on becoming the best I can be, and in turn I will become the best future wife, mother, daughter and friend for those around me, that I can be.

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Love & light,
Kaitlyn.

Big Joy & Little Joy

The big joy you experience during things like graduating or having a magical vacation, and the little everyday joy you find driving in the car when your favourite song is on the radio or grocery shopping with the person you love – they are both the same joy. One doesn’t mean more, and one won’t satisfy you or make you happier than the other. Recognizing both and appreciating both is the key. You can’t just live for the big joy and think those moments will sustain you – it’s the little things that light you up in addition to the big magical moments that allow you to realize how full and beautiful life can be.

– Rachaeldee

Stumbling across this quote a few days ago has already brought me joy, simply because these words, they are understanding; they give me hope in little joy and big joy all the same.

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Lately I have experienced little joy, and these moments have made me so happy; they have been uplifting and given me so much hope. They are tiny in terms of the volumes of life itself, but their meaning is momentous.

  • Visits from friends! Last week, one of my closest friends popped around unexpectedly, and it honestly made my whole week. It was so wonderful to see her and to spend time with her, and even just the fact that she thought to come over was so sweet, and meant a lot to me. Then this morning, another friend came over to trial my wedding makeup, and this again made my whole week. I was a bit anxious prior to seeing her, probably because we haven’t hung out in a while, but it made me so happy. It also boosted my confidence a bit, not necessarily because of the makeup, but because I managed to do something and sit through the anxiety.
  • There is this one tree in particular that I walk beneath on the way to work, and the only way I can think to describe it is lush. I love to run my hands up through the leaves as I walk along, which probably looks strange to any passersby, but it’s worth it!
  • As the quote said, going grocery shopping with the one you love, definitely brings joy! As silly as it sounds, this is one of our favourite things to do together, and we always end up having so much fun.
  • I have been on the lookout for more uplifting music lately, as most of the music I generally listen to is more “moody”. So Imagine Dragons has been playing a lot, and alongside a lot of nostalgia, it has been uplifting too.
  • Receiving the sweetest messages, just to check in.
  • Painting! Trying out doing art has been helping to take my mind off things.
  • Small moments with my love. When we play, laugh, dance and sing together. It’s the best.
  • Reading Richard Siken’s Crush, full of heart and heartbreak, but bringing joy nevertheless.

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These are my small joys lately. I am so thankful for them.

Love & light,

Kaitlyn.

Mental Health in the Present

It’s 12:54am on 2nd January, and I already feel as though I have failed at 2017.

This blog post is going to be a bit of a mess. I don’t really know what I’m going to write about, I just know that I need to write.

Something I have been thinking about lately is how it is more widely accepted to talk about a past with mental health issues, as opposed to your present. It is more stigmatized to say “I’m not okay right now,” rather than “I wasn’t okay last year, but I am now.” Stories that have an ending, a final revolution against the mental illness, seem to be more broadly shared, and more positively received. Additionally, sharing about your current mental health, for me anyway, is more scary as I feel as though it requires greater vulnerability. Maybe it’s because of the uncomfortable, chronic nature of many mental illnesses. For some of us, there is no end date to work towards. And that isn’t a widely accepted truth. Maybe it’s because we are showing that we are never really a finalised piece. That we are ongoing and changing throughout our lives. Or perhaps, we are afraid to be viewed as attention seeking, because for some reason, an illness in your brain is seen as less real than an illness in your nose. Overall in our endlessly goal-oriented, always-bettering-yourself way of thinking; it’s seen as just wrong to be struggling.

(Image sourced from: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/wellness/files/2012/01/stigma.jpg).

At the moment, depression is really hitting hard. There, I’ve said it. I could write about how much better I have become at coping with it, how I didn’t break my self harm free streak even though I wanted to so badly. Those words would have been of a more hopeful tone, and perhaps more well received because they would indicate a journey of progression. Although it’s true, that is not my everyday experience with depression. Remembering how far I have come doesn’t remove the sting. Sometimes it just makes me feel even more guilty, for not succumbing to it’s full desires.

I just got dressed a few hours ago. I ate some fruit and cereal, and drank two glasses of water. I made the bed, pushed through doing the dishes, and then took my medication. And all of this was all really, really hard. These tasks required hours of mental preparation, hours of nothingness to convince my brain, that yes, today I was going to do things that humans need to do to take care of themselves, and that no, today was not the day I was going to choose to die.

And these thoughts are progress, but there won’t be an end to my progression. We cannot only share our stories once we reach the magical realm of “better”, because that’s not the full reality with a mental illness. We can share aloud the battle alongside the aftermath, with both being equally significant, and neither something to be stigmatised.

Love & light,
Kaitlyn.