If you need to, step back!

If there’s one thing about my mental health issues that winds me up, it is the need to be busy/dependable/useful. In the past I had consistently made myself ill by not stopping, by not slowing down and by sacrificing any free time I had to doing something. I lost so much weight a few years back that I ended up forced to bed rest, I was diagnosed with fatigue and all I could do was sleep. Eating happened only once a day and I could drink only a few bottles full of water between sleeps.

A full month of my life was wasted, friends faded and when I had recovered my anxiety was worse than ever. It is safe to say that was a horrid period of my life, but it taught me the importance of self care and that you HAVE to look after yourself before anyone else. Otherwise what good would you be to the people who do eventually truly need you?

Recently someone said to me “when you’re free you always stay in” and the shame it made me feel hurt me to my stomach. Honestly, I felt ashamed that I took time for myself. Despite learning my lesson years ago and having an iron will to not let myself get that sick again, my anxiety responded as it always does….returned to those feelings of shame and wanting to be busy and seeing people and getting things done. And that made me mad! I was angry at myself, at my mental illness and at my friend for making me feel that way again.

Maybe they’ll think I’m lazy? Maybe they won’t want to be my friend if they think I never do stuff with them. I can’t say no the next time they ask me to do something. I hope they’re not taking it personally. I’m such a bad friend.

Heres the thing though, neither of us, me or my friend deserved that anger. I had to tell myself, over and over that it’s okay to take time out and step back.

Stop simply DOING more than what you need to be doing. Those side projects? Pause them for a few days. The friend that badgers you to hang out? Be honest and tell them you need some time to yourself and ask them if they’re open to seeing you next week. Tired of your phone dining with a message every few minutes? Tell people your gonna go do something and you’ll talk to them later.  Shut your phone off and relax.

That doesn’t always seem like a easy thing to automatically feel, especially if you’re like me and get horrifically restless and upset with yourself for not being busy that it frustrates you and you get that pain in your stomach that I spoke about earlier, but everyday life even when you’re doing apparently ‘nothing’ can be so incredibly draining and overwhelming. There’s so much pressure to be constantly available, constantly on top of everything, constantly working towards a project that might maybe help me feel a little more validated or like I’m not just failing horrifically and falling behind everyone else I know.

“You can care for others, if you care for yourself first”

It’s my mantra now, after my friend said his piece to me “when you’re free you always stay in” I wrote it down over and over again to try and rid myself of the horrible feeling and anxious thoughts.

If you have any advice you’d like to share, or experiences you’d like to talk about, feelings your having about what I had a little rant on above then leave a comment in tote section below. For now though, until my next post, see you all online! Charlotte x

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