Emotional Change and Self-Care

This year has been incredibly intense. In just the last four months I’ve lost a job, left a very secure home, left my dearest people and started on a new and unexpected chapter. Maintaining some sense of mental stability has been incredibly difficult and one which I still don’t feel like I am successfully achieving.

This article has been brewing for quite a while. I’ve been very distracted the last few months but also afraid of actually writing. Putting my thoughts out into the world is really overwhelming and I struggle to not see it as self-indulgent and useless. What is the point when there are so many people out there who could say it better? Well for the final two months of 2019 I have decided to say fuckit. I’ve paid for the annual subscription so I may as well use it!

With so many different changes taking place in my life right now I’ve been thinking a lot about change and self-care. Change can happen in different ways obviously but how can you look after yourself and respond to change? How should your self-care and self-compassion change to support yourself through change?

I’ve been given a number of different mental health diagnosis in the past but I don’t know how much that information has really helped me look after myself. This move has made me realise the work I need to put into really understanding what I need during times of emotional change. Having a term can be useful for speaking with medical professionals or explaining things to your close ones, but ultimately you have to learn how to handle yourself.

New things will always be there to blind side you on a random Tuesday but working out healthy ways to respond to them will always be crucial. Having a regular routine is important but I’ve found that my existing routine has not only been harder to stick to (due to moving) but also didn’t work as effectively as it had before once I had kind of settled down. Changing up your self-care is intimidating and a lot of work. I definitely opted for the “ignore it and hope it goes away” route for a few weeks in the hope that I wouldn’t need to put the work in. Even after years of work on my mental health there is still that little voice encouraging me not to try, that same voice convinces me I am going to win the lottery but isn’t much use when I find myself crying in the shower and unable to stop. It takes consistent effort to combat that voice.

Don’t let yourself be convinced that you aren’t worth the effort.

Time

I’ve seen a lot of memes in the last few months along the lines of “there are only 3 months 2019 left, don’t let anyone waste your time” or “There are only two months till a new decade, make it count.” Every time I see them I think, ‘fuck you! I’ll sit on my ass and not achieve anything just to spite you are your judgey little meme’

Now that isn’t the healthiest or most rational response to an Instagram post but they do really annoy me. People are obsessed with time and achievement. From my own experience time is completely useless when thinking about mental health or self-care. I spent six months in therapy and left feeling worse than I did when I went in. Other people I know went to three sessions and felt great. When it comes to self-care, mental health and time the only thing you need to do is give yourself as much of it as you need.

Use your time wisely yes but if part of your self-care routine is coming home and watching Netflix for six hours that is perfectly valid. My critical voice is constantly telling me to be more productive but it never works. I always end up re-watching old TV shows but then just feeling shite about it, I may as well just watch series four of ER and enjoy it and appreciate the time and ability to do it.

My most recent bout of depression actually scared me, I felt so hopeless I didn’t know what would happen. Rather than continue to wallow in it I reached out for help. Having to pay for counselling was also scary, I didn’t think I should spend that much, but knowing that I was far from my usual support network I had to convince myself. Rather than dwelling on the fact I don’t have more money or trying to keep struggling on my own, I found an online counselling service that worked for me and got a small discount after explaining my financial situation.

Space

One of the lowest points in my mental health was when I was living in an utter shithole of a flat. It was cheap and I had no money but I could have made it a better space for myself. Having a sanctuary is so important when you are stressed. Making that sanctuary isn’t about getting Queer Eye in to rebuild your house and paint your walls grey and teal (though that would be pretty awesome) but about making your space nurturing in any way you can.

Make the most of what you already have. The new flat I have is far from my dream space but as soon as I moved in, I made sure to put my photos and pictures all over the walls. I’m working on the rest but the photos are the important bit for me.

Making a nurturing space isn’t about buying £35 scented candles or 100% agora blankets. Start with one area and build from there. I realised my bed isn’t doing me any favours, the pillows are uncomfortable and it doesn’t feel snug. So, I will be spending money on this area (bedsheets, pillows etc) before moving onto the bathroom, kitchen, living room etc.

Don’t Judge Yourself

Even though I thought I was doing much better in terms of self-compassion I realised that I have been incredibly hard on myself throughout this move. Telling myself I am not being productive enough, not moving fast enough, not achieving anything, basically making myself feel like shit.

It took a long time for me to realise what an absolute dick I can be to myself, even if I have improved I realise now it is still my default. I judge myself for being too tired to “do things”, I obsess over my productivity, I write to do lists and then get frustrated that I don’t finish them in an hour! I’m working towards a place where I can just be, be ok with being too tired to do much, be ok that sometimes I just want to watch TV and not read a book, be ok that I ate a lot and didn’t do a huge amount of exercise or whatever other thing I feel like I don’t deserve.

Whatever you are doing to relax or numb out for a little bit, don’t judge yourself for it, be honest about why you are doing it and why you feel like you need that thing. Reflect on it


Ultimately self-care isn’t a static thing, it needs to be flexible to meet your needs but your needs will change. When your needs change the process of working out how to respond can be really frustrating. The key thing is to be honest about what you need for yourself and don’t let yourself feel guilty about it.

Moral Self Defence with La Cher

Depression and anxiety make your world small. Taking even the tiniest step forward can feel impossible. If you are lucky you will have people around you who can help you take those steps to get out of your emotional pit. Sometimes all it takes is little inspirations to help you move along.

So far my 2019 has been full of pits, pits full of shit that I keep getting tripped into. With every fall I have felt angrier and more pessimistic. There is only so much shit a person can shovel before giving up becomes a pretty tempting offer.

When you are in the shit pit, and have been in it for a wee while, it is easy to feel like ‘maybe this shit pit is the one I’ll never get out of’ or even ‘hey it’s a shit pit but it’s not the shittiest pit I’ve ever been in’.  The antithesis to this kind of thinking is a martial-arts badass. 

Luckily for me I found find myself at a self-defence class run by La Cher. Two days before, I had been in another shit pit thanks to a bout of sepsis (a consequence of another shit pit I don’t have time to get into here!) which landed me in hospital. I had very legitimate reasons not to go to this class, I was still really unwell and I was sleeping a solid 14 hours a day, so maybe a self-defence class wasn’t the best idea.  I’d like to say I was motivated by some higher purpose but it was a combination of having paid and wanting to know how to wrestle people to the ground.

It was far from what I expected. The class was not just physical self-defence but La Cher went into ways to protect yourself from verbal attacks, from yourself as well as twats on the street. It was a room full of women of all ages and I left not only knowing how to get myself out of a strangle hold but also feeling very inspired. I hadn’t written anything in so long but I’d found someone who I knew I had to write about.

I met with La Cher to find out more about her tips for getting yourself out of shit pits.

  • Find the right tools for you

The only thing that works is you, therapists can give you tools but they don’t make it right.  I went to a therapist and I was like “the only thing I want you to do is erase a memory from my mind, that is all that I need you to do” and she was like well I can’t do that but you can re-programme your mind.

You are the only who can make yourself happy, you are the only one you can dig yourself out of hell, out of depression. You are the only one who can have the confidence to say you are amazing. Someone can tell me all day long “you inspire me, you are amazing” but if I don’t believe that too, it doesn’t mean anything.  It comes from within us, nobody does it except us.

Facebook used to be my newspaper, so I realised I had to fill my newsfeed with happiness. I stopped watching the news, because the news 90% of the time they just want to talk about negative things and that isn’t what the world is.  I started creating positive messages around me, it’s one tool, one tool doesn’t work alone you have to use other tools. I used post-its, I started sticking them everywhere so I would see them in the morning, in the mirror and I’d see the messages.

  • Reflect

We need to start from the inside out. The mirror became my friend, I hated the mirror at first but what really helped me was talking to myself. Looking into my eyes in the mirror, if you can’t look at yourself… that is you! If you can’t love yourself how can you expect other people to love you. So, I had to start loving myself first, so what did I do? I had to dig back to when came that I thought I was hopeless. What happened to me?’ When I was a kid I was so vibrant I had so much energy. What happened that I felt worthless? I had to go back and that’s when I went back to a time when I was violated.

I want to show women that this happened to me too and you are going to be ok. Everything will be ok. When I did the self-reflecting, I had to apologise to that little girl, because for so long I blamed her, I told her she deserved it, I was so mad at her and I had to apologise and let her know that I forgave her. We have to forgive whoever we blamed in the past. That is the only way you can get past it, it is the only way you can cleanse yourself.

Recently, I went through something again and I almost took myself back two years. I had to grab hold of myself, I took myself away, I needed to get myself back. I just spoke to myself in the mirror and meditated like morning, afternoon and evening and I spoke to one of my girlfriends. She gave me some advice. I didn’t take her advice but just being able to talk about it made me feel good. Eventually, I did the right thing that I was supposed to do. I still go through that today but I know how to get myself through it so much quicker.

If it keeps coming back up, you never learned your lesson. If you don’t want something to keep coming back up you have to learn from it. You have ask yourself ‘what can I get from this? How can I benefit from this?’ and that’s how you push forward. You have to go through it to get through it.

  • You have to fight

A lot of people look at me like she is this strong female like I am just built strong but the strongest people come from so much adversity that they had. My whole vision is to unite and empower women, to say we are ok, we are enough, we can trust each other, its ok to talk about stuff, its ok to be vulnerable.

I went to a therapist, that didn’t help, my mum took me to a doctor for medication and that didn’t work. It wasn’t until a situation three years ago that I got out of, everyone was so worried about me but none of it worked until I realised, I think it was a Tuesday, I woke up and I thought “no more’.

I’ve been through a lot of shit, I don’t need to go back there, I am powerful I am strong. People might call it cocky it doesn’t matter. We have to fight every day to focus on the positive, even if that means telling myself “you are the best bitch”. I know if I allow it, I can get sucked back.

A lot of people look at me like she is a strong female like I am just built strong but the strongest people come from so much adversity that they have had.”

I’m still amazed by La Cher’s emotional strength and motivation to stay mentally well. I can’t thank her enough for sitting down with me to tell me more about her work. She has reframed recovery and wellness for me as a process of getting your mind to a place of power not just treading water.

So if you are lucky enough to identify as a woman and be near or in London La Cher is hosting another event on Sunday May 12th in Brixton, more details can be found here, come down and meet her and other like-minded ladies!

You can also find her on all the usual social medias!

https://www.facebook.com/pg/badassladyl/posts/

@sadisticcoach

https://sadisticcoach.co.uk/