Self care and Christmas

The holiday seasons can bring such joy but they can also bring a lot of stress and anxieties, people often put themselves into debt and really put themselves out over this time of year just to make everything amazing and magical so you can have the perfect Christmas that you can show off on your social medias.. But for some its a hard time of year for different reasons.

Mental health issues, eating disorders, addiction, grief, disabilities.. etc DO NOT disappear at Christmas. They still exist and its totally ok to be depressed, to feel sad at Christmas, you will not ruin Christmas! and if someone tells you that you’ve ruined their Christmas because you’re feeling sad then they are TOXIC as fuck! Because it is YOUR Christmas too and you are allowed to feel however you feel!

If you aren’t looking forward to Christmas this year for whatever reason it maybe try and put somethings in place that will make you happy and make you feel comforted. Because this is your Christmas too.

Every year I buy myself presents and I buy all the fur babies presents too and wrap everything up. Which makes me feel good, especially as one of my dogs will unwrap his presents which is so much fun to watch.

I spend the day with a friend and if the weather is good, get out for a nice walk and I make dinner and relax, watch some films maybe play a board game or two and generally just have a relaxing time. But throughout that time I don’t always feel 100% happy because I’m a human who experiences emotions and that’s ok, I’ll also still have to take my medications and pain killers because my chronic illness doesn’t take a day off.

Boundaries are SO important this time of year, as it is so easy to become overwhelmed and anxious. First boundary would be don’t spend what you don’t have! Buy Christmas presents for every person you know, or buy lots of presents just isn’t worth getting into debt over! Put a limit on what you spend and don’t feel guilty about not buying everyone something, even kids you may have in the family or friends kids. Just because it is Christmas your are under no obligation to get them anything, especially if you can’t afford too, because the stress of being in debt will be worse then the 5 mins of joy that a present creates. If you HAVE to give presents, be creative, make something, gift something you don’t use, get it from a charity shop.

Time boundaries are super important too, as people feel obliged to see you just because its the season. But if you don’t feel up for seeing people when they’re feel try not to feel guilty, there’s always another time. Or if you simply don’t want to see that person, say no. It’s ok to say no to things that you don’t want to do especially if it won’t make you feel good. Don’t push yourself into doing things you really don’t want to do, even if its family engagements, you are under NO obligations to do anything! Do no let anyone bully you, guilt you or gaslight you into doing things you don’t want to do. You are you own person, with things going on and if you’re struggling with the season, tell people, tell them you’re not really feeling it and why and you’d rather just not do whatever it is and if they don’t respect that, they are the problem.

Time boundaries on Christmas day is important too, if you need to take some time out own your own, to nap or just be by yourself, do it! You don’t need to explain yourself, take yourself off and have some down time, that is TOTALLY OK! and much needed and it can get really overwhelming, especially if you’re surrounded by lots of people. It’s hard to be happy and social if you don’t feel it inside. Take some time to yourself to recharge, you will not ruin anything. You and your mental health is super important too, everyone will still be there when you’re ready to re-join everyone and if you just can’t face going back that’s totally ok too! Do what you need to do, take time to listen to yourself and what YOU need.

If you’re spending Christmas alone through choice or not, try and stay off social media, although I know there are usually a few different chats throughout Christmas on Twitter, which could be useful if you’re feeling lonely. Reach out to people, do things that make you happy, like I mentioned earlier, I always but myself presents and wrap them up. Just lots of self care, you are not alone. If you choose not to participate in Christmas at all that’s totally cool too, its not an easy time for everyone.

There’s lots of things you can do on Christmas, you can treat it like any other day, you can volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or at a animal rescue place, I’m sure there are lots of volunteering opportunities over the Christmas period.

But whatever you choose to do, whatever your doing, its ok to feel sad and lonely, its ok to still be grieving that doesn’t stop because its Christmas, its ok to reach out for help, its ok to be happy. It’s just OK, you’ll get through it. You are much stronger then you think. I mean we’ve made it this far right! 🙂

Peace out

Zak

Counselling sessions

After 14 sessions, 14 hours I have finished my counselling sessions, with the lovely Scania Price.

I’m glad I was encouraged to find a private counsellor, I’m so pleased I found Scania as I got a lot out of my 14 sessions. It was different from what I have experienced before and its exactly what I needed at this time and I will definitely go back to her if I need to (probably will need too at some point) I have totally accepted now that its cool to need extra help, at whatever age, for whatever issue. Life is hard and sometimes I just find it so exhausting and so overwhelming, I just can’t do it on my own, I need a safe place to talk stuff through and work through stuff.

Before I started counselling, I had gotten myself to a certain point but there was still stuff I needed to untangle and I felt a bit stuck. I couldn’t move myself forward and I didn’t really have many people to sit and talk stuff through with and I struggle to talk about really deep personal stuff with people, as I struggle to trust others fully to reveal the true me. It takes someone special to get me to open up. I am the master of holding back and only saying snippets of things and not really digging much deeper then what I am willing to share.

I think that’s what’s hindered me in many ways, I think a lot of time I resist how I feel, I don’t just feel things, I fight it. I’m not truthful and honest with myself let alone other people. I struggle to always connect with myself, so often don’t check in with myself and how I’m feeling. But I am trying my best to check in with how I feel, speak my truth, say how I feel. I know I need to start trusting people, I need to try and accept that getting hurt is apart of being human and apart of having friends and family. I think I really avoid getting hurt, so I just withdraw from everything, but by trying to avoid the bad I’m also not letting the good in.

Counselling helped me untangle myself from a previous relationship that I was still getting over and untangle myself from friendships I was no longer in and these things were the main things I was really struggling with. I’d lost myself over the years in these friendships, I’d been chipped away at, I had no boundaries with people, I let people walk over me, I felt weak, I felt silenced, I felt used, I felt lonely, I felt unlovable.. the list goes on. I have started creating boundaries, I know what I will and wont tolerate, I feel stronger, I know I have a voice that I need to use more often. I feel less lonely, I just feel better. I know where I stand.

I feel like in my sessions I was able to be raw and honest and dig deeper then I’ve done before. I feel like I understand myself a bit better, I know I’m still in the process of rediscovering myself but that’s cool.

Even though I’m still feeling a little depressed although its not everyday, it comes in waves. Some days it will be a big wave and it will swipe me off my feet, but other days its a small wave and I’m still standing. I just think that’s the nature of having chronic depression and a chronic illness, as they both have a knock on effect on one another. I am in a much better place then I was in November.

It’s been 2 weeks since my last counselling session and it does feel a bit weird, it has been a bit overwhelming. I liked the routine of having a set time to get all the stuff out I needed too. I’ve been a bit all over the place, but I think I had a bit of the birthday blues, which threw me off. I’m just starting to get myself back together lol.

If anyone is thinking about seeking help, whether that be through the NHS, or privately please do it. Talking does help, no matter how old you are, what the problem is. If you’re feeling shitty, feeling suck and need a little help there is absolutely no shame in seeking what you need. It does not make you weak or less then. It makes you stronger because you are getting your needs met, you are looking after yourself.

I’m feeling tired right now and struggling to remember stuff and concentrate so this feels like its really disconnected and disjointed as I write this. I think its all I have to say, I can’t express enough about how much this round of counselling has helped me. I’m still dealing with stuff but who isn’t, that’s life right.

I was going to write another blog, but I need to sleep and come back tomorrow.

Peace out

Zak

Breaking very old patterns

As I mentioned in my last post, I had written 2 long posts early hours of this morning, but I knew I would need to proof read the spelling and if they made sense or not before posting as they were both written pretty quickly, as I didn’t want to forget anything and wanted to get everything out.

So here goes…

Stuck in patterns especially with friendships and relationships. Experiencing the same same thing over and over again but expecting different results.

I didn’t just need to step out of these friendships, I also needed to look at myself and where I was going wrong and why these patterns kept repeating.

A lot of it was because I let it happen and let those patterns continue as I wasn’t in tune, I wasn’t learning, changing or moving forward.

I also thought it’s all I deserved and because shitty friendships and relationships kept happening, so must be me right? I must have been the reason I was being treated in the ways that I was. That’s a little bit true in the fact I left my behaviour unchecked and unchallenged but I also didn’t challenge others about what they said and the way they treated me, I didn’t express how I felt when someone did or said something. I just shut up and accepted that’s all I deserved.

I’ve always struggled to maintain friendships and relationships. I know I’m not an easy person, I’m overly sensitive and I take things to heart. I used to view these as bad qualities because I was told constantly I’m too emotional, I’m too much to handle etc.

But my sensitivity is what makes me special, it’s what makes me different, it’s what makes me me!

I think these people just didn’t have the same emotional capacity, emotional intelligence as me, so it was easier to make out that I’m the bat shit crazy one and I’ll be the first to admit that I am absolutely bat shit crazy but I’m absolutely cool with that.

I wasn’t built for this cookie cutter society, I was built to stand out and shine bright. But all my life I’ve been surrounded by people who’ve slowly helped to dim that light until I was completely lost in the darkness, just serving others and not looking after myself because myself was completely lost.

I felt invisible like I was only here to serve the needs of others, regardless of the cost to myself. It’s what I deserved, after all I was only a shadow.

The last two years have been the most brutally beautiful and eye opening. It’s like my light has been switched on again and is starting to flicker and with every passing day it gets a little bit brighter.

2018 was the year I fell in love after being on my own for 5 years. Even though it lasted only 7 months I fell hard but it was hard not too as she’s an incredible human, it was the first relationship since starting my transition and as short as it was the longest relationship I’ve had.

I was completely broken when it ended but we remained friends which was really painful to begin with and I think it’s only been really recently that I can say that I’m over her. I still adore her and I’m glad we’re still friends but she was definitely sent to teach me a huge life lesson.

After we broke up my world went from sunshine to perpetual darkness, it was devastating. I withdrew from everyone, withdrew from life, I was so angry, so sad I would spend days crying, which felt like the tears would never stop.

But it gave me the opportunity to analyse what happened, where I went wrong and what I could improve on in the future. Now this isn’t something I’ve ever done before, usually I just get depressed and eventually get over it without learning any lessons so ultimately end up repeating the same shit over again.

It wasn’t a nice process looking at what a needy, emotional, childish diva I was. How intense I was and it’s proper cringeworthy stuff, so bad that I wished I just didn’t exist, that didn’t happen and no one remembered 😂

I mean fair play to her for surviving with me as long as she did.

Even though I did have some awareness of my behaviours and how needy I can be, I tried my hardest to act like a grown up and whatever but those not so great qualities of mine snuck in and soon took over and I couldn’t control myself.

I was overly needy, paranoid, super insecure.. the list goes on.

I’ve been able to step back and take a look at myself and it’s been hard. Especially admitting my flaws but I mean it’s been an essential part of me growing and changing.

It’s taken a lot of work to process the pain and move on from that dark place but I’m doing better now and I hope that if/when a new relationship arises that I’ll be better equipped to deal with myself and have a healthy relationship.

This all led to me taking a step back from important friendships in my life.

Often with long term friendships we don’t tend to take a step back and look at it and see the toxicity that’s slowly crept in along with the complacency.

Whilst this particular person was the one who actually took the plunge and said we need to take a step back from each other, it was something that I was already contemplating and thinking over. They just got to it quicker then I did. But I wanted to take my time look at everything, process everything before I made a decision but my hand was forced and this person did the ending off.

Which as time has gone on has been more of a relief then I imagined.

I won’t go into the ins and outs but toxic behaviour on both sides, a difference in needs/wants/expectations of the friendship which ultimately for me led to feeling disappointed and let down a lot.

I did though put in an important boundary for myself and blocked this person from all my social media as I feel like I wasn’t supported as much as I needed/wanted/expected, so they don’t get to know/see the next parts of my life. Plus a clean break from a bad environment is always good.

The other friendship, well I dunno just things had changed, I had changed and it was just too much of an effort and I just couldn’t be bothered anymore, we’d outgrown each other.

The other friendship, well I was sick to death of hearing the same old depressing shit over and over again and giving my advice and practical help but nothing changed. I walked away for my own sanity.

These decisions weren’t taken lightly as it left me extremely lonely as these people were the only ones that were the closest to me.

I feel like I’m no longer being strangled by others expectations and need. Which has been really freeing.

I’ve spent the last 6 months with huge chunks of time just on my own and it’s been amazing.

The friendships/people I still talk to now is such a different set up. No expectations of anything, we talk as and when, I meet-up with people as and when I feel up to it. I can say no and mean it, without feeling guilty about it. I can put in boundaries without feeling guilty. Proper grown up stuff lol!

I feel like a weight has been lifted, my light is shining bright, my confidence and self esteem is slowly building. I’m becoming the person I’m actually proud of.

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Holy shit who is this person that wrote this deep stuff?! like wow! ahaha. Its amazing what flows out at 4am.

Again another hugely raw and vulnerable post but its good to get this stuff out. I feel good, I am good.

Peace out

Zak

Counselling – Asking for help isn’t shameful

I went back to counselling sessions about 3/4 months ago now and I’ve found it to be really beneficial and has really helped me to process things I’ve been dealing with and has helped me unpick some real deep routed/ingrained stuff that I hadn’t really realised I had issues with.

I was a bit hesitant to go back into therapy/counselling, for many reasons. But some of these reason had actually come from what others had told me in the past that had become apart of my negative self talk.

One reason I was hesitant was that over my life I have seen a lot of counsellors, therapists etc I’ve done CBT and DBT and at what point is it enough? I kept telling myself, well I’m an adult now, nearly 35 I should be able to manage life on my own, I’ve had lots of therapy, I should have the skills and ability to deal with life… and the list goes on. Lots of I SHOULD’s which are the fucking worst!

Also in the past I’ve had friends people in my life, telling me I’m not trying hard enough, I’m not doing enough to change my life and the situations I find myself in etc and if you’re told that enough times, especially if you have low self esteem like I do, you believe those people and those statements and they become apart of your inner monologue, which you the use to bully yourself with.

I viewed counselling as an adult as a sign that I am failing, have failed at managing myself and my own life. Because of those negative statements I felt a lot of shame about needing counselling again, which is bullshit, the best thing for me at this time was to go back to counselling to help myself.

Things you say to people even if you mean well can be so damaging, especially if that person is like me and is particularly sensitive to other people’s words. Obviously you can’t know what words will hurt people, but its just having an awareness of what you do say may have a bigger impact on a person, whether you meant it or not.

The words we say are hugely powerful and can have a massive impact on the rest of someone’s life, not to be dramatic. But a lot of the things in my inner monologue are from negative things or perceived negative things that have been said to me.

It’s really hard for me to not take things to heart, I often don’t seem like I’m effected by things in the moment but I am very much someone who will repeat something over and over and over a million times and look at it from every different angle imaginable. By doing so I make myself feel so upset or angry by something and often my internal reaction often doesn’t match the actual event and is usually an overreaction.

It is something I have been working on for years as I am very aware I can be seen as overly emotional, but I can also go the other way and have no reaction at all, no response.

Taking things to heart is something I still struggle with a bit, I’m still learning. I am much better at controlling my emotions and reactions to things.

Counselling has been eyeopening and it has helped me process things that I was struggling with on my own. I feel like I have dealt with past hurts from a relationship that ended just over a year ago, that was the main thing I was still really struggling with. It still felt so raw and painful, but that pain and hurt has been worked through, unpicked and it just feels good to have had someone outside the situation to talk to about it.

It has also helped me unpick past friendships and why patterns kept repeating over and over. I lack boundaries with people and because of my kindness and low self esteem I let people walk all over me, I let toxic behaviour to continue unchallenged, I was way too much of a people pleaser, I often didn’t even realise I was being emotionally abused because it was so subtle, but over the years it wore me down.

Before I started counselling I was starting to realise that a lot of my main friendships I had were so toxic and just weren’t good for me. In on particular one I felt like I was constantly being put down, in such subtle ways but now I’m not involved in that situation I can’t believe the fact I let it go on for as long as it did, without even saying anything. I just accepted it because that’s what I thought I deserved.

I didn’t think I deserved to be treated better then I was, I didn’t think I was worthy enough. But since stepping back from these friendships and since unpicking this pattern of negative friendships, I realise I am worthy and I do deserve to be treated better then I have been.

Unpicking life, unlearning behaviours and patterns isn’t something that happens overnight and isn’t something that ever stops. I think its good to continue to keep stepping back and looking at different aspects of life to continue to move forward and to make sure you’re not being taken advantage of and helps you identify toxic negative behaviours, either from yourself or that you are allowing from other people.

Counselling also helped me unpick and look at the problems I have with disassociation and how its your brains way of protecting you and the different effects it can have. IE it can stop medications being effective as there is such a separation being brain and body. Which so so fascinating.

We also talked about my gender dysphoria and the fact that I feel still disconnected to my chest despite having had top surgery, nearly 6 months ago now.

This disconnection/disassociation from my brain and body is something I think I’ve always struggled with ever since I was small. Due to traumatic events, those events being my parents divorce which was extremely messy and painful and then being quite ill from a very young age and finally having a diagnosis as a teenager of a life changing, lifelong illness. Also being brought up in an environment that wasn’t great for anyone’s mental health, let alone a child’s

I have very little recollection of my parent’s divorce and the bits I do remember, aren’t great but the rest I’ve blocked out. I may never fully remember those events, I may have something that one day will trigger those memories. And that’s ok because my brain is doing whatever it needs to do to continue to protect me and keep me safe, which is amazing.

Maybe one day with more inner work and the further down the line I go with my transition I will close that gap between my brain and body and that disconnection won’t be so great. But as with anything these deep routed things take time to heal and takes time to change.

I think because I am a pretty sensitive person that I will need top up counselling sessions every now and then throughout my life, just to keep me going, keep me safe and keep me happy and I’m ok with that now.

You take your car for an MOT, you go to the hospital if you break a leg, you eat food in order to fuel your body to keep going, so why wouldn’t you put in the same effort for your mental health?

Mental health is such an important aspect and even now in 2020 it still feels as though going to counselling is a negative thing. But it really isn’t, it’s such an important part of life, especially if mental health is something you have struggles with.

There is no shame in needing help, there is no shame in needing medication, there is no shame in needing counselling/therapy as and when you need it and for however long you need it. There is NO shame in looking after your mental health.

Shame is such a powerful emotion, it’s one I really struggle with. Sometimes I just feel so full of shame about even being alive and taking up space that I do wonder why I am still here. But again often that shame isn’t mine, its come from words other people have said to me, opinions from others etc.

I am slowly learning how to build boundaries with other, which in turn is helping my self esteem. I’m slowly learning to like myself and who I am as a person, I am slowly learning to change that negative self talk to a more positive self talk. I am slowly learning.

Not everyone’s paths and journeys look the same, there is no time scale that anyone should be doing anything by. Some people learn huge lessons at a young age, some people take longer, some people never learn and change and that’s ok. We are all different, we all experience life differently and we’re all walking different paths to different destinations and that’s ok.

If you think you need some extra help, please access it. See your GP or psychiatrist, look up a privet counsellor (most of which will do a concession charge) talk to a friend, partner, family member. Needing extra help, isn’t shameful, isn’t a sign of failure. In fact asking for help takes such strength and bravery, it is the opposite of failure.

Asking for extra help means you respect yourself enough to know that you deserve help.

I decided last month to end my sessions at the end of this month and I know that I am welcome to go back whenever I need to and for however long I need too and it feels nice to know that whenever I need a little help to get unstuck from life, I have someone I can go to and work things through with.

I am looking forward to this next part of my life, with a new healthier view on friendships and relationships and the confidence to build and maintain boundaries. Even though at the moment my mood isn’t amazing, I feel stronger and I feel more capable of dealing with life in general.

That’s all for now,

Peace out

Zak

Rediscovering myself

Since December, I’ve been in hibernation mode and I’ve really struggled to get out and about. I’ve wanted to stay close to home and just relax, but I feel its time to start slowly crawling out of this cocoon I’ve built and participate in life again.

It was necessary for me to take a step back from life so I could continue to heal from surgery and reevaluate my life. As I had some big life changes, friendship changes and growing in self confidence.

I’ve also been rediscovering who I am as a person, been trying to find my style, who I want to be as a man, what I am willing to put up with, who I want in my life, my expectations of every. So the hibernation time has been a really important part of that, as its allowed me the time and space to just sit and be and to look back on how things went before and what I want my future to look like now.

I’ve learnt that I had put myself into the role of care taker, for practically everyone in my life and I was always waiting on who needed me next, I was always making myself available for other people even if it meant not putting myself first.

I know I am a natural healer, which is really cool and I love helping people but I also need to know my value as an individual. I have stopped helping people at the detriment to myself, I’ve been putting up clear boundaries with people as well, which isn’t always easy but it makes me feel good.

I’m going to stop putting my life on hold and start doing the things I want to do. I’ve spent so much time making myself available for other people, just in case I’m needed, that my life kinda took a back seat.

I’ve made myself available for the people who wouldn’t do the same for me. I’ve realised that some friendships I was in were making my self esteem so low, due to the way I was talked to and treated. I am more capable then I realise and I am totally ready to see what I am capable of doing.

I want this year to be fun, I want to have adventures, I want to make memories, I don’t want to be reliant on anyone, I don’t want to be looking after everyone.

I know I can be a healer whilst remaining autonomous and not feeling like I HAVE to be there for that particular person.

This week I am hoping to go on an adventure, but I’m not going to say where and when until it happens. As I’ve learnt that if I announce what I’m going to do, it feels like so much pressure and I find it hard to then commit too. But I will keep you all posted.

Peace out

Zak

Dear friends,

Dear friends, old and new. To those who I’ve known for 20 years and to those who I’ve known for 2 months. I wanted to write this to catch everyone up on where I am and where I’ve been.

In January, I was in a really dark place, which is somewhere I haven’t been for a long time and I feel like I’m only just coming out of the other side of it, but I still have a way to go.

As a result of this darkness I removed everyone from my Facebook for a good 3/4 months. I was angry, frustrated, isolated, depressed and struggling to survive.

But in that time I did a lot of soul searching, I know such a cliche, but I did.

I realised that over the years I’ve been quick to shut people out of my life, I’ve been quick to give up on friendships. I was trying to cut out “bad energies, drama” etc but in doing that I closed myself off to the good energies and good stuff.

I think I became so closed off because I’m so willing to help everyone, that sometimes I get burned. That’s not necessarily down to people themselves but due to my lack of boundaries and respect for myself. I thought if I made other people happy then I’d be happy but it doesn’t work like that.

Then about 5 years ago I started exploring my gender and came out as trans and I began my journey. Which again I was really open about but I was also wary of being people’s token trans friend and I was just anxious about not being accepted or whatever. So again I made my friend circle smaller.

In making my world smaller, I’ve missed out on living. I’ve missed out on friendships with some really great people. I gave in to the negative inner voices and the darkness, I allowed myself to become isolated and alone, the anger and frustration grew within.

January was my breaking point but in the weeks and months after I spent most of time alone, thinking, reflecting and meditating.

I started to allow myself to be open, slowly I began to add people back on FB, I began to reach out to friends. I started to ignore the negative inner voice and the darkness and walked towards the light.

It’s by no means perfect, I still struggle with anxiety and depression but I’m finding it a bit easier to deal with.

I often felt my expectations of people were too high, but I realised I rarely expressed my expectations in my friendships, I can’t have expectations if people don’t know what they are.

My voluntary work has helped me so much, it’s helped me with not being so isolated, I’ve made some incredible new friends who’s friendships I am so incredibly grateful for and hopefully in 20 years plus we’ll still be friends, still having adventures and experiencing this life together.

For those who I’ve not spoken to in a long time, who I’ve recently added back, I hope you’re well and forgive me for being so distant, I had to go off in order to grow into a better version of myself and I hope to hear from you soon, much love to you.

For everyone else, know that I appreciate you, I may not say it as often as I should or even show it but I do very much appreciate every friendship I have. You’ve kept me going even when I didn’t want too. I will continue to try and be open with you about everything, it’s something I’m still working one. But I’ll get there.

Thank you to everyone for your patience, love, support and sheer awesomeness!

I love and appreciate you all!

In 6 weeks time I will embark on the next stage of my journey, my physical transition, my spiritual journey.

I’m excited, I’m a bit scared, I’m nervous but I am so ready for it, I know it’s going to be a challenge but I’m ready to face it head on.

I know I will have my friends by my side helping me through and I’m so excited to have you guys with me! I can’t wait for this next adventure!

Peace out

Zak 💜