Without going into too much detail, I’ll start this post by explaining that I’ve had to deal with a fair bit of rubbish things happening to me all through my childhood and growing up, and it’s unsurprisingly had a negative effect on my mental health and my ability to cope with stress. That said, I’ve had a lot of help and support, from therapists and counselors to my family and friends who have always tried to help hold me up.
Now that I’m a bit older, I’m starting to need that help holding myself up less and less.
Just recently though in the last few years it’s been a bit rocky again and I felt overwhelmed and not in control of any of the events in my life and what was happening to me and I was slipping, or rather plummeting, back into my old harmful coping methods. I decided I couldn’t go down that road again and I sought help. The good old NHS referred me to see a counsellor to talk things out and it’s actually just what I needed. Just a few sessions managed to help me remind myself of all the things I already knew, from learning through previous therapy or actually during my degree in Psychology (!!), and it’s got me back on track.
The point of talking about all this, is that my counsellor the lovely Annabelle, made a really good analogy and I just really wanted to share it because it’s exactly how I feel.
During our last and final session on Tuesday, I came to it with nothing to say, nothing to delve into, nothing to analyse. I was happy and surprised that there was nothing ‘wrong’ with me. Annabelle recognised how almost unsettling it was for me, to not have something wrong in my life and she told me, “you need to reach for that yellow sticky label that you’ve had stuck on you since you were 4, saying ‘not okay’, and just rip it off”.
Even though it’s quite a simple idea, this blew my mind!! I realised this is how I’ve been viewing myself! This whole time, if I ever thought about ‘me’ or evaluated myself, it would always have something to do with my negative experiences in my life and the bad effect they’ve had. I always had that neon yellow square in the corner of my eye reminding myself that no matter how hard I try I’m not the same as everyone else. And that’s just bulls**t to be honest. Of course everyone is allowed to be not okay, but permanently viewing myself as damaged and somehow not whole or normal is just not a helpful or positive thing to do.
In order to be mentally healthy, I think in my case I must use my knowledge to continually help myself and deal with what life gives me, and not immediately feel like things are happening just because ‘it’s me and that always happens’ and I’m ‘not ‘okay’. When in reality, I’ve been there done that and got all the flippin’ t-shirts, I’ve had my share of sad, so now it’s up to me to acknowledge my experiences, learn from them, leave them in the past and use what I know to handle anything else that might come my way. The pit party is well and truly over for me.
I’m pulling off that sticky label, and scratching off the little bits of sticky glue left and living life not as ‘not okay’ Alice, but just plain Alice. And plain Alice is great.