After a few weeks of illness and crammed deadlines, I am back! This post will be entirely dedicated to outlining how my mental health has changed these past six months, and how I got here.
To start things off – I have improved so much in terms of mental health, but there is still ups and downs, as that is a normal part in life. The biggest part for me was the realisation that I am in control of my thoughts, even if it often seems like negative thoughts ‘take over’ and are ‘overwhelming’. I found that changing the language I use within myself, and dropping words that make me feel like my thoughts are something that my emotions are in control of, helped me tremendously.
In terms of my emetophobia, I am so much better than before. I was watching Harry Potter with friends the other day, and the scene of Ron throwing up the slugs caused me almost no mental burden. Really, the only things that occurred to me is that, firstly, that’s pretty gross, and secondly, I hope the people around me don’t think we have to skip this scene for me (as I know in the past people become aware of me when throw up becomes a topic – but I am perfectly capable to hear and speak of it like anyone else now yay!). I was pretty impressed with myself, as my heart did not start racing and my thoughts were focussed on solely the plot of the movie; One year ago I would browse emetophobia forums to make sure a movie I was about to watch did not contain any vomit scenes.
Other than that, I have learnt to be at ease and be as kind to myself as I try to be to others. At the end of the day, you are the only person that will be there for you to support you – I found it super helpful to positively build my relationship with myself (as silly as it sounds), and stop relying on external forces to keep me going – No more sugar when I am stressed, no more ginger tablets when feeling nauseous, no more messaging my boyfriend when upset. Of course some of these removal tactics are pretty extreme measures, and I still talk to my boyfriend when upset here and there, but it’s about not NEEDING to do so. If my friends are unavailable to chat when I’m not okay – that’s okay! I still have myself, I can support myself and do things myself that make me feel better, I don’t need to push my worries onto someone else, or reach for an external agent to help me.
I have been living alone these past few months and it really helped me to appreciate my own company, and I have to say I like my company! This is a point in my life I never imagined being at during sixth form – Happy and carefree all by myself, what??? Of course, there are still times of sadness, crying and upset (which is a normal part of life), but rather than dwelling on it like I used to, I accept it, move on, and if I can, I will try to make myself feel better.
Here are some things I like to do to make myself feel better (most of which I learned from the thrive book):
- Write down all the positive experiences from the last couple of days that make me feel better (E.g. My friend thanked me for my help; I heard someone throw up and I was fine – I have come so far!)
- Meditate, which really helps me to push back the overflow of obsessive thoughts
- I try to do Wim Hof breathing every day. I like that I purposefully put myself out of my comfort zone by hyperventilating, which makes me feel mentally strong
- Right after waking up, I think about a positive aspect I want to focus on during the day (e.g. ‘Today I will focus on being kind to myself’, ‘Today I will focus on working hard on this essay’), and make sure to write it down in my exercise book to keep track of it!
- Drawing is something that also stimulates my positivity, so get inspired and be creative!
- Gratefulness is something that we need more of in our society, so I make sure to actively think of 3 things, people or events I am grateful for every day.
- When I experience negative, catastrophic, or paranoid, thoughts, I make sure to acknowledge them! This is definitely the first step to changing your thoughts, as it is something that is entirely up to you. When next realising that you are feeling off, try to think – Is this current thought helpful in any way? If not, what about it is unhelpful? How can I change it? You have the ability to change your thoughts, it just requires a lot of active effort and continuous motivation!