Mental Health Awareness- A reminder to myself and to you, you are not alone.

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I have recently come to the realisation that writing things down when you are feeling overwhelmed, sad, out of control or generally in your feels can be the best way to relieve some of the pain. I am writing this with no intention of publishing it- but without ruling out publishing it. I know how powerful it can be to share experiences, I have personally felt empowered by reading other peoples experiences.

It is July, mid summer where everything is bright but things feel kinda dark for me. Safe to say, I have unconsciously dug myself into a bit of a hole… Having faced a lot of changes in my life over the last few months, becoming self employed, being so focused and committed to my business, life has all been WORK WORK WORK. Then I decided to cut out meat a few months ago to try another route of healing my PCOS. Yup, some big changes. I went from working in a school surrounded by human interaction, to just me alone in a kitchen everyday, single handily running my business. From training at UP gym in group classes feeling motivated, to training in a gym where 60% of the time I trained alone. I have always been so fiercely independent and at peace with being alone, I would laugh when people would say, “Don’t you feel like you are getting to the age where all your friends are married and becoming parents? Don’t you worry about your biological clock?”… my answer would always be, “My timing for those things aren’t ruled by how society tells me I should be living, my time will come as and when it is meant to!”(also the fact I’m not overly bothered about getting married!) Which is very true to some extent, but honestly, I was ignoring that deep desire I had to meet someone, live with someone, experience things with someone, build a life together, all of that stuff I’ve always visioned having.

I am naturally a giver, I thrive off seeing people happy and spreading love, which means I have a pattern of attracting men who take from me without giving much back, I am aware this has been the case with past experiences for quite some time. So, naturally, the people pleaser in me is satisified by having a business where I get to sell my healthy snacks. Watching people love the food I create makes me feel all fuzzy inside. Like, this is my passion and people are loving it, how cool is that? But, I never thought of the negative effects of turning your passion into a business- yes it’s empowering and yes I am blessed to be earning money through it, but on the on the flip side it meant I was neglecting a lot of other things that ignited that fire inside, for instance writing, creating new recipes (it has been too long!). I neglected my social life, for a long time, I didn’t even go out and dance (and for anyone who knows me, knows I love to dance, it is a huge passion of mine from being a kid). Some weeks the only other human contact I would have is with my mum or people I saw at the gym for the 40 minutes I would be there. I didn’t think of the effect it would have on me, I took time to do self love practices such as walks (usually alone) and meditation at home. It would never worry me if a weekend was approaching and I had no plans- I didn’t feel uneasy about being alone which I always saw as a strength of mine, and in many ways it is. I have so many friends with opportunities to be social and I feel so loved, my life is definitely not lacking in love. However, you can really get yourself into a deep introverted state when you’re like that.

My mum recently got into a serious relationship with a lovely man, which genuinely made me so happy, seeing her happy (and it took a little pressure off me) but this also meant we spent less time together, which again, I didn’t consciously think was an issue, but I believe it has contributed to the place i’m in now.  I haven’t been focused on meeting anyone for myself, but I have always been open to meeting someone. The thing I failed to remember was YOU HAVE TO GET OUT THERE IN ORDER TO MEET SOMEONE- crazy huh? So my soul mate isn’t going to be knocking on my door anytime soon?…. OHHHH OK. I decided it was time to shift my focus a bit, not be so work obsessed and start giving myself time to relax, have fun and date (or be open to dates). Friends would tell me I have to be more social, to not be so hard on myself, “you deserve a day off!”, they would say. So I listened and I did relax more… Somehow this meant I lost a lot of my focus and passion for my business, I didn’t see it at the time, but I slowly became de-motivated and have just been doing the bare minimum to get by. I found myself back on tinder, frantically looking, swiping, desperately thinking HE MUST BE OUT THERE, COME ON, I’M READY?! I’ve done all this healing and work, I know what I want why isn’t he being thrown into my life yet?! Now, I know more than anyone that what you think you create, I am the biggest believer of “your thoughts become your reality”, but I also know that it has to come from a place of peace and not pure desperation… and I’ve been verging on desperate. 5 years single… most that time spent subconsciously avoiding getting close to someone following my past experiences.

Someone came into my life for a very short time, we didn’t even properly date, we spoke, we met and throughout that short time it was toxic. He came from a background of abuse and neglect, so of course the healer and people pleaser in me felt a desire to help him. He was spoke to me like shit; I reacted with love and understanding, he would argue with me, I would reply calmly and with understanding, he would let me down when we had plans and try to somehow blame me (manipulation at its best) and although I made it clear I wouldn’t stand for these actions, I was also giving him more chances to project his shit on me. Like, where has your self respect and worth gone Justine? I knew exactly what he was doing, I’ve learnt a lot about men like him in the past, I know a lot of psychology, but this also meant I UNDERSTOOD why he was behaving that way. I knew he was just a kid crying out for help and to be loved. The test for me was- do I love myself enough to walk away without feeling guilty, or do I let him suck the life out of me, which would undo all the self love work I’ve done. I felt how toxic he was to me from the get go, my intuition is never wrong, yet I still let him get under my skin. The short experience triggered an extremely old wound from a past relationship where I was abused. I almost couldn’t believe how quickly it shot me back to that time in my life, where I felt helpless, anxious and the need I felt to feel wanted and loved by him. It took me 10 days to cut it off with this guy and I could see exactly why this past trauma had been triggered back into my life- I still had shit to heal. I understood the lesson, but it didn’t soften the blow. I felt completely out of alignment, out of control, emotional. How could I feel so much pain from someone I knew so little about and in such a short time? I didn’t even have any type of relationship with this guy? There goes my self judgement… But he wasn’t the problem. It was my old pain saying “HI, remember me?” Once I came to grips with this I began to feel better about the situation and ready to face it (just no idea where to start!). He was blocked and I felt ok again. Not my old self, but ok. I had things to distract me, one being a girls night out! Which was so fun and much needed. I felt confident and like I was getting my oomph back. I got some attention off guys, which I still to this day find hard to receive. Almost feeling like I am not worthy of it or thinking “they only want one thing”- that is still something I need to work on. I met a guy who was on holiday and it was almost like I was catching up a past friend/lover, like we had met before, it was comfortable, I was completely myself, I was superrr attracted to him and we spoke for hours- the connection was something I hadn’t experienced for in a long time. He asked to see me again before he left, and despite me trying and him making arrangements to meet me- it never happened. Which honestly left me feeling a bit ‘meh’ and disappointed, which on reflection was my own expectation to a degree, but also my hopes to meet again were down to the words he had said to me. Rejection can feel a little shit, and I guess this was the cherry on top of the ever layered emotional cake. I realised that night out was masking the work I still had to do in healing myself and meeting him (and being rejected to a degree) was something that I had to experience in order to shift my focus. I almost can’t believe I am saying it, but I am  a little depressed. Not because of the boy experiences I had recently gone through, but with EVERYTHING that I was unconsciously going through. Working for myself, being alone, friends settling down, Mum being in a relationship… allll that piled up.

With that harsh realisation comes the GUILT, how can I feel so down when there are people in the world with nothing? People grieving? A guy I know just lost his Dad! HOW SELFISH OF ME TO FEEL SO SAD!!! Then comes the pep talks I give myself, you will be fine Justine, it’s just a bad day not a bad life, people are worse off! Ok, well that could be true… but that doesn’t help. How do I pull out of this sadness? I know all of this and yet I can’t snap out of it. I have no desire to do anything, my passion feels so far away from me, that burning flame I once had is just a pile of coals simmering right now. The tears on and off over the past few weeks, WHY CAN’T I CONTROL MY EMOTIONS. Ah I know, it must be the Full Moon, that must be it….. The Full Moon passes, nope still crying. Then the victim mindset jumps in for it’s role of, I DON’T WANT TO FEEL LIKE THIS ANYMORE, MAKE IT STOP. It is just a full cycle of i’m OK, i’m not OK, i’m OK, i’m not OK. What has happened to me? I have always been SO STRONG. This isn’t me, I barely recognise myself. I am always that friend that has the BEST advice, I always come through with the empathy, positivity and motivation. I have studied a lot about the mind and how it can trick us into feeling inferior, how fear can just consume you and often stop you from truly doing what you want. Fear isn’t real. I know this, yet I feel scared that I won’t snap out of it. I’m human, and I’ve been through these moments of doubt and self sabotaging oh tooo many times. So why the hell can’t I stop these feelings? I know what to say in these situations, I know what to do but I can’t do it. Maybe I need help, but does that make me weak? * Mentally Slaps myself in the face* NO JUSTINE YOU ARE HUMAN. Being vulnerable is actually a strength, not a weakness. It’s totally ok to NOT be ok. We can tell everyone around us we are FINE (Ross style) but being in denial only sinks you deeper into your darkness.

After realising I may need help, I opened up to some friends and my family and they were so supportive, they agreed that they had seen this change in me, they understood why and how it had come to this once we all sat and spoke openly about it. They gave me the space to express and to FEEL. I cried and cried and cried (the whole time questioning why i am crying but telling myself it’s OK , let it happen).

My point in writing this is; no matter how strong and how together you have it, it’s ok to go through these pains and battles. It doesn’t make you any less worthy, it doesn’t make you weak or a failure. It actual makes you badass, it means you’re real and brave. It is nothing to be ashamed of. These things get dragged up when we are ready and strong enough to heal them, you may want to run from the process, but it will always catch up with you in the end.

On the outside I seem to have it all- people say “wow Justine it’s amazing what you’re doing and how far you’ve come in such a short time”, but I still don’t feel like I deserve the praise. I don’t give myself the credit where it is due. I always think deep down I can be doing better, I haven’t been the best and most productive I can be, I have been un-focused. Yeah that may be true, but just because I’m not where I went to be yet doesn’t mean my journey to where I am hasn’t been bloody amazing. Sometimes we get caught up on the fact we are not where we want to be and forget to see how far we’ve come.

I am human and I feel, I fuck up sometimes, I doubt myself ALL the time, I cry easily, but that doesn’t mean I am weak. I honour that I am sensitive, It is who I am and without that I wouldn’t be able to love and support the people around me the way I do. If I love, I love with my whole heart, I do anything for the people in my life. I guess I need to start doing the same for myself, because I am who should matter the most before anyone else.

I have always said life is like the Ocean, sometimes its steady and calm and other times you get thrown into the biggest wave and get taken with it in a aggressive way, and while you are under that wave you think, “Shiiiit I am never getting out of here alive”…. But just remember that you will. Trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be and everything you want is going to happen. I am writing this as a reminder to myself and hopefully a reminder to anyone who is going through, or has been through a tough time. I hope this helps.

PEACE, LOVE AND PEANUT BUTTER

J xxx

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The battle with learning to love myself

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I’ve always said I would write the odd blog post about lifestyle, so here goes my first NONE foodie post… Following me being a little hard on myself recently, today I wanted to write about the importance of loving yourself!

I haven’t been feeling well on and off for over two weeks now after suffering with flu type symptoms and a tummy bug. I have gone from feeling starving and craving carby meals, to not being able to even eat a meal! This has not only played havoc with my digestive system but has left me feeling really weak, unnourished and a bit down in the dumps. I couldn’t train for nearly a week, my body went into complete shut down mode. When I finally felt better I found myself trying to run before I could walk. All I kept thinking was “I am putting on weight”, “I am losing definition” and “I NEED to gym today”. I had forgotten the reasons WHY I chose to lead a healthy lifestyle in the first place and had completely lost site of the importance of those reasons. Yes, I want to see results in my physical appearance and challenge my body to do things it couldn’t before. We are all lying to ourselves if we say we don’t get great satisfaction out of feeling good in our favourite jeans, or in a bikini, or even naked, but what is the end goal?                                                                 It’s time to re-evaluate mine. My main focus is to learn to love myself and be grateful for the body I have been blessed with. I need to stop putting myself down and love myself for who I am right now. Continue to feed my body with the right nourishing foods, continue to enjoy my fitness and continue to be happy without worrying what the scales are telling me or how society are telling me to look!

Admittedly, I still have moments where I hate what I see in the mirror. I do still feel guilty if I overindulge on treats or take that cheat meal TOO far (remember meal is NOT plural Justine!). I find myself wanting to hide away a little at times, avoiding pool parties because I don’t feel nice enough in a bikini or because I am having a “fat day”. I know how ridiculous that is because I am far from fat, but your mind can really play tricks on you if you don’t shut it up! This is something which I am working on and I will continue to work on. Self esteem can be a bitch hey!

If I look back at all the self hate battles I have fought over the years, I see how far I have come. I talk in my “About me” section of a time where I did become quite depressed after leading a very unhealthy lifestyle, my happiness was at an all time low. The picture below on the left is from that short time in my life, it shows me smiling, but I still remember how I felt that day. It was a fake smile. I was eating the wrong things, I was bloated and living a very negative lifestyle of too much drinking and greasy food. I was completely miserable and hated the way I looked, but the important thing is is that I snapped out of it. 9 months of feeling and looking like that was all I could take. I knew I had to get back on track, make a change and stop this self hating… so  I did just that! ( Pic on the right is now)

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I think as humans we compare ourselves too often to the people we see on social media, we see someone who may be more successful than us, or someone in the gym who may be stronger or who can do certain things we can’t. We see them as a threat and somehow let them make us feel inferior. It is important to realise that we are all different, we all have our unique ways and it is time to focus on being a better YOU, rather than competing to be better than anyone else. The only person you should be competing against is the person you were yesterday, so cheesy but so so true. People will try to bring you down, out of spite or jealousy, but forget them and focus on your life, your goals and your happiness. Don’t waste your energy worrying about how other people perceive you. I can’t express enough how vital the relationship you have with yourself is. You have to love every little bit of yourself, completely. Love your flaws, learn from your mistakes and use these to your advantage to grow as a person. It can be a battle at times, we all have good days and bad days, it is completely normal, we are only human after all!

I strongly believe your lifestyle plays a big part in your mental health, whether you choose to believe it or not, that is your decision. It is my choice to lead a balanced, healthy lifestyle. I feel better living my life this way, not only physically, but mentally too. I enjoy eating well and challenging myself in the gym, my body responds to it better and I feel a lot stronger, mind and body. When I eat the wrong foods or stop exercising I feel lethargic and unwell which then leads me to feel down.

I enjoy a drink, but I don’t enjoy drinking every weekend. I enjoy indulging in naughty meals, but I couldn’t do it every day. Everyone is different, I won’t tell you how to live but what I will say is stop focusing on weighing scales, stop listening to magazines/social media telling you you HAVE to look a certain way and start focusing on how you feel on the inside! Love your damn self!

Peace and love.

J xxx