You may or may not have noticed that its all gone a little bit quiet round these parts. Well let me explain why that is.
A few weeks ago I had my latest round of treatment which has left me very tired and weak and in a bit of a daze really. The summer has also started bringing with it the sweltering heat. In general I have just felt a bit BLEURGH. I am struggling and its not been easy.
I have been thinking a lot lately about taking the time to step back, cure, get better and breathe. Maybe it is something instilled in me from childhood, that summers are the time to rest and relax and enjoy ones self. I haven’t been able to do much of that (Primavera SOB!). However my head hasn’t been in a great place and I just wanted to retreat a little to gather my thoughts and get back on my feet a little bit. I am still kind of in the hole but am beginning to learn how to turn down the volume a little on the should do/want to/can do thoughts. By that I mean not forcing myself, doing things at my pace and relearning my limits and knowing its ok just to live a little. Everything goes in peaks and troughs. Especially my disease, in fact I think that more than anything else, this disease has taught me that. Patience and listening and taking the time to stop and breathe and its ok if you can’t balance everything in the air. That it is ok to do things little by little and not try and balance everything for it all to come crashing down.
Here are some of my tips to live a little slower and self care a little more:
Take time out:
You are not always missing out, things do not always have to be done in that moment and you don’t always have to follow your dreams. Baths, walks, sitting, reading and just doing nothing at all are ok. I think there is a lot of pressure on instagram and other social media to be the best person we can be and do live the dream etc. However all these memes don’t really account for things like illness, lack of money and other circumstances. Learning to disconnect and take a step back is amazing and its in these moments we can really appreciate and take stock. So taking time out to breathe and just be your rather than having to be the person you think you have to be is bloody nice.
Disconnect from things:
I am currently taking part in a draw everyday project. I got a bit fatigued by it and the pressure of having to come up with something everyday took its toll, I was even fretting about it whilst being plugged in receiving treatment. It also took on a life of its own where I would find myself constantly checking for likes and followers and others feeds and comparing myself to others. So I took a step back and some time off to realign and realise why I decided to do this project. It was also nice to step back from that constant comparison and need to be validated by likes and followers. I found I was really stuck (I am still a bit) and wasn’t allowing myself to really heal. It’s also moments that I don’t want to share and I wanted to just rest and be private and feel like it is ok to recover without the need to record it all. Try to minimise the amount of aimless scrolling and phone time. Try to switch off and be a little more present.
Not everything happens at once:
I want to do everything and I want to do it NOW. I want my work to be an immediate success (and the fact it has not been makes me feel like a failure or I am not as good as the next). I want to try and do too many things that I end up doing nothing at all. I also need to realise my limits and still need to learn that living with this disease means I have a VERY limited amount of resources that I can give to things and sometimes its actually enough just to get better and fight this thing that I have. Also I have a million and one ideas and I always seem to talk the talk and not walk the walk as it were. I need to focus, prioritise and be super realistic about what I can actually achieve. So why not pick the things that bring me the most joy and try just to do one little thing a day?
Don’t expect the world:
So the same as my above point really, but steady and slow wins the race and at some point hard work should pay off. I went in expecting everything to happen and gave my self a lot of pressure of being something and someone and making it into this super successful thing, which it will be. However this isn’t going to happen over night and thats ok, it doesn’t equal failure. Its great to have goals and things but when you find these goals are tripping you up maybe its time to let go and readjust them a little. Little bite sized manageable pieces rather than massive chunks that weigh you down.
You can only do as much as you can manage:
This rings so true for me. I want to do everything and have this amazing instagram/pinterest/perfect action packed life where I am super successful at churning out amazing products and running a successful illustration business whilst being a good friend/girlfriend/sister/daughter etc. Also throw in a debilitating disease and treatment and frequent trips to the hospital. Realising that some days I am just simply managing trying to be well and better and that is quite enough. I know this sounds defeatist but it isn’t, it is about realising reality and working with that and taking a step forward to embracing and being realistic with myself.
Turn down the volume:
I have been thinking a lot about this recently. I am my own worse enemy. I over think and over do and over repeat and that little horrible voice in my head that tells me I am not worth it/ there is someone better/ I am a failure because I got sick/ I am guilty because of this and that etc/ I am so boring /my illustrations are shit etc. Its all silly, why does this negative voice speak and ring much louder than the positive one? I have been slowly learning to turn it down a bit by imagining a literal switch in my brain and tuning it ever so slightly. I try and distract myself when I notice the volume is really loud by reading/ breathing and just by doing something else. Also trying to catch myself before these thoughts weed their way in. Being tough with ones self and saying NO! Also no one judges or cares about the things you over analyse as much as you think they do.
Asking for help:
Its ok to ask for help. Help doesn’t equal failure. Its ok to let it in and be a bit selfish once in a while. Borja’s mum has come with me to the hospital and has sat in the waiting room for hours whilst I get my treatment and knowing that emotional support is there has been so good. In the past I have always gone alone and felt it was something that I had to deal with alone. Mainly because I didn’t want a fuss and also because I didn’t want to be accused of being a hypochondriac and it being all about the other person and them not getting it. I have always felt like it is my problem and just dealt with it. However it is nice to be looked after.
Everything is a work in progress:
Realising that we are always learning and making mistakes and evolving and nothing has to be perfect. Taking a step back to think about how we can improve and then experiment. Nothing is perfect.
So these are the things that I am slowly realising and writing it all here has been good as its good to get it all down and out and onto paper as it were. It serves as a future reminder to myself that having a break and letting go a little actually can be a lot more productive in the end.