Monday, 20 May 2019

Why I Kept Quiet about Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week used to be my prime time to share my opinions and personal stories.

This year was different. A part of me feels like I have let people down, because, in the past, I have ALWAYS helped encourage people to speak up and talk about their experiences. This year, the idea of doing so leaves me feeling uneasy and out of my 'new-found' comfort zone.

I have realised that while it is a great cause, I am tired of oversharing my personal life. It is personal after all. Hell, I wrote an entire book on my 21st year of life - which happened to be the craziest and most 'mental' I have ever been. I couldn't run from it so I wrote about it, and while it was the best thing I ever did, I am growing into a person that would love to continue helping others but first... myself.

Don't get me wrong, I will never be quiet about my experiences if I know it will help others find peace in their own trauma or struggles. I don't care what people think about me or whether they like me or not. I have never been the type of person to feel embarrassed, no matter what abuse I would endure. I will forever speak the truth no matter how much it hurts.

I am now living a somewhat more private life, and this is down to experiencing yet another mental breakdown / what the fuck am I doing? / who am I? shit storm that I knew I could blame social media entirely for. I had lost myself and what I stood for. Constantly posting DRIVEL online, sharing selfies where I look dead behind the eyes wondering if each would get more likes than the previous.

It truly is a sad sad world and I don't wish to be apart of such expectations anymore. Life is too short for meaningless crap. I want to live by my own rules and decide what makes me happy, which is:

- Beautiful artwork
- Music that makes me feel something
- Fashion that allows me to express myself
- Gratitude for loved ones 
- Creative quotes

There is so much and I could go on all day, simply because I know who I am and what I enjoy/love. I know exactly what I want in life and even though I still have those moments of darkness, I realise I can no longer be responsible for others well-being. They have to turn the light on for themselves and I can watch from the sidelines, offering support when needed.

I have had such a great week of realisations - being in my hometown provided a lot of comfort and I met a few people who approached me about my book and how much they enjoyed it. That is all I can ask for in life at this moment in time.

I will admit I feel a huge sense of guilt for not raising awareness this year and letting people down but I am learning to be more selfish and that means putting my comforts first. Talking about mental health is the last thing on my list right now - I'm finally realising that is more that okay. 


Tuesday, 16 April 2019

The Secret to Having it All is Knowing You Already Do

Gratitude will make you happier in life.

Shit happens. Life moves forward. We love and we lose. 

But we mustn't forget the little things in life that are, in fact, quite big in terms of joyous memories. I found gratitude at a time where I believed the world was against me, which is certainly a self-destroying mindset to be in. The world doesn't owe us a thing - in the grand scheme of it all, only we can provide ourselves with true happiness, we can not rely on others to make those changes for us.

I get it, sometimes life really can be terrible to us. I witness people go through such awful pain - yet, much to my surprise, still count their lucky stars no matter what is going on behind closed doors. I used to get pissed off at everything and anything, from locking my keys in my car to getting stuck in traffic. It is pointless and energy absorbing. I now laugh it off knowing I had a good day regardless, because I am alive and surrounded by love. We have little time to enjoy life and while small things seem less significant, they really are what makes us truly happy and grateful for our lives.

I love waking up to sunshine in the morning and witnessing every beautiful sunset Spring has to offer. I adore evenings at home, laughing about old times with my closest friends. I enjoy dancing like an idiot to music that no one else likes. Those moments are what you will remember on, to put it in the most morbid way possible, your death bed.

You won't sit and stir about the time a co-worker annoyed you or when you dropped and shattered your phone. Those are the distant thoughts you will wish you never wasted time on - it simply isn't worth it. Stop draining yourself, wondering why 'everyone is against you' or that the world isn't on your side - YOU are responsible for the way you look at the world. Be grateful you woke up today and experienced something a lot of people never will.

Today I am grateful for:

- My incredibly supportive friends. Honestly, I can't put in to words how much they look out for me. I feel so lucky.
- My strong, powerful family. The one thing in my life I will never stop feeling grateful for!
- The love I have found for myself and my life.
- My new healthy mindset and the way I look at the world now.
- Discovering new music.
- Meeting new people who are great and on the same wavelength as me.
- Living in my own home.
- Having the ability to reminisce the good times in the past without dwelling on the bad.

I feel good right now - you deserve to also. Wake up early and take in the best that nature has to offer - listen to the birds and feel the warmth of the morning sun on your skin. Drink water and nourish your body! Tell your loved ones you are thankful for them. Be honest about your feelings with people - try to see the good in it all. Otherwise, you aren't truly living. It all happens for a reason and you can make such small yet life changing movements to improve yourself and view on the world.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Why Wasn't I Enough?

I don't even care about what I lost any more. I am glad it's gone. Somehow, though, I still can't help but wonder... why wasn't I enough?

I asked him this question every single day in my mind when we were together and after it ended. A year down the line, when I no longer have a care in the world about what he is doing - or who he is doing for that matter - I still feel like I deserve an answer. I needed it for quite some time.

When in a relationship, I love to make the other person fall in love with themselves - them loving me is merely a bonus. Maybe I am 'too much' or that view is unhealthy for my self-esteem, but I believe the entire point of choosing to be with one person means making them feel worthy and good enough every day.

Compliment after compliment, mixed with continuous effort and daily reminders of gratitude left my lips, but he remained silent. I didn't have anything to be grateful for; he gave me nothing of value - yet, because I loved him, I still wanted him to feel like he was the greatest gift God could fucking offer. It's like I grasped on to every last reason as to why we were together and threw it in my own face. Only, it wasn't water... it was acid, and I was left blinded by his terrible behaviour.

We liked the same movies and laughed at similar jokes - I thought we were soulmates and no one else could ever compare. I always believed you should be with someone who is like you, because what could be better than sharing the things you love with the person you love, knowing they already adore it too?

Wrong. It doesn't matter. I was looking at the wrong aspects of this toxic relationship and believed that having things in common was the critical factor. We could've had identical traits, thoughts and feelings but that doesn't stop a shitty person from being shitty. It doesn't take away the poor treatment or lack of respect. Having the same taste in music or knowing about cool things that no one else knows of means shit all when you're left in the dark day after day.

I am better off now; I no longer feel drained by the emptiness of not feeling good enough because I know that the next person I am with is going to feel incredible every day, and they will show gratitude for my efforts. They will appreciate my little quirks and how weird I can be. They will love my inappropriate jokes and silly reactions to cartoons that most would never find funny. I will never be made to feel like I am stupid or less than I am worth ever again.

I sometimes can't help but look at his new relationship and again, wonder why I wasn't enough. I witness him take her away on holiday and out on 'date night' every weekend without fail. He actually spends time with her. In the space of three months, I saw him approximately 11 times. He lived twenty minutes down the road, but I felt like I was in a long distance nightmare. It's not like I wouldn't offer to see him. When I'm in a relationship I believe in equal effort, and seeing where they grow up and how they live day-to-day life in their town makes me feel like I know them even better. Everything, even the little things like that felt like a bonus to me.

All we ever did when we saw each other was sit around, aimlessly watching television that numbed my brain. Don't get me wrong; I am not expecting fireworks and constant spontaneity. Some times watching Netflix and eating a takeaway is all you need when you love someone. But I never once felt special, wanted or needed. In the end, I couldn't even bear his touch, let alone sit through an entire film of him asking stupid questions. (Petty or not, he is the biggest dumb ass I have ever met, I was far too smart for him.)But with his new girl, everything seems different. He wouldn't dare hurt her or make her question if she was doing something wrong. It seems as though she gets showered with love every day.

All I ever felt was guilt and worry. Guilt for not doing enough, worry for why I couldn't ever be adequately loved. I wish I could tell my past self that she never had to feel such pain - that she deserved better. She deserves someone that respects her, trusts her to make the right decisions and communicates with her - honestly and maturely no matter how angry either of us get.

She didn't deserve to be left on read for two weeks straight because she stood up for herself (fucking politely and far too sweet may I add.) She didn't deserve the lashing out or manipulation. She deserved to be told she's fine the way she is, that he was grateful she did so much for him without ever asking for anything in return. She would've loved him to remember the little things about her, like how much she loves ugly sunglasses or how she'd sell her soul to see Post Malone live again. She deserved to be encouraged to dress the way she wanted, and made to feel confident and beautiful enough to do so. Not shamed for wearing something deemed inappropriate. 

She deserved peace.

I deserved better. The answer to my initial question? I was always enough - he just didn't know how to deal with someone too good for him in the first place. He has found someone on his level - someone who will put up with his awful ways and be blinded like I was. I may be on my own now, but being alone doesn't mean I am lonely. I will never feel as lonely as I did in that relationship. All I ever was was a secret - I deserve to be known as someone's girlfriend, and that they are proud of and happy with that fact.

It wasn't all bad - sometimes I can't help but refer to the good times for comfort, even if it was minimal. He helped me overcome something that ruined my life beforehand, something I never thought I could fix. He helped me, but I did it on my own - I can't help but have sick gratitude. 

I may feel like I am scarred for now, but when I am ready and the right time comes, I can't wait to have an equally loving, trusting and loyal relationship with someone who has the same values and morals as me. Feeling like damaged goods doesn't even cross my mind anymore. The right one will accept me for me. And I will finally get the relationship that I worked so hard for.

I no longer wonder what his answers or excuses would be, because I don't need them to make me feel better. A huge weight has lifted from my shoulders just by getting out of a toxic situation I initially thought was good for me. I'm all good now. No more rose-tinted glasses, even if I once loved how ugly they are. 

Monday, 1 April 2019

Social Media and the Self Absorbed - Did I Go too Far?

This picture is for ironic purposes...

I will admit that I have lost myself.

Before we begin, I will make the point that this blog post is as entirely as selfish as its title. This blog is for me to get my recent feelings out and if you can relate then thank god, I haven't completely warped into self obsession.

You heard it right. Perhaps I have become self obsessed and sadly I allowed social media to take control of my life. I honestly feel nauseous writing that down for everyone to potentially see, because that was never me. I used social media to have a laugh - share memes, remember the good old days with friends and post the occasional selfie - but only ever in between the plenty of memorable photographs shared with friends and family.

If a stranger were to look at my Instagram feed for example, it is filled with meaningless posed selfies where, quite frankly, I look dead behind the eyes. It really is like there is no substance to me and that has always been my biggest fear. - to be seen as someone with nothing but self absorption to offer.

I will stand up for myself to an extent because, at first, after going from an insecure 22 year old girl who was continuously manipulated through silent treatment, (wondering why I was never good enough) who in all honestly HATED who she was, to a confident, blossoming self assured 23 year old woman - I thought I had finally found confidence and self love. But, did I go too far? I'm sad to believe that I am losing the real me.

5 Things About Me You Wouldn't Know From Looking at my Selfies:

1. I am kind - my friends tell me sometimes I am too nice for my own good. I will do my best to make others happy and feel good about themselves - this is where it began to get out of hand. I was receiving messages about how me feeling good about myself made others feel good about their self. That made me so incredibly happy and I wanted to post that sort of content to continue to do so.

2. I am goofy as f*ck. Honestly, I am a total loon and I love to be my best weird self just to make you laugh and feel like you can be weird too. I thought if I still posted a lot of my weird side on my story, the bland and boring selfies wouldn't seem so unbearably dull.

3. I love becoming obsessed with films and television. Social media isn't everything, but I used to post about my favourite TV shows and share them with my followers. I deleted those previous posts to make room for selfies - so my 'number' wasn't so embarrassingly high.

4. I don't care about what others think of me. Yet, now, I am posting a picture of my face desperately hoping for validation from people who I don't even know or, in the nicest way possible, even care about.

5. After years of feeling negative about my body, I have invested time in improving myself and becoming healthier. This has helped me dress how I want to dress. FINALLY. And with support and encouragement of new people in my life - I have really enjoyed experimenting with streetwear and just feeling awesome and joyous about fashion again. Something I honestly never believed could happen.

So while there are negatives about the way I have used social media recently, there are also plenty of positives. I originally intended to progress my confidence but now I have lost the reasoning behind it all. I am going to take a step back, (you heard me) I, Shannon Valentine, the most ANNOYING person on social media is stepping back and actually living life - without the proof of an Instagram picture - just in case it didn't happen without photographic evidence...

I can't wait to enjoy life without expectations or validation again -  and only enjoy social media as a swift break from my busy, fun-filled life. I hope I didn't bore you as much as my selfies may have... I promise the real me is under here somewhere - the unedited, funny and kind person I like to believe I am and always have been.

Sorry I turned into everything I thought I hated.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

You F*cked Up Again and Let the Devil In - Here's How to Fix it...

You Fucked Up Again and Let the Devil In

It happens.

Whether it's a bad day, week or full-blown relapse mode: It happens and it is okay - you are not a failure for letting the devil back in with hesitantly open arms.

I have had a hard time recently. It hasn't been anywhere near as painful or stressful compared to previous years - just a small blip where I allowed myself to fall back into old habits. I may not have made an effort with myself, not making myself look presentable (even though I know that is something that improves my mood instantly), I've skipped the gym, and I haven't cooked a meal in two weeks. 

Despite the disappointment of my slight relapse, old me would have popped an entire pack of prescribed antibiotics, cut at my skin and hate the world for making me so miserable. So, new me isn't doing so wrong after all.

I guess you could call it a funny few weeks. I could even blame it on the fact Mercury is in retrograde. I don't know, but what I do know is I am strong. Tougher than I have ever been before. I can do ANYTHING I set my mind to, I might need a quick nap first.

I allowed someone toxic to come back into my life because I needed to do something for myself. It sounds wrong, but I had to use them to achieve something I desperately needed to do. Now that I have completed my 'mission', I'm not so sure I should have put myself through that situation in the first place. At least I can finally say I did what I set out to do and I am proud of myself for the outcome. 

As humans, we sometimes make mistakes that we might not necessarily deem as regretful until some time has passed. We put it to the back of our minds, and although it seems buried in the depths of our brains, it always climbs to the surface, and we are reminded of our failures the moment we begin to feel good about life. 

I have blocked a lot of sadness during my time on earth, and I am beginning to realise how dangerous that coping mechanism is. I'd sooner cry every single day of my life for 10 minutes than spend a month straight convincing myself to stay alive.

Life has felt quite mundane recently, and I can not stand it. My favourite trait about myself is my positivity in even the most difficult situations. I love to love life and everything it has to offer. I am a sucker for small yet significant moments. 

'What are your five positives from today?' I ask the people I care about. I don't expect them to come out with extravagant, over the top achievements. I want them to tell me how much they enjoyed the sunset that evening, or how much they loved listening to their new favourite song — the little things in life matter most to me. 

It is OK to breakdown - Here is how to fix it. 

1. Take a step back and make a note of everything you are grateful for in life - remember the smallest are often most significant. 
2. Tidy the mess you have accumulated. I tend to leave my house in a state when I'm having a rough time, and it certainly doesn't help matters. A tidy space = a tidy mind.
3. Remember to look after yourself. Self-care is everything! A hot bath alongside a healthy nutritious meal and watching your favourite TV show... it all helps. 
4. Get back in touch with the people who care about you. I know it can be difficult to talk through your pain, but at least let them know you realise they love and support you. Thank them for it.
5. Get organised. Whether you want to plan your next healthy food shop or de-clutter your wardrobe - for me, having some form of organisation feels like I am getting back on track. 
6. Support others. Turn your pain into POWER! You are incredible, use your great personality to be kind to others who may need help.
7. Enjoy yourself! Go out and have fun. You don't need alcohol or drugs, just breathe in the fresh air and notice all the beautiful things nature has to offer.
8. Work hard. Work to better yourself, mind body and soul. Take the time to get your head straight. What do you want to improve?
9. Research Law of Attraction. Trust me. You won't regret it...
10. Please love yourself. Mistakes happen, breakdowns occur. You are only human, and you can only do as much as you know you can to survive. Not every person deals with pain in the same way. 

It all takes time...

As always - I am here for anyone who needs advice or support. You are stronger than you think.