#Shithappens – Then more shit happens…

I wanted to share openly about my own experience of coming to terms and living with being peri-menopausal, I have written this and I am sharing this because this weeks experience is still raw and I am still coming to terms with the fact that as well as impacting on my personal life, that this condition will at some points impact of my working life and this week it did. 

My personal development, growth and self-esteem is a priority for me, particularly in the line of work I do, I know the value and importance of self-care, particularly when you are caring for others. I have worked in the addiction field for over 20+ years, I know first hand how much the stigma, shame and limiting beliefs can keep people trapped in a vicious cycle where they believe they should settle for less. 

Normally a confident, tenacious, pragmatic and outgoing person, I’m a doer I rarely stop, I am passionate and love my job, but for three days this week, I was transformed into quite the opposite, I was a shadow of my former self. I don’t want sympathy, I don’t do that well, but what I hope to achieve by sharing this post is some understanding and greater awareness about what some (not all women) may be experiencing, suffering even in silence, whether that be out of fear of being judged, or accused of being an hypochondriac, being overlooked for that promotion because of a condition that no one in the work pace rarely talks about… The fucking menopause, or in my case peri-menopause.

Now before I start, I am not blaming everything in my life over the past year on hormones! But I cannot simply ignore the changes that are taking place in my body neither. 

Monday 30th September 

Today is a good day, todays make the end of national recovery month, its time to start planning the Christmas cabin in November, BBN assessments are nearly completed, works gone well. I’ve got loads done and I’m looking forward to going out with two mates after work for a good old catch up, and we did. I cannot recall the last time I had laughed so much. I go to bed with a smile on my face. 

Tuesday 1st October 

I woke up feeling groggy, it felt like a hangover, but I hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol, I couldn’t be sure, I had been sniffling over the weekend, perhaps it was a little bit of cold coming on. Today was going to be a long day, I had a 6 pm meeting which worked well for me as today was a 5:2 day so the busier I am the less I think about food and the easier it is to fast. I can normally go no problem through until 4 pm without even thinking about food, surviving on caffeine and water and keeping busy with work. 

I have already had my coffee this morning before leaving the house, but this morning I don’t finish it, I can’t stomach the taste. I arrive at work and don’t finish that coffee either. Its 10.30 am and I am craving food, any food will do, but as its a fast day my options for eating something under 100 calories are slim, and I sense deep down that once I start I won’t be able to stop. I take to making another black coffee to quench my hunger but it tastes like metal, I’m craving a cup of tea, I only drink tea on an evening or a weekend

By noon I have caved in, I find a bag of crisp and a tomato cuppa soup, 200 calories down, that should sort me until 4ish. 

Wrong, once I started I couldn’t stop, I could feel myself going downhill, feeling mardy and sorry for mesen I could physically feel, dark cloud descend over me, it started to feel heavier, I was looking at the computer screen but couldn’t take in any emails, I decided to take myself outside for a break, some fresh air, give myself some time to have a word wi mesen. 

I bumped into my daughter who was on her way back to work after her lunch break, she asked me what I was up to and all I could say was “ feeling shit, just needed to get out of the office for a bit” I glance further up the street to see Sarah* (name changed), shes street homeless and addicted to heroin she is sat in the pissing rain begging, normally I would spend 10 minutes chatting to her, or making a call to probation for her, but today I wasn’t ready to hear the bullshit excuses that would come flowing from out of her mouth. 

Under normal circumstances, I have the patience of a saint with her but as soon as I saw her bloke trotting over to her, recently released from jail, I knew she was back to square one. Now don’t get me wrong, I get the excuses, I understand the fear of failure that comes from years and years of not just letting her family, her kids down, I know she’s given up on herself, I am a realist, I know that change has got to come from her and I will always listen. But not today – she looks up, shes embarrassed when she sees me, she knows I am going to ask after her leg, which should have been treated over two weeks ago, she attended hospital, and should have stayed, but discharged herself early. She comes out with feeble excuses for missing her script, not going to housing, she’s got an appointment at the local drugs service later and is going to ask them to increase her script so she doesn’t have to beg! and all I can say is “tha not letting me down, it only takes me two minutes to make a call, its up to you if the turns up and lets face it, its not me sat out here in pissing rain, begging for cash so numpty over there can score some more SPICE and you and I both know why you are asking for an increase in meth? Its to share it with him! She knows I know, there is an unspoken understanding between us, but today I don’t give a fuck! She knows the score (literally) and she knows what she needs to do when she’s ready. 

I am just about to leave her when a woman I have never seen before stands at the side of us, she looks me up and down, there was an awkward silence, and I’m not sure why? Sarah senses it and explains that it is her bloke’s support worker, but all that is running through my mind and is just about to roll off my tongue is “who the fuck do you think you are looking at”. 

I take a deep breath, say my goodbyes and head into Sainsbury’s, I still haven’t got a clue what I’m going to get with only 300cals left! I walk up and down all the isles and come across some items on sale, grooming kits half price, I purchase two. (That’s two early Christmas presents out of the way) and leave buying nothing to eat. 

I head back into the office and I am still ranging over the way that support worker looked me up and down “Shes lucky I didn’t smash her fucking teeth in” and I gasp at what I have just said out aloud across the office floor (christ I haven’t used language like that since I was 15 and at school. and the cloud just feels darker and darker my mood is slipping, to the point, I don’t give a fuck about only having 300cals left, I’m going in for the leftover kids birthday chocolate cake that was brought in the week before by a colleague! But I don’t stop there, I ask my gaffer if she’s got any nibbles in her locker, she never fails to disappoint and before I know it I have munched my way through another two snack bars. My energy levels are dropping, I could just lay down there and then on the floor and sleep! I can feel myself snapping and with practically no tolerance left in the bank, I send my apologies for the evening meeting and leave work early. 

I get home and there’s a loaf with my name written all over it and a tub of cold Lurpack fresh from the fridge and before I know it I have scoffed two slices! Now the 5;2 is well and truly outta the window. I am no company, the telly is shit and all I want to do is be alone, mainly so I don’t offend anyone else. I go to bed early, I just want to forget about my day, the overeating, being a bitch and fingers crossed wake up tomorrow in a better mood.

Wednesday 2nd October

I was so sleepy after pressing snooze for what seemed the hundredth time, I crawled out of bed, I head downstairs to make a coffee, perk me up. But I simply have no energy, I cannot think straight, the thought of actually going through the rest of my morning routine and getting ready for work seems impossible and soon I am having an internal argument in my head, which brings me close to tears!

I head upstairs and I cannot even think about what to wear for work let alone get dressed for work! I give in, I cannot go into work like this, I simply don’t have the energy to walk let alone work. I call my gaffer and explain, going through the menopause herself I know she understands, but deep down I am still paranoid that she is thinking “come on trace is it really that bad”. I finish the call and head back to bed. I am woken about 11 am, the phones ringing, it is our old man. He knows something is wrong, I tell him I’ve not gone into work and explain. I feel like a fraud, how do I explain that two days earlier I was laughing and joking but today I cannot move?

  • I spend the whole day in my PJs, some recently washed clothes need putting in the drier – but I don’t have the energy, I cannot be arsed.
  • I could spend the whole day writing – but I cannot think straight let alone write
  • I switch tv channels to find something that will help pass the day – I search for the Jeremy Kyle show I mean at least that might cheer me up, remind me I ain’t got it all that bad, but then I remember that’s been cancelled!
  • I take some comfort from some of the posts in the closed menopause FB group, I see post about different tablets people are taking with claims that they have worked wonders and I am tempted to get online to order everyone on amazon prime, but deep down I know that everyone is different, this is trial and error for everyone and fuck me, if I took everything, how the hell would I know which one was working? Or what was not, I mean some tablets counteract each other and others take months to work? 
  • I’m a month in on the Estrogel and progesterone, apparently, it takes 3 months to kick in, but then I think, but what if it doesn’t work? What a fucking waste of time? 
  • I want a solution NOW, I want to go back to the old me, positive, optimistic Tracey, the one who would do anything for anyone, but who at the moment can’t do fuck all for herself! 
  • I wonder is it the menopause? I mean it could be ME or chronic fatigue, what if I have been misdiagnosed? But then I remember the sweats and swollen tits, that always take me back to the days when I was lactating, sensitive tits, weighing me down like cannonballs. 
  • I consider calling the doctors and insisting that they give me EVERY blood test going, to help determine what the fuck is going on with my body
  • I look online to consider going private, but they can fuck off robbing bastards, earning money off women misery, I mean £250 for an hour consultation, other women taking advantage of a sister – it is fucking wrong! 
  • I don’t want to eat, I fucked up yesterday, I can feel myself getting fatter, but I am craving carbs, shit food, anything to help sooth these feeling of self-pity, nothing is working.
  • I have had a fun day of self-loathing, I fucking HATE feeling shit, I HATE feeling powerless, I HATE it when I act out as a sad victim, this is not ME! 
  • I try to remind myself that this will pass, I mean this time last week I had organised and was hosting a conference for over 100+ people in recovery from substance abuse, I had a lovely email from one of the attendees letting me how much my kind words meant to her, Now I have none for anyone, not even myself! 
  • This time last week I was juggling managing three different projects, I was on fire! Today I could even piss on myself if I was on fire!

I head to bed early again, hoping and praying that this will have passed by the morning, its got too, I cannot go on like this. 

Thursday 3rd  – I open my eyes and feel ok! I allow myself some time to come around before getting into the morning routine, but as soon as I stand I know straight away, this heavy dark fog is still clinging onto me. I know there is no way I’ll be going into work, I am more accepting this morning, I mean what’s the point in beating myself up, I mean I did enough of that yesterday, I make a couple of calls, rearrange some meetings, then head back to bed. 

I wake up a couple of hours later, I remember the washing going stale downstairs and remind myself that despite feeling like shit, there is no excuse for being a tramp! 

I manage to tidy the kitchen, potter around and I wonder, is the fog lifting? I decided I ought to have a shower, change out of the PJs and put on some clean clothes. By late afternoon, I still feel groggy but I also feel a lot better? 

I spent the afternoon reflecting, trying to make sense of how I was feeling. My mom phones me, expecting me to be at work, she’s off today so pops around for a coffee. We have an offload about how shit it is being a woman. oh and fucking bunions, another ailment that I have developed! I’m glad that mom was off work and called around and I realise I should spend more time with my mom. 

Back to thinking – Everyone talks about what to expect when you start your periods but no-one mentions what it’s going to be like when you come off! There was no mention of how you periods change across your life course how they are affected by contraception, pregnancy, childbirth and perimenopause, the menopause?

Well, I think I know why! It’s because it’s fucking worse than starting!! 

Coping with two sprouts and hairy armpits was bad enough but when the time came I went straight to my mom, who gave me a box of Tampax and was told to go to the toilet and read through the instructions. I remember it was pretty dam daunting considering I had never inserted anything inside myself before! The first failed attempt resulted with me dropping the mouse down the basin, I watched it expand to twice its size, wondering if that happens once it is inside how the xxck I was supposed to pull it our afterwards!! After failing on numerous attempts, before finally, successfully inserting a Tampax, I found it a breeze, well apart from the thought of walking around with a piece of string hanging out of me totally which freaked me out.

I was ok with the mood swings because I was permanently in a bad mood anyway which, I could validate as a reason for being a bitch every month! apart for the monthly cramps and indignity of shoving something alien inside me every month, it just became a part of being a teenager, it became the norm!

It wasn’t until after the birth of both my kids that I started to notice PMT, I was like the Incredible Hulk on steroids for a week into the lead up to my period, as soon I started the monthly bleed I could feel my whole mind and body transform from being angry and tense to being relaxed, or normal whatever the fuck that means. I have been managing the PMT symptoms with a daily dose of Prozac for the past 20+ years, with little or no problems! 

Well, that was until Last year when I went to the doctors, I explained my symptoms, he suggested that I might be peri-menopausal, he explained that my moods may be due to a fluctuation, lack of serotonin, due to going through the change, my options were, go down the herbal route (i was like Nah, too much time and trial and error required), take HRT, (Nah, that will give me cancer) or up my current dose of Prozac from 20 – 40 ml, I opted for the latter and it worked for a while. But over the past 6 months, my symptoms had gotten worse, a month ago i agreed on the HRT, after 4 weeks of feeling better I am now sat here feeling like I am back at square one! but today I am being a little easier on myself, I know that pulling myself down isn’t going to help, I know this feeling will pass, I reason that I will just have to ride it out. I go to bed early again and pray for a miracle 

Friday 4th October – I wake, I feel ok, I could write this week off, but I know that I couldn’t spend another day sat staring at the four walls so here I am I’m back at work, firing on full cylinders, the dark mist has lifted, I feel back to being myself, I can drink my black coffee without baulking, I am feeling assertive, its lunchtime and I have already achieved loads. I met with a friend, a published author for some tips about my book, and she too shares some of her experainces with “Going through the change” 

And whilst I feel a 1000% better, I am still slightly pissed off and angry, I am angry because if according to the research over 70% of women will go through some sort of biological hormonal changes, then I question why isn’t this spoken about more? 

I always thought I understood what the change or menopause meant I have sat in meetings with women suffering from impromptu hot flushes, wafting fans, or even using cloths to clear their brows. These are all typical symptoms I always associated with the menopause. I hadn’t been suffering from either of these symptoms and genuinely thought I would be one of the lucky ones! It wasn’t until earlier on this year that I had even heard the phrase peri-menopause!

But hey how would I know? Because no fucker talks about it! I now know that there are plenty of online secret forums, where women openly share about their different symptoms and for me, this has been a lifesaver, reassurance that I am not alone. 

I am slowly coming to terms that this isn’t going away so for now, I need to find some new coping strategies, I will have to adapt some of the old coping strategies I adopted during my recovery from drug-induced psychosis 20+ years ago, I know I have been through worse and even though I don’t want to have to deal with another challenge, I know and accept that I cannot avoid it, all I can do is manage it the best way oI can.

I am learning to accept that 

  • I am going through some hormonal changes
  • Managing the change will be a process of illumination 
  • There will be times when I’m not at my best
  • That there will be times when I will feel physically, emotionally and spiritually drained is part of the process 
  • It may take longer than I would like for the symptoms to pass
  • There are no real quick fixes

Well, that has been my personal experience and I’m only just starting on the final cycle of what has been a lifetime of monthly cycles, in fact, 24,072 to be precise. 

The conversation about what it’s like being a woman shouldn’t stop when school stops, learning and sharing about periods continues – supporting women throughout their lives, from menarche to menopause and beyond. So in the meantime, I need to work on practicing more self-care and self-compassion and ride the menopausal wave until it finishes and if that means it affects my performance at work occasionally then so be it, after all

#Shithappens

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I am normal just a little hormonal

How come I can talk about my personal experience of addiction, but cannot talk about my personal experience of going through menopause? I suppose that they are both complex and unique subjects to each one of us. I have overcome the shame associated with my brush with addiction and now wear my past with a badge of pride, yayyy I survived.

Going through the change has felt a little like when I was going through my own addiction, like a shameful drug, you try and hide and pretend that everything is normal when it is quite the opposite. I can recall the day after being sectioned and being diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis, starting my period and wondering if my recent mental state was down to “the time of the month” and not down to the copious amount of drugs I was taking (trust me it was the drugs)

I have always struggled with PMS for years I have been prescribed 20mls of Prozac to help manage the monthly hormonal rages and it has worked for years. But then last year, it felt that the Prozac had been swapped for a placebo because it felt that they were no longer working. I was really struggling and it didn’t feel right, I was doing all the right things, the self-care, the stuff that made me feel good about myself, writing, mindfulness, practising saying no to things I didn’t want to do, sometimes I felt on top of the world, then other times I thought I was going fucking insane, I have more than once actually considered if I was bipolar. It’s a standing joke in our house “is it David Banner time?” I laugh it off, but it is true, I do feel like I’m ripping out of my clothes every month, going from happy to bloated and angry, I do all of it every month, I have all the incredible hulk symptoms apart from turning green! 

Last year I went to the doctors, I explained my symptoms, he suggested that I might be peri-menopausal, he explained that my moods may be due to a fluctuation, lack of serotonin, due to going through the change, my options were, go down the herbal route (i was like Nah, too much time and trial and error required), take HRT, (Nah, that will give me cancer) or up my current dose of Prozac from 20 – 40 ml, I opted for the latter and for over a year it worked. 

I had a year of normality (whatever the fuck that means) but then a few months ago, I realised that I have felt more and more washed out, feelings of a hangover without the alcohol, night sweets, and feeling physically incomplete, going from feeling emotionally intolerant to feeling emotionally numb, constantly lethargic. My bullshit antenna has been working overdrive, I simply have had zero tolerance for fuckwits! But deep down I have felt and known something wasn’t right for some time. It was only after looking l back over my journal and started to realise and recognise that this just wasn’t a one-off, that I had been experiencing these feelings for a while but hadn’t connected the dots, or I had been brushing off the symptoms and just getting on with life. I think I have been in denial about the whole paus stuff, mainly because I always want or expect a clear diagnosis, but with the change its not always clear, the changes my body have gone through have been subtle, gradual. Thank god for journalling I know for a fact that without sitting down and #havingawordwimesen every morning I would probably be running around pretending that everything is normal when it is not, just like when I was turning to drugs. 

Journalling helps me see things differently, it helps my personal development penny to drop, I have been able to look back and can now see clearly how the symptoms have been there creeping and building over time. I genuinely thought I was going insane sometimes, preferring to isolate myself and hide away from the world, constantly questioning “what the fuck is wrong with me”. I am starting to realise the reason why I cannot drink as I used to, after all, it makes sense, I mean I wake up most mornings feeling hungover without a drink, its no fucking wonder I feel worse after actually having a drink. 

My emotions have quite literally been all over the place, you have probably recognised this in my writing, consumed with feelings of self-doubt, when I for the most I try to be optimistic, apparently one of the side effects of going through the change, is heightened emotions, this might also explain a lot too. I have often had maudlin thoughts about being the wrong side of life, this is probably the final physical change that as a woman I have to go through. After years of monthly mood swings, rages, stomach cramps, stained pants and thousands spent on Tampax (which should be free by the way) am I finally making out the other end? Will all this physical and emotional shit stop? 

I suppose this change malarkey is just that, its change (which I know I don’t like much) but even though I have had my low points, I have also learned a lot about myself, so it is not all bad. So now I have started with HRT, I’m four days in, I don’t if its the acceptance that I needed help that has made me feel better or if the gel is actually working its magic, either way I’m still here, I am feeling a lot better, I am still writing, I am still dealing with life on life terms, or should I say more on my terms. 

A large part of my recovery from addiction has been founded on coming to terms with myself, learning self-compassion and being honest with myself and not shying away from who I am. 

So I suppose with this Menopause malarky, just like my recovery from addiction, I am going to have to do the same again, by starting to practice self-compassion, learning to listen to the changes my body is going through instead of trying to reject and fight the emotions and feelings that are perfectly natural, normal and part of being a woman.

I have been asked to go on BBC Radio Sheffield next week and do an interview about me, the show is called “Laid Bare, with Tony Robinson” do you think he’ll be ready for me laying all out there and baring the real Tracey?

And remember to try not to be afraid of who you truly are if you would like to subscribe to more post, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up OR leave me your email. If you liked the post please share, if you didn’t, then do nothing and that’s ok too, Love Fordy x

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I won’t​ be silenced

I was pulled the other day about an opinion I had made recently at work, apparently, it wasn’t appropriate, basically, it wasn’t the right time or place to have shared my opinion. A wave of shame smothered me but being compliant, I took it on the chin and apologised.

But after the meeting, it didn’t sit right and after a lifetime of feeling misunderstood or unheard, the feeling of shame hung around me and I needed more time to process it.

I find it hard sometimes in the workplace, after all, I am well known for my honesty and for the most time, it is welcomed, refreshing even, I am often praised for it, I am normally the one brave enough in room to say what everyone else is thinking because they are too afraid to speak up, but when my opinion goes against the status quo, the party line, I am expected to stay silent.

"Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.” 
― Barbara De Angelis

Whilst I recognise that life is all about compromise and everyone has the right to their own opinions, what I struggle the most with is comprising my voice, or feeling like I have to compromise my true thoughts out of fear of offending someone. Particularly those in authority, or who are on a higher grade than me.

Some people assume that me speaking my truth comes easily, it comes from a place of confidence, self-assurance, at to be fair most of the time it does, but for the other times, it can be scary and daunting.

After a lifetime of feeling misunderstood (mainly because I was unable to articulate how I felt because I didn’t either know or was more concerned about upsetting someone else), I now realise that the feeling of being misunderstood didn’t come from others, but came from a lack of understanding myself.

I have worked hard and I am still working hard on being happy in my own skin and being true to myself. This hasn’t and isn’t easy either, this has required me to work on reversing years of self-doubt, undoing limiting beliefs and assumptions that have held me back from being true to myself.

Asking me to be silent, is like asking me to go back to the person I was years ago, pretending to be a person I no longer recognise or relate too.

Shhhhhhhhh don't say that It will get you into trouble 

 Don't like what I say?
 Then look the other way
 Being mindful of what I say
 Just in case it is taken the wrong way
 I won't conform 
 To some of societies norms
 Don't worry about me
 I’ll carry the slack
 It’s ok I've got a strong back
 I won't change me
 I won't give me away 
 This is me, I am here to stay
 Finally happier in my skin
 I won't be silenced out of fear of not fitting in 
 Like me or not
 That is your choice
 But I will never be silenced 
 I will always have my voice

                                 Tracey Ford
                                #Havingawordwimesen

Right, thats working on me sen for one day… I have got a life tha knows

Love Fordy x

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What’s​ in your recovery​ toolkit?

It is the run-up to National Recovery Month my favorite month of the year.

All-day yesterday I had the privilege of being in the company of being surrounded by some incredible people all of whom carry their own recovery toolkits, each toolkit different from the next, but all equally they have supported them on their own recovery journey and like the chef and any tradesman or women our trades are worthless without our tools.

Just being able to share and laugh even, about the insane moments in our lives that for someone who has never personally experienced addiction may never understand or relate to is priceless. To talk about what was in our own recovery toolkits, we talked about the times the days when we left home without it? or misplaced it for a while, or even losing and having to replace it with a new one and start again.

Each an everyone of us has found our own recovery, developed our own recovery toolkit, everyones toolkits will look different and contain different things these could be 

  • Conversations from the past when the penny has dropped, the Eureka moments lets say…
  • A collection of tips and tricks of the trade shared by others who have openly shared some of their own tools from their own toolkits to help us in our own recovery. 
  • New understanding and self awareness of how our own addictive behaviour worked for us
  • Memories that remind us of how far we have come 
  • Mementos or souvenirs from completed programs or groups
  • Certificates, our reward for new found knowledge 
  • New found self esteem and self worth
  • Memories of volunteering or giving back 
  • Notes to remind us to make time for ourselves 
  • After years of selfishness, a bank of appreciation for our loved ones our communities 
  • coins of compassion

I don’t know about you, but I know that there will always be some new tools that I can take and use in my own toolkit, writing is one of them.

Each and everyone one of us has our own recovery toolkit “What’s in yours?” 

Love Fordy xx

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Shit won’t​ change, unless you are willing to change

We have all wondered or asked ourselves “There has got to be more to life than this?” this generally occurs following either negative or unhealthy period whether that be years of self-abuse, self-doubt, returning to unhealthy relationships, turning to substances or acting out on behaviors that push people away, whatever the reason, I would hazard a guess that you have been there too? You know like one day you can be having a great day then BAM some unexpected Shit happens which can leave us feeling lost, fed up or go into fuck it mode.

I have all run around being the fixer, trying to make everyone happy in an attempt to create some sense of happiness and satisfaction for myself but unfortunately, that instant gratification I get from making someone happy doesn’t last that long and soon fades. Thinking that by doing and giving my all to everyone else, in return for feeling valued, loved, wanted, accepted, quite frankly its just a form of denial in itself.

I believe we can either own our stories (even the messy ones), or we can stand outside of them—denying our vulnerabilities and imperfections, deleting the parts of us that don’t fit in with who/what we think we’re supposed to be, chasing other people’s approval of our worthiness. It is quite frankly fucking exhausting and can feel like its a never-ending performance.

But I can honestly say that giving myself some space and time, just an hour in the morning to download my shit in my diary, (which by the way currently contains over 106,00 words) is really helping me to be able to step back, de-construct, review, think about how that situation is making me feel, ask myself what “what can I do?” Be clear about “what I can’t do or change” but more importantly give myself a fucking break!

Any problem, issue or concern whatever it is will require some thinking, reasoning, testing your theories, but you have to make time for this to #Haveawordwiyasen. Reaching out to others can help (you don’t have to do it all alone) seeking out counselors, sponsors or support groups.

You will need to consider what steps you are going to need to take to fix the problem or issue? what action are you going to take? what resources or support will you need? Some people expect that once they have identified or diagnosed unhealthy behaviors that they will change overnight, which is an unrealistic expectation considering some of our behaviors have been manifesting and growing for years.

Working on yourself before anyone else requires you to be brave and vulnerable all at the same time, there can be darker periods of self-reflection that can create states of self-doubt. I always associate these periods as being akin to pregnancy and giving birth, as a mother you trust that all the pain and discomfort will all be worth it because you are creating something magical, creating a new life and new and happier more contented version of yourself.

A starting point can be asking yourself one or two what appear to be on the surface to be very simple questions… (But they are vital)

What do you want?

What don’t you want?

Talking through your answers with your support network can help you get through this, what can sometimes feel a dark, lonely and isolating period. But we have to remember that, that’s all it is! a period a moment in our life that will pass.

Do a gratitude list – I do this often, it helps remind me about all the things I am truly grateful for and blessed to have in my life, this can also help outweigh or fill the voids

What I am learning to value more and more about my Journey is

We all can take back some control

Shit wont change, unless you are willing to change

Even the smallest changes eventually will make a BIG difference

Dont be afraid to try something new, something different

Its ok to not be ok

Be kind to yourself, no fucker is perfect

Read more – there is a whole universe of words out there, reading can help you realise that you are not alone in your thoughts

Nurture your friendships and relationships with others, but remember the most important relationship that you will ever have is with yourself.

So on that note, i’m off to clean the downstairs of my house, cos it’s loppy and i aint going to clean itself

Love Fordy xxx

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Understanding and managing shame

I only share my knowledge with the intention of helping others. I have often questioned myself “Is it narcissistic to share openly about who I am?” But what I am learning is that if anything I take a risk of being misjudged every time I press the send button and a recent misinterpretation or accusation has just confirmed this. 

The post on here is a synopsis of my daily journalling, which for me has helped me understand who I am. Writing has helped me understand myself and if my writing has helped another person, then it s a bonus. But the primary goal is my own personal development. 

Sharing about some of my most vulnerable moments have actually turned out to be some of my greatest. I have been researching, reading and reflecting on the shame of late. As a result, I have felt better equip to recognise when I am feeling shame and I have learned how shame can silence us, how it has suffocated me and prevented me from moving forward. 

I have carried a lifetime of shame, shameful thoughts and feelings that have restricted me and held me back from being my full potential. In my journaling I able to better question emotional and mental shame moments, I revisit them, dissect them then disregard them and then move on. Researchers suggest that the difference between shame and guilt is the difference between “I am bad” or “I did something bad” so for example 

Guilt = I did something bad

Shame = I am bad

Shame for me has been like an invisible disease, shame has in the past consumed my thoughts and feelings and stunted my own emotional growth. Over the past year or so, I have learned more about who I am, but also the more I seem to learn about myself the less I actually know, which can be scary in itself. BUT, I would much rather live with the fear of the unknown, knowing who I am and learning to recognise and accept that “I am good enough”. 

When I open up or share some of the invisible fears derived from shame that have consumed me, people are often amazed or confused “how can you think like that?” Or “I would have never known that about you, you always seem so confident “ and that is precisely why I am willing to share my own vulnerabilities, because we live in a society where it isn’t trendy or socially acceptable to show “what might be described as weakness”. My view is that what society labels as being a weakness is actually a strength. 

We are all victims of our own emotions, and this isn’t about blame, but if we grew up in an environment where emotions were not acknowledged or talked about? Then how are we supposed to know how or what we are feeling?

I have been through my own shit, affected by my own addiction, my father’s addiction and have worked in the addiction field long enough to know that one of the key factors that keep people locked in a cycle of addiction is using substances or behaviours in order to avoid emotional pain. In, fact physical pain and intense experiences of social rejection hurt in the same way and just as we often struggle to describe or define physical pain the same can be said for emotional pain. 

Consider two scenarios. In the first, you spill a hot cup of coffee on your forearm and experience intense pain. In the second, you look at pictures of your former romantic partner, a person with whom you recently experienced an unwanted break- up; as you view each photo you feel rejected and experience another kind of “pain.” On the surface, these two events seem quite distinct. Whereas the former involves a noxious bodily stimulus, the latter involves the termination of a social relationship. However, cultures around the world use the same language—words like “hurt” and “pain”—to describe both experiences raising the question: How similar are social re- jection and physical pain? https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/108/15/6270.full.pdf

So if we are feeling highly emotional for what might appear for no reason? We need to learn to understand that there is always a reason. It can help to learn to question where this pain is coming from, if we don’t we will try our best to label it or push it to one side, deny the emotion, sometimes using substances to dull the emotional feeling or acting out in other distructivebehaviours.

Thats why you will see people seek out support groups or another professional, like a counsellor to help them navigate life. Many do this with the expectation that someone else can help them heal from what ever is causing the distress at that time, but the bottom line is that the only person that can heal us, is ourselves. There is no denying that we can learn from others, being able to share some of our own pain with others who have experienced similar emotions creates a safe space to explore ourselves. I haven’t got to where I am now, without the support and guidance of others who have walked a similar path and have been willing to freely share their journey with me.

Helping people understand themselves should never be about personal financial gain however I do class myself fortunate to be financially rewarded in my job, because in addition to problem solving I am also able to help people find themselves. I share what’s most personal to me because I fundamentally value the importance of being open and transparent and that’s why I love working in the recovery field, I get to work and meet some of the most vulnerable but also the most courageous people I know and I am learning as much from them, as they are from me. 

I will continue to use my position, my platform if you like to fight for the underdogs, for those who have been disregarded because of personal life choices or whose voice isn’t easily heard or ignored and if some people don’t get that, then that’s their problem, its no longer mine and I am slowly learning that it isn’t something to be ashamed about.

Love Fordy x

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Overcoming Emotional Phobia

Our society is increasingly becoming emotionally phobic – everyone is running around trying to escape their uncomfortable internal feelings, trying to pretend to the outside world that everything is ok, when in fact we are not ok! Using drugs to mask the uncomfortable feelings and emotions, acting out, behaving in such ways that will change how we feel about ourselves. But this is only a temporary fix. 

Feeling unable to say how we truly feel out of fear of rejection or shame, only serves to enslave us with our own uncomfortable emotions. We run around like fucking headless chickens trying to measure our self-worth based on praise or disappointment from others, acting out accordingly rather than seeking if from ourselves. I have talked previously about getting the balance right is balancing act in itself, now I am not saying that finding the balance is easy I would go as far to say, it hasn’t, it isn’t and will probably continue to become hard at times. 

But then there are the highs, I find that in my moments of clarity, is when I realise and accept that, our feelings, including the lows, self-doubt are a perfectly normal part of being human and that’s ok! Sharing our vulnerability openly and honestly is a courageous trait to have, but to feel courageous we must be prepared to feel fear and those feelings that have been wrapped in a bubble of our perceived perfection. 

For me, writing, talking to others and listening to myself helps me to better understand and sit with those uncomfortable and painful emotions, emotions that have been developing for years, emotions that have been reinforced by societies expectations and my own, so to expect these emotions to change overnight, just because I am aware of them, is a big ask or anyone, including ourselves. 

So if you are having a sad moment, a bad day, tell yourself “it is ok” this is just part of figuring yourself out and I will get through this and YOU WILL

And to prove this point, you only have to look back at all you have already been through emotionally and physically, to know that if you are reading this, you are already a survivor. 

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more post, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up OR leave me your email. If you liked the post please share, if you didn’t, then do nothing and that’s ok too, Love Fordy x

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Understanding my own Recovery Journey

I want to share an excert from the book with you a snippet into my time as an addict, I also wanted to share some of my thoughts on what I think recovery is….

It’s been 25+ years since I got sectioned, after weeks of denial and insistence that there was nothing wrong with me I accepted defeat. Drug-induced psychosis was my prognosis, I walked from the reception down the hospital corridor thinking “How the fuck have I ended up here?”. I was led to my bed which was set in the middle of a ward full of strangers, I knew that I wasn’t alone because I could hear noises, some snoring, some groaning, But then I think my arrival had woken one of the other patients and as I climbed under the crisp hospital sheets I could hear her shouting. Afraid to look up, I pretended to be asleep, I must have disturbed her because she was pacing back and forth past the bottom of my hospital bed, demanding to be able to sleep “just like her” referring to me. Little did she know that was all I wanted too, after two days of no sleep, feeling broken, alone, hurt, confused I just wanted to go to sleep and hope that this was just one big fucking BAD dream.

Those first few days are a blur, as I withdrew from the illicit substances, which had become my comfort blanket, my crutch, the buzz I once got was quickly replaced by a cloud of shame, confusion, but most of all fear. I had lost my ability to think, I was numb, detached, a shell of who I used to be. The realisation hit me, the humiliation that as a mother to two children “I should have known better” I had to face the harsh reality that I had not just failed and let down my family and my kids, I had let myself down.

But who was I? I had lost my identity; but then did I ever know who I really was? I questioned “what’s the point? Why am I here?” the only thing that I did feel was my maternal instinct, an ache in my gut that reminded me that I two kids who needed their mom and there was NO FUCKING WAY they would end up care, just because of their mother’s stupid mistakes. But deep down I was scared, shit scared because I didn’t have clue where to start? Accepting I had monumentally fucked up big time was the hardest part, I had been brought up to be tough, not to show weakness and now I was open, exposed and vulnerable. “Was this my rock bottom?”



Blood is Thicker than Alcohol By Tracey Ford

My time and memories from Middlewood Hospital will stay with me until my dying days, the staff at the hospital were great, and the patients even better, they didn’t push or enquire, only after my health or if I wanted a drink? They gave me the space to think, away from the external noise the pressure and pain, they gave me a space to reflect hidden from societies expectations that had just gotten too much. I learned that the patients were, in fact, a lot like me different scenarios or circumstances but the bottom line was they were there because life had become too much. Like them, I had been pushed to my limits and I knew deep down it was time to push back. But I simply didn’t have the emotional or physical strength within me. So I welcomed the sense of nothingness, none of the demands from the outside and embraced the feeling that I was safe (for now) and used the time in the hospital to rest.

When it was my time to leave, I wasn’t ready, I could have quite happily stayed in that place which had become my new comfort blanket. My head was still fucked, I still felt vulnerable and frightened about what lay ahead of me and the prospect of going back to some of the things that had contributed to my breakdown scared the shit out of me. Dealing with expectations from loved ones that everything will somehow go back to normal “whatever the fuck that means!” as in their eyes, it was the drugs that created the fucked up, crazy person I had become, they didn’t have the capacity or insight to even start to comprehend that my recovery journey was only just starting. They didn’t understand that whilst I may have been physically clean, it was going to take a lot longer to become emotionally clean, but then again at the time, I didn’t understand that neither so how could they?

Recovery is about making mistakes, but more importantly, learning from them too, but this doesn’t just mean lapsing by taking substances, the emotional part of recovery is often overlooked but it is essential. I had my complacent moment, a relapse, I recall the day well, I was offered and took what was once my usual dosage and I thought my head would explode, I immediately realised during the height of the high, that I couldn’t touch the shit again.

A large part of our recovery hinges on what we are comfortable doing & what fits with or own personal beliefs and values. The problem I found was I didn’t know what my beliefs and values were anymore; I felt like I was being reborn, and was going back to basics. I started to question everything, if it didn’t feel right, then it probably wasn’t, so much so after two months being back in the family home, I left with the kids to go it alone, I left with no material possessions but reasoned that material possessions could always be replaced and my sanity was worth more.

My personal challenge going forward is to learning to accept and embrace the good with the bad and to be fair it’s not all bad, a lot has changed in the past 25 years and a lot of it is positive, I have a degree, I am employed in a job that I love, I am in a relationship with a guy who accepts me for me and best of all, those two kids of mine have turned out ok, under the circumstances and I am very very proud of them both.

But the point I want to make and share is that I may be 25+ years into recovery from illicit drug use, but I am still learning to come to terms with unwanted & uncomfortable feelings, emotions or the limiting beliefs that can and do come back to haunt me when I least expect it. Only this time I don’t turn to drugs to mask them.

The harsh reality is without a shadow of a doubt some people do drink or take drugs to mask and deal with emotions they would much rather ignore, others don’t! I was one of those who did and despite all of this; I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a single thing because had I not gone through that very painful experience I wouldn’t be who I am today.

I have learned and am still learning just how powerful our thoughts and feelings can influence who we are, I know myself better, I know my default position will always be “I’m not good enough or feeling misunderstood” and that’s ok, I can live with that, because I now understand where they come from, which is the past. I have a lifetime of memories that haunt or even taunt me from time to time, but by knowing myself better than I ever did and I’m realising and coming to accept that I shall be forever learning about myself until I take my last breath.

So what have I learned over the past 25+ years in recovery

Recovery is about being brave, 
Even when you feel afraid 
 
Recovery is about learning to trust yourself 
When you doubt everyone else 
 
Recovery is about finding good friends
People you trust, who will defend you until the end
 
Recovery is about recognising our weaknesses are in fact our strengths 
And reminding ourselves “That nobody is perfect, they just pretend"

Recovery is about recognising our past’s act as our guide
We have a choice, we can either stand up or hide 
 
Recovery is about recognising we are all creatures of habit
But that habits can be changed 
 
Recovery is exploring the old beliefs and values 
And breaking those chains 
 
But most of all Recovery is
About being true to you

Be kind to you
Because that's all you can do 

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more post, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up OR leave me your email. If you liked the post please share, if you didn’t, then do nothing and that’s ok too, Love Fordy x

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Life is like one big Jigsaw puzzle

The other day I sat in a room full of people who were sharing about how their emotions had taken a hold, the emotions had got the better of them and then the inevitable happened “Relapse”. I shared that even though it has been a long time since I have picked up an illicit drug, I still have days when I have what I call an “emotional relapse,” but rather than pick up drugs, I pick up the negative self talk, the negative thoughts, that like a cyclone take a hold and lift me into a depressive and dark emotional place.

There were times my early recovery where I would spend, days or even weeks wrapped up in negative mindset.  This then impacted on my behaviour, how I would react, or over reaction my case, I could sit and stew on my emotions for a while before I would realise that it is time to turn down the heat, take a step back, and make the time to reflect and get in touch with what was “really” going on for me. I find I can never move forward or past feeling shit, without addressing or getting to the bottom of what I was thinking to truly understand how this was making me feel. 

One of the biggest lessons I have learned  and learning about more recently is to embrace vulnerability, when the cloud of vulnerability eclipses me I have been wanting something or someone to remove the vulnerable feelings, I have been treating my feelings as a nuisance or an illness that needs to be cured or removed, especially those negative emotions. The vulnerability I have felt, I now realise has come from seeking validation from others, I have been measuring my self worth based on someone else’s or organisational conditioning.

I am still coming to terms with the reality that that suffering is inevitable, it is part of being human and to deny this and continuing escape it only keeps me in that hamster wheel, the inescapable cycle of suffering where nothing will change until I address who I am today, why I came to be where I am are, and learning to understand where the emotional grief comes from. 

Nobody can understand me better than myself. Being honest about the things I might do wrong, being able to admit to things I need to change, can only come from within me. Willingness to see and change, the decision to change what I don’t like about my life, can only come from me. 

Having support from trusted friends is crucial, use them as a sounding board, but to seek out people with the expectation that they can solve your emotional crisis is fruitile when they have never been through the things you’ve been through, emotionally, they may be able to relate, they may have experienced similar feelings and hurt, but that’s there own and not yours. 

I am coming to accept, and am learning to understand that my emotions are there to guide me, protect me, and in order to help myself  I need to learn to listen more to understand them. 

Getting to this place, or learning to understand myself to this degree, has taken years of practice and I will probably be still be reflecting and learning about myself until I draw on my last breath. I haven’t done this in isolation though I have listened and learned from others, taken the parts that fit me, life is like jigsaw puzzle I am slowly building a picture of who I really am.

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more post, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you didn’t, then do nothing and that’s ok too, Love Fordy x

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Emotional Hangovers

Some mornings have literally felt like waking up with a hangover, but without the alcohol the night before, which is even worse! at least I could blame the shit feeling on alcohol! I even googled it, and guess what? There is such a thing as an emotional hangover The idea is that the effects of an emotional event can linger for a while after the event actually happens — the same way nausea lingers long after you’ve consumed one too much alcohol.  This event can be anything from an argument with your best friend to a break up with your partner, it could be anything but while the event is over, your head is still reeling and messing with your current emotions. There even been some research into it!

I could relate straight away to the article, thoughts of self-doubt fuelling the internal sense of worthlessness, have tainted me emotionally ultimately affecting how I have reacted or behaved in certain situations. I have felt unable to pinpoint any actual trigger or the source of my discomfort, but deep down know it has been work-related, this is my echelles heal, because I love my job, I love partnership working and the people I work with, and despite this, something still hasn’t been quite right.

I haven’t even been writing, not even in my personal journal, because I didn’t know where to start, but then I came across this quote in a new book I have been reading by Brene Brown, she wrote “nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that’s it’s a waste of time trying to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reactions of the people in the stands….”

And there is was, the words laid bare, I realised that for the past few weeks I had been measuring my own self-worth, based on what other people thought, I what I assumed they were thinking.

I took the advice from the emotional hangover article and decided to write down all the incidents/scenarios’ that had left me feeling pissed off, undervalued and I started to recognise where some of the anger had stemmed from and could clearly see how I had been allowing external factors influence me internally, How much time, precious time and energy on what others thought and not saving anything back for myself and asking myself “what do I think? Or what do I know to be true?”

I had stopped reflecting, checking in with myself, stopped #havingawordwimesen, putting others before myself, going with the flow, I stopped saying NO to appease the status quo, I’d stopped putting me first.

“Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in. Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose;”

“Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brené Brown

We are unfortunately creatures of habit, and sometimes without persistence or practice, we can easily slip back into unhealthy habits, which for me is the negative narrative of self-doubt. I have spent almost three-quarters of a lifetime thinking or believing “that I wasn’t good enough”. So I am trying not to be so hard on myself because that ain’t going to help neither, I just need to remind myself of that daily…

Emotional Hangover 

You think that I strong
But boy are you wrong
I see it in their faces
They know I’m not right

I cannot deny
I’m struggling to cope
The worst part is
I don’t know why

Feel open and exposed
Conflicting emotions
Scared I’ll implode

I know you see my discomfort
Don’t ask me to explain
If I knew I would tell you
Trust me I want to know the same

I try pushing aside
The thoughts and feelings inside
But they won’t go away
They are threatening to stay

I’m sick of the feelings
They’ve outstayed their welcome
I need to be brave
And take a look inside
Because I know deep down
That’s where the answers reside

“But what if I don’t like what I find?”
The vulnerable thought hovers in my mind?
What I do then?
So I tell myself

"Take a good long look in the mirror and...
#Haveawordwitheesen"

#Shithappens to the best of all of us, it is just sometimes some shit is harder to get our heads around!

 

 

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