You are so special

Depression. Anxiety. Low Self Esteem. In the last few years it seems to me that more people have ‘come out’ with one or more of them to me. At last it seems that it’s ok to talk about it.

Mental Health seems no longer to be something that’s hidden away or an embarrassment. An invisible disability that people don’t want to admit to incase it makes them appear weak or broken. Nothing like a broken leg (where the cast shows the pain and injury) but possibly more debilitating and worse as it can be invisible to the outside world.

Recently I listened to Susan Calman’s audiobook, ‘Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate’. In the book, Susan honestly and openly talks about her experiences of depression and the crab of hate as she calls it.

She talks about how she deals with it, and shares some of the coping strategies she has to help her feel better. She talks about what are some of the not so good things to say to someone with depression, and throughout the book I was laughing out loud at some of the parts.

Depression, anxiety and mental ill health is more common than people think, and each person who has these struggles can hopefully find their own ways of dealing with how they’re feeling. Like an invisible chemical imbalance that people can’t see – I can imagine it feels extremely debilitating, sad, horrible and all consuming. I don’t know, I’ve never had it, but that’s how people I know have talked about it.

Maybe we’re all more aware of it, or maybe it’s become easier to talk about it, but I can think of at least 7 or 8 people in the last few years who have told me that they’ve been diagnosed with or are coping with a form of depression or anxiety.

And there have been countless more who simply don’t believe in themselves. They don’t realise just how special they are, and they feel bad, or inadequate or constantly struggle through each day.

Life is amazing
You know what? It doesn’t have to be like that. Life should be fun and enjoyable. Being alive is remarkable. Our bodies alone are amazing, they way they work, they way they adapt and recover.

We are truly amazing, and that’s not even mentioning our mental abilities to achieve and overcome anything we set our minds to. Most of the time we are so unconscious that we don’t even notice the most obvious thing about our existence.

Life is an amazing miracle, and we go about our habits and routines of our days, forgetting just how special we are. We are so asleep going through the norms, that we manage to go about our daily tasks as if being alive is nothing remarkable. We are here now, participants in what we call life… awaiting the inevitable ending we call death.

Life is mysterious and miraculous. If you live to be 80 years old, you’ll have just 4,000 weeks in which to understand it. Our lives are so profoundly puzzling it is astonishing that we aren’t permanently perplexed. Most of us rush around as if there is no more to life than making a living and not thinking about dying. We never stop to wonder. We behave as if we know exactly what life is about, even though secretly, we know we don’t.

Sometimes we go through tough times and we hopefully come out the other side stronger and having learned from it. We learn how to cope, who we can lean on and we learn how to appreciate the good times, because we’ve experienced the darkness. In the darkness, we can now see the stars twinkling in the dark sky. And when it rains, we’re not always sad, we look out for the rainbows and the sun instead.

Music can help
If you know me, you’ll know that music helps me a lot. See previous post: Super songs to make me strong. It helps me sort out my thoughts and helps me to feel good and helps me to understand some things.

I love how you can relate to songs in your own way and every person might take a different meaning from a different song. Alive by Sia does that for me – it reminds me that I’m alive and that I’m grateful to be alive. It makes me smile and makes me strong.

Alive by Sialyrics here You might have been born and have grown up in a thunderstorm, and you might have grown up overnight. You might have been through some sh!t times, but you’ve survived. You might have a one way ticket to a place where all the demons go, where the wind don’t change and nothing in the ground can ever grow. No hope just lies and you’re taught to cry in your pillow, but you survive. You’re still breathing, you’re alive.

Tiger by Emile Sande – lyrics here – is also another song that resonates strongly with me. It came out at a time that was quite challenging for me. And me becoming a Tiger was me becoming strong and well again. Back on my feet, I’m a tiger again.

Titanium by David Guetta – lyrics here – I’m bullet proof, nothing to lose. You shoot me down, but I won’t fall. I am titanium. You shoot me down, but I won’t fall. I am titanium.

Get your cape on
Things I’ve found that help others is me handing out my capes can help with people not believing in themselves or with low self esteem. Or even just to help them achieve a target or event they want to complete. My cape works for me and if it works for others then that’s great.

And the best thing I’ve found I can do for someone who says they have depression or anxiety is to listen and ask them what they’ve done in the past to help them, and in some cases refer them to get help from those close to them, or from counselling or their GP. This resource on the site is good for helping support people in the workplace who are experiencing mental ill health.
Page 11 in particular: Connect – Be Active – Take Notice – Keep Learning – Give.

Mental Health First Aid is now a thing in workplaces, where people are trained to support colleagues who may be going through challenging times. Just like normal first aiders, but Mental Health First Aiders are trained to breakdown the stereotypes and attitudes towards mental health, and to recognise the symptoms and help support people – pointing them towards to the professional health carers for help and treatment.

Promoting well being – Happiness hours – Doing things you enjoy (for me, kite flying, walking, running, eating out, ice creams).

Support can be there, over the phone (the Samaritans etc), via a GP surgery. Sometimes medication can help, sometimes talking therapies can be enough. Sometimes just talking it over with friends or family can do the world of good. Or having a close support network around you who can recognise when the symptoms are coming on (when maybe you can’t).

For Baby…
Now I’m not a parent, I didn’t know what it’s like to create another human being, deliver it and see it grow. But babies and children are so special, I know that and I’ve never even had any, but I know how special they are. 

That little bundle of life, growing and learning each day. Forming their own little character and being so free and funny and cute and special. 

And we don’t stop being special when we pass the age of 16 or 18. We have the opportunity to become whoever and whatever we want. The world is our oyster, we can be whoever we dare to or choose to be.

I think of my Dad. Now 75 and retired, with his career as a GP behind him. He and my Mum brought 5 children into this world. Our childhoods might have been a bit bumpy, but we’re all grown up and successful now. (Can you tell which one I am? Lol). 

He’s seen me come out when I was born, blue with the umbilical chord around my neck, and he delivered me and untangled the chord to allow me to breathe. The youngest of 5, the last to be born. And he’s seen me grow. I don’t think I can even imagine how special that must be to have just one child, never mind five.

A few years ago my Dad pleasantly surprised me with an email which said this:

‘I want you to go download this song ‘For Baby (Bobbie) from Peter, Paul and Mary’s album ‘The very best of Peter, Paul and Mary’. I listened to it when I was sunbathing on holiday and I could think of only you. It brought tears to my eyes that we are so lucky to have you.’

I hadn’t heard it before, but when I downloaded it and listened to it I felt a big warmth spread right through my body. 

I could imagine my Dad thinking of me when I was a little girl, and him relating to the words of the song. But maybe he even thought of me now as an adult. Now every time I hear it, I’m reminded of him, and of our relationship, and I feel really special. Here are the lyrics (birds and rainbows in it too!):

I’ll walk in the rain by your side,
I’ll cling to the warmth of your tiny hand.
I’ll do anything to help you understand,
I’ll love you more than anybody can.

And the wind will whisper your name to me,
Little birds will sing along in time,
The leaves will bow down when you walk by,
And morning bells will chime.

I’ll be there when you’re feeling down,
To kiss away the tears if you cry.
I’ll share with you all the happiness I’ve found,
A reflection of the love in your eyes.

And I’ll sing you the songs of the rainbow,
Whisper all the joy that is mine.
The leaves will bow down when you walk by,
And morning bells will chime.

{repeat verse 1}

The leaves will bow down when you walk by,
And morning bells will chime.

Maybe my Dad is probably one of the reasons I believe in myself. So I feel very fortunate. l’ve been made to feel special by those closest to me. 

We’re all so special
And maybe that’s one of the things we miss. Even as adults – we’re all really special. We’re all stars in our own way.

We’ve all done things and achieved things to be proud of. Whether it’s becoming a parent, gaining qualifications in education, learning and succeeding in your career, learning to swim, running at an event, walking a long walk like the West Highland Way, losing weight, meeting our soul mate, being there for each other or for friends – there are so many things we’ve done. Some of it might have been natural progression, some of it might have been a challenge at the time which you succeeded in or learned from.

I feel so lucky to be here, and to be able to do all of the things I can do. I often think to myself when I think I can’t be bothered going a run ‘what about those who can’t run? go and run for those who can’t run.’ 

I feel very fortunate to be able to go and run for an hour (or more) and get all of the good feelings I get from it. And to know how to train myself to enable me to run a marathon like I did in April and in so many before.

You can learn how to do anything you set your mind to. If you decide you want to do something, and you learn how to do it and get resources and people around you to help you do it. 

You can choose to take action in your life, and change things forever. If ever I feel a bit down, or like I’m wasting time doing not a lot. I stop and get myself to write down a list of things I’m grateful for. A minimum of three, once you get going, you can usually come up with more than three.

Right now, 1. Health, 2. Working in my job at the BBC (even though it’s busy) and 3. my house and garden are a quick top 3… but there are so many things to be grateful for. 

Even technology… gadgets that make your life easier or more fun, and I’m so grateful for. And the simple things in life, like sitting in the garden watching the birds fly by and eat the food I’ve put out, or hearing them chirping away. I love it and it makes me smile.

Lift yourself up
I was at a Careers Fair the other day, where it was my job to talk about BBC Scotland to a number of people who came to talk to me. I spoke to around 32 people in just over 3 hours, by the end I was nearly losing my voice… but it had been good, and well worth the time. 

Some people who came to speak to me were confident and knew what they wanted, some weren’t as confident in themselves but were keen to ask what BBC Scotland were all about. But one woman in particular stood out to me. She was in the later years of her life and I established through talking with her that she wasn’t working due to debilitating back pain she’d been experiencing, but she was now looking for work.

When I asked her what her background was, she kind of shrivelled up a bit, looking down at her feet and said… ‘Just nursing and a few other jobs.’ She seemed a little embarrassed, or at least lacking in confidence… I stopped her and asked her how long she’d been a nurse for, and what were the other jobs – and she said 29 years as a nurse, then working with people in other jobs.

I was truly and visibly impressed, and said, ‘well that’s not ‘just nursing’ then, that’s 29 years worth of experiencing nursing and working with people.’ In a short chat we established that due to her back pain she couldn’t nurse anymore, but I suggested she could try something else, like working as a receptionist in a Drs surgery, or in an office somewhere.

She hadn’t thought of any of that, it seemed she’d just put herself in the dump. Get a good CV together, a brochure to market yourself, and tell companies why you’re good, then share it with companies you’d like to work for. (more about that in another post).

Now I know I didn’t know her, and it could have been daunting for her to be speaking to me, (hence her lack of confidence in talking about herself). And I’m very far from being unemployed and not being able to get a job for however long. But you could see her day was brightened up by me giving her a bit of a lift and by helping her to realise that she was more special than she thought she was. And I was lifted by her walking away, feeling good and motivated from our chat.

What are you?
Now I’m going to leave you with a thing I do with someone I know. She used to knock herself down a lot. She didn’t realise how great she was – Fit, healthy, successful, happy with a good and happy life. But some things sometimes knocked her, sometimes she knocked herself down. She’d forgotten how special she was. It happens to us all, right?

(She never got the cape idea) so I gave her this instead – a small glass cube with ‘You’re a star’ written on it. I told her exactly what I thought of her, and why I think she’s a star, so she knows. Deep down she knows she’s a star.

Now every time she’s a bit down, worried, upset or not herself… I ask her a simple question – ‘What are you? ‘

And she usually sheepishly answers… ‘I’m a star’. So I ask her again… ‘What are you? A bit louder?’ and she shouts (and laughs usually) – ‘I’m a star!”

It might sound silly, but it’s true; and sometimes we forget. Sometimes we need a few words of encouragement (from ourselves or others) to help us remember that we are ok, that actually, things are good. And we can do anything, all we need to do is change the way we think, believe in ourselves, or take some action to achieve some change or to achieve something great.

And guess what? You are a star too. You are so special. Maybe it doesn’t feel like it all the time – but you are. Even when you’re going through sh!tty times… you are a star. And sometimes it’s the sh!t in life that can help us appreciate the good.

So if or when the demons come for you the next time, remember that you’re a star too. Stop, turn your back on them. Remember how you dealt with them before, and take steps to get rid of them again. Take a breather and take notice of everything around you. Try to smile. Go outside, look up at the sky and listen to the birds in the sky, or the world around you.

I wear my cape (and all my experience, skills and coping strategies) when I need it, and it helps me be Super Lorn. Use yours too if you want – Super whoever-you-are. If it works, use it. You can do anything you want. You can change the way you think. You can achieve anything you want.

You are alive, you’re so lucky to be alive. And you are so very much a Tiger, you just need to lift your head up high, build your courage and hear yourself roar. You are Titanium – in fact, you’re stronger than titanium, and you are very much alive.

You only live once – you are amazing and special, and you can do anything you set your mind to.

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2 Responses to You are so special

  1. gembyname says:

    Great post. I talk a lot about coping with anxiety, and running is one of the things that helps – loved your post today!

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