stop feeling meh
Mental Health

Control Your Thoughts

I saw a good friend the other day, a lady I have nothing but respect for. Within five minutes of entering my house she had gone off on a tirade about Syria, the threat of war, Chinese kids getting their eyes gauged out, and other horror stories she’d be reading about on the Mail Online. Slow down I said, why on earth are you filling your head with nonsense from a dirty rag like that? The answer was simple to me, although probably not to her. This woman has been through the mill in the past few years, and is still battling life’s dramas with a husband who refuses to seek help for his many and complex troubles at the root of his depression. This means all the weight of responsibility falls onto her shoulders. Parenting, running the house, working full time, with bugger all help from him. Suffice it to say she immerses herself in current affairs so she doesn’t have to think about the issues inside her own four walls.

In my opinion, this is a dangerous game to play. Most people are simply not capable of ‘dealing’ with a life of dysfunction or hardship without professional help. Eventually an unhappy past will catch up with you – whether it’s triggered by having a baby, working too hard or getting sick, a breakdown is usually inevitable. It seems arrogant to me that you wouldn’t want to get better when so much help is on offer.

Another friend has been in a bad place for years. She grew up with a mother who picked holes in everything she did as a child and clearly favoured her younger brother. Unsurprisingly my friend has very low self-esteem, which has led her to make terrible decisions over the years. I’ve been talking to her about the merits of counselling for as long as I’ve known her and she’s always found excuses to not do it. The Xmas before last she discovered that her fiancé had been having an affair and called off the wedding. Five minutes later this woman was living in her old house, pregnant with the baby she longed to have. Understandably this chain of events propelled her into the depths of despair, and finally she started seeing a counsellor. Although she resisted at first and hated it, she is now a self-proclaimed evangelist and cannot advocate it enough! She’s always worked hard in her job and has recently secured a promotion at work which involves moving to New York – a dream of hers since she was at uni. She realises the break up, although horrendous, was the best thing that could have happened and she now has the confidence to go off and start a fabulous new life. What an amazing turn of events. She learnt the hard way, through years of thinking she could cope with the ingrained negativity, that actually there was no shame in admitting that she couldn’t.

When I was in my teens and early twenties, I was very messed up. Haunted by a dysfunctional past I would get totally hammered and a night would often end with me crying about things that had happened to me – essentially reliving the trauma every time. Through counselling, self-help books and a lot of support from the poor long suffering guy that calls himself my husband, I am no longer that person. I truly believe it is possible to get through just about anything life has thrown at you, as long as you are willing to put in the hard yards and help yourself. For me the first step to getting better was learning to control my thoughts, ultimately I knew if I didn’t they would end up controlling me.

In a crazy fu**ed up world I have little control over what happens, so I choose to focus on what’s important in my own world instead. We don’t have a TV in our house, and I actively avoid reading the papers. Don’t get me wrong we still watch films and telly on catch up via the laptop, and we keep an eye on the big important news stories. I sign lots of petitions against things I am anti and join campaigns, but I don’t get obsessed by them like I did in days gone by. I use my energy in a positive way, and when the dark clouds loom (which they do every now and then) I think about everything that is great about my life. By focussing on the blessings to be counted rather than the misery that is going on in the world, I am a much happier me.



Full time wife and mummy to three, home educator, blogger, wannabee chef and published author. Follow me on my journey through life...

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  1. Brilliant blog! I really relate to this, and totally agree with focusing on the positives. I’ve had a really tough time of it too, and just kept on swimming when I should have stopped for breath; my rock-bottom self esteem meant I was bullied at work for 10 years, had a series of mentally abusive relationships, and ended up a single mother. Following two breakdowns and some really ridiculous decisions, my amazingly supportive parents eventually insisted on paying for a private psychologist to unscramble my poor brain. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m in a much stronger place, I love and respect myself, and I know what’s acceptable in terms of how i’m treated. I’m setting up my own business, and I couldn’t be happier. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for getting to rock bottom, so I’m glad I suffered all that. And like you Denise, I over compensated for what I was lacking in self esteem, so probably came across as arrogant at times. We all definitely need to look inwards to sort ourselves out before we can look outwards to help others. The old adage old ‘make sure your own oxygen mask is secure before helping others’ might be a bit worn now, but only because it’s so true!

  2. You’re completely right and it’s a point I’ve reiterated throughout my posts. Counselling isn’t for everyone, as unfortunately there are a lot of not very good ones out there, and a bad experience can put a person off entirely. I have a handful of friends in this situation and they’ll never waste their money again. It’s a shame, because it can be a great way to help process feelings and see you through a difficult time. Hopefully there is something out there for everyone though, be it writing, charity work or other avenues.

    A neighbour of mine is in remission from breast cancer, and swears by alternative therapies and a super pure diet. Knowing that she isn’t eating anything that will feed the cells gives her tremendous piece of mind.

    Sometimes life throws up unforgivingly unfair obstacles, ones we can’t even dream of getting through with our sanity intact, but we do. Because as you said in your original post: what’s the alternative? From all I’ve read it sounds like you are an incredibly strong woman Emma. Never doubt your inner resources.

    I really hope you’re doing ok, and have a lovely Christmas xx

  3. I don’t watch (or read) the news (except when I’m on it), because I find it so depressing. I am struggling with depression at the moment though and I just want to point out that counselling doesn’t work for everyone. I battled depression when I was younger, with no help. It was hard and it was a long road, but I got there. This time around, it is more difficult, because I am depressed about things I have no control over. So I sought help. Firstly in counselling… but it did absolutely nothing for me. Secondly in Anti Depressants, but they made me even more poorly. So I am back to battling alone. For me, I find blogging, writing poetry, and writing of any kind, is my therapy.

  4. Thank you so much for your kind and heartfelt comment. I think it’s really important to be aware that certain things disturb us, and actively avoid them. I get the impression that you’ve also come a long way from being the drunk girl who used to cry about their troubles. Hopefully having gone through the troubles, as well as the process of putting them behind us will make us all the stronger for our own families xx

  5. stephaniearsoska says:

    I can relate to a lot in this post. I was that drunk person going on about all my traumas! It was like the stuff just had to come out again and again and again. I don’t watch the news these days, avoid horror films or topics that I know I will find distressing. I do try to stay up to date with current affairs but I keep my distance as I find it very overwhelming. I hardly watch the TV.

    I think you are very brave and inspirational. I think you will be of great help to many people who are not as far in their recovery journey as you are.

  6. Sounds like you have your hands full already 🙂 xx

  7. Thank you! Glad they help you put things into perspective, so much of the news is bleak and turning it into a positive is a great thing.

  8. A thought-provoking post. I definitely think it’s good to focus on blessings rather than misery although I find that terrible news stories do put things into perspective for me!

  9. Staying away from the news when you can’t cope with what you hear is such a good idea and advice I need to take heed of more often. Thankfully Aaron’s babyish TV and the odd soap is my fill of TV x

  10. […] really easy to do though, and when the thoughts start spinning out of control they can propel me to a very dark place. Fortunately I’m a fairly grounded person these days, […]

  11. So sorry to hear about your mum, I find it really sad when someone desperate for help refuses to get it. Hope she changes over time and sorts herself out, must be heartbreaking for you xx

  12. A friend of mine recently had counselling after being vehemently against the idea for years. Through gritted teeth she admitted it helped.

    My mum has suffered with depression all her life and it became a ‘safe place’ for her. Somewhere she felt comfortable and that has always been part of her undoing…the reluctance to fight it.

    Thank you for linking up with the #mondayclub

  13. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there – bolstering superiority because no one else will… Sorry to hear you had a rough childhood, sounds like it all came good in the end though 🙂

  14. It so great!!! I was quite a damaged teenager. I was materially looked after but there is something about thinking that no-one really values you that slightly warps you. I wasn’t a particularly nice person to be around, I admit it. So self obsessed because my misery was making me turn in on myself.

    I would probably have struck you as arrogant in those days! Sometimes it is also, as well as trust, you want to bolster your own superiority in whatever way you can, because no-one else will.

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog.

  15. Thanks so much for your comment. You’re right, many people who have been through hideous trauma do have trust issues. Unfortunately I’ve also seen a fair few people with the attitude ‘what’s the point – what can they do to help me?’ I just feel this is a bit of an arrogant stance. Perhaps counselling isn’t for everyone, but I believe some kind of therapy could help us all – whether we’ve had a troubled past or not.

    I’m really pleased you got through your own issues and are a much happier person. It’s so important to have inner peace when you are a parent 🙂

  16. People shouldn’t try to get through without professional help… but they do!

    Maybe a factor is when people have had a lot of trauma they need to become self-reliant and letting someone else in *and trusting that maybe they know better than you* is difficult. I’ve been there. At school I had counselling and I remember definitely coming out with what I thought the woman wanted me to say.

    I haven’t had counselling since then, but luckily I took a job where I had to do lots of self reflection and write about it, and saw the benefits talking and counselling had to many people. That changed me so I am not like that any more. It’s sad that people do think like that still and I am glad that your friend saw another way of dealing with things.

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