Tag Archives: random acts of kindness

A Letter To My Best Friend

This is a personal piece. Please be aware some content may be triggering.

Dear M,

You have stuck by me for a very long time. 13 years we have known each other and in my mind we just seemed to click straight away. You made joining a new university in my second year, when everyone has already made good friends, less daunting. You didn’t mind me sitting with you. You were awesome.

I feel our friendship cemented itself quickly and more so when we worked together on the project away from uni. You made me laugh a lot. We seem to have a very similar style of humour. Working together seemed easy. It was definitely the best paired work I’ve done and the most enjoyable.

When you left uni soon after, I missed you a lot. I was determined to keep this friendship. It meant, and still does, a lot to me. I loved that we messaged each other nearly everyday. It was/is so easy to talk to you and I always look forward to seeing you.

You were the main person to encourage me to get help for my mental health. You were so supportive and made yourself available at all times even when you weren’t doing the best yourself. I’m forever grateful for this. You even stuck by me after the suicide attempt. You’ve dealt with so many of my attempts to end my life.

You’ve also been my biggest cheerleader. Helping me push through to finish my degree, helping me do something special for my 21st, and celebrating me graduating. There’s been many milestones since as well and you are always the first person I want to, and normally do, tell. You push me to do what you know I’m good at. You can see my potential.

I’ve loved being a part of your milestones too. Going to your hen party was a high. Seeing you get married was special. And meeting your children has been one of my favourite things. Plus graduating on top of working and being a mum. It may not of been my right but I felt so proud of you, as I still do.

You are an amazing person. You are kind, caring and supportive. You make yourself available to me even with everything in your life. Your family has been amazing to me too and that must be to do with you. I feel comfortable with you, something that doesn’t come easy to me with people. You are special. You always know just what to say and that includes you saying you don’t know what to say. You’re honest with me. I trust you.

So the main point of this is to say thank you. Thank you for being part of my life and allowing me to be part of yours. Thank you for being there and supporting me. The last time I was in A&E you text me the whole time even though you must of been busy and that meant so much to me. I know I’m not the easiest person to be friends with and I’ve worried you repeatedly (I’m so sorry for this) but you’ve stuck by me again and again.

You were the person I wanted with all the news of mum’s cancer. Lockdown has made me miss you like crazy but you’ve shown me our friendship can last through time and distance. I hope you feel the same.

I know I may not be your best friend but you are certainly mine. I would not be here without you. Thank you for being you.

Love Jo x

Winter Self Care In Lockdown

I know we are quite a bit into winter but as I’m in the UK we all know winter is going to be here forever more (yes I’m exaggerating). So I thought I’d put some winter self care together and that which is appropriate for a lockdown.

1. A warm drink

Simple maybe? Maybe not. The thought of making a hot drink for some feels insurmountable when times are hard but if you can it may make you feel better. Even just an ordinary soft drink is good as well. I’m not one for hot drinks myself so understand if you don’t want one.

2. Snuggle in some blankets

If all you can do is keep yourself warm and comfortable it’s still self care. It’s nothing to feel guilty about, your comfort is important. Enjoy the blankets.

3. Watch something you’ve wanted to

Whether it’s a boxset binge or a film you’ve been meaning to watch, make the most of the cold weather and the instruction to stay indoors and watch it. Remember you can always pause something if you can’t concentrate for long. I often watch episodes or films in bits as I can’t keep my mind on things for long.

4. Something creative

If you feel up to it then what about something creative. Drawing, modelling, painting. I’m currently doing a painting by number that really helps me with my anxiety. Even a jigsaw or lego is creative. Do what you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be perfect or put on display.

5. Reading

I read quite a lot but I know it’s not always easy so there is the option of listening to an audio book if you feel that would work better.

6. Nap

Naps are amazing. Have no guilt in giving your body what it needs.

So those are a few ideas from me. Obviously there are lots of different things that you can do. Do what is good for you. Remember self care isn’t selfish. It’s something we all need.

What I’ve Learnt In 2020

2020 has been a hellish year for pretty much everyone. A global pandemic seems to make life difficult, who knew? But I’ve learnt a few things in 2020 and I thought I’d reflect on them.

1. I have amazing friends

OK, I’ve known this a while but it’s become even clearer this year how amazing they are. We’ve supported each other so much and I’ve known they are always there for me. I love them dearly.

2. Random acts of kindness are special

I’ve tried to do some random acts of kindness this year to cheer people up. I’ve also received some too. They have made me feel so special. They’ve brightened some of the darkest days.

3. Lockdown birthdays suit me

I loved having my birthday during lockdown. The lack of pressure to do anything was awesome. It’s the most relaxed and perfect birthday I’ve had. I want that every year please.

4. Validation is so important

Having someone agree about something I am experiencing has happened a couple of times this year, especially linked to my mental health. I had a psychiatrist who agreed with me about my depression getting worse and a psychologist who could see OCD behaviours and thoughts. The validation made me feel like I wasn’t just looking for the bad but that what I was feeling was real.

5. A smile can make your day

Here I’m not talking about just receiving a smile from someone but actually starting off the smiling. On my walks with my dog I have taken to smiling at the strangers I pass and have mostly been rewarded with smiles back. It brightens my day just a little and creates a little human contact that I can cope with.

6. You can’t make eye contact on zoom

This was something pointed out to me by my DBT peer support group’s facilitator. It is impossible to make eye contact as you are always looking at the wrong bit of the screen. Even if you both stare straight ahead it won’t work as you then can’t see the other person’s eyes. This is information I have imparted to many people since. They’ve all had their minds blown. So thanks Sally for that info.

7. I do actually need physical contact

I’ve never thought of myself as someone who needs physical contact before but hugs from friends are something I’ve really missed. Being in their presence, even, is something I miss greatly. Just to be with those people is so important to me. I also missed hugging my nan for all the months I couldn’t. Having that back is so special. I appreciate those hugs.

8. Pets are amazing

Again I knew this already but this year they’ve really stepped up. My dog has kept me going out and in some kind of routine. My cats are just loving and have entertained a few people on zoom (especially when they scare the life out of me, try to eat the laptop cable or knock a pile of stuff to the floor). Also having cat cuddles during and straight after therapy has been awesome. I now do not want to do therapy without a cat. When it becomes face to face again the cat is coming with me. That would make them look I’m sure.

9. I can draw

I’ve always tried to draw and never felt any good at it. Then just before lockdown I did some art things with a group I’m part of and it started to make me wonder if maybe I could draw. During lockdown I decided I’d try it out and began drawing every day. To begin with I’d draw animals and cartoon characters for friends, family and their children. Most was simple. I then developed it further and I feel like I’m getting a lot better. I’ve even shared some of it on Instagram and Facebook.

10. People are mental health aware but…

This is probably going to be the most negative one. With lockdown there has been a lot of talking about helping people’s mental health during these times. People are showing they are aware of needing to look after their’s and others’ mental health. But it has become clearer that we need to make people mental ILLNESS aware now. People may understand mental health, they don’t all understand mental illnesses and what it’s like to live with one day to day. There is a long way to go with. This means that instead of a mental health awareness week/day we really need a mental illness awareness week/day. We need people to see the difference between mental health and mental illness. I plan to write more on this in 2021.

So 2020 has definitely been a year of learning about others and myself. I’ve deliberately tried to keep the negative out of this list (believe me there are many things I’ve seen this year from people that have shocked me in a bad way). I’d love to hear what you’ve learnt so feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. I’m aiming to be busier on all these platforms.

Lastly I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has read, shared, commented or supported me in any way. I really do appreciate it and wish you the best for the years to come. You’re awesome. Be kind 💚

Feeling Lonely

Today the feeling of being lonely and isolated has really got to me. I feel so so alone in this world. I feel abandoned by certain support systems and others are just unavailable due to unforseen circumstances. I just need to get these thoughts out so apologies for what is ahead (though I’m also hoping to share some resources).

Loneliness is not necessarily about being on your own physically. In fact for me it is far from that. I live with my parents. I have people around at all times and that’s hard in a lot of ways too and can make me feel even lonelier. I feel like I’m stuck in my head without an escape. Like there is no one I can share what’s going on in my head with. I feel like a burden to everyone so I don’t feel I can share with them.

At the moment I realise I’m far from the only person dealing with loneliness especially with the lockdown and being separated from friends and family. Being lonely is a horrid feeling to deal with and it has been stated that being lonely can increase your chances of premature death by 30% (More info here). Combating the feeling of loneliness is difficult. It’s more than giving people contact, it’s about connection. It’s about really listening.

Tonight I feel like I am lacking that connection. I can’t see the people I really want to. I can’t hug them. I can’t feel part of a friendship group. I can’t be me at the moment. Everything is so limited. And I know everyone is feeling the same. But I also think my mental illnesses are making things harder. Lately I’ve had a lot of paranoia (or maybe it’s not) that I’m being excluded from things. This has made me retract into myself at times as I feel it’s my fault that I’m being left out. I feel I’m burdening others.

Feeling like a burden definitely adds to feeling lonely. It adds to the lack of connection. I struggle to let people know what’s going on. I don’t want them to leave me alone but this makes me feel lonelier. Paradox appears again.

So some resources that may help.

1. Elefriends is a forum by Mind for people with mental illnesses to connect.

2. Samaritans are always there to listen (other services for other countries are in the crisis contacts in the menu).

3. In the UK your local Mind may be offering services to support people during this difficult time. My local mind is doing welfare calls and holding some groups via Zoom.

4. Let’s Talk Loneliness has more detailed resources for helping with loneliness.

My last thing is to ask that if you think someone is feeling lonely then please reach out to them if you can. If you personally can’t support them share some resources with them. Sometimes it’s not easy for the person who needs help to reach out.

If you have any tips or resources to help with loneliness please feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Harry Potter Does Not Equal Hate

This isn’t a typical mental health blog but it’s one I needed to write. With the abhorrent tweets from J. K. Rowling, it left me questioning a huge part of me. I have a love for Harry Potter. And this situation made me question it all. Should I rid myself of everything related to it? How can I cut such a huge chunk of me out? I had to really think. I came to my conclusion and here are my thoughts about it and how I got there. I only made it coherent when talking to someone else who was having the same struggle.

With J. K. Rowling, I’ve decided she is not Harry Potter. That has grown bigger than her. It’s the people who love it that have made it what it is. The people who have brought it to life. It is the friendships it’s formed and the lives its saved. And those people are statistically more open and accepting than the rest of the world. (Info on study here)

As the wizarding world is bigger than her my friend who I was discussing it with said maybe we should focus on supporting the publishers and actors. The actors have spoken against her. (Find details here). They know the world is more than her. She had an idea but others took it further and the wizarding world made it it’s own. They removed it from being about one person. With any fandom it’s not just about the creator. The fans take hold and it belongs to them rather than the creator.

In the story it teaches us to be accepting of all. It shows us that differences can be overcome and it shows that people who try to eliminate anyone from society will not go far. She wrote her own downfall in these books. She showed the fans of Harry Potter that you can not push out a whole section of society and expect no backlash or to keep your status. It will catch up with you.

I’m not going to feel guilt for liking and loving something that actually made me feel part of the world a little bit. For being the kid with no friends who then finds them later on. For needing a bit of magic in my life to deal with the shit storm it was. Harry Potter to me is not about J. K. Rowling. Its about the friendships it created, its about the magical world, its about finding something that made me see that people should be accepted in society and sometimes we just need to find the right people, it’s not us causing the issue.

My final words are for the people of the trans community. You’re not on your own. We love you andd accept you. We want you in our society. You make it a better place. Keep fighting together and we will beat people like her. Big love.

Kindness At A Higher Level

We live in a society that is often far from kind. I’m not talking about individuals, I’m talking about policy and societal norms. Being individually kind is important but we need kindness as a society to make a larger change.

Unfortunately we live in a world led my money rather than kindness and what is best for people. I can understand this. Money is finite and so we have to spend with care and this can mean cuts that are the opposite of kindness. We see this in mental health services all the time. People are turned away as not sick enough or not enough resources. People are sent miles from home when unwell and needing the kindness of family close by. There are some changes that really need to be made and cutting more and more is doing the opposite of kindness and therefore worsening mental health issues at times.

Also as a society we are far from kind to those who attempt to end their life. Many are labelled attention seeking and selfish. Many a person has been heard on a train that has hit a person berating them for ending their life and delaying people. The kindness that this person needed appears to of been absent in their life and their death. Instead of asking what could of been done to help them before this event they are condemned for seeing no other way out.

Society is also cruel in its use of social media. While social media can be great there are the trolls and the nasties who are far from kind. They band together to bring cruelty to one person. They push people over the edge as they can’t show kindness. They condemn people as guilty before hearing the full story. They forgot that a little kindness could improve the world and keep people alive.

By changing our outlook from the top down we could prevent so many deaths. By acting as a society we could improve life for many. It’s time to unite to be kind as well as individual acts of kindness.

I’d love to hear your views so feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Self-kindness

Being kind to others is important but there is someone we tend to overlook when we are sharing kindness and that is ourselves. We deserve to be kind to ourselves however alien it may be and how little we feel we deserve it. Believe me I’m the first to admit I’m far from kind to myself with negative self talk and lack of care for myself. But there are some ways we can all be kind to ourselves and I thought I’d share a few.

1. Getting sleep

Our sleep routine is really important to our mental health. By getting sleep we are being kind to ourselves. Staying awake to get things done can feel like what we need to do but if we show ourselves kindness by at least trying to get some good sleep then we will be more productive.

2. Eating well

We’ve all heard this one I’m sure. But it is true that it makes you feel better and allows you to fight other illnesses more effectively. This is showing a real kindness to yourself.

3. Exercise

Again we’ve heard it lots but it can really help our mood to stay active. I’m not saying run a marathon (believe me I can barely run a mile) but just a short walk can help. It is kind to ourselves although it may not feel like it before we start.

4. Positive self talk

This is a huge one linked to kindness. It’s also one I struggle with on a huge scale. If we are kinder in the way we talk to ourselves it can improve our mood and motivation. But boy is it hard. Everyone has told me to either imagine talking to a friend or to the child I was. Would you say the mean things you say to yourself to them? Like I said I really struggle with this one. Maybe we can start by saying one kind thing to ourselves a day.

5. Showers/baths

As well as keeping you clean they can be relaxing. Show yourself some kindness by giving yourself some time to look after your body. Make it feel nice. Embrace it.

6. Treating yourself

This is the kindness that a lot of us can’t allow ourselves but we are allowed nice things. We are allowed that bar of chocolate or that new book. There doesn’t need to be a special occasion to make ourselves feel OK or to treat ourselves.

Being kind to ourselves is alien. Society has made us think it makes us selfish. It’s not. It’s self care. It’s looking after yourself which in turn helps you look after others.

What ideas for self kindness do you have? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

The How To Guide To Kindness

Step 1: How are you feeling? Are you able to look after yourself as well as offering kindness? A self check-in is important.

Step 2: What kindness is needed? Is it straight away in the form of a listening ear or a smile? Or can it be planned, like a letter or card?

Step 3: Offer kindness. It may be that at this time it is not wanted. That’s OK. Save it for later. By offering that’s a kindness in itself.

Step 4: Do you feel OK after the act of kindness? Is there anything that it has brought up in you that you need to deal with? This especially important when listening to others. Also do you need to carry out some self care if the kindness has taken from you? That’s OK. Do it.

Step 5: There is no need share the act of kindness on social media. These acts are a personal thing for the other person.

Step 6: Be proud of yourself for being kind. Know you have done something for another person and made the world that much better.

Random acts of kindness are also a lovely thing. You might not know if someone needs a particular type of kindness so be kind anyway. Make the world that bit better.