Bullet Journaling & The Anxious Perfectionist

I’ve seen several post lately about bullet journaling to help with organisation and habit tracking.  Now, as a lover of list and stationary, and knowing full well I need to get into a better routine, this sounded perfect.  Although the time it takes to get it set up seemed daunting, I was up for the task.  However, starting it at 10pm on a Saturday night was probably not the  best decision, but hey, you got to start somewhere, right?

The first mistake I made was starting without a plan.  Although I’ve seen post about how to do it, I didn’t think about what I need to do to make it work for me.  I didn’t think about the habits I want to establish, the goals I had, or what I wanted to include in it. The second mistake was comparing my journal to everyone else’s.

I’ve always been a perfectionist, I like things to look a certain way. I see all these beautifully laid out journal pages and I want mine to look the same, but they don’t.  As I rip out pages and redo them, my anxiety is growing and I feel myself getting more and more upset over something that should help me.  Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way.

A lot of my recent anxiety and poor mindset is comparing myself to others.  My body, my circumstances, how they raise their kids and yes, even how the organise a bloody journal!  In recent months if something becomes too stressful and triggers my anxiety I stop that activity.  That’s not how I want to live my life.  I never used to be like that.  Just because something may be difficult or frustrating doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile.  And just because my journal might not be as pretty as someone else’s, it doesn’t take away from its effectiveness.  (Uh, this should work for my body image as well, but baby steps).

So here is how I plan to move forward:

  1. Plan my bullet journal.  I know this seems redundant, but I need this.  I need to have a plan, a purpose of the journal.  Part of this process will also be laying out the pages.  I will need to figure out what goes where, because you know, OCD.
  2. Breathe.  It is hard for me to accept that mine will not look like the, oh so pretty, ones you see on pinterest. I will have to learn to breathe and know that the purpose of the journal isn’t to be pretty, but to be better organised and improve my habits.
  3. Stay committed. As I said before, if things start to trigger my anxiety I tend to just stop altogether. But, with this I can’t, I just can’t. I know doing this will improve my mental health and just my daily life in the long run, that the few days of stress will be worth it.

I know this post is probably meaningless to the majority of you, but for me this is part of the process.  Writing down the mundane stress of being stressed and not wanting to be stressed.  Have any of you felt this way?  What did you do?  Do you bullet journal?  Has it helped you in anyway?  Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

Bullet Journaling & The Anxious Perfectionist

Better Late Than Never

Well, where do I begin? I originally set up this blog a little over a year ago, when I hit rock bottom and thought that writing would help.

I was 29 years old I had two year old and 10 month old, and I was working part-time to look after them.  I was stretched so thin emotionally, I didn’t know what to do.  I was struggling and didn’t know who to turn to.  Everything and nothing was wrong at the same time.  I was so irritable and inpatient with the kids, all jokes aside, I was literally ‘in a glass case of emotion‘.  Every time I tried to open up to Chris (my husband) I would get to a point where I didn’t know how to explain myself anymore.  I could not continue like this, I needed help.

I was going to start this blog, as I thought it would help organise my thoughts, as it did when I was younger.  However, every time I tried to start, I couldn’t get the words out. There was so much going on in my mind I couldn’t pin point one idea, one emotion, one thought to focus on.  It was then, I truly knew that I needed REAL help.  I decided to go to the GP to discuss my options for the way I was feeling.  I told him that I felt that I was drowning.  Every little task seemed to overwhelm me.  I would think about something I needed to do weeks in advance and become wrought with anxiety.  My chest was constantly tight, I couldn’t sleep, I would either over eat or not eat at all, my stress and anxiety was running my life.

He asked me when this all started to happen.  I thought back and to be honest, it has been years.  Even since high school I would have stress and anxiety, but at the time it was a healthy amount.  It allowed me to study and get my work done, as even now, I procrastinate to the nth degree.  When I started working full time I could feel myself getting stressed over certain events I was managing or monthly deadlines for my paperwork, but nothing out of the norm.

Looking back, the big trigger was after I had my daughter, Olivia.  Everything gave me anxiety.  She was my first child, so I thought that, that was normal. I would have thoughts of horrible things happening to us.  I would think about terrible car accidents, or us getting mugged, things that would very unlikely happen.  I had no idea that those thoughts weren’t part of parenthood, but actually a sign of Postpartum Depression (PPD). As the months went on and I began to get out more and meet other moms those feelings went away and I didn’t think much of it.

Fast forward 22 months and my son, Henry was born.  It was quiet evident from the beginning that something wasn’t right.  He refused to breastfeed, he would throw up all day, cry in horrific pain and just wouldn’t settle.  I kept telling the doctors that something was wrong, but they didn’t believe me.  They told me that he just had colic and reflux and that it would get better.  Well, it didn’t. It took five months, yes FIVE months of me advocating, crying, and fighting for someone to listen to me.  Finally, he was diagnosed with Cows Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA).  This is where his body cannot digest the protein in the cows milk, and some children are worse than others.  For Henry, we had five months, of screaming pain, constipation, and throwing up all day.

It was in those five months that I started to lose control.  Not only did we move, so I didn’t know anyone, I still had to look after Olivia with this baby that I couldn’t make happy.  I was his mother and I couldn’t ease his pain.  I was hurting with him, mentally and physically.  Once he was diagnosed and he started to improve, so did I.  I felt that I could bond with him for the first time since he was born. Even though I felt angry that I missed out on five months of him being happy and healthy, because no one listened to me, I was overjoyed that we were on the right path.

But, as time went on, those old feelings of anxiety over future events, or even leaving the house, the thought that I wasn’t a good enough mother or wife, that something bad was going to happen to us started to creep back into my head. These thoughts and feelings manifested themselves into something quiet serious and real.

After I explained my life story to the GP, he diagnosed me with PPD and Anxiety.  I was prescribed anti-depressant/anxiety medication and referred to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). After about four weeks on the medication and therapy, I started to feel like me.  I felt more like me than I think I ever felt. I was able to open up and be happy around Chris and the kids.  To go about my day without the constant pain in my chest, without the negative thoughts, was truly amazing.

However, the bliss only lasted so long before my own self-doubt crept it’s ugly head into my thoughts, and no amount of medicine or CBT can fix that.  The only thing that can fix that is my own mindset.

I know between writing down all my thoughts and working on a positive mindset through reading and self help lectures I will overcome my anxiety.  I will not be defined by my diagnosis, and I hope to empower others that are struggling.  Life isn’t easy, but I want to do more than just survive, I want to thrive!  We only have this one life on Earth and we should spend it being happy with ourselves.

And that is what brings me to this, my first official blog post, better late than never.

Better Late Than Never