Gratitude In A Crisis [Guest Post by The Autistic Panda]

This week I’d like to share a guest post by my friend The Autistic Panda! We’ve been friends for such a long time, since we were 13, and she was the person who initially convinced me to create my blog, so I’m super grateful for her friendship.

And, on the topic of gratitude, she’s here to share her personal thoughts on how gratitude has helped her deal with depression and low moments in her life. I think it’s a really inspiring post and I can’t wait for everyone to read it.

Plus, don’t forget to check out her blog over here and give her a follow 🙂


I’ve suffered with depression for a long time and it is hard to get those negative thoughts out of my mind. I’ve often felt like I’m hanging by a thread in my life, but someone is always there to remind me about the good that surrounds me, and I thought I’d share some ways I’ve learned to appreciate my life.

It took a while to open up to the idea of gratitude at first because, when you’re depressed, nothing seems to make sense. But eventually, I realised that there are some positive parts of my life and I always cling to that positivity when I’m deeply sad.

I have an amazing mum, who cherishes me and I am so grateful to her. I have pets, who need me to be there for them. I am grateful for the many licks they give me, the many times they remind me to stay alive, even if they don’t realise it. I have a future, even if it seems bleak when I’m in the depths of depression. That future is vast and beautiful, even if I don’t see it right now. I just want to remind you that you have a future too, even if you can’t see it. We all do.

I am grateful for existence itself, as the gift of life has allowed me to meet many amazing people, animals, and explore interesting places. Whilst sometimes I hate the very thought of existing, I have realised lately just how cool it is. To be alive, right now, in this tiny span of time, is pretty awesome in my opinion. We may be specks of dust in comparison to the universe, but we have the power of imagination and creativity. That allows me to feel like I’m more than a speck of dust, I’m a galaxy, and you are too. Our own bodies are so interesting and unique, it is almost like we are our own galaxy.

Remembering the good things in life allows me to realise that I have a reason for existing. I have a purpose, even if I do not see it. That purpose is lost in the planet that is my brain; it is just one small atom amongst billions, but it is there, and it is just as important as the other atoms. You have to do a bit of searching, looking through a telescope, but you will find that purpose. Just you wait. You’re important, for you build up the universe just as much as anyone else. The universe would be boring without you.

Gratitude is just one of the ways I keep myself alive when I’m feeling like I don’t want to be, but it certainly helps. When you feel like everyone hates you, and that no one wants you there, it is easy to forget that your mind is a mischievous place. It sets up traps, trying to lure you into the darkness, but you can remember what’s real. Stay grounded. Remembering all the things people have actually said to me, rather than what my mind told me they’d say, makes me realise that they do care, and I’m grateful for that. No one is any more important than you; our value is the same. Forget what you’ve told yourself and remember what’s good in life, however small, because small things do matter. Whenever you think you’re small and don’t matter, remember that I said you do. You matter a lot, just like how bees are small, yet their role in the world is so vital. Your role in the world is vital too. I’m grateful that you exist.

Thank you so much for reading this,

The Autistic Panda

I hope you enjoyed reading this guest post from The Autistic Panda and that it added some positivity to your day.

What strategy do you use to help you overcome your low moments?

Let’s share some wellbeing tips in the comments below.


Dear Evan Hansen [Theatre Review]

A week ago I went to see Dear Evan Hansen at the theatre and it was my favourite theatre show I’ve ever seen!

I first became interested in Dear Evan Hansen when I heard someone singing a song from it on Britain’s Got Talent last year. I really connected with the song and it’s lyrics, so wondered who it was by. When I found out it was from an upcoming theatre show I knew I had to see it!

Dear Evan Hansen tells the story of a high school boy with social anxiety. One of his peers at school commits suicide and Evan finds himself lying that they were best friends. The plot follows the fabrication of this lie and the consequences that follow.

The show surprisingly had a simple set, but it didn’t need to be elaborate to make a point. There were various screens dotted about the stage with projections of social media feeds and messages; it was very effective in the way that it made me feel part of the scrolling and the masses of information that come flooding at you when using a phone. I thought the acting was brilliant – it was very personal and intimate, in that most of the scenes were family and friends conversing, and I think they did a great job of making it feel real.

I thought the show was written with so much heart and understanding. I like that it touched on important topics: loneliness, anxiety, drugs, and suicide. It was difficult to watch at times, but it was nice to see something so eye-opening and honest. I think in a world of social media, where we should feel more connected, we actually feel more lonely than ever, and so Dear Evan Hansen has come at the perfect time – to remind us that people care even when we feel like they don’t, and that none of us are ever really alone, even when we feel like we are.

This show hit particularly deep for me because I used to really struggle with social anxiety. I used to feel like I was invisible and that every time I tried to speak up anxiety would cause my hands to sweat, voice to shake, just like Evan’s. I felt alone because I couldn’t share my voice in the way I wanted to. It felt like being stuck behind a window, tapping on the glass (exactly like in the song on the show). And that’s partly why I created this blog in the first place. I’m glad to say that I’ve worked hard to overcome this and I’m in a much better place now, but in my heart I still remember what it feels like to be that person. It amazes me how well they’ve put this feeling on stage, and I think if I’d watched it at my lowest, it would have reminded me that people really do care. I hope it helps a lot of people out there.

 

Have you seen Dear Evan Hansen? What did you think?

 

66CBB4D5-805D-4863-94AE-A3C5AD90A367

 

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

fighting the dark clouds. [flash fiction]

I wrote this piece a few days ago. It was one of those moments where I just felt down for no reason at all, despite everything going so well lately. All my blog posts have been happy and positive recently and I love that, but I always want my blog to remain wholeheartedly me, even on the days when I’m not so happy. So this is something a bit more personal. I don’t know why these feelings came back – maybe it was the weather or starting uni or hormones or an array of reasons – but, regardless of any of this, feelings are always valid. And I’m learning to trust in my ability to overcome them. 

 

 

I know when that dark cloud is falling over me. I know that now and you’d think it’d be easier because I know, but it isn’t.

It’s something I can never pinpoint, but it happens. I know it happens when suddenly I’m a distant star, staring at this galaxy of blended people like I’m not really part of anything. Like I can be seen, I can be heard, but my wails only rattle inside my chest and all you see are my smiles. Nervous smiles.

I know it happens when I start to feel empty. Neutral. A feeling that isn’t really captured by either of these words but I just can’t find the right one. The feeling of just being stuck inside one stagnant emotion in a moving world, like suddenly I’ve lost the control to move about the world like a functioning being. Physically, I can. Emotionally, I’m too far gone.

I know it happens when I wake up and I sit here and I want to write things like this when two weeks ago I was in a world of summer and fun and real smiles and a happiness I hadn’t felt in a very long time, if ever. And in contrast, I feel stupid.

The reality is that if the world and other people and the climate can change, so can I. The reality is that you have to live in the moments in between before you find your footing again and that’s what I’m doing; that’s what you’re all doing even if you don’t know it yet.

When I sit here and I feel myself sinking into the ground it’s easy to let it happen. It’s easy to live my life like a ghost walking through crowded corridors because that’s what I did. That’s what I did at my worst and I don’t want to be my worst anymore.

Instead, I’ll put on my shoes and I’ll walk. I’ll walk until my feet hurt instead of my insides. I’ll walk until the beat of the music in my chest is out of happiness, not fear. I’ll walk until I’ve walked until I walk until the walk comes to an end. And I just have to trust the end will be bright.

anxiety in the mirror. [poem]

seventeenth prompt: body as friend (or foe). this is a kind of poem/spoken word/speech all mixed into one. it is important to remember that anyone can suffer, regardless of how they look, their background or how happy they seem.

you look in the mirror

at the shape of your hair

and your distant eyes

you memorise the way your spots connect

and the slight tilt of your smile

(that doesn’t quite feel real).

and you don’t feel like yourself.

you don’t look how you feel

and you don’t know how to feel.

your body acts as an enemy

that doesn’t suit your insides

so you feel like you’re not worthy

of feeling those emotions.

but that’s not true.

that’s not true.

your body should not stop you

from accepting your situation.

your body is your friend.

let me free. [flash fiction]

fifth prompt: back to nature.

the walls aren’t nice to me. I want them to be but they like my thoughts too much. I lie in bed and watch them bounce from one side to the other. sometimes they fall to the ground and then bounce right back up to the sky – yet the ceiling stops them. and so sometimes I have to go outside. I have to stand somewhere and let all of those thoughts go. there are no walls to bounce them back to me. there are no walls to imprison me. I let the bad thoughts fly back to nature and there I am – I am free.

i think i think too much. [poem]

third prompt: incorporate music. this one is inspired by the song ‘breaking down’ by I prevail (check it out – it’s such an amazing and important song)

the sound of static tv

I can hear it

sizzling

cooking up a storm

in the depths of my head

it’s said

no remote can pause this kind of pain.

it’s said

no electricity can blow the fuse again.

I have hope that one day the tv will leave

no more hair in the static

with no direction to lead.

I think I listen too much to what cannot be changed.

I think I think too much

I think I think

What Have I Watched on Netflix Lately?

Recently, due to being ill, I’ve had a chance to get through more TV than normal, which is always a great thing! Here are 3 TV Shows/Movies I’ve seen that I recommend watching!

After Life

Image result for after life tv show

Written, produced and directed by Ricky Gervais, After Life follows a man who has fallen into depression after his wife has died from cancer. And Ricky stars in it himself too. I read a couple of reviews about how this is a difficult series to get into at first, and I understand this viewpoint due to its heavy subject matter; however, I instantly loved it. I admire the way it tackles mental health in such a real and stripped back way that doesn’t feel forced or faked into being something it’s not, and the dark comedy etching its way through the dialogue is nothing short of hilarious. There is such an important message that you can take away from After Life and that is that happiness isn’t always about ourselves; it is about making others happy and feeling worth it simply because we have made life better for someone else. And I will forever come back to this series to remind myself of this.

“Happiness is amazing…it’s so amazing that it doesn’t matter if it’s yours or not.”

 

Love, Death & Robots

Image result for love death and robots

Honestly, I didn’t think this series would be my kind of thing. I would have easily dismissed it if I hadn’t heard that it was ‘like an animated Black Mirror’.  So as a huge Black Mirror fan, I had to give it a chance. I can’t really explain what this series was like because it’s so unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. To start, the animation was insane. There were different plots and different animated styles per episode but a couple of them could have easily passed as real life acting – I really couldn’t tell! Whilst some episodes weren’t all that great, they were all so unique and well-written and the visuals were really beautiful. My favourite was probably Zima Blue, with Three Robots falling close behind.

 

I’m Not an Easy Man

Image result for im not an easy man

This is a French film that A New Chapter recommended to me a while ago, and now I’m finally here to leave a short review on it! This honestly has one of the most interesting movie plots I’ve come across. It’s about a man who believes he’s the best guy around and exists to have control over women. And then one day he walks into a lamppost and is thrown into an alternate universe where, instead of the patriarchy, women are in charge. This was such a thought-provoking film and I wish I could throw this upon every single guy out there so they could understand a women’s perspective.

Have you watched any of these TV Shows/movies? If you have, let me know what you thought in the comments below!

‘Why Am I Like This?’ by Orla Gartland [Music Review]

“Maybe I’m an old soul trapped in a young body
Maybe you don’t really want me there at your birthday party
I’ll be there in the corner, thinking right over
Every single word of the conversation we just had

So why am I like this?”

As I’ve mentioned before in my post here, I am a huge fan of the singer Orla Gartland. I’ve been into her music for at least 5 years now, but I’ve never loved her music as much as I do right now. Similar to her song ‘Overthinking’, ‘Why Am I Like This?’ also tackles the subject of anxiety and I think that’s part of the reason why I feel so connected to it; the lyrics really speak to me.

Whilst it’s nice to have upbeat songs, I really admire artists who write, produce and perform music in such a raw state – with just them and an instrument. All the power and emotion remains in the voice and it’s often when you can tell how much music really means to someone – you can hear it in their tone and see it in their expression. Orla is someone who has such a great vibe when singing live – I haven’t actually seen her in concert (one day I will!) but her YouTube videos alone prove that she doesn’t need a mass of production and auto tune to be a great singer. She has an honest and humble talent that’s rare to see and that’s why I will forever give her shout outs on this blog because I really think she deserves it.

You can listen to either the stripped back acoustic version below, the produced version underneath it, or the original YouTube video underneath that!

 

 

5 Unique Tips for Improving Sleep

For those of you who don’t already know, this week is National Sleep Awareness week. As someone who has had a lot of problems when it comes to sleep, from jet lag to palpitations to anxiety, I thought I’d share some methods that I’ve found helpful to improve sleep. Whenever I read tips on sleep, they’re always the same, so I’ve tried to list some things which are a bit different and, hopefully, more useful.

  1. Forcing the brain to think about nothing – This may sound super odd, but for anyone out there who also struggles with anxiety, you may understand where I’m coming from. For me, as soon as my head hits the pillow, my mind starts thinking. It worries about past conversations and embarrassing moments, to creating possible scenarios in my head that will never happen – and most of the time, they’re not even good. It is actually impossible to shut down my brain and that’s why I find it so hard to sleep. The only way for me to overcome this is to stop my train of thought before it is too late. As soon as I lie down, I allow myself to feel sleepy and stop myself from thinking about anything.
  2. Don’t look at the clock – Honestly, I’m super guilty of doing this. As soon as I feel like I’m taking too long to fall asleep, I reach for my phone. And it’s never a good idea. Once I realise it’s been not one, not two, but three hours since I went to bed, the anxiety inevitably kicks in. Looking at the time only makes you feel worse about the fact that you can’t sleep, since you start counting the dreaded hours before you have to get up the next day. The anxiety then builds up to create a barrier that you have to overcome every time you want to sleep for at least the following few days. So don’t do it. I’ll try to follow my advice more too.
  3. Dim the lighting before bed – I always turn off the main light and put on a side lamp at least two or three hours before I go to bed. This gets me into “night mode” where I more easily fall into a tired state of mind, ready for when I need to go to sleep.
  4. Use Bach Remedy Night Drops or Spray – When I can’t fall asleep, using these drops or spray can be really useful to help me drift off. It’s completely natural and doesn’t contain any alcohol so you can even use it every night if you want to. I can’t claim that it’ll work for you 100%, but I’ve personally found it super effective so it’s worth a shot.
  5. Watch a TV show whilst lying down – Again, this sounds oddly specific, but I find that if I lie down and watch a TV show it helps me feel more sleepy. I think it’s because my body is in a position for sleep, but my mind is trying to stay awake, and this conflict, in turn, makes me more tired. Try it and tell me if it’s just me being crazy.

 

Sleep is something that is so important and as much as I love it, I’m super bad at it. Even when I follow all the sleep tips in the world, my mind has days when it just won’t shut down, but accepting your thoughts for what they are in itself aids a better sleep. I hope these tips are useful for some of you out there, and feel free to share your experiences with sleep below – whether good or bad.