As I scrolled through Facebook and passed Love Island gossip, baby updates from friends and ridiculous LadBible headlines, I came across a video of Lady Gaga speaking at Yale University that was titled, ‘Saying No,’ and my obsession with the Star Is Born actress halted me in my tracks and ensured I watched the video in its entirety.
In it, Gaga speaks about her struggle with anxiety and depression. She admits that at times it has made her want to quit music and she honestly reveals that she is on anti-depressant medication to help her cope.
Immediately I felt a warmth in my heart, that someone like Gaga, who seemed to ‘have it all’, was admitting to similar struggles that I have.
In her speech she goes on to say something that completely hit home with me and has left me thinking for the last couple of days since hearing it. She said that in the depths of her low moments, she sat back and reflected. She asked herself, ‘what makes you sad?’
It’s not something I’ve ever done before. I’ve tried to reflect countless times on what makes me happy, and to do more of it, but beating Ben at Worms or eating roast potatoes can’t happen 24 hours a day, every day. So I forget it. I forget what makes me happy.
Gaga’s speech made me take some time to myself to reflect on what makes me sad. And when I did that, it hit me hard but hard in a GREAT way. Here’s what I learned…
My anxiety has made my memory awful and it’s something that’s becoming more pronounced. So a few times recently I’ve let people down with plans because I’ve simply forgotten about them or forgotten to check my diary.
I then go on a huge shit spiral and blame myself for not having many friends and admonish myself for being awful.
I’m sad when I let people down with work too. When I don’t deliver what I promise or when I don’t meet the very high standard I set myself. Again, I chastise myself for being awful and predict that I shall fail at everything, forever.
But something else Lady Gaga said in her speech has stuck with me. It’s that she’s learning to say ‘no’. She says no to things that make her feel bad.
And with regards to letting people down, that’s what I need to do too.
If I fuck up, if I forget something, if I unintentionally let someone down or upset them – sure, I need to take responsibility for my actions or inactions but I can say no to beating myself up about it.
I can remember that I am only human, that I make mistakes and that a mistake does not equal the amount of hate I then punish myself with.
I really am an ‘all or nothing’ person. I overshare. I withdraw. I am open and honest but I can also present a ‘brave face’.
Being in a relationship, gaining a new family, having ex work colleagues regularly read my blog and follow my channels, being on the end of subtweets and shadiness has all meant that this year, I’ve filtered myself more than ever.
I’ve not shared opinions, incase they’re the ‘wrong’ ones. I’ve not shared stories, incase they’re judged and misinterpreted.
And for someone who has a CHRONIC case of the TMIs, this has upset me.
When I’ve gone to share something and then doubted myself, or write something and deleted it, I get sad.
So instead of this, I’ll ask myself another question, ‘would I stand by this in 10 years?’ – if my answer is yes, I’m not filtering it. If the answer is an unsure one, it’ll stay where many of my outbursts should’ve stayed – in my head.
When I say the wrong thing, or I argue that the sky is pink when it’s clearly blue and I’m called on it, that makes me sad.
Instead of taking it on the chin, holding my hands up and moving on, I get SUPER defensive (soz, Ben) or withdraw completely out of spite.
I’m saying no to behaving like that from now on.
Again, I’m human and I make mistakes – it’s not the end of the world and if anyone wants to, ‘cancel’ me for making a fuck up, well it says more about them than me.
When I think of the relatives I just don’t bother with or the relationship I had with my Dad, or when I worry about my twin, I feel an immense amount of guilt.
And you aren’t my therapist, and soz I can’t pay you £60 an hour to read this blog post, but it’s something that has always hung over me.
I’m going to say, ‘no’, to it though. What is the point in carrying over guilt? What is the point about feeling bad about things that have happened in the past? It’s not productive. It doesn’t help me grow. So I’m saying no and I’m letting it go. LOL poemz.
Well being parentless at 32 (hell, any age) is really fucking shitty.
Not having them to see me grow a business, get engaged or work on myself is almighty fucking bollocks. But can I do anything about it?
I can’t say, ‘no’ to feeling this type of sadness though. It’s life. We all go through it in one way or another. But what I can say no to is not letting me just feel.
What I can do is ride the wave of the sadness. Pick it up, cry it out and drop it off again. Repeat, forever.
30 odd years of irresponsible money management – from wanking it away on pennie sweets at 6, to splashing out on ANOTHER Vegas flight as an adult doth not a healthy relationship with money make.
So massive LOL that I quit a regular salary to take this blog full time.
But not a massive LOL every time I check my bank and see another invoice still hasn’t been paid, or that I’ve not managed to save anything one month.
I used to let this set off a huge wave of anxiety. But now, I say ‘no.’
It does help that I have Ben, I know that he always has my back, like I have his, but I also know now not to tie my happiness to how much money I have or don’t have. As long as my rent is paid, a Deliveroo is on its way and my fridge has Diet Cokes, I’m happy.
I grew up in a household and had plenty of subsequent relationships where ‘gaslighting’ was prevalent. I was told I’d said things I hadn’t or that I’d done things I didn’t do.
So I’m HYPER aware of that now.
If someone tells me I said or did something and I’m adamant I didn’t – it makes me really fucking sad. And angry. And resentful.
But the cherry on the cake is my anxiety memory which then makes me question, ‘hang on – did I do or say that?‘ So that’s super fun.
But how can I say ‘no’ to this sadness? Surely it’s a justified one?
Well, I’m going to say no to getting so worked up over it. If I’ve made a mistake, cool, soz. If I’m right, I’ll just be content in being right rather than being paranoid everyone is trying to gaslight me and therefore I must prove them wrong.
And this one is all me.
I hate working around SHIT yet, can I be arsed to put the clean washing away? NOPE.
I hate stepping on crusty old food in the kitchen yet, can I be arsed to hoover it up? NOPE.
So rather than saying, ‘no’ and turning a blind eye to the mess – like some people can, I’m just going to acknowledge that a tidy space is a tidy mind and ensure both Ben and I, as part of self care, keep our spaces clear of clutter.
And this has nothing to do with weight, even though I’ve gained a fair bit since going freelance.
But I’m sad when I’ve let my roots grow out, or I’ve bitten my fingernails in anxiety, or I stop wearing my nice clothes and wear the same holey t-shirt for 5 days.
I’m SUPER low maintenance but I have a cut off point where I fall very quickly off the, ‘presentable’ cliff and way too many times since going freelance have I let myself dive off.
So I’m saying no to letting myself go.
I’m curating a wardrobe just with clothes that make me feel good. I’m sorting my nails out. Getting my bonce done. Showering at least once a day and not being such a frigging skank.
I want to be everything to everyone. Like you, I hear none of the good feedback and focus only on the bad.
A night can be ruined because one person gave me a thumbs down on a video or a shady comment was left on a post.
But I’m saying no to not only giving those that power over me when their opinions are worthless but also saying no to not taking constructive advice on board.
I don’t know it all and that’s OK.
But I know that often my anxiety (and often laziness) creeps up on me and I cancel plans or forget and double book and then sit back and watch it all unfold on social media and chastise myself for not going.
Not anymore though, I say no.
I say no to things I know I will not end up going to. I say not to things I know will give me anxiety. And I say a bit fat YES to my packet of Propranolol which helps me manage social anxiety symptoms like nervousness and panic.
Whilst writing this post, I’m reminded of something that happened to me whilst I was at university.
I struggled in my last teaching placement. The teacher hated me, my Mum was in intensive care and my 5 year relationships was crumbling. I was going to give it all up. The ‘what ifs’ got the better of me.
So I had a meeting with my lecturer – Joan Hafenrichter (if she’s ever out there) and she gave me a book called, ‘The Precious Present’. I didn’t know what it was, why she gave it to me or what it was about.
Until I read it.
It’s the story of a boy, who grows into a man, who has been tasked with looking after a precious present. He worries he’ll lose it, break it, have it stolen – those worries consume him. But the overarching message is this, the only thing you have is the present.
It’s up to us how we choose to fill it.
Because I have high functioning depression and anxiety. Sometimes none of the sadness is in my control and I’m beating Ben at Worms, over a bowl of roast potatoes, whilst sipping on a Diet Coke and I’m still just fucking sad.
I can’t say no to my mental illness.
Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for not being able to say no to it.
Because no one really knows if it’s environmental, genetic or circumstancial so no one else can judge whether you would just stop being sad if you said no to being sad.
But what can I do?
I’ve learned, from Gaga’s speech and from my own reflections that there are definitely things out there that influence my sadness that I can say no to.
There are also things that influence my happiness that I can appreciate more in the moment.
But there will always be times where I just am sad, and that’s OK.
In this break over Xmas and into the New Year, I’m giving myself some time away from work and social media and being present to reflect more on what makes me happy and what makes me sad.
Because really, for me, 2019 isn’t going to be about smashing goals, earning more money, having more stuff – it’s going to be about saying no to more things that make me unhappy and yes to things that make me happy.
I urge you to do the same.
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