Before I get into my rambles, let’s talk about this epic coat. I’ve wanted a patent trench since I lost out on getting one of Alexa Chung’s from her Marks and Spencer Collection, which inevitably sold out pretty fast.
Just before fashion week the lovely ASOS invited me and a few pals down to Nobu Shoreditch check out clothes from their new season while enjoying some canapés and cocktails. While we were there we able to pick out two items to take home with us. With so many awesome pieces hanging on the rail, this was no easy task. Then I saw a rail hanging in the balcony with a glossy fabric shining in the wind, and I knew instantly 50% of my decision making had been made.
I’ve only worn the coat a couple of times because of this late surge of Summer we’ve been having, but when I do I feel strong and confident, not two descriptions I would usually align with myself. To be exact, I feel in control when I wear it, and I didn’t realise just how absent that feeling has been and how very important that is to my level of contentment.
I started to ponder the concept of control and why, even when it was just an item of clothing giving me the illusion of confidence that being control can give, it would be a feeling I like as much as I do.
I decided to look at all the different parts of my life and work out which ones felt out of my control and think about how that made me feel, and more importantly whether I was doing anything to regain it.
In the last few months in particular I’ve realised how sudden a bad phase of depression can hit. A couple of weeks ago I went from being optimistic, hopeful, even laughing so much my face was full of creases in the morning, to being slumped in my bed not just crying but sobbing uncontrollably, with Si not knowing what to say to help a couple hours later. That switch didn’t take two hours either, it was an instant reaction to something that happened that day, I guess that’s why they call things triggers, it really was as instant and painful as a bullet. The problem here is that I can avoid certain things I know to have that effects, but more often than not these arrive without invitation, intruders to your day/life that are so stubborn or lacking in self awareness they don’t realise how unwelcome they are. Then I realised without acknowledging it, that by taking this course in Mindfulness I am trying to gain control back by training myself to deal with thoughts in a new, more helpful way. While I can’t control certain things that will happen in my life, and it’s not all going to be glitter and unicorns whatever I do, I can learn to respond to these moments differently.
This led me on to thinking about how illness can take away so much control from our lives and how that aspect of being unwell has probably been one of the most powerful happiness stealers. I wouldn’t say I’m a control freak, but after much trial and error I’m definitely of the school of thought of If you want something done right do it yourself, so when I can’t I find that incredibly difficult to deal with.
I can take all the supplements, eat a bit better, take in advice from others with CFS, try and get to bed at a decent hour, but I still can’t dictate when I’m going to hit with a bad day or phase with my health. This in turn effects your schedule and ability to plan for anything. For instance the only getaway I managed this year (2 days in Torquay) I came down with a Kidney infection again and ended up having to seek help from a Devon Doctor. This inability to plan can also effects your ability to earn the money you need to stay afloat (having to drop out of opportunities or opt out for fear that you’re going to have to), and therefore whether you have funds to stay in the loop in your social circles too.
The constant nagging that I’ve not been offered help by the NHS in terms of my fatigue must be draining further energy too, so rather than feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall, I’m being a proactive. I spend the money I’ve earned through sponsored Instagram on appointments with a local Osteopath who not only helps with my aches and pains, she offers an hour dedicated to myself to focus on my wellbeing (which I think is very important), and has actually offered up more medical insight that I’ve received in the last decade through visiting GP’s which gives me that uplifting feeling that progress gives you. She’s text me some specialist Doctors she thinks may be able to help and suggested other reasons for my ailments that have never been mentioned before which I intent to investigate.
Rather than regularly bore my friends, relatives or subscribers about all the ways society/events/travel systems makes things difficult for people with disabilities, mental health issues, and invisible illness, I am writing letters and emails to people that might (or should) be able to make changes. Rather than just settling and thinking ‘that’s just the way it is’ or ‘ we just gotta deal with it’ I want to do what I can to force change. It may not work, but the feeling of purpose the action of voicing these issues gives make it worthwhile.
Saying NO is a great way of giving you that sense of control, and all to often we are scared to do so for fear of what people will think of us. It’s our right as human beings to say no to anything that doesn’t sit right with us, or not sensible for us to do for whatever reason, so don’t allow your people pleasing nature to push you into situations you aren’t happy with – something I’ve done all too many times. I’ve said no to working with a brand that isn’t cruelty free recently, because I had just enough money coming in this month to pay my bills, even though that fee would have been very helpful and allowed for a treat. I said no to attending Beauty Con and Comic Con because standing for long periods of time isn’t something I’m able to do right now for instance. I say no to a whole lot of social things now too, because I know at this time in my life that I can’t afford to go to them all, in terms of both money and energy.
Control is a funny thing to ponder when applying it to your romantic partner. I’ve been on a controlling relationship and it was awful, but I think what a good relationship can give you is a level of stability which ties in to that feeling of being in control of your life. The simple thing of knowing where you’re at as a unit and what your expectations are for your relationship is really important. Because Si is either working nights or on tour we lack a certain amount of control in terms of our schedule individually and as a pair, and that delivers a regular dose of stress. Trying to make sure we are free for each other when we need it most, or even allocating enough time to quality time together is hard right now and sometimes we feel like we can’t nurture what we have how we’d like to. We try do what we can to ensure the special thing we have isn’t running away from us. It’s important to talk honestly and openly as much as you can, and make some sacrifices elsewhere to ensure you both keep a hold of what you had and what to continue to have. Having honest communication and therefore information from each side can help you feel in control of whatever situation you find yourself in.
I worked out that YouTube was making me worryingly sad after an influx of negative comments in response to a recent video, so I decided to take that video down, turn comments off and take a break from posting. Some people may view this as cowardly but for me it was essential in my efforts to keep going and to gain control over the negativity that was coming my way at that time. Turning off the comments notifications has definitely reduced by feelings of anxiety too, and I think I will ever turn them back on. When I’m feeling stronger I can choose to go into my YouTube manager and have a look through them, but it’s far too dangerous to have them coming into my inbox and potentially viewing them in a low or vulnerable moment. I can’t control what every person thinks of me, but I can control whether I see their opinions.
I have a manager to help with my YouTube journey. As I can’t find a part time job flexible enough to work with my health situation I need to ensure I can make some money through my blog/channel and I need someone to help with admin stuff that my brain fog makes difficult to do. This isn’t always easy for someone who has always done EVERYTHING themselves, because sometimes you career feels out of your hands which is terrifying, but as long as you make it clear what you’re happy to do and whats important to you, you can make it work. In my case I found it necessary to have an arrangement where I am able to seek out a lot of work myself too and deal with certain aspects independently.
I hope soon I will gain further control. If I get to the point where I’m making enough money to live on, and hopefully independently from my parents, I won’t have to push myself so hard work-wise to the point of making myself (more) ill. I’ll be in that luxurious position of being able to be selective and choose the jobs I really want to do and rest up for when I’m not working, meaning I have more control over my health management, my finances and my confidence associated with being independant and successful.
I spoke earlier about the illusion of control this coat gave me. I felt like some exotic spy in it, so I was feeling control through the character my fashion choices created. But taking ownership of your appearance can give you that feeling of control, it doesn’t just have to be a temporary illusion. Whether that be embracing your size or shape, whether it be changing something about your looks that has always effected your esteem, or finding a style that makes you feel like you at your strongest. It could even be taking control of your spending habits and creating a wardrobe that makes you feel great without a strain on your budget. Cutting my hair shorter this year was one of my attempts at gaining control. It was tiring and difficult to look after and added stress and achey arms to my life, and I’m now far happier with my bouncier and less high maintenance look. I also stopped doing hauls and spending money just so I could deliver notoriously popular YouTube Content, meaning the money I earned was being spent more responsibly and making me feel like I had more control over my future.
So if you look at your life are there any areas that you feel you lack control in and is that making you feel unhappy, unsettled or frustrated? Is there anything you can do that could change these?
To anyone with an ongoing health issue, I particularly urge you to consider this. I think we underestimate how much having an illness we can’t manage or control effectively can effect your happiness, or sense of self. Sometimes I let it define me, rather than allow all the other aspects that make up my unique totality, and I refuse to do that anymore. We can’t control everything in life but we can control how we deal with it, while getting a firmer hold on a lot of the stuff we thought was untameable or out of our hands.
SHOP THE OUTFIT
ASOS Trench Coat in Vinyl (similar)- http://rstyle.me/n/csncsgccv6p
Topshop Tassel Drop Earrings – http://rstyle.me/~a5V18
Similar Silver Boots from ASOS – http://rstyle.me/n/csncubccv6p