6 Things I’ve Learnt From Seeing A Psychologist

Last year I started seeing a psychologist. And before you think ‘big deal,’ ‘why should I care,’ ‘what,’ – it is a big deal and I’m damn proud of it. It takes courage to ask for help. It takes commitment, it takes money, it takes a generous mental health care plan to make it affordable, it takes vulnerability and it takes a leap of faith. It requires the thinking ‘maybe this could work.’

I started seeing my psychologist about 12 months ago for a whole range of reasons that I won’t go into. But I must admit, I was very skeptical at first. I always thought I was tough enough to get through anything myself or didn’t need help. But I’ve come to realise that everyone needs support every now and then. That life can be tricky and sometimes you need a roadmap and the tools to get you through it. That sometimes you need an outsider to see you clearly, and help you understand more about yourself.

So, a few sessions, a few breakdowns and a few lessons later, here are a few things I’ve learnt from my psychologist.

Understanding my values

I’d say the biggest takeaway from my psych was coming to understand my values. To identify them can be challenging, and sometimes it’s not until you’re grappling with things that you know are not your values. I narrowed mine down to 8.

  1. having a sense of accomplishment
  2. being honest
  3. being courageous
  4. being loyal
  5. feeling good about myself
  6. striving to be a better person
  7. relationships filled with love and affection
  8. living a life filled with purpose

By knowing what your values are, it helps guides your decisions and helps you live in accordance to your values. And to keep you centred.

Self compassion is key

I’ve learnt that I have this habit of putting everyone else’s needs before mine. And whilst I pride myself on being kind and generous, learning to put my own needs first is something I’m trying to learn and implement.

Whenever I was struggling or feeling upset, I would always downplay what I was going through and say it wasn’t a big deal, or that other people had it worse than me. It’s a skill to be able to acknowledge and respect the feelings I’m going through, whilst also acknowledging my privilege. But mental health is not a pain Olympics. There is not a ‘worse than’ winner, there is simply a spectrum which fluctuates immensely.

Learning how to be self compassionate has been a huge learning curve and is something I’m still working on. My takeaway is this – however you feel – greet it, acknowledge it, act on it and simply let it exist. It doesn’t need to be compared or devalued, just simply felt.

Make time for yourself

Sure, I may have only committed a few hours to these appointments across the year, but I feel that this left a bigger mark and highlighted the importance of taking time out to look after yourself. Whether it’s a mental health day (or a wellbeing day – as I like to call it), spending a Friday night in, calling your family just to say hello, buying some pizza, getting your nails done, spending a day reading a book – you don’t owe anyone anything, and it’s completely OK to put yourself first.

Balancing being present and looking forward to the future

If anyone knows me, they know that I always have something planned, something in the works to look forward, and that’s usually a holiday or adventure (thanks COVID). Sometimes I get too caught up with planning and organising, that I overlook what I have right now.

But saying that, during COVID I’ve been Miss Present. Taking it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time, because thinking about the future was too daunting. But now it’s July? And whilst I’ve appreciated the slower pace and more meaningful engagement of being present, I’ve failed to look forward and set goals for what I want to achieve. My worst nightmare would literally be waking up and I’m 90 years old thinking, ‘where did my life go?’

So it’s all a balancing act. Being able to accept the now and run with it, but also to make small goals that are aligned to your values, so that when the going gets tough, you’re on a path that you’re happy with.

Being real and vulnerable is hard

Let’s be honest, opening up old wounds is pretty traumatic. The way my psychologist put it was my thoughts and experiences have kind of been shoved into a linen closet. You know when you’re pushing to get that towel in and you shut the door, put your back against it and hope it stays in there? Yea that was my mind.

When you start digging deep and opening up, the doors smash open and the towels, sheets and random tennis balls all flood out, creating a huge mess all over the floor. It hurts, it’s emotional, it’s hard and it feels like you’re getting nowhere. When you start talking about it, you’re slowly folding it up and putting it back in with kindness and care.

Go slow

I somehow got into a bad habit of being busy. Weekends booked out months in advance, running from one thing to the next, feeling pressured to do things, see people and omg it’s exhausting. From working out what my values are and recognising that quality time, self-development and living a fulfilled life does not equate to ‘busy.’

Take the time to go slow, balance the now with the future, say no if you don’t feel like it, get in the ocean, make no plans and go easy on yourself.

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I’m incredibly lucky to be able to access a psychologist to look after my mental health. It’s something I never thought I would do, it was something I was scared to do, but it’s also one of the bravest things I’ve done. Make sure to look after yourself, especially during these hard times. Reach out to your mates and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: MARCH + April2020

Wow, what a crazy few months hey? Congratulations on getting to this point. Seriously what a huge achievement it is just getting out of bed each day, signing onto your work emails and trying to get on with it. These past few weeks, months, have been mental and it sure hasn’t been easy. Though, I’m grateful for the health of my family and friends, my thoughts go out to those who are truly suffering in these dark times. I’m so very grateful for the people around me who have made the past few crazy weeks possible.

Whilst I’m taking it one day at a time right now, I thought it was important to reflect on the month or two that have been, and most importantly, share some recommendations. Because I for one know that I have been looking for content to completely dive into and try to take my mind off of the current situation.

Pre-COVID

I know it’s hard to remember what life before COVID looked like, but looking back on early March when it was safe to go to Sydney, go to bars and hang out in groups, I had a lot of fun doing so.

Zina and I got inspired at the All About Women Festival at the Sydney Opera House. I love that this has quickly become ‘our thing.’ We saw the incredible Flex Mami and Clementine Ford, and enjoyed some beers and a much needed catch up.

My sister came to visit on the coldest, wettest weekend of the past few months. Nonetheless, a mixture of stubbornness and adventure led us to Minamurra to go stand up paddle boarding. Little did we know it would be our last weekend we could enjoy cocktails out at bars, so we made the most of it. I’m so grateful for Elly coming to pay me a visit and having some fun together.

In the midst of it all

We’re all trying to figure out how to get through this. And there are several things that have been helping me get through.

Surprisingly, I’ve been getting up at 6am most days and going for a long walk, swim and adventure down the street to get a coffee. How beautiful has the weather been? The sunshine has seriously been giving me life and energy. The water has been absolutely incredible and getting out and about has truly kept me sane. Plus being able to go for a socially distant walk with a friend every now and then has really made this all bearable.

It seems that staying connected with friends and loved ones has never been easier, but I’m seriously awful at it. I’ve always been one to be independent and create relationships around me that keep me going. Making the time that I actually spend with them even more special. But with that being basically impossible now, I’ve jumped on the Zoom and Facetime bandwagon. Yep – I have been loving the occasional phone call and Facetime with friends. It’s even allowed me to reconnect with people I haven’t spoken to in years. Is it crazy that during this time my friendships may be doing better than ever?

📚Books

Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
Wow, what an incredibly moving book. I’d say this is one of the best books I’ve read in recent times. It takes you on a sensory journey where you can nearly smell and feel her surroundings. You can almost feel her loss and loneliness and you are taken on a beautiful journey of self discovery, growth, independence and taking life into your own hands.

The Woman in the Window, by Gillian Flynn
I don’t usually read thrillers or books that are on the scary or suspenseful side. I read this book in a matter of days and loved it. It’s due to be released as a movie later this year starring Amy Adams and think it will be an incredible movie. Loved it!

My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell
Wow. What a page turner. I read this book in two days and seriously, wow. Just from reading the blurb, you know this book is dark. A forbidden relationship between a teacher and student told from Vanessa’s perspective. It’s haunting, mesmerising and tells an important story about consent, power, love and self-worth. As you could imagine, it can be quite triggering so make sure you’ve got someone to talk to afterwards.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell | 9780008342258 | Booktopia

🛍️Product

Clinique turnaround overnight moisturiser
So I’ve been looking for a night cream for a very long time and I’ve finally invested in this Clinique product. What’s wrong with me? Spending $65 on a nightcream… I have to admit it feels so incredible putting something so divine onto your skin each night, but I think when this runs out, I’ll resort to my sukin $25 night cream.

La Roche Posay’s hyaluronic acid
So upon doing a lot of research, I discovered that hyaluronic acid is one of the best things for your skin to help it stay hydrated and fight ageing. I use it morning and night and have found that my other products stay on my face better, and longer, plus my skin feels plump and amazing! Get it from Chemist Warehouse for $60.

Buy La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Serum 30ml · Australia

Tunes

Violent Soho’s ‘Everything is A-OK’
Yes yes yes! How did these guys know what we need right now? I swear good music is the only thing getting me through this crazy time. The only thing that sucks about this album is that we’re going to wait however long until we can see it live at a gig but wow that will be ever so satisfying when that day comes! Thanks lads for providing the goods!

Mysterious Girl, by Peter Andre
It’s scientifically impossible to be sad while this song is playing. I went down a weird rabbit hole recently in the reggae genre on Spotify and all I can say is thank you Spotify gods. Seriously, play it, sing the chorus and you will feel so damn good!

Spacey Jane
I have been loving this band and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t catch them earlier this year at unibar.

🎥 Flicks

Jojo Rabbit
I’m quickly realising that life is too damn short to watch shit movies. We recently got a Chrome Cast so I thought I would rent a YouTube movie, and get among all the good films that have come out in the past 12 months. Jojo Rabbit is a quirky fun movie and would definitely add it to your next Friday night in.

Little Women
I’m so happy I finally got to watch this! It’s such an iconic movie and the cast are just absolutely spectacular. Jo is the badass I aim to be and it was such a lovely, nostalgic moment. Though I must admit, I’m a sucker for the 94 version with Wynona Rider and Christian Bale, but this certainly hits all the love strings.

This has been ‘unprecedented times’ as everyone likes to keep putting it. I’ve stopped watching the news because I don’t have the mental capacity to take it all in. I’ve been taking every day one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. I’ve been stumbling over small talk when ordering food because it feels like a lifetime since I’ve held a non-work conversation. I’ve resorted to dying my own eyebrows and I wore jeans once and felt a sense of pride.

These times are tough. They don’t have to be productive, reflective or opportunistic – just something to survive. As much as I have come to resent the word unprecedented, this time truly is, and we should be proud that we’re getting through this.

Stay strong. Stay brave. Stay safe. Keep trying your best.