Near the end of 2022, I finally came to my senses and ended my situationship after reaching the breaking point in my mental and physical health. The constant question mark over what we were and where the relationship was going led to my mental health taking a hit and I struggled, not only during, but also for months after. Not only this, but I developed physical pain due to the stress and trauma I was experiencing - and after educating myself on the most complex part of our body, I learned that the brain and gut have a deep connection, and often when you experience stress this can affect your physical health directly.
For the past 5 years I have suffered from chronic stomach pains that until 5 months ago had been controlled. I had almost forgotten about them, until the emotional stress of my relationship began taking a toll on my mental health and also caused my chronic pains to flare up. This meant I struggled to eat, get out of bed, and attend university lectures in person; overall impacting my life and daily routine.
Eventually, I realised enough was enough and that I needed to choose myself and my own health and well-being over someone else. However, I still didn’t feel like myself fully until January, 3 months after I cut him out of my life. While I know each person and each relationship we have impacts us, I never thought it would take this long to feel as close to the person I was before. I’ve learnt my worth from this but more importantly, I’ve learnt how to prioritise myself and the things I do to improve my mental health.
I found that the smallest changes made large impacts on my recovery, when my health was at its worst, I didn’t get out of bed until 11 am. As a morning person I then felt like I had wasted half of my day doing nothing by just lying in bed, and while like everyone I enjoy the weekend lie-ins, during the week I found that the earlier I got up and out of bed, the more productive I was that day. I created a morning routine that enabled me to enjoy relaxing in bed while still getting up and ready for the day by 9 or 10.
I found that putting a bit of effort into how I looked, made me feel and look better. Trying not to live in sweats the whole day, occasionally wearing jeans or a shirt; essentially trying not to let my appearance reflect how I felt on the inside. This meant that when I walked past my mirror it reminded me that one day I will feel as good on the inside as I look right now. Similarly, I paid extra attention to skincare, I have always loved taking self-care nights doing a full skincare routine compared to my every day, putting a face mask on, and watching a film. But I found treating myself to a visit to Boots for a new moisturiser made me feel better, or revisiting products that I hadn’t used in a while and falling back in love with them and my skin, made me feel rejuvenated.
Another thing that picked me up was music, I found that playing uplifting music from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep really did affect my mood. I remember looking at my 2022 Wrapped and seeing that my number one most played song was It’s a Beautiful Day by Michael Bublé and had to remind myself that at my lowest that was the song that I started every day with. Similarly, I lived out my main character fantasy and danced on my bed numerous times blasting anything Taylor Swift produced, mainly her album Fifteen. Screaming at the top of my lungs all the words and dancing like no one was watching not only boosted my self-esteem but also helped to release any built-up emotions.
Lastly, and I dare say the biggest thing I learnt was it's okay to not be okay. It’s all part of the recovery and development to be a better version of yourself, we learn to evolve, and avoid the same mistakes or red flags. I’ve gone from crying daily whether that be in my room alone or walking through the city centre bawling my eyes out (which did actually happen), to realising it was what I needed to do, my tears were my body's way of releasing all the emotions that had been built up and ignored for 5 months. It’s okay to not be okay. Repeat it to yourself whenever you want to have a pity party for one, reassure yourself that what you are feeling will pass eventually, and while it may seem at the time like it’s the end of the world or that you will never feel better, you will; you just have to ride out the storm.