Some of you may have worked out that the title of my blog, “Iron Beth”, is a play on the name of the superhero Iron Man. This isn’t because I’m a super massive fan of Iron Man. Rather, it was a nickname given to me by my amazing RA pretty early on in first year (he drew me as Iron Man and the name stuck), and when I was setting up this blog, I knew I couldn’t call it anything else. I was tired of feeling weak and helpless because of my anxiety. In taking on the pseudonym of ‘Iron Beth’, I was fashioning myself as a superhero who was stronger than her illness, and prepared to fight it.
But I don’t feel like a superhero all of the time.
I don’t want this blog to be an inauthentic portrait of my life or my recovery. I want to record, and discuss, the bad times as well as the good. Because there are still times when I fall down, times when I fuck up, and times when I get so so sad. I don’t want to hide those times. In fact, I want to drag them kicking and screaming into the light so you can look at them and see that I haven’t got this all figured out. I don’t want to portray myself on this blog as someone who’s conquered all my demons and already climbed to the top of anxiety mountain. I’m still climbing. There’s nowhere to go but up, and that makes me happy. But on the way I’m going to trip up, I’m going to get scrapes and bruises, and there are going to be plenty of big boulders in the way that I’m going to struggle to get over.
This week, there have been a couple of things that have been getting me pretty down. I won’t go into the specifics, as they’re personal and I’m sure you’ll respect my decision not to get into the gory details of my personal life on a public platform (even one with such a teeny tiny audience). But it got me thinking, and I realized I had a choice about how I was going to respond to these things.
On the one hand, I could let them beat me down the way I’ve done in the past. I could wallow in the negative emotions, shut out everything around me and just focus on how shitty I feel.
Or, I could try something new. I could pick myself the fuck back up and carry the fuck on with my life. And that’s what I’ve done. Maybe I’m not feeling 100%. But I don’t want to be dragged down by sadness and anger anymore. I’d rather let them go, and hang onto feelings of acceptance and gratitude instead. It’s so easy to just let the shitty feelings kick you down and hollow you out. It’s harder to be okay with everything not being okay, and to look for something to gain out of bad experiences.
I’m of the mind that there’s always something to gain out of a bad experience. I’ve certainly learned a lot, both about myself and about others, this past week. This learning will strengthen me and help me overcome future obstacles. So I’ve chosen to look at these experiences and say, ‘That was shit. And maybe in the moment, I didn’t deal with it in the best way possible. And maybe I’m not proud of that. But I’m going to take anything I can get out of this and then I’m going to move on.’
I recognize that it’s not easy – maybe not even possible – for everyone to be able to do this. Sometimes shitty things happen that are beyond our control, and sometimes we’re not able to just bounce back up and brush the dust off our shoulders. If I’d been through the same things six months ago, maybe even two months ago, it would have taken me a lot longer to get to the place I’m at now. Before, when I was unwell, there was a part of me that wanted the sadness and the hurt. I wallowed in it. There was a part of me that even liked it. I’m not sure how to explain why. But it was a thing. I think it was that a part of me wanted to be broken, and wanted other people to see how broken I was, so that they would come to me and I could use them to prop myself up, because I didn’t know how to look after myself.
Now I want to actively reject sadness and hurt, as much as possible. Whenever I feel anxiety coming on, or something bad happens to me, I want to fight it. I don’t want to just give up and let it take me anymore. This is something I’ve only become aware of this week, and it’s super encouraging, because it shows me how far I’ve come. I didn’t intend for this to become yet another mushy inspirational ‘I can do it’ post, but it seems to have gone that way.
Anyway, the point is that yeah, sometimes I still feel shit. Sometimes I don’t feel even remotely like a superhero. I had a really bad day this week where I just didn’t want to do anything. I couldn’t focus on study or doing anything productive. All I wanted to do was sit and cry. But the next day I got up and went to the gym and went to uni and having done that, I started to get back to a place where I felt pretty good.
I hang on to a lot of sorry. By this I mean that I find it hard to let go of all the times I’ve fucked up and hurt other people. Even if I’ve made amends and they’ve given me their forgiveness, I struggle to forgive myself. That’s something I want to work on changing this year. Obviously I don’t want to forget all of my cock-ups, because I want to keep them as reminders of how not to act in the future and I want to be continuously learning from my mistakes. But I want to be able to forgive myself for the bad things that I’ve done. Walking around with a stack of guilt on my shoulders is exhausting. I want to let go of the things I’ve done to hurt others, as well as the things others have done to hurt me.
We’re all only human. We’re flawed. We fuck up, constantly, and we’re none of us really sure what we’re doing here in this weird little experience called life. But I believe we should all aim to find meaning where we can, and to find something to work towards. For me, what I’ve found is my recovery. And for me, that goal is invaluable. It keeps me sane, it keeps me focused, and it gives me hope.
One cool thing I discovered this week was that you can have the worst start to a week ever, and it can still turn up a pretty good end. Here are some pictures of a few of the lovely things I did on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
At Te Papa for the Air New Zealand 75th Anniversity Exhibition. I learnt a lot of cool things about the history of commercial planes in this country.
Dinner out with Mum at an adorable Japanese restaurant. The food was amazing.
Wellington at night is so pretty.
Above: cricket world cup festivities on a gloriously warm and sunny afternoon.
Below: My flatmates and I got all dressed up for a spontaneous game of spotlight in a church. It was so much fun, and we obviously all looked so in vogue.
Tl;dr: Beth has a shit week, mans the fuck up and deals with it, feels empowered, then goes on a vague emotional tangent about like life (what does it all mean???) or someshit. Then she posts some pictures of some things.