Mental Health

To-do vs Can-do or Obligations vs Opportunities

I sat down early this morning to start work on a to-do list. It’s time to snap out of holiday mode (I’ve been back for weeks) and continue progressing some of my goals for this year.

As I started writing

– greyhound media campaign
– kindness crew and other volunteering
– rally fundraising
– podcast
– reading list
– army painting
– listening list
– videos
– apply for citizenship
– apply for Masters
– writing projects

I felt an all too familiar panic starting to rise from the pit of my stomach. Thoughts immediately began to manifest physically. Physical pain, shaking, sweating.

Anxious me is terrified of obligation. He would rather stare at a wall than make a start on something. I’m going to get trapped in apathy. Again.

I caught the panic in time to realise I needed to reframe.

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Mental Health

Bad People vs Bad Choices and Self Compassion

As I sat with a dear friend recently, who was going through a time of suffering, a simple concept became crystal clear to me.

We spend a lot of time saying things to ourselves that we would never say to someone we cared about. We tell ourselves we are a bad person and that we probably deserve our pain. Our loved ones might argue and tell us that we are good but we find it hard to listen because a complete reversal seems impossible.

In reality it’s more likely we have made a bad choice here and there. The intense self critic instantly equates bad choice to bad person.

This lack of self-compassion, or as I prefer to think of it – self kindness, can be devastating. We would never ever dream of treating someone we cared about in the cruel way we can treat ourselves.

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Creative Writing, Mental Health


Sometimes I write in metaphor because that is how I tend to think. I was thinking about suffering and pain today and wanted to share with you the idea that it can be OK to ‘just be’ with pain sometimes.

This is how I think about it:


Sometimes I walk willingly into the dark. I know that the further I go the more I invite those feelings that dwell in there.

In the complete blackness waits pain, suffering and despair. The absence of light is the absence of hope. It’s lonely and it’s frightening.

But still I walk willingly towards the dark.

But I stop in the shadows. Halfway between the light and the dark.

The shadows are where I go to rest, to heal and to recharge. In the shadows I can sit next to my pain and my grief and my suffering but not be consumed by it.

From the shadows I can acknowledge pain without avoiding it but I can still feel the warmth of the light and the promise of hope.

For some of us being in the light is tiring and takes effort. The darkness is a part of us. It must not consume us but it should not be ignored.

It’s not bad to feel sadness or pain. Left unanswered they can spill into the parts of our lives where we need the light.

When I’m in the shadows please don’t worry. You are welcome to sit with me but please don’t bring a torch or drag me further into the dark.


Not everyone gets me when I am writing or talking like this, and I completely understand why! I’ll attempt to translate for you.

To deny our pain can be to deny part of ourselves. The reasons we have for our suffering often come from our very core values and ways of being. I reject the idea that the path to recovery is to leap around being forcefully ‘happy’ all the time. Sometimes we need time to just feel. To be sad or to grieve.

This doesn’t mean we have given up or that we are in a depression or anything negative. It means we are being courageous and vulnerable.

Being positive and open and daring can be draining sometimes, especially for introverts. The energy expended in being open can be recovered by moving back a little closer to a quieter place.

I find I personally need quite a lot of time in the shadows. Sometimes sitting close to sadness (past or present) just feeling. To remind me who I am. When I am there I welcome company but I do not need to be fixed. It makes me think of that line from ‘The Invitation’ by Oriah Mountain Dreamer –

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I don’t think we should ever try to fix each other. We really just need to be with each other, to make connections and to stop being ashamed and guilty about our pain.