Mental illness, medication and me.

Today, a friend posted on Instagram about her recent struggles and how her mental health has deteriorated enough to warrant new medication. She was already taking anti anxiety meds and how now been put on an anti-depressant of sorts; I know this because I’ve been prescribed both in the past. Anyway having only known her a short time I have seen how she’s gone from being quite guarded about her struggles with alcohol and her mental health to opening up and sharing her journey in such a brave and beautiful way.

On the flip side I was talking to another one of my new sober pals this week and she was telling me about how bad her anxiety gets. I have suffered from anxiety in the past but nowhere near as severe as this. It made me sad for her. Knowing that your thoughts can become so intrusive and debilitating that you start to believe the most ridiculous things that then impact your daily life. Anxiety is not just getting stressed and worrying, it can be so much bigger and scarier then that. When I asked her if she had seen her GP about it, she said she was worried they would think she was crazy. I didn’t like that she would even consider using those words but then I remembered how I often used to call myself crazy when I was with friends. It was a way to make light of something that was actually pretty frightening and serious.

Anyway the point of this post is to actually tell you about my experience with mental health and medication. I’ve been on and off medication for about the last 10 years or so. I’ve been on a variety of different things, mostly antidepressants, occasionally meds for my anxiety and once I was even on a lovely cocktail of stuff for my depression, panic attacks and insomnia. Over the years my thoughts on taking medication for my mental health has varied. There are times when I’ve been prescribed something and been reluctant to take it. Times when I’ve been so desperate for some sort of respite for my mind and haven’t given my prescription a second thought. Almost every time though, when I have gotten to the point of stability, when my moods are less turbulent I’ve always slowly come off what ever I was taking. I think the reasons were based on a mix of the physical affects of the medication but also the idea of having to be on them.

I have been on my current meds for a little over 2 years now. I am taking Sertraline and up until last month I was on the maximum dose. Now bearing in mind that they probably weren’t even doing what they should have been doing while I was drinking, I’ve probably only really had the full benefits for the past 6 months. Still, I made the decision last month that I wanted to start decreasing my dose with the hope that eventually I will not need them. That was until a few days ago.

Glennon Doyle was someone I hadn’t heard of until earlier this year when I saw the front cover of her new book, Untamed plastered all over instagram. At first I thought it was just another quit-lit type affair which I’m not against but doesn’t quite float my boat all that much; so I didn’t really think anything of it. But more and more people were declaring it a ‘must read’, so last week I used one of my free credits and got the audible version. The verdict: not quit-lit, but instead a compilation of stories and life lessons which I think most of us would benefit from hearing about. There was a little too much motherhood talk in there; which obviously is no bad thing but just not something I can really relate to. Some people think it’s a bit heavy on religion but that part didn’t bother me, in fact I love learning about people’s faiths because I’m a bit weird like that. Anyway the point I am trying to get to is she talks about her mental health and medication. She made a really good point in that why would we decide to stop using something that is making us feel better. Surely the point is that it’s working and to stop it would leave you at risk of suffering again. This made me think about the times I’d come off my medication after months of feeling better only to relapse and sometimes find myself in even worse of a situation.

One thing I want to make clear is that I’m not someone who would opt for medication if there are other options. The idea of filling my body with chemicals I know very little about doesn’t bode well with me. And don’t worry the irony of that statement isn’t lost on me, I clearly didn’t include alcohol in that category for many years. But I live in different times now and having removed one of the biggest toxins from my life I am much more cautious about the other things that go into my body. So I am very much open to healing of a different nature and undergo regular reiki therapy courtesy of my lovely Dad and I practice meditation. And of course there’s what I believe to be one of the best medicines out there; the art of conversation. Therapy is in my opinion underrated and should be considered by everyone whether they think they need it or not. I think people would be pleasantly surprised by the benefits of talking to someone about their life, even if just to use the other person as a sounding board.

Basically what I think I’m trying to say is that don’t see medication as too much of a big deal when it comes to mental health. If you have tried alternatives and have seen little improvement then just be open to the idea. At least go and talk to the GP about it. They can’t force you to take anything and even I on many occasions have come home with a prescription and never had the medication dispensed because I’ve decided against it. So whilst I don’t think my mental health has ever been this good I have decided that I will stay on my lower dose for the time being…and possibly forever. Because right now, that coupled with the other things I do seems to be working really well. So I see no reason to change it.

The good, the bad and the…decide for yourself.

Are you thinking about network marketing? Have you been approached by people to join their team and company so you can build a business and become financially free? Or maybe you’re already involved but new to the game and are trying to suss things out.

Getting an honest account about network marketing can be difficult. There are the clear haters out there who have so much venom in their blood when it comes to anything MLM, you’d think that they’d been forced to sell their organs when in fact a lot of them haven’t even been involved. Then there are the ‘this business will change your life’ types. Who for the most part really do think it will because for them it probably has. But obviously it’s not as straightforward as they might make out.

Having recently stepped out of the MLM arena I wanted to share my experience and give you some pros and cons so you can take these into consideration when choosing to jump in…or jump out. The thoughts and opinions that follow are from three ex consultants (myself included) who were all within the same company. Myself and Ella joined I think at about the same time and were in the same wider team. As was Lauren (not her real name) although she had joined a few months before we did. This post is purely for guidance and advice and something we ourselves would have found useful before we stepped in.

WHY?

You’ll be asked this question over and over. What is your why? Why are you here? Why do you want this? Now this is a very important question because it isn’t easy so when the going gets tough you need a pretty solid reason to keep pushing you through. However, when you are struggling or your business isn’t growing as well as you’d like you might also be told that your why isn’t big enough. That your why should make you cry. When you first hear this it’s powerful and it’s a great motivator. But just be mindful that your reasons to be there are your reasons. You don’t need to change them to suit anybody but yourself.

OPINIONS OF OTHERS

This is a really hard one. And I personally think, and I know Ella and Lauren agree that you really need to shut off the outside noise. Everyone is going to have an opinion or a bit of advice when you join. You’ll be told by your mentors that these people and their opinions won’t pay your bills so don’t listen to them. That is of course true, but I think what I would suggest is that you gather as much genuine and factual evidence that you can. Find out the source of these opinions, do your research but ultimately go with your gut. If something doesn’t sit right with you or you’re unsure, then hold off. Wait until you are really sure. Because you’ll be told not to wait, what’s the big deal, it’s not even a big risk. But once you’re in things change very quickly. So just jump in if and when YOU want to.

STAY GROUNDED

No matter what you see, hear or experience. Keep your feet fully on the ground at all times. We cannot stress how important this is. The lifestyle that is offered is by no means out of reach and it is the stuff of dreams. Big massive fuck off dreams. But take one foot of the ground even slightly and you will get swept up in it all. Your ego will take over and before you know it you’ll have forgotten your ‘why’ and will see nothing more than fancy brunch meetings, taking selfies from your poolside ‘office’, walking the stage at annual conferences, flashy cars and 5 star holidays. Don’t get me wrong, that shit can and does happen…but only for a small perecentage. I’m talking less than 2%. Yep….really! And here’s why…

THE LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

It looks level. They tell you it’s level. But it’s only really level on the surface. You can absolutely promote above your sponsor and anyone else above you because you can obviously make more sales and build a bigger team than them. BUT, the important factor I didn’t take into account (because I was told numerous times it wasn’t an issue) is your existing network of people when you join. We were told that our warm network was the best place to start for reaching out about the business and the products. By warm they mean, not your nearest and dearest but friends of friends, old acquaintances, people you see from time to time, the waitress you are always chatting to in your local coffee shop, your nail lady. Now it sounds cringey as hell but at the end of the day the business model does work and you never know who will benefit from the business or the products unless you ask. However if your warm network are not at all interested this is when the playing field starts to slope.

Going off my experience I joined when I had recently left my full time job, I had a fairly non existent social circle and I really didn’t have that many people to reach out to. So, after annoying my warm network for several months I had to go wider. And for me that meant total strangers, which again isn’t a bad thing but building up a relationship with someone new takes time so to avoid being spammy Sammy you can’t just shove the business in someone’s face as soon as you start chatting. So my advice is take a look at your network. If you are living a socialite life in a big city you will probably get off to a good start. If not, you can still make it work but be prepared for it to take longer and potentially reduce your sleeping hours to 5 hours a night.

IT WORKS IF YOU WORK

Sorry but I call bullshit. I personally worked my ass off and for me things just didn’t take off. Yes I had clients, yes I had interest in the business but ultimately it wasn’t enough. So you can put in all the effort you want but if you don’t come across the right kind of people, aren’t in the position financially to buy products for your own use as well as for people to try at product parties etc then you are already heading towards struggle town. They will tell you luck doesn’t come into it, but I’m afraid it does. I am sure every successful consultant paid their dues and put in some serious hustling but the second you have got an instagram profile that is influencer worthy and you can be seen dining in high end restaurants, holidaying on yachts then of course people will want what you have. And the strangers you personally reach out to are likely to watch from the sidelines for a while and inevitably go join a more successful looking consultant.

I WILL GUIDE YOU

This one is a funny one and I can’t say it was something that I was told. But I see a lot of consultants telling people that it doesn’t matter if they don’t understand how it all works or if they’ve never been involved in sales because they will ‘hold your hand’ and guide you every step of the way. This may happen in some teams, it did not happen in mine. Did I receive training and guidance, yes absolutely. Did anyone hold my hand, ummm not quite.

Not long after I joined the wider team WhatsApp group was restricted so only those who were admins in the group could post in the group. As a new consultant who obviously had lots of questions to ask this was a bit frustrating and I know I wasn’t the only one who thought this. We were also told that we should direct questions to our 3 way chat with our sponsor and mentor. This may have worked for some but my sponsor was based in Australia and my mentor very rarely read the messages let alone had time to respond. So when you needed to be able to get a prompt answer the big group was ideal, but only for the admins. And in order to become an admin you had to have promoted to the first level. Yes I know, alarm bells should have been ringing at this point. Wait, it gets better. After chatting to a few of the other new consultants I thought it might be nice to start our own WhatsApp group so we could at least support each other and bounce ideas off of one another. This group was kindly reported to the head mistress…sorry I mean my mentor and she gave me a call to basically tell me off. At this point the alarm bell was being bashed against my head and yet I still continued.

Lauren makes a good point in that you were only really ever contacted directly by your mentor to see if you had signed up the latest training, booked in enough product parties etc. And Ella was told by her mentor that as she wasn’t reaching out to 50 new people a day she wasn’t worth giving the time and support to. What I think is evident is that the relationship you have with you mentor and upline makes a huge difference. I clearly didn’t have the best relationship with mine because when I asked if she would do an instagram live with me to help promote the business she declined and told me they were a waste of time. But I also know there are some excellent mentors out there. Approachable, supportive and don’t make you feel like just another number. Find them and you are edging closer to that 2% already.

If you have got this far I applaud your commitment. And you are probably wondering if there’s anything good about network marketing or if it’s all a big lie. It’s not, it can work and I know consultants that are killing it. In fact there are consultants I connected with when I started who were also new to the game and they are not only doing well but they are genuinely lovely people who I am still in touch with now. And Lauren also agrees that you really can meet some incredible people and build some fantastic friendships.

But our biggest contender in the positive corner is the self development journey you will go on. You will be encouraged to read and absorb as much personal growth material you can and I think that all three of us will say that none of this is a waste of time. How can it be? Working on your mindset, gaining perspective, thinking outside of the box and opening up your mind is never going to be a bad thing. You will learn things about yourself that will change the game. Whether that’s the game of network marketing or just the game in general. Either are respectable. For all three of us we learned enough to know that the company we were with was not for us. But we also learned a lot from our time with that company and that has allowed us to go in different directions which may not have happened had we not dipped our toe into network marketing at all.

So I think it’s safe to say none of us regret our decision to join. Nor do we regret our decision to leave. It was just a stepping stone in our journey that we are grateful for, each with our own reasons.

I write this post in the hope that someone reads it and takes the advice on board. It might just get lost in the blogging blackhole or it may find its way to someone who is struggling to decide and just needs some first hand knowledge.

Thank you and goodnight!

Vulnerability is…

“ She threw away all of her masks and put on her soul” ~ anon

Being open and honest is something a lot of people struggle with. Vulnerability is not for the faint hearted. It’s scary AF but what I’ve realised is that without allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in certain situations we are always going to be holding back. Not being who we really are.

The need to be seen is increasing all of the time. People want to be noticed, want their voices heard, their wins to be applauded, and their pain and suffering to at least be acknowledged if not understood. The whole world is screaming ‘but what about me?’. Has it always been like this or is it that we are all so busy in our own lives to even notice what’s going on around us?

Vulnerability probably means something different to everyone. For me it’s opening myself up to hurt and ridicule. Which sounds bloody ridiculous because on some level I consider myself an open book. But I also think that comes from years of therapy and my empathic need to help others. As a child I was very much the opposite, no one knew what was going on in my head. In fact, I was so shy I barely spoke. Go figure!

Now I share a lot. On my social media, through my blog and with friends. And yeah it’s personal stuff and some people don’t understand why I feel the need to do this. Am I over sharing? Is it attention seeking? Or am I just trying to be real? To be honest, I hadn’t thought that much about it until this week when I was listening to my new audio book, Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (obsessed!). The whole book is about vulnerability; what it is to be vulnerable, the ways in which it shows up and it’s necessity.

Do we really need to bare all? Well of course we bloody don’t. Everyone has the right to be as private as they like and people don’t need (or want) to hear all about your dirty secrets. But if you want people to really know you, I’m afraid you’re going to have to open up a bit. But being vulnerable is more then just opening up. Being vulnerable is going for your dream job knowing that there’s a chance you might not get it. Telling your best friend that you want to be more then friends without knowing if they feel the same. It’s telling people you no longer drink alcohol because you mostly drank to drown out the demons screaming in your head and those demons were getting louder and required more drowning out as time went on. All of these things are you putting yourself out there, letting yourself be seen but knowing that the potential to get hurt, disappointment, judged or worse…dismissed is there.

So how do you know what to open up about and what not to? I think it comes down to knowing why. What’s the purpose behind you sharing? Is it to help others? To improve your life? Of course you can share what ever you like but that doesn’t mean you are being vulnerable. You need courage to be vulnerable so if you’re just sharing something and it’s not affecting you emotionally I’d say you’re probably just trying to seek attention. And I’m not saying that’s bad because there are times when we need to be grabbing peoples attention. But that’s not vulnerability.

I think vulnerability also comes from caring a lot about what it is you’re doing or how you are showing up. For me this blog is me being vulnerable. I love to write, I think my written word is more powerful than when I talk on video for example. I try to write about things I think people will relate to, things that make people feel less alone in the world. While at the same time just simply writing about my thoughts and experiences. The truth is I’d love to write professionally but the thought terrifies me and I’d have to step even further into the vulnerability arena to find out if I’m good enough…and I’m not ready to do that just yet!

Basically I think vulnerability is taking a leap into uncertainty. It’s baring your soul not knowing how it will be received. It can be the biggest and best game changer ever. Or could leave you so badly bruised you recoil once more. All I know is that despite me having spent so much of my life recoiling I know that I have to keep trying and putting myself back out there because if I don’t, well I may as well just stay in bed for the rest of my life. And I just don’t think there’s enough on Netflix for me to maintain that kind of lifestyle, you know?