Updated: May 27, 2020
The right to feel good about yourself The right to feel however you want to feel The right to express your feelings in your own personal way
The right to say no without guilt The right to privacy The responsibility to ask for something if you want it I’m sitting in a small, grey room feeling doubtful and hopeful at the same time. I am a couple of weeks into a course of sessions with an NHS mental health practitioner, whom even after only 2 or 3 meetings, I feel surprisingly at ease with. My therapist presents a stark contrast to the clinical and impersonal surroundings that she works from – with her warmth, kindness and willingness to listen – she makes the uninspiring room feel like a place I actually want to be in.
In this session, she asks me “Have you ever heard of the Bill of Rights?”.
“No I haven’t” I answer; fairly certain that the Human Rights Act bore little relevance to my issues! She then presents me with a sheet of paper that has a list of my rights and responsibilities. 19 rights and 5 responsibilities to be exact. “Have a read through and think about how much you believe (now and in your past) these to be true”, she said. As I go down the list I feel very emotional – because there were barely two of these rights/responsibilities that I believed or lived by. This is my light bulb moment. Not only did it highlight how truly distorted my view was of myself and other people; it also felt like a HUGE piece of the puzzle had just been found. No wonder I had been struggling with my mental health. The vast majority of the rules I currently live/have lived by are basically the opposite of what it takes to grow and nurture a healthy sense of self. This realisation did make me feel sadness at first (because it is sad to learn how harsh I had been towards myself), but this very quickly led to an overwhelming feeling of being hopeful. Is this really how I can live my life? Is this freedom actually within reach? According to my therapist, yes it was! These are the FUNDAMENTALS of what it takes to be a healthy, assertive, and empathetic person who can lead a positive and fulfilling life. Looking at this list – this was the life I wanted to start right now. It may have taken a while to happen, but this lightbulb moment was honestly a turning point in my mental health recovery journey.
I was going to have to challenge some deeply ingrained beliefs and behaviours which would take time and practice, yes. However, I now knew, deep within myself, that my old beliefs were wrong. I was ready to change. I wanted to share a few of these with you because these were the ones that really ‘got’ me. These were rights and responsibilities that I absolutely did not realise were mine. I felt emotionally triggered by these ones because they obviously unveiled how I had lived my life up to this point. In showing these to you, I am wondering if there are others who can look at these and quickly realise “Shit, I can’t do ANY of those!”. Perhaps you can now see that you have been selling yourself short for some/all of your life? We all deserve to have these rights and responsibilities. I now believe these are precious. They are essential to cultivating a true sense of who you are and what you (and others) should expect. They are to be cherished and protected. I often refer back to this list. And every time I feel both comfort and peace looking at it. A real sign that it is what my ‘self’ has been looking for. I hope this provides you with some insight into what you can strive towards. I will post the rest of the list in the comments. Let me know your thoughts and feelings when you read them. Love Ellie xx
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