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I am okay

This time last year I was lying in bed, barely able to breath, coughing so much that my whole chest felt like it would crack open. Most of the things I did to help my mental health like walking, deep breathing, singing, having a routine had all gone out the window. I had to move back with my parents as I couldn’t manage on my own and the only time I was able to get out of bed was to use the bathroom and even that short walk would set off the coughing and shortness of breath. I was completely debilitated and it was now week 3 of this with no signs of it getting better. As you can imagine, my anxiety was pretty bad, my mood not great and I was scared this was going to be it for the rest of my life.

One night I was lying in bed, trying to take deep breaths, which was impossible and feeling hopeless. I closed my eyes, put my hand over my heart and said “I am okay”. I didn’t believe it of course, but my choices were to feed into the anxiety and feelings of worthlessness or just say to myself “I am okay”. “I’m going to be okay”. “I have hope that I will make a full recovery.” I was listening a lot to ‘Believe’ by Cher (but covered by Adam Lambert) at the time and the lyrics “I know that I’ll get through this, cause I know that I am strong”, just kept ringing in my head. “I am okay”. “I am strong” “I am resilient”.

Finding a mantra can really help you when you’re are experiencing difficult times. I have found them very useful throughout the years especially with suffering with low self-esteem. My inner monologue and belief about myself was “I’m worthless” “I’ll never be good enough”. It has been a very tough narrative to challenge especially when it’s been my belief since childhood, so I have to consciously make the effort to say to myself “I am worthy” “I am enough”. Most of the time I struggle to believe it. So it’s about having patience and self-compassion with yourself. One of my favourite quotes is “Fake it until you make it”. Act like someone who accepts themselves and then eventually you might just get to a place of acceptance.

That night when I said to myself “I am okay” I didn’t believe a word of it. I repeated that mantra about 25 times until eventually my thinking started to change and I started to believe that “I am okay. I will be okay. This is scary and it’s okay to be scared but you have family and friends supporting you. You are strong and will do everything you can to find out what is going on and to get yourself well again. I am okay”. I was able to change my thinking with a three word statement.

So find a positive mantra that works for you. Have it start with “I AM”. Stick it around the house – on the fridge, beside your bed, on the bathroom mirror. Every day take a few moments to repeat it out loud to yourself. I recommend a few deep breaths and with a hand over your heart but you can do it anywhere at any time.

And remember, you’ll be okay.

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