Processing Pride (or avoiding it)

I’m the first in the queue when you need reminding that you should CELEBRATE 🎉 SUCCESS! Of course you should – whatever you did (getting the stripes on the lawn right, mastering potty training, nailing the promotion, finishing an essay…whatever), you did a great job and you deserve a bloody party!

Revel in it, wade in the mud of happiness, swim around in a pool full of satisfaction.

I want you to feel bloody PROUD!

For your mental well-being (and a perfect reminder of how awesome you are) acknowledging that pride is the biggest boost you can give your own self esteem. Even if no other fucker knows, even if your success is bypassed by others, even if it’s the tiniest win on the most mediocre day, you blooming well MUST take that win!

However, despite my insistence that you celebrate your own successes and acknowledge how wonderful you are…I can’t do it myself.

Summink good happened!

Hmmm. It’s been a fucking incredible week and right now it’s 3.16am on Thursday morning.

I’m buzzing and sleepless as usual, but this time something awesome and unexpected has happened on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and it’s putting a lot of pressure on Thursday and Friday. I’m surprised they haven’t walked out because of performance anxiety.

Joking aside, here are the facts…

Monday – I start the week seeing that my short story was long listed in the April Cranked Anvil writing competition. This was truly wonderful news. I forced myself to take a break from writing after some upsetting problems with others online. It was a horrible experience but at least it gave me a chance to step back and choose a more positive direction for my creativity.

I decided to continue entering competitions but ONLY when I have a clear idea, a positive or hopeful message, maybe a funny line or two, maybe even a clever story with some unexpected twists, and of a quality I’m happy with. I’d got to a point where I was throwing out entries all the time and although I was doing ok, it wasn’t enjoyable and the stories weren’t my true style.

Cranked Anvil was the FIRST competition I entered after my hiatus of 6 weeks, and being long-listed with a story I really loved was just the validation I needed. I CAN write, I’m not bad at it, my ideas are ok and my stories are worth spending 10 minutes of valuable time on.

I’d honestly lost that belief in my creativity, and it can be hard to motivate yourself after such a negative experience, can’t it?

I won’t lie, when I got the email I shed several tears. They were tears of happiness, relief, disbelief and massive thanks to my own brain for pulling something out of the bag just when I needed it. I was home alone and wished my partner was here so I could have a hug and see a smile. Although I can guarantee I was ‘ugly crying’ because my poor facial muscles didn’t know if they were deploying a toothy grin or a confused frown. It was complex and I’m sure only Botox would have fixed the problem. I’m glad he didn’t see me looking that way.

Already, this was a great week.

Tuesday – Writing was planned and ideas were flowing. I had a headache but powered through because that ‘flow’ can be an elusive bastard.

Then I got an email from Feedspot. They are a company that collates and reviews websites, blogs and podcasts and ranks them in their genre based on quality of content.

The unexpected email told me that this very website has been selected by their panel to be in the top 35 Mental Health websites in the U.K. More disbelief followed, so I surfed my way to their website to check – surely this is wrong?

Sure enough, perched comfortably at no. 24 was my little site, amongst giants of the Mental Well-being world, sites that I admire and even signpost people to when they need help.

Number twenty-fucking-four.

More tears, more disbelief, more desperation for funds to pay for the Botox that’s becoming increasingly necessary.

A great week was becoming mind-blowing.

Wednesday – A slow day that started out relatively quiet, but those are the days you have to look out for, aren’t they? They are the days that creep up behind you and whack you on the back of the head when you’re distracted.

Thankfully, this is a whack in the head I’d gladly have again.

I was happily writing, working on a new project that I’m hoping to reveal soon. I was engrossed in paragraphs, lost amongst words, and wasn’t thinking about the world around me. I guess I’d normally refer to it as being ‘in the zone’.

My email pinged and although I’d been successfully ignoring it all day, I was pulled to finally look at the virtual pile of waiting messages (and extra items for my to-do list – it’s inevitable).

Sat there, amongst the special offers on leggings, discounted holidays and deals on personalised stationery I’ll probably go back to, was a message from someone really special. Someone I admire in spades and whose work has undoubtedly changed many MANY lives for the better.

Natasha Devon MBE wrote to me on behalf of her Mental Health Media Charter to say that this website, this crazy pile of chatter and advice that I post for all of you to devour (or ignore!), has been added to the sites that have pledged to the Charter.

This is a campaign that promotes GOOD and SAFE conversations about mental illness, mental well-being and general mental health. Sites that pledge are confirming that they already (and will continue to) follow the rules in the charter so the messages going out there are not just practical, but also well-considered and carefully written.

Ensuring sites use the terms ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’ correctly, ensuring that dangerous habits aren’t advertised, promoted or glamourised and ensuring that words relating to self harm and suicide are also considered carefully – these are just a few examples of how the charter is making sure sites like this one are doing things right.

I was (and still am) thrilled to have been accepted to the charter and the logo sent by Natasha is now on the homepage of this site.

But Wednesday wasn’t done with me yet…

Then my favourite event (or events) has come from some of you guys…yes you! I’ve had multiple messages by email and DM on Twitter with positive letters of gratitude for this project. These were PERSONAL messages from people who are also juggling life with mental illness and they all wrote to me to say thank you for what I’m doing.

Receiving those messages was an unbelievable honour and although I’m gutted more and more people seem to be experiencing mental ill-health, I’m so happy I’ve helped some of them for a few minutes while they surfed. That’s what this is all about.

Thank you to everyone who wrote – you know who you are!

It was Wednesday evening, 10pm, and the week was now epic. One that will go down in ‘Creative Steph’ history.

My thoughts

It’s been an incredible week. Incredible.

I’ve shared several moments of disbelief with my partner, not quite understanding how I’ve managed to drag the site and my work promoting good mental health practices this far.

And let’s be clear, I’m SO happy with every bit of news this week. So pleased. The problem is I have trouble saying the other ‘P’ word.

I have problems with pride.

In fact, at home I can’t even say the words. I know what I’m about to type and I’m not really comfortable with this either…

I can’t say the words “I’m really proud of myself”.

If you scroll back on some of my blog posts you’ll see I’ve used the word a few times, but I’ve never felt it…I simply thought it was the right word to use and what readers would expect to see. I’ve never patted myself on the back or celebrated, when good things happen I tend to sit silently with my head in my hands wondering just one thing.

How?

And I know everything here is my own doing. The whole site was built by me, along with every single letter of content (which I spend much time researching and editing before posting) and every picture. Then there’s the work I do with Cruse, my writing, my illustrations and the new inventions ‘Crap Poems’ and ‘Weird Words’. I’m writing and drawing for magazines and online journals and talking to incredible people virtually who inspire me and make me want to push for change harder. No one has helped me, purchased my domain names, built my site, written my content, made contact with those people, drawn at 3am, been accepted by journals, created magazine cover art (more on this soon) or held my hand at all. I got here on my own.

I KNOW I’ve worked hard. I mean it’s now 3.48am and I’m still sat in the dark writing this content.

I am really trying my best.

But I can’t feel pride.

This has to be part of my mental illness because I know that logically, if a reader contacted me and told me they’d achieved these things I’d be telling them to SHOUT about it, tell people, enjoy the fun and bask in the glory and satisfaction of a job well done.

But I can’t tell myself.

So tonight, rather than celebrating, I’ve been drawing, thinking about the many things I need to get finished, and working out what I’m going to talk about on here so I can actively avoid the good things happening that I can’t compute.

My isolation is probably feeding the problem. My long-suffering partner is the only person I talk to about this stuff, so he’s been here next to me all week trying to encourage me and help it all sink in. But it’s hard.

I’ve come a long way.

Do I deserve it? I hope so.

Am I proud? No.

Maybe it’s because I don’t feel finished. Thinking about it I don’t believe I ever will be, but I guess it would be good to see that I kept going and tried my best.

Maybe I don’t feel I’ve done enough to say that yet.

My advice?

I’ll continue to bang on the same drum for all of you. Pride is something you work hard for so when there’s the opportunity to feel it, bloody well feel it!

Don’t give up on your passion. Enjoy it. Take the praise. Learn from mistakes. Try try try again.

Doing all that hard work will help you internally accept that you’ve earned the pride what’s waiting.

Accept it and enjoy it.

You did great!

The picture

I wanted to try something new and I adore the colourful glass bottles on my homepage, so I wanted to do them again but in a different way.

The bottles are labelled ‘Fear’ and ‘Pride’ and I’ve deliberately made one more appealing than the other.

For me it’s easier to drink from the fear bottle, but one day I’ll like green poisonous juice again, and the pride bottle will be drinkable too (hopefully).

Thanks for reading!

Published by stephc2021

Hi! I'm Steph, an amateur writer and illustrator specialising in Mental Health and being a self-confessed Spoonie. My website is home to any successful fiction I create, with stories that have won so far covering difficult subjects such as baby loss and mental health in grief as well as some funny and heart-warming tales when I get the inspiration. Every drawing and picture on my website was created by me. I spend a lot of time coming up with illustrations to accompany all of my posts and pages. I try to create original content across all of my channels, whether I'm writing about my own fiction or just generally musing on mental health or my own issues. I want to be part of the change because I believe the understanding of MH in the UK is getting better, but has a very long way to go. By being honest about my own struggles and symptoms I think others will relate and hopefully it will encourage them to talk to someone and get the help and support they need. Long term my goal is to help children too, help them understand their own mental health and how to help with the mental health of those around them. I live in the UK with my partner, daughter and dog, I swear frequently and I adore a well made, traditional, gooey, chocolatey, delicious brownie.

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