Boundaries. Where can I get me some of these boundaries?

I certainly don’t (or didn’t – read on for more about that) have strong enough ones, and let me tell you, that out of all the suspicious smelling missiles that 2020 has chucked at me, I can firmly say that a mental health crisis to top the year off was probably one of my least favourite. And it’s more than likely my fault. But that’s OK. My fault means that I can own it, and I can actually do something about it. 

How do you fix having no boundaries? Well, you chuffing well build some don’t you? For those of you that don’t know (and seriously -  how do you not? I’m pretty sure I harp on about it quite a lot of the time), I have BPD. That’s Borderline Personality Disorder for those of you that are less acquainted with the vomit inducing coral hallways of your local mental health unit. And although it’s not exactly Girl, Interrupted , it’s most definitely less than fun, and it pretty much never travels alone – BPD is the worst at social distancing; it brings along depression, generalised anxiety disorder, and many other friends along with it. Their official name is comorbidities, but that sounds, well, just morbid, so ‘friends’ it is. Toxic friends, albeit, but friends nonetheless. 

And after almost ten years, I’m actually OK with it now – I know that my BPD is a part of me; the thing that sparks my creativity, lets me look at things from outside the box, provides some spontaneity and passion, and lets me seemingly juggle a billion things all at once (let us gloss over quite how well I manage that…). But it comes at a price. I quite literally never know when to stop. One idea is never enough, and if I’m not careful, I can spiral off into all sorts of shiny seeking adventures. But that’s cool, I can manage that every once in a while, who doesn’t love a good ol’ rabbit hole? I’ve also gotten quite good at keeping it in check; I know my triggers, I know when to step back for the most part, and I generally know whether I’m on the incline or the decline of the rollercoaster (you may recognise this in its’ other guise as the coronacoaster), and I manage to stay medication free and well in the most part by planning, routine and careful scheduling. 

Which was all well and good until 2020 swaggered into the room, throwing it’s germy little self about and setting fire to routine, planning and all those delicious things. But I was OK, everything was fine! I made my own little plans, pivoted my business, changed my offerings, and erm… well, I opened a bricks and mortar shop. Damn that bloody BPD, creeps in everywhere with the crackpot ideas as soon as my guard is down! Whilst a shop was definitely on my to do list, 2020 may not seem like the best time to do it, but the beauty of 2020 is that it’s basically a free pass to try all the things that you never dared to do, throw away the rulebook and go for it. And if it all goes belly up; well, I’ll blame Covid. That is, after all fast becoming a time honoured tradition, right? 

So fast forward to the end of the year; I’ve finally managed some down time, probably for the first time since the start of the pandemic, deleted my Facebook and my messenger from my phone and after making a considerable dint in the sleep deficit, and some much needed healing time for my brain, it’s time to reflect on the year, and my plans for next year. But most importantly, how I’m going to avoid another explosion of the grey matter. Yup; you guessed it; boundaries (see – I got there eventually, I bet you wondered how long it was going to take!). 

Going forward in the New Year, I shall be cutting right down on my ‘availability’; if you like. I’m sure there’s some technical fancy schmancy word for it, but availability will do just fine. Set office hours; no more working all day in the shop and coming home and working all night. That way lies nothing but burnout and chopped fingers, but that’s another story for another day. Showing up is a hot topic amongst indie folk at the moment – should you always be there, building connections, always on call, always at the end of an email or DM? For sure, if that’s how you roll, then grand. You do you. I’m not in the business of telling anyone what to do, but I shall be trying out a slightly different approach for me and my mental health this year.  How so? Well, for starters: 

  • Automation! Wherever possible, it shall be automated! All hail the gods of automation and technical wizardry.
  • Set working hours and admin hours. If it doesn’t get done that day, then there’s always tomorrow.
  • Less of the scrolling! It’s the ultimate time suck, right? How much could I have got done in all those hours of mindless scrolling? I’ll be present when my posts go live on social media, but for sure I’ll be cutting down the time online. I’ve really enjoyed being away from the melee of social media this past week, truth be told.
  • Extended dispatch times. This is a biggie for me. I’m inherently a people pleaser, and I can’t bear to say no, even if it means pulling an all-nighter in the process. And really – all it does is set a precedent doesn’t it? One emergency becomes another, until it’s just the norm for last minute demands.
  • I point blank refuse to quote the hideous P infested adage, but you know exactly the one I mean. The bonus to 2020 being an absolute carnival is that I can mainly just look at the plan for last year and tweak it a bit, because most of those plans most definitely didn’t happen!

There’s another massive big clanger of a point that’s not in that list; kindness. When you have a toxic friendship, you get rid of it; you remove that negativity from your life and rebuild your self-confidence, right? However long it may take (I can highly recommend this by the way, it’s like feeling 10 stone lighter – almost makes up for the lockdown eating. Almost).  But what do you do when that toxic friendship is internalised and within your own head? Well, that takes a lot longer I guess; a lot more work, and an absolute bucket of self talk, but I’m absolutely willing to giving it a go!

And in the spirit of not doing too much and trying to take over the world in one day, I reckon that’s quite enough intentions for the year ahead. Don’t want to get too carried away and ruin my own handiwork before I’ve even begun! Of course there are lots of new and exciting plans for the year across all three of my little businesses, and I can’t wait for you to see them, but for now I’m keeping my powder dry, as they say. You’ll have to stick around to see for yourself!

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