Where we chat about health, happiness, heartbreak, love, loss and life.

 

Name: Jen
Gender: F
Age Bracket: 36-40
Occupation: Writer
Lives: South Coast, United Kingdom

 

Point Break is my all time favourite film. I love everything about it. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it but it’s a ridiculous amount and I’d happily watch it again. Some things just soothe you in ways that don’t make sense to other people and that’s okay. Listen, if you can’t appreciate a nice, shaggy, bleach-blonde, Swayze perm, that’s your problem.

Changing your mind can be liberating. You’ve got to learn to take things lightly. Not to be so stubborn and set in your ways. Be open to new ways of thinking and doing. As you gain knowledge and experience I think it’s good to adapt to it as you go along. It doesn’t help to be inflexible as standard. If something doesn’t work for you anymore, change it.

You’re entirely responsible for yourself and that includes your own happiness and your own sense of security. The sooner you accept that and live your life accordingly, the happier you’ll be.

We’re all just one accident, one foolish decision or a decade or two away from losing our health. So enjoy it while you still have it and do whatever you can to support it. Think a little more about your ultimate priorities in life and then make better choices. Starting with the very next one.

Some people just like to take offence. You can say something innocuous, like: “I love the colour blue.” And they’ll say: “What have you got against red?” I’m mindful of what I spend my time and energy on. I don’t spend it on conversations like that.

I’m incredibly passionate about fitness these days. Improving how you look is a bonus but the real motivation is how it makes you feel. Physical strength massively promotes mental strength. I workout hard five times a week on average, I eat clean and I’ve never felt better. I know that I’m at my happiest when I feel strong and healthy so that’s what my lifestyle revolves around now.

I used to struggle with anxiety and depression and I used to drink to cope with it, which made it worse. It was a vicious cycle. A few years ago I decided to stop drinking altogether. I wanted to learn how to live without using any negative crutches. I didn’t drink alcohol for over three years and what I learnt in that time was invaluable. I got to know myself properly; what I value and how I want to live my life. Abstaining from alcohol for that length of time started a positive domino effect that possibly wouldn’t have happened otherwise; I stopped smoking. I started lifting weights. I went vegan. I started meditating and I got back into yoga. It was a monumental power up.

I think all drinkers would benefit from taking long and total breaks from booze. Our society is so insanely alcohol-centric. There are far more interesting things to do than drink as often as we collectively do. Things that we’re just not capable of thinking about or doing when we’re routinely numbing out and drugging ourselves up.

I love music. I’m encyclopaedic about it. I love singing along and dancing away. Going to gigs and festivals and parties with great music – these are a few of my favourite things.

I can drink moderately now but, except for the rarest of random occasions, choose not to. (Moderate drinking being defined as no more than two drinks on any given occasion.) I don’t need to drink in order to relax, have fun or feel confident. I can do that without any artificial help. Nothing good comes from drinking to excess and that’s true for everybody; not just people who’ve acknowledged past problem drinking. Hangovers absolutely suck and they are generally part of the deal when you drink. I just don’t want them as part of my life. I value my freedom and my health too much.

We’re all different. We have different experiences, different beliefs and different goals. And that’s the way it will always be and that’s absolutely fine. We need to respect, accept and learn from each other’s differences rather than judge them.

I did AA and The Twelve Steps for a while. It has some fantastic aspects, but ultimately it wasn’t for me. I think it’s bonkers to categorise people as either ‘normal drinkers’ or ‘alcoholics’. I don’t think alcoholism is a disease (in the same way that I don’t think depression, anxiety or obesity is a disease). I don’t believe that a higher power was responsible for my sobriety any more than a higher power was responsible for my drinking. I don’t think addiction manifests because of an allergy and I don’t think it’s genetically inherited. Over the years I’ve spoken to loads of people who feel the same way. AA is not the best fit for everyone. If you want to address issues of alcohol misuse, give it a bash. It might help you, it might not. You have to see for yourself.

Kindness, honesty and humour are the things I love most in people. Concentrate on those qualities and I don’t think you can go far wrong.

I’m vegan because once I’d educated myself on it I couldn’t not be. It was a gradual becoming. The more I learnt about it, the more of a hypocrite I felt for continuing to eat the way I did: I saw myself as an animal lover; but you’re not if you eat meat and dairy. I saw myself as someone who is environmentally aware; but you’re not if you deny the impact agriculture has on the planet. I saw myself as health conscious; but you’re not if you eat animal products. I started making the transition a couple of years ago and on the rare occasion that I have something non vegan – and it’s the same whenever I have alcohol – having happily gone without it for so long, the negative effects of even a small amount, are blatantly obvious.

When I was seven I had to have emergency open heart surgery. I remember thinking: “I’m probably going to die. I should have played with my lego more.” The operation was a success, I recovered super fast and was back at school soon after. But I never lost that feeling: a bone-deep, existential ‘what’s-the-point-of-all-this-malarky?’ comical kind of feeling. It reminds me to lead a balanced life. There are important, serious things to sort out, for sure. But you’ve got to try to have some fun too. Be kind, be helpful, be curious, be grateful. Life is short. Play with lego.

You’ve got to live your own life and do what makes sense to you. We all have our own fears and goals and sometimes we project those onto other people without even realising it. As long as you’re not hurting anyone else, do whatever makes you happy. Do whatever it is that allows you to level up as a happier, healthier, stronger, more evolved person. You don’t need to ask for anyone’s permission. You have one life. It’s yours and yours alone. So bloody well live it the way you want to.