Lists, processing, mental health and constructing new chapters.

So, I like writing lists. My head gets cloudy and foggy sometimes, and I find lists are the best way of organising my thoughts. I write lists at work, at home and even wake up to write lists when too many thoughts are going through my head and stopping me from getting a good nights sleep.

To process some difficult things over the past few months- moving into a new city pretty much all by myself, a relationship breakdown and a misdiagnosis of depression- it was advised by many around me to write some lists. As I spiralled into self destruction, bad thoughts and the ‘it’s all my fault, why am I not good enough?’ attitude, many of my close friends told me to write some lists of what I want to do and achieve- as well as what I’d already achieved. When you are in a relationship, you have an idea of your future, and you try your hardest to work towards that- and in my case the prospect of that future was exciting and kept me going. However, when the rug gets pulled from underneath your feet, you have to look to a new future and a new chapter. It’s easy to be bitter, angry and resentful- and trust me I was for a while. But I’ve realised that over the past year, I’d made too many compromises on my own happiness and actually ended up neglecting myself in the process, creating a lot of negativity which impacted on others around me. So although still raw, this has given me a chance to finally consider me, and only me, and work out where I want to be and where I want to go. As my sister said ‘you now have the freedom to do whatever you want, wherever you want’. It’s going to take me a while to get a real idea of what is next for me; I moved far away from home and made a lot of financial risks over the past year so at the moment it is very difficult to see any sort of new and exciting chapter, but these lists gave me focus and help me keep motivated and determined.

I wrote three lists:

  • My achievements- for my moments when I look at myself and start to resent how little progress I feel I’ve made this year.
  • My ‘list’- of immediate goals so I can easy tick the small things off and feel I am moving forward positively.
  • My dreams- the longer term goals for when I have the ‘where am I going in my life?’ moments.

I was considering writing my lists here, but then realised that would be very boring for most people. However, I’m very excited as by the end of the month I will have ticked a few things from my ‘list’.

I’m going to be at Cromarty’s Medieval Burgh Project excavating for eight or nine days over the course of their season- so the ‘go on an excavation’ will be ticked off. I am sitting my Health, Safety and Environment Test for my CSCS card next week too- so the ‘get your CSCS card’ will almost be ticked off, and will be if I pass the test and then once I receive my card. This is helping me try and one day achieve my top item on my dreams list which is ‘get a job in archaeology’. I work in Student Engagement at the moment, which I love and I learn so much from, but my real passion has always been in archaeology. I found it very difficult at University to express this, when surrounded by insanely intelligent people and as someone with low self confidence and self esteem. I brushed it off quite easily as something that may or may not happen.

Me trying to be an archaeologist once.
Me trying to be an archaeologist once.
However, I have a great group of friends around me, who are incredibly supportive, offering me advice when I feel lost and where to go for experience and advice on different issues. I hope over the next year or so, this will pay off. I’d ultimately love to complete a postgraduate qualification and a PhD, however at the moment this is unrealistic due to lack of finances. But increasing my archaeological experience and confidence will hopefully feed into this process, enabling me to explore different sites and further surround myself in archaeology.

Another thing on my list was simply ‘be healthy’. I have completely cut dairy out of my diet now, which has done wonders for me. I haven’t had cheese for a very long time now! I am regularly exercising- whether yoga, running around Ness Islands or doing strange sit-up/cardio workouts in my room, which I’m glad my flatmates have not seen me do!

But also be mentally healthy. After I moved out of my previous living situation I visited my GP who diagnosed me with quite severe depression, and prescribed me fluoxetine. This was very distressing as I came away, not feeling relieved that I’d received the right help, but feeling anxious as I’d been given medication that had drastically failed before and it didn’t feel right. I’ve battled depression on and off since I was 14 and this didn’t feel like that. An old school friend started sharing her experiences and stories of BPD- Borderline Personality Disorder- which resonated with me and my situation (and I can’t thank them enough for this). After revisiting my GP and being referred to a counsellor, they are looking into the possibility that I either have BPD, or at least show tendencies of BPD. I cried with relief, because as they explained the symptoms it summed up my experiences this year. I spent a long time beating myself up, and being very self-deprecating, as I felt so lost and confused in myself. Those who know me well know that I have this desire to please people, and the idea of doing something to upset someone, or cause upset is just horrendous for me. Therefore being in a situation where whatever I seemed to do, noone was happy, was so destructive. I knew my reactions to situations were upsetting me, and the people close to me, but I felt a disconnection with my own emotions- almost like an ‘out-of-body’ experience where I’d look down at myself and want to scream ‘Katie, this isn’t you! What happened?’. It brings together my experience with depression, my disconnection between my mind and my body, and my emotional response to everything perfectly. Anyway, this is a great thing as I now have proper, targeted help which is more than just mediation. My treatment focuses on self help and self care, such as eating the right things, looking after yourself and expressing your feelings. It is helping me control my anxiety and also address the triggers of my episodes, as well as traumatic events in the past, which can help trigger BDP as a whole.

Anyway, enough of the serious stuff! My dreams are funny and quirky.

This would be my ideal little house on the road 🙂
I want to buy a camper van and travel around Britain in it. I also considered the idea of buying a camper van and travelling around the country to do archaeology and save me lots of money on rent to help fund my studies! It could be full of books, and blankets and lots of tea. And bananas like in this picture. I could combine this with me secret dream of owning a mobile library, and I could have lots of books for people to borrow- archaeological or otherwise. And artwork and prints from friends to sell.  It is something I have had seriously suggested to me by some archaeologists working in the field over the past couple of weeks (the archaeology, not the crazy mobile library/gallery).

I want to travel, and climb some Munros and see the Northern Lights. I want to see Cambodia, Mongolia, Iceland, Poland, Norway and Denmark.

A girl can dream, right?
A girl can dream, right?
I’d quite like a tiny cottage, with a big garden and a wood burning stove which I’d have to cut my own wood for. I also have ‘own a Landrover’, but I might have to make a decision between my Landrover (Discovery, green of course) and my campervan! I also want to go back to Ulva, a small island off the Isle of Mull, where I spent three wonderful summers doing some fieldwork whilst at University. That one will take me a while, not through distance, or finances. Just because it means a ridiculous amount to me emotionally, and me feeling ready to go back is sort of a weird marker for when things are all truly okay.

SO throughout this whole thing I realised the following things:

  • My friends are amazing. I have spent a few times visiting Edinburgh and I have had the best time and it made me feel happy again. They have spent a lot of time giving me social media/text message slaps in the face which I really need sometimes! I also have a couple of very close friends up here too. One is currently away for work but has been a lifesaver in this whole process, making me remember that I am a good person. The other lets me stay with them a lot and watch for badgers and chop wood and be outdoorsy. And also do ninja garden trails. And be ‘Top Party Entertainer’ at her daughters 10th Birthday Party. Which I got the new nickname ‘Super Katie’
Even the inflatables have a good time at my parties.
Even the inflatables have a good time at my parties.
  • I should also add that my family are amazing.
  • Being outside is AMAZING. It is the best medicine in the whole world. Whether it’s yoga outside, walking to work or picnics. This is why I’d love a job in archaeology (I say that now, probably won’t be if I’m sat in a muddy field being rained on?).
  • It is okay to talk about mental health issues. I have had issues with my right leg since I had a tib/fib compound fracture, and had a metal rod through my tibia, and it then taken out. If I can’t do something because of this, I have to be able to say. For a long time, something physical seemed more ‘worthy’ as there is definite evidence for it. But actually opening up and talking about my issues properly, now I am getting to understand them, has helped me so much.
  • You cannot control what other people do. However, I am in control of my own life, and as I sit and think about where I want to be, only I can get there. So long as I am thinking of my life as a period of “moving on,” it will still be rooted in “what I lost.” So I’m completely disregarding the whole concept for the time being and am just focusing on the things you can control.

So wish me luck in constructing my new chapter. Or maybe new book. I like the idea of a new book better because you can close the old one and it’s a brand new one and you don’t have to think about turning back a few pages and rereading what has already happened- and I like when you get a new notebook and you write on the first page. I feel stressed because I have no idea what to write because it’s the first page and that’s weirdly important, but soon enough you’ve got something there and the rest of the book begins to fill up with random stuff like shopping lists for weird cakes, doodles and hastily scribbled phone conversations.

This is the information for Cromarty Medieval Burgh Project-

Without wanting to sound like an episode of a soap opera (‘if you were affected by any issues…’)- if you do want to know more about Borderline Personality Disorder, MIND have a great website with actual stories from people which is important, as everyone suffers differently:

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Bekah Greenhalgh says:

    This article is so wonderful in so many ways. Thank you so much for sharing this and being so open and honest and raw. Your strength and sincerity and dreams are beautiful, beautiful things. Lots of love for this & for you xxx


    1. katieroper91 says:

      Thanks for helping me find my voice 😊💐 xx


  2. 0lly says:

    Good luck with everything you do now and in the future.

    You are an amazing person and will achieve great things in your life, because you have the drive and determination to do so.

    You will will be an archaeologist because *you*want to be one and you’ll do an amazing job of it too.

    Stay strong and happy and if you’re ever unhappy just remember how many people love you for being who you are not what you have or haven’t achieved yet.

    Peace 🙂



    1. katieroper91 says:

      Thank you so much 🙂 I am slowly getting there and making the little steps I need to kick start my amazing archaeological career! Just been a tough few months but can finally see myself making some progress 🙂 xxxx


  3. Hi katie…….read through your blog which i think is a great idea….its too easy for family to drift apart and lose contact… media i personally think is a brilliant medium for keeping in touch.Just remember that we are here if you need to talk,get something off your chest,talk about your future….we’ve all had dreams and ambitions and when you’re young when they don’t happen you can feel despondent….the old saying ……when one door closes another one opens’…….is very true…if you’re determined to succeed in life… will……xxx sue and uncle chris


    1. katieroper91 says:

      Thanks guys, it means a lot to me. I feel so far away from everything and everyone being in Inverness, I haven’t really settled here and don’t have anyone close here anymore. Family (even those in Northumberland) seem so far away! I’m trying to progress and not feel frustrated that I’m ‘stuck here’ so just trying to make use of every minute to learn new things, take short courses and go on digs to try and learn more and move on!

      Thanks for the support, I shall keep folk updated on here but I also have your email address if I need a ‘where is my life going??’ stress out!


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