The clouds are lifting

Featured

In the past week or so I’ve had more good days consecutively than I can remember having for a while. I found Christmas quite hard and the weeks before it too, it was darker and there is that pressure to have a fab time, even if you don’t feel that fab. However, I feel like a lil weight is off my shoulders again.

It sounds silly and small but I have started to clear a lot of crap out of my room. I feel like the past year I haven’t cared what my room’s been like as I had just been existing in it, however now I want it to be nice and clear and relaxing.

Likewise I think I’m ready to get a part time job, to leave the house and feel a bit of responsibility again.

I started 2018 in a dark place, and tbh I can’t remember the first few months, it is a nasty blur. All I know is, 2019 is looking brighter and I’m excited for what it may bring. I have a few goals for the year and I’m looking forward to achieving them.

I didn’t think it would ever happen but life can become enjoyable again, recovery is so worth the effort.

Advertisements
Featured

Reasons to stay alive

To praise my favourite author (Matt Haig) once more, I have started to really appreciate his message in reasons to stay alive. To put it frankly, if I had let my depression win earlier this year and had ended my life then I would never have experienced the positives that I have had since then.

Since hitting my lowest point(s) I have:

– Learned to love myself. I can actually think of myself as beautiful (sometimes) and valuable. No matter how many times my brain tries to tell me otherwise, people care about me and need me as much as I need them

– Realised that your grades, money, weight etc do NOT define you. Being skinny doesn’t make you happy, being an a-star student doesn’t make you happy. You do not need to burn yourself out trying to be ‘perfect’, there are so many ways to look after yourself and doing ‘good’ is great

– Learned my worth and also now know my values. I know what I deserve and I know who I want to be around and what I like to do

– Learned how to look after myself and actually put myself first, stop people pleasing and take time out for me

– Learned that I want to help and be around people, in whatever career I end up in

– Learned to enjoy food and going out for brunch and exploring new places

– Met some incredible people who have changed my views and ways of thinking. Also alongside this I’ve grown closer to some of my friends who I’d lost touch with, its really been amazing

– Changed my relationship with exercise, I now enjoy it and enjoy pushing myself to lift as heavy as I can (watch this space) but NOT to just burn calories. I would never have done a 90kg deadlift if I hadn’t made it to the end of 2018

– Spent time with my dog, after I’d been away for uni for 3 years it was much needed!!

– Last but not least, I have realised just how amazing my family and friends are. I’ve been reminded of the good in the world, with all the love and support I’ve seen this year. It’s truly been overwhelming and it’s mostly due to this that I am alive today.

If you feel like there are no real reasons to stay alive, there are, even if they’re not obvious to you right now. You don’t know what’s coming and what you would miss out on if you don’t carry on. Here’s to 2019 ❤️

Featured

Winter blues

At the moment I am really struggling, again. I feel flat and empty one minute and suddenly overcome by every negative emotion the next. I’ve felt a bit useless and feel like my life is a bit pointless, like I’m not doing anything useful and have no real purpose.  It’s even affecting my performance in the gym (which i usually love and am so motivated for) and everything feels like a bit of an effort.

I’m writing this because I know a lot of people are struggling too, in the past few weeks it has got harder and I think the lack of sunlight is probably not helping. It’s harder to get up and start the day in a positive mood, and I think Christmas is also quite a difficult time because it is meant to be so joyful and happy.

So if you’re reading this and can relate, just know the feelings will pass and know that there’s at least one other person who feels the same. I’ve felt a lot worse than this, say at the start of the year, and got through that, so I can get through this.

Featured

Tips for recovery

The process of recovery takes a lot of work and so I thought I’d compile a list of the things I do nearly every day in order to stay on the right path. I truly believe these things will also help people who are not recovering from mental illness, particularly those who are in a weird patch of life eg some of my friends who have graduated and are a bit lost on what to do next. These things work for me and I’d love to hear what else you do too…

1. Write everything down in a diary at the end of the day – this helps me identify what makes me feel good/bad ie what I should keep doing and what triggers negative thoughts

2. Talk to parents/friends if feeling down or anxious about something – not always easy but once you’ve done it once it gets easier. I’ve spoken to ma bestie every day since January and I don’t know what I’d do without her

3. Set little goals every night/morning for the day ahead – I think this is SO important and I’ve told a few of my friends to do this too. It makes you feel accomplished and gives you something to work towards each day. Goals are v small, for example; get up and take the dog for a walk before 9, ring a friend, increase ma squat in the gym, go for a run, eat 5 fruit n veg – things you can easily achieve but will feel good to tick off

4. Exercise – I now prefer lifting weights and feeling super strong but I also love to sweat a lot through a hard run when I feel anxious. Going to the gym has got me through the past few months, it’s given me a reason to get up, talk to people and build on myself. I’ve got so much stronger, both physically and mentally, from going to the gym and I am v passionate about wanting to help other people through exercise too.

5. Eat good food – if I fuel my body with rubbish food I’m gonna feel rubbish generally. I eat at least double what I used to, but a majority of it is fish, rice, veg, fruit, porridge etc (and obvs choc when I need it)

6. Walk the dog – simple but v effective. Fresh air and time to think

7. Sleep a lot and get an early night – since I’ve started sleeping at around 10pm I’ve felt more refreshed and ready for the day. I sleep with the window slightly open and use thisworks pillow spray and stress roll on. I ensure I get at least 8 hours a night BUT always get up before 9 in order to feel productive. I think sleep is one of the most important things on this list.

8. Listen to podcasts – as I’ve said before I went off music for months, podcasts are easy to listen to and nice to have someone speaking (also v educational/funny). Some of my faves include There’s No Such Thing as a Fish, When Life Gives You Melons, Adulting and Mentally Yours

9. Take time out to read and relax. Some days I stretch or attempt to do some yoga, and others I just read (Bridget Jones lol) for an hour before bed, look after yourself

10. Allow myself to have low days when I feel really low – I’ll snuggle up with the dog and put on my favourite film etc. But I will ensure I have a shower etc before I do this, at least try to have a normal day before I give in

Back to ‘normality’??

Featured

I haven’t posted on here in a while because I thought there was nothing to say. However, there is! In the past few weeks I’ve felt the most ‘normal’ that I have in literally years.

I have found my focus has returned – I can read books and watch TV, I can look after myself and the dog, I do my washing etc (so my parents have even been able to go away on holiday!), I even ENJOY listening to music again. It has taken months (am now 10 months along from when I moved back home and dropped out etc) but I am getting there.

To be honest I’m writing this with happy tears in my eyes. I never thought I’d drive, yet now I fill up my car twice a month and LOVE driving myself to the gym and to see my friends. I’m the most confident I’ve ever been – I even put myself out there and choose to socialise in the gym with strangers (hope I’m not too annoying lol). I’m pretty happy in my own skin (probs helped by my lovely new specs and my progress in the gym) and I don’t obsess about my appearance/food/what other people think. Yes, I still have down days but they are 100x easier to get through and so spread out.

The point in this post is to offer hope for those who are going through depression and anxiety. If you are considering getting help, I cannot recommend it enough. Stick it out, see it through and give it your all, its so worth it.

I am not ‘cured’ – I’m still on my medication and I know these conditions may be with me forever, BUT I am living a ‘normal’ life again. I’ve even been away on holiday for 5 days with my friends!! I may not have a ‘real’ job yet but I have direction and HOPE, I actually want to live and know that I want to help people.

You may not see the light at the end of the tunnel but trust me that everything will get so much better. My inbox is always open to anyone who wants to talk anything through, thank you so much to everyone who has helped and is helping me, I owe you all. X

The small signs

Featured

I feel such a sad irony that I currently write all my cbt tasks in a Kate Spade notebook. I call it my ‘crazy book’ and I feel that even though I call myself ‘crazy’, it is still an insult to hear from or to call others. When I first told my parents of my ‘crazy book’ they flinched, I’m not crazy I’m just ill.

I thought I would try and use this post to highlight some of the symptoms of depression that have been surprising and unexpected to me. Although each person’s experience is completely unique, I wanted to focus on the unusual symptoms I had/have, in the case that it may be useful for you to notice in other people or yourself.

I lost so much of my memory and brain function. In my exams in January I could barely recall anything, despite believing I had comfortably learnt everything over the Christmas break. I felt like my brain couldn’t process simple maths, let alone understand economics lol. I kept forgetting little things like having already put my washing on or the passwords for my email accounts etc.

A strange one for me was that I lost all interest in music. For those who know me, music was pretty central to my life. According to Spotify I listened to 66,000 minutes of music in one year, but I began to HATE it all. I couldn’t stand to have it on.

I also lost motivation in working or doing well. Previously I would revise and cram until 2am the night before an exam to ensure I knew everything I possibly could, but this time around I was not bothered and gave up before 9pm.

I didn’t care if I showered or left the house looking a bit of a mess. I used to refuse to leave the house without a shower but when I was at my lowest I didn’t care whether I showered for days.

Some days I would sleep in and sleep through lectures, then nap in the afternoon and get an early night – I wouldn’t really want to be awake and doing everything despite knowing that I should. Other nights I wouldn’t be able to sleep at all and would still skip my lectures as I would be tired.

I started to go out way too much and got into a bit (a lot) of a mess every night out. At uni this doesn’t really stand out, as everyone goes out a lot, especially in Newcastle, but I wouldn’t really care what happened to me. This is v irresponsible but I didn’t give a shit (sorry but I needed to swear). I didn’t know what was wrong and why I didn’t want to be sober but I knew that something felt wrong and I preferred to forget about it. I still have a v bad relationship with alcohol and really do want to cut it out my life as it heightens my anxiety incredibly, and is obviously a depressant.

I’ve been extremely short tempered and angry. I’ve exploded over the most trivial things, been irritable and just generally very unpleasant to be around (I really do apologise to everyone who encountered me in these moods).

Sometimes I feel it takes you to notice the changes in yourself to be able to tell that something is wrong. One of my friends said to me ‘you’re always up and down’ and I realised that no, I’m down most of the time, I very rarely feel happy or okay, and that’s when I decided I needed help. Everything started to make sense and everyone close to me started to realise that I had probably been ill for a much longer time than we originally thought. If you’ve noticed any negative or weird changes in yourself, such as those I’ve mentioned, I do urge you to ask yourself if you’re okay, and if not, speak to someone or try to reach out for help, it’s so so worth it.

 

 

 

Long time no speak

Over the past few weeks I’ve learned how important it is to live your life the way you want to. There’s nothing more important than doing what’s best for you, whether that’s what everyone expects of you or not. For example, in order to gain strength and lift heavy things at the gym, I need to eat a lot of food. 90% of it is healthy, good food, and the other is food I really want that won’t give me any nutritional benefits.

I enjoy eating a lot, I enjoy going to the gym, I enjoy having chill time to read and going to bed early. I can get v carried away with what I think everyone expects me to do, eg ‘normal’ 22 year olds enjoy going out and getting drunk, having late nights and can see the gym as a chore. But it’s okay for me to not enjoy that anymore and do things differently. There may be a time when I do enjoy going out etc again, but right now alcohol does not mix well with my brain (I’m sure this is true for many others too – some who do not realise it themselves).

I’m becoming a lot more self aware, and learning to make decisions which are best for me. It’s okay to put yourself first and it’s more than okay to be in bed before 10 even on a Saturday night.

A dip in recovery

We all hear horror stories about how people with mental illness are treated in hospital, and I was shocked by my own experience on Tuesday night.

I didn’t expect to be treated the way that I was, but I wasn’t that surprised on reflection. I do take full responsibility for the fact I shouldn’t have been drinking (so much, if at all), but in the day time I felt good, surrounded by some of my closest friends. However, things took a turn for the worse during the evening and I ended up in A&E actively trying to harm myself and feeling extremely distressed and suicidal.

I have been called ‘crazy’, a ‘psycho’ and several other things by people who don’t understand, however I didn’t expect to be called a ‘drama queen’ and told to get out of the way of the ‘real patients’ in A&E by healthcare ‘professionals’.

I understand that not everyone can grasp how painful and serious an invisible illness can be. I understand that not everyone ‘gets it’ and I am so thankful that most of my friends and family at least try to understand, but the way I was treated was demeaning, embarrassing and caused me to be even more distressed whilst in crisis.

What upsets me the most is that the people treating me this way didn’t know me. They clearly didn’t understand how someone in crisis might present and clearly drew their own conclusions that were neither helpful, supportive, or indeed caring. They didn’t know that I was lucky enough to have a supportive family or supportive friends. If it were someone else in my situation on that night, without the network of support I have, then they might have pushed that person over the edge.

I am trying to see this as just a dip in my recovery, everyone says it’s not a smooth journey, however it is very hard to deal with when it does go wrong again. I don’t want this post to come across as me seeking sympathy, instead as a post to continue raising awareness for mental illness and being honest in how my recovery is going. There are so many people facing the same invisible battles, and not all of them will have support, and so from this experience I feel more motivated to try and help those without the support, when I am in a better place to do so.

I know staff in A&E departments are under huge pressure, but being able to recognise the mental health needs of patients should be as equally important as physical health.