How I Am Managing My Mental Health In Work

In 2016, I finished training to be a chef and went into my first ever job, at first I absolutely adored it but slowly after that, I was doing more and more hours and it was ruining my mental health.

After having numerous breakdowns, towards the end of the year, I had to quit. This was heartbreaking for me, quitting my first ever job in an industry that I dreamed to work in. It just wasn’t meant to be, my mental health went to the lowest it had ever been whilst working. I just couldn’t handle it.

After quitting, I reached out for help from my GP for my mental health. I then waited and went through low and high-intensity CBT. I have learnt how to manage my mental health more and

Fast-forward to now, 2018 (it still feels weird writing 2018). I am working in a job that I absolutely love. It may not be my childhood dreams but it’s a job and I am forever grateful to have one that I like.

Through my time in CBT and time off from working, I have learnt several ways to manage my mental health in work.

Taking time out for myself.
I learnt that this is so important to do, everyone should aim to do this at least every week. I set one day which I am off work that week to dedicate to myself, to do whatever I love, may it be writing, sleeping, blogging, going out.

It gives me time to just think and that’s what I missed when I worked as a chef. I didn’t get the time to just think, whenever I was off work I was just catching up on sleep.

Forgetting about work when I finish.

Seems fairly obvious to forget but I always used to worry about work even when I finished, constant thoughts of “did I take the right amount of cake out the freezer?” “is everything ready for breakfast tomorrow?” My brain never seemed to switch off.

This was a hard one to learn, I feel like everyone who works does this sometimes, people must worry about work at home, but when it is constant every single day then it gets a big problem.

I have to admit I still tend to do this from time to time, but not half as much as I did in my previous job. I think a part of it was down to how busy my previous job was and how short staffed we were.

Telling your manager/boss about your mental health.

This was extremely hard for me, I waited months to tell my new boss as I had to make sure he was trustworthy but it turns out he was!

It’s helped so much telling my boss about my mental health, I am open to all the people I work with now (we’re a small tight team) and they are so supportive and can actually notice when I am panicking or overly anxious.

 

Learning to do all of this has been a struggle, to say the least. However, now I am working and managing my mental health a lot better it seems like I am slowly but surely getting my life back on track – I don’t want to stay in this job for the rest of my life but I am currently planning a career change which is very exciting!

 

 

 

My goals for 2018.

I thought it’d only make sense for my first post of the new year to be based on my goals for the new year.

2017 was a year full of change, I started and finished CBT, started antidepressants which have changed my life. I made so many friends within the MH blogger community which I feel like will be my friends for all my life.

2018 is the year I am going to thrive in every single way possible. My aim is to make 2018 the best year I’ve ever had. I will keep learning how to manage my mental health better and put me first.

So, as the title says.. here are my goals for 2018.

1) GO TO LONDON! It was a goal from therapy to go to London last year but couldn’t go last year, so I am 100% going next year to explore and meet with a few blogging friends who I have been dying to meet since talking to them on twitter!

2) SELF CARE! I know I blab on about self care and how important it is, but truthfully since getting my new job I haven’t done much self care, which has affected me a lot, especially my moods. I am dedicating at least four days a week to do a hour or more of self care each day!

3) BLOGGING! I haven’t blogged in months, I truly let my old blog go down the train, down to the reason of having absolute no time to think about it, I have been working so much overtime the past few months I’ve not even had time to tweet as much as usual! (which is very surprising, I tweet LOADS!)

4) CAMPAIGNING! I have always wanted to do this but haven’t had the confidence up until now. I love the work people in this community do with campaigning, like Jodie and Andrea (they are both AMAZING!) I would love to do the same work as they do, as you guys probably know I am a media volunteer for Time To Change so this will obviously help me with campaigning. With struggling with my mental health for a long time, it’s made me more passionate to de-stigmatize mental health as I truly know how it feels to be stigmatized.. it took me years to seek help, and I don’t want that to happen to others.

I am feeling confident that I will complete at least half of these goals!

I hope you all had a great Christmas and new years and I hope you all have a fab 2018!

Lets make 2018, our year.

Book Review: Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

 

(thanks to my amazing friend Rosie for taking this flatlay for me you can find her blog here and her twitter here)

What does it mean to feel truly alive?

Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living.

This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again. A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

I really loved reading this, I really resonated it whilst reading as I also struggle with depression. Matt has got this book spot on. The self-help parts are really helpful and I have written down some of the information to use myself. I like how Matt recommended books in this as well.

He writes from personal experience and this is what makes this book so raw and powerful. I felt really inspired whilst reading. Matt went through so much and it must have taken a lot to write about the raw emotional times like when he was in Ibiza and close to jumping off a cliff.

This isn’t your typical half memoir half self-help book. It’s written for younger people which I think is great and everyone should read this book sometime in their life time. I loved how he included advice from his twitter followers, I was surprised when I read it but I thought – this is amazing, having other people give advice so if the reader is suffering they can feel like they are far from the only one suffering.

The book also has some witty parts which I think books of this genre should have. It gives a break from the raw emotion. As the title of the book suggests, this book gives you many reasons on why you should stay alive and why not to let depression defeat you.

My favourite part of the book is the forty pieces of advice how to live. It includes advice like “Don’t worry about things that probably won’t happen” and “Three in the morning is never the time to try and sort out your life”. Those pieces of advice really stood out to me as I tend to worry about everything and anything.

However, I didn’t like the view he had on medication, fair enough it doesn’t work for everyone but the way he wrote about it is like it would never work ever, which isn’t true

I feel like everyone should read this book, whether you suffer from mental illness or not. It truly is a beautiful piece of writing.

 

 

 

Book Review: The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix-tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks Of being a wallflower follows the life of Charlie, the introverted main character. Written as a series of letters documenting his life as a first-year student, tackling hard issues such as suicide, family death and his mental issues of hearing voices. Charlie wasn’t enjoying high school that much, he had no friends until he met Sam And Patrick, who were step-siblings, they were last year students. They introduced him to the student life; parties, love and friendship. Charlie was a lot happier as soon as he met his friends. That was when the voices suddenly stopped. When he knew he has a life to enjoy when he met amazing people.

In the letters he wrote we got to learn a lot about Charlie as a person, his family, his friends and most importantly, himself. Charlie has a passion for writing and English as he writes about how much he likes his English teacher Bill and how much Bill encourages him to read.

His friends, Sam and Patrick would leave for university. Would Charlie take this well? Would he cope without his love of his life, Sam?

This book is down right beautiful, it is an amazingly fast read and it was the first ever book that made me feel like I couldn’t put it down until I read the end of the letter, then the end of the next letter… and then the book was finished. What makes this book so beautiful is how real it is, how real it is, especially in the relation of high school and Charlie’s experience. It took me back to my high school days which I never really liked, but this book brought me back to them and no book has ever done that.

I was recommended this book by many friends and I am so happy I listened to them and read it, it is by far one of my favourite books and I’m sure it’ll stay there, forever.

 

 

 

Book Review: Washed Away: From Darkness To Light by Nikki DuBose

 

Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is a memoir that recounts the experiences of model Nikki DuBose as she overcomes a more than seventeen-year battle with abuse, child sexual victimization, eating disorders, psychosis, alcoholism, drugs, depression, suicide attempts, body dysmorphic disorder, and various other mental health issues, all while trying to navigate through the dark side of the fashion industry.
Her journey began as a young, introverted child with a florid imagination growing up in Charleston, South Carolina. By the age of eight she had been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused and had developed an eating disorder. The abuse warped Nikki’s self-perception and sparked patterns of psychosis, depression and destructive behavior that stayed with her into adulthood. In her early twenties she began working as a television host and started a career in modeling. Eventually Nikki attained success, appearing on the covers of magazines such as Maxim, shooting for editorials like Vanity Fair, Glamour and FHM, and appearing in campaigns for Perry Ellis.

I received this book in exchange for a review.

At times this was a hard but compelling read, but you’d expect it to be as it is about mental illness and how honest she was in the way she wrote about it, which makes a hard but amazing read almost always. After reading this book it just made me think how strong Nikki is as a person, especially writing about her own struggles which I know how tough it is, it’s tough for me to write a blog, imagine how hard it’d be to write a whole book! That shows how strong she is as a person and a mental health campaigner. She truly opens a window to see how it truly is living with mental illness’

The best part of this book is Nikki’s honesty, throughout the book she is honest with her childhood and her mental health, I think this makes the book how amazing it is. She was totally honest about abuse, surgery and her struggles with self-harm and addiction.

She has now left the industry and is focusing towards writing, public speaking and being a mental health advocate. I was really happy when I read that she left the industry, she is doing a great job as a writer as you can tell!

Nikki DuBose is an amazing mental health advocate and after reading this, it made me realise how much respect I have for her. I recommend to read this book, it is truly eye opening and teary at times! (I cried whilst reading it at points!)

If you want to buy this book, you can buy it here:

Amazon

You can follow Nikki on

Twitter

 

 

CBT: Final Session

I got discharged after this session, my therapist thinks I am ready and to be honest, I felt ready but I did feel a bit lost a few hours after being discharged, but I am feeling more motivated every day!

We filled out the usual questionnaire, and for the first time in 7 months, I got two number 0’s one on agitated and one on thoughts, which incidents I’ve not had any feelings of agitation like usually and no thoughts and urges really!

This session we filled out the maintaining progress log, it has things which I should do if I feel like I’m getting out of control again, and it has things to remind me of how well I’ve done recently, for example, the “what have I learned” section includes “exposure therapy has helped a lot” “Big I Little I – BDD method” “tools to manage my moods and urges”

Also, it includes triggers of mine so I can see what situation will be a trigger and mentally prepare for that situation. I really like this log as it just shows me how much I’ve learnt and gives me tips and information which is vital, especially if I feel like I am losing control.

It’s been twenty-one sessions of CBT. I honestly thought I’d be in it for years, I had no faith or motivation from my first session, but look at me now! I’d like to thank all my blogging friends for helping me on this journey throughout therapy, couldn’t have done it without you guys, you are all amazing.

If you’re just starting therapy or waiting for therapy and not feeling motivated, I know exactly how you feel, but if you put in the effort into it then there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.

 

 

 

CBT: Twentieth Session

This is my first session since being back from holiday, I thought I’d update you with how the holiday was, as it would make this post longer because my session this week wasn’t that in-depth.

The holiday was amazing! The first day or so wasn’t. My anxiety was the worst it has been in weeks. However, I just did many techniques I’ve learnt throughout CBT and I was back to enjoying my holiday! I challenged BDD by wearing shorts every single day on holiday and it was amazing!

This session just consisted of talking about my holiday and talking about what I want to get out of therapy. My therapist thinks I have improved drastically and she said she didn’t think I would have improved as good as I have done in the time I’ve been in CBT.

I’ve stopped SH, I’ve challenged my social anxiety and challenged my negative core beliefs which I thought were true and right, but turns out by challenging them I have learnt they are not true at all! I am so happy with how far I’ve come and high-intensity CBT has honestly changed my life.

My therapist showed me a “maintaining progress log” which we will fill out in the upcoming sessions as basically my own blueprint for my own therapy when I finish CBT. It will help with relapse prevention and if I need to phone anyone or have more therapy then that’ll also be on there. This is the first time since starting therapy that I actually feel that I am getting more ready to finish therapy. It’s not so scary for me anymore.

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking back to January. I was in the darkest place, I was honestly worried about my own safety and I had almost no one to speak to about my mental health, 6 months later and I have so many supportive friends and I’m close to finishing CBT. I thought this would never happen, but it has.

Things do get better. Even if they seem near impossible to get better, they can and will.

 

 

CBT: Nineteenth Session

Before I go into writing this post fully, this is my last post for a week as I am off to sunny Tenerife for a weeks holiday!

This week, I started an annoying nervous habit of sniffing up, it’s not hayfever or a cold, it’s just an annoying habit which I want to stop! My therapist said it’s more than likely related to my MH. The only way to challenge it is habit reversal, she also said because I’m so conscious about it, I could be doing it more so I need to learn to not be so conscious about it and it may stop – easier said than done, but I can do it!

As my therapist knew I was going on holiday, this session was all about that, basically talking about it and asking me how I felt about going. I am scared of going on holiday as I’m going to be the furthest away from home I’ve ever been, the furthest away from my safe place. Also, because it’s going to obviously be hot, I will be wearing shorts which will be very uncomfortable for me due to my body dysmorphia, but my therapist put it simply like this “everyone else will be wearing shorts, nobody will notice you” which is very true!

I mentioned that I am still doing my exposure therapy, but obviously, my therapist doesn’t want me to do it on holiday. I’m just scared of having no one to talk to in person about my MH if I struggle on my holiday.

I hope I can enjoy my holiday, I fly tomorrow and a part of me is excited but a part of me is very scared. I hope it turns out well and I have a good week to chill out and just have a break from working on my mental health and relax.

Sorry that this post is short, the session wasn’t such CBT based as some of the sessions are just talking and not much on CBT techniques!

CBT: Eighteenth Session

We mainly focused on BDD and my emotions/moods in this session, which I’m really happy about! I have wanted to challenge my BDD for ages but it just wasn’t time and there were other things to challenge, now is the time though and I am ready!

My therapist introduced me to a thought record sheet for my body dysmorphia, I will list all my thoughts about what I feel about my body and what I think others are thinking. I also have to list the situation/trigger which will help my therapist find my triggers and work on them. It also involves rating emotions, this record will help me as I will be able to find what is the worst situation for my BDD and then I can challenge it, slowly but surely.

We went over the negative core beliefs that we did many sessions ago, she asked me if I thought they were still true, because of all the work I’ve done. Many of them I thought were not true anymore, like where I was scared of people seeing me when I have a panic attack, turns out I don’t really look different. There are still a few that I feel I can work on, such as.  “I’m a failure” “I’m not good enough” There were a few more.. but I stupidly left my sheet in my session! Silly me!

I also looked at a worksheet called “wheel of emotions” My therapist gave me that just to reassure me that the feelings/emotions I have are perfectly normal. She also mentioned that my mood swings could just be more obvious as I am now obviously thinking about my moods.

I’m still doing the exposure therapy, it’s going really well and I’m actually feeling proud of myself for the first time in months!

CBT: Seventeenth Session

// T W // Self Harm 

 

Before I go into detail on this post, I would like to just say that I am certainly not bragging about having CBT, some people think I am. It’s like they think I like having therapy. Fun fact – I hate going therapy, I hate telling my therapist what I feel, I would never brag about doing something I fucking hate, I’m never going to stop blogging, it helps me and I’ve been told it helps others have an insight of therapy when they are worried about starting it. Nobody will stop me.

This session was really good, I should have been 6 weeks clean from self-harm on the day of the session but I self-harmed. However, I’m not letting it rule me, It’s one time in 6 weeks, I am so proud of myself for doing so, here’s to longer next time!

I asked my therapist about the assessment she mentioned as my mood swings are getting awful, really awful. But, because I’m in the IAPT system, I’ve got to see my GP first.. and she’s on annual leave, just my luck eh!

She asked me what I wanted to focus on, as all I am doing lately is exposure therapy for my social anxiety, which is actually going surprisingly well! I said I want to focus on BDD and on my mood and having things to get all my anger out, as I tend to snap at my friends and I hate myself for it.

 

Facing BDD is like facing social anxiety, it’s basically exposure therapy but without doing stuff to hide your body. For me, my exposure therapy includes wearing shorts and short sleeves, as I always wear jeans as my legs are a big part of my BDD and I always wear hoodies to hide my stomach and arms. I don’t quite feel ready for it at the moment, but my therapist says that’s okay! I need to still focus on my exposure therapy for my social anxiety as that needs to be a regular thing for me for the time being!

Hopefully, after I’m home from my holiday I’ll be able to see my doctor and get the reason for my horrific mood swings because I really need to get to the bottom of these as they are horrible and I can’t manage them at the moment.

Liam