Well, hello 2019!

I can’t say I’m not happy to see you! 2018 has been one hell of a year full of relapses, grieving, and concerts. I can’t say I was expecting the year that I have had. It started off really badly, I had a major relapse, arguably the worst one I’ve ever had and I attempted suicide. I was in a dark, bottomless pit which I thought I was never going to get out. Weeks of crisis team appointments, a psychiatrist appointment, and more CBT, I slowly got out that bottomless pit with the help of new medication, my amazing group of friends and therapy.

I got my first ever tattoo, which meant a lot to me. It’s a semi-colon, which you probably know the meaning of, but if not you can read about the semi-colon project here. It’s a really beautiful idea and I truly love my tattoo, it hurt but it was so worth it. I also went to three concerts last year, arguably the best parts of the year! I met a group of people at my first concert last year who are amazing and have helped me so much, we always get barrier which is an added bonus! I saw Pale Waves twice and HAIM, they were both equally amazing live.

I turned 20 this year, I also hit the one year milestone of my current job which is great! I never thought I’d last that long, especially with how bad the start of the year was!

I also found my love for Greys Anatomy last year, which has impacted my mental health in a good way (very cliché, i know) but honestly, it is such a great TV show, it may have took me 3 to 4 months to catch up, but I thoroughly enjoyed every episode!

My mum was rushed into hospital towards the end of last year, she had a stroke. She wasn’t doing very well but the stroke was very sudden. This hit me so hard, I was doing well and this truly tested my relapse prevention. She fought all she could but she sadly passed away after a few weeks in hospital. I was so shocked, she was doing well but her body just couldn’t take no more. I miss her so much, but I am motivated to do her proud, to start writing again as she loved me doing what I truly loved.

All in all, the year wasn’t too bad apart from the start and the end haha! 2019 is my year, the year that I am going to take more time out for myself and hopefully write more!

I hope you all had a great Christmas and a great new year. May the year bring health, happiness and success for all. 

I AM IN RECOVERY

Recovery, recovery, recovery. I got told last week by my therapist that I am in recovery! I am so lucky to have a great support system including my best friend – who I found through the mental health community on twitter! Without the support I received, I would have never been able to get into recovery. Some things have been hard, some have been easy. I thought I’d write a post on this explaining what was hard, what was easy and what I am feeling at this moment about being in recovery and of course, the future!

I am being honest, I have been from the day I started this blog. It’s not been easy, this journey over the last few years has been hard, I’ve had CBT twice, got rushed to A&E and relapsed twice, but most importantly, I’ve learned a lot. Learning about relapse prevention, things to do when I am feeling like I did before I got rushed to A&E. I have also learned that it’s okay to feel low, it’s okay to have a bad day once in a while,  it’s just about managing those bad days, doing things you enjoy.  I’ve gotten back into reading and pursuing a new hobby which is drawing.  It’s turning out to be hard but very fun and relaxing to do!  The following things have been the most important and most significant things I have learned through my journey.

Self-care

This seems like a fairly obvious thing to do, but when you are in the lowest of lows, you truly forget what self-care is and how to actually do it. During my years of battling my mental health, I fell out of love with a lot of things that I used to do. Reading and writing were the two biggest things. I used to love doing both, they were a go-to thing for me to do every night. I have learned to take time out of every day to focus on self-care. I have also learned many other methods such as journaling and drawing. Self-care helps me so much, it’s the best thing I’ve learned.

I am not alone

I have always felt alone and I still do from time to time. I don’t know why I feel alone, maybe it’s my depression but I truly don’t know. I have learned that I am far from alone. I pushed people away at my lowest points and I am still feeling guilty for doing that. I lost a lot of friends. I found the mental health community on twitter about two years ago now. It has changed my life, I have made so many friends for life and have met amazing people through the community. It truly has saved my life.

You are not your illness

When I got told I have depression and anxiety when I first sought help. It truly scared me, I didn’t know what the true meaning of depression and anxiety was. I thought my life was over, I thought I couldn’t get better, but it was far from over and I could get better. I remember being told by my GP that “your diagnosis doesn’t define you, it doesn’t make you who you are, it’s just a word” I always try to remember that. I have it written on my phone in my notes so I can always access it. Since then, I have been diagnosed with BDD, social anxiety and panic disorder. However, I don’t believe I have social anxiety or panic disorder anymore.

 

I am so grateful of the help and support I have received the past few years, my journey still isn’t over but I am feeling very good about the future and what I have planned; concerts (obviously!!) and even more writing and reading. Thank you to all the people who have read my blog since I first started it. It means a lot and the comments have motivated me to get where I am today. Thank you.

3 Things Therapy Has Taught Me

I’ve spent more hours in therapy than I can ever remember, I have had low intensity and high-intensity CBT, it has been a long, hard battle and some days I absolutely hated therapy, but I also loved it at the same time. I learned so much from therapy, it still shocks me when I read through what I have all learned. I thought it would be a good idea to write about a few of the things I’ve learned from therapy, with it being #WorldMentalHealthDay, I thought it was the best post to write out of all the ideas and drafts I have!

I blogged about each session of my first lot of CBT, you can read them here

Know Your Triggers

This was one of the first things I learned and by far the most important thing I’ve taken from anything in my lifetime. I always saw myself as someone who never really got triggered by much but when I first spoke about it with a professional, I realised I do have triggers. Once I learned them, I avoided them with all costs and I actually seen an improvement in my mental health, especially my depression. I have words related to my triggers muted on my twitter and it’s made me love twitter more! I feel like it’s impossible to totally avoid your triggers, but you can put things in place to try to.

I Am Not My Mental Illness

When I first got diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I was in the worst place of my life, I thought I was “crazy”. I was positive I would never be the same again, people wouldn’t see me in the same way. It took me a few weeks and a few therapy sessions to finally figure out that my diagnosis doesn’t define me, I am not crazy, I am just struggling, and that’s okay. It’s an illness, it’s not me. It’s depression, anxiety, body dysmorphic disorder but it is not me.

Recovery Isn’t Linear

I was in a mind-set that when I finish therapy, I will be fully in control of my mental health, not having to suffer ever again. How wrong could I be? I had no education or real knowledge about mental health so I was obviously going to think that. My recovery since that has been anything but linear, relapses, ending up in A&E, having to go to the crisis team and having to have more therapy, but that is okay. I have learnt that recovery is never easy, it is never just a straight line. I will always have bad days, I may relapse again but I have the information, the numbers for the crisis team, the knowledge on how to notice my relapses, what to do when I relapse and such.

 

I’m sorry for the short post, I’ve been so busy in work and thought I should write something for today!

A little update

I haven’t blogged since April 22nd. The last few months have been tough, to say the least. There have been some good parts though!

Since that post, I have finished my group therapy, coming to the end of my low-intensity CBT, saw HAIM and Pale Waves live and relapsed twice.

The HAIM concert blew me away. I had waited years to see them live. I went by myself (cya later social anxiety!) and I had the best time of my life! They were amazing and also sounded incredible! I have just got tickets to see the 1975 again in January! I went to see Pale Waves for the second time last week, it was one of the best nights of my life. All the best people were there and we had a great time! Booking things like concert, makes me not want to give up, it is such a big thing for me to have things to look forward to in the future.

Throughout these months, I have tried so hard to get back into blogging, but it just wasn’t happening. I truly love blogging with all my heart, I spent so many hours perfecting this website and it annoys me that my stupid brain has made me stop enjoying writing.

In the last few sessions in therapy, we have gone over behavioural activation to treat my severe depression and also I have learnt to use weekly planners again. My therapist wants me to do things that I need to do, such as doing the laundry, going shopping and stuff that would give me pleasure in the past, such as reading, writing. I have learnt that with my low mood, it makes me avoid stuff which I used to love doing. Before last week, I hadn’t properly read in months… I know, right?! I have also been taught how to be more positive, at the end of every day I have to write three positive things about the day and it’s actually really helping, I love doing it!

I am so sorry to people who follow my blog, I really want to blog. I have tons of ideas but I just can’t start writing? This post has been a week in the making… just for a life update post?!

All in all, after my relapses, I am doing pretty well at the moment. I feel low, but that is just the usual for me now. I am back into reading, loving work again and hopefully getting back into blogging, so expect more posts from me in the coming weeks!

Loving My Body More

For years, i have struggled with my body image. Last year I got diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder. As I’m writing this, it’s been a bad day body image wise and the beautiful weather the last few days doesn’t help! Even though I’ve learned to love my body throughout my time in therapy, I still have the odd bad day, but that is totally okay! With it being a bad day, I had an idea to write a post about this topic, as when I first got diagnosed what I did first was google and read many articles, websites and watch many youtube videos on how to love your body, so I thought this would be a good post to write and it may help others which would be amazing.

I remember first struggling with my body image in my school years. I have always seen myself as ugly, weirdly shaped and just not attractive at all. This manifested in many self-damaging behaviors, including self-harm. I had CBT last year, throughout that I learned a fair few things about BDD and my relationship with my body. I learned that how I view my body wasn’t correct and was a distorted view.

In all honesty, when I got told I had BDD, I felt low, it got me feeling so low I had more horrible, intrusive thoughts than ever. But I spoke about it with my doctor and my therapist, after I got a better understanding of it, I was feeling a lot better about it and was confident that CBT would help it – it’s one of the best things for BDD, that and medication, which at the time, I was on both… talk about great timing, eh?! I knew it was going to be a long long road to recovery, and to this day I am still on that road.

The first thing I did on this road to learning to love my body more is to try and limit myself to how many times I can look in the mirror and how long for each time. I was going to completely stop but that wouldn’t be helpful I thought because stopping something I have done for a long time can have negative effects, which I could do without! Atidepressants also kick started me in beating BDD. I heard it was the best thing for me to do, medication and therapy, it helped me in terms of giving me that push in the right direction and is also helping me manage my mental illness’.

I’ve always worn oversized, long clothes to hide my body, so this was the second thing I was aiming to do. Luckily, as I was in therapy and at the time we were focusing on my body views and such, I was getting ready to jet off to sunny, beautiful Tenerife for a week! What a perfect opportunity to fight my safety blanket of covering my body with clothes, because obviously wearing clothes that are big obviously isn’t the best in blistering weather. It went well, I think it was easier because everybody was wearing the same sort of clothes, so my brain thought nobody would notice me, which it was right.. For once. When I landed back onto beautiful british soil, it was sunny (surprisingly) so I carried on what I was doing and looking back, I think this was the thing that had the most impact on me. I can now wear shorts without feeling that anxious (as i am writing this, it’s snowing so no shorts for a while…)

CBT has proved vital in my quest to improve my body image, and obviously there are going to be bad days but with the techniques, i’ve learnt, hopefully, it wont get as bad as it did before CBT, but it’s looking likely that I am going back to 1 to 1 therapy so maybe I will go over the techniques!  If you are reading this and struggle with your body image, please don’t forget that it can and will get better. It may seem like it is never going to happen but just hang in there and keep trying to fight it. There is loads of support out there, such as the bdd foundation (https://bddfoundation.org/) which has tons of resources for people who struggle or for people who want to help other people.

 

 

(so sorry for my recent absence from blogging, I’m working so much in my job and I’ve just had no time to blog, same with reading, hoping to get more posts out in the upcoming weeks x)

My Experience In A&E

 

Trigger warning: this post includes discussion about suicide and self-harm

A month ago, I attempted to take my own life. I was rushed to A&E. I was obviously not in the right mindset to be thinking about things but I kept thinking about all the horror stories I’ve heard about people going into A&E for a suicide attempt or just for their mental health.

To be honest, thinking like that obviously did me no good as I was panicking since the moment I stepped into A&E.

I then seen the doctor, they asked questions about what I did, why I did it and would I do it again. All questions I expected to be asked and to answer. What surprised me is how supportive the doctor was, they were so understanding of my situation and why I did it. They explained how it was the wrong thing to do and how they knew how hard it was to not act on thoughts when you are in such a low place.

A few hours later, multiple ECGs and blood tests, I got put into resus. I had to be monitored in case I deteriorated which was pretty much certain to happen because of what I did and how I did it.

Everyone who saw me in resus, the nurses, doctors and everyone, were so nice and supportive. When I was being moved to resus I was scared that everyone would look down on me because of what I did, but nobody did that.

The A&E liaison team asked to see me, we went into a separate room and talked. All of a sudden I wake up in the bed I left to see the team… I didn’t know what was happening, oxygen mask on and I immediately had a panic attack. I got told I had a seizure whilst speaking to the  A&E liaison team. They said it was due to what I did. I was being monitored more than ever and everyone was just as supportive. 

I know there’s a lot of horror stories about going to A&E for something related to your mental health, but everyone’s experience is different.

A month on from what I did, things are getting better. It may be slower than ever, but they are still getting better. Looking back at things, when I first did what I did, I didn’t regret it and wish it worked. Now, I totally regret what I did and I am so happy it didn’t work.

If you are struggling, the Samaritans are free to call at:

  • 116 123 (UK)
  • 116 123 (ROI)

Reflecting on the past week or so

TRIGGER WARNING, suicide.

This past week has been by far the worst week ever in my life.

I ended up in A&E on the 26th after being in crisis acting on one of my horrible suicidal thoughts, having a seizure in hospital related to that and having to stay in overnight. I see the crisis team almost every day now and I’m seeing a psychiatrist on Wednesday, praying for some answers to why my mood fluctuates from the lowest of the lows to feeling amazing and feeling like I can conquer the world.

I can’t stop worrying about my appointment tomorrow, a part of me is wanting a new diagnosis of some sort as I know something is really wrong somewhere, but I’m just going to try and not focus on that and just focus on getting better, day by day.

I am sorry for the lack of posts and what not; I was expecting to write a lot more posts but this last week or so has just taken it all out of me.

If you are struggling, the Samaritans are free to call at

The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die.     

Juliette Lewis

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!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.