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)

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

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: Sixteenth Session

I have had a fairly good week coming up to this session, things were going to plan, I did exposure therapy once and went out fishing every day, however.. my mood swings have been really bad, like I feel so depressed but half an hour later I’m on some sort of high and enjoying everything? It’s so tiring and frustrating… I know it’s not normal but I don’t know what’s causing it which is even more frustrating!

I also worry about losing my friends and being lonely. I told my therapist all of this, the session didn’t turn out to be like CBT but it was basically a talking session where I just spoke about what I was feeling, sometimes you need sessions like this, it really helps a lot!

My therapist mentioned that the mood swings can be caused by me working on my mental health as doing so can make you really happy or really depressed very often, I didn’t really think about it like that, but she is a therapist and I’m not smart haha!

We went to exposure therapy, she mentioned that I really need to try my hardest doing it more than once, but I am. It’s extremely hard and she knows that and said don’t get down about not being able to do it, easier said than done! I am hoping and praying I’ll do it more than once before my next session.

My therapist mentioned an assessment but didn’t say anything more about it. Truthfully, I want to ask for one as I know something isn’t wrong and I’m pretty sure it’s not to do with my mental illness’ I’ve been diagnosed with. That is just so scary for me, it may seem such a small thing to ask for but I’m honestly so scared of doing it, I hope I am able to ask, I really want to ask. Ugh, why are these things so hard?!

I hope my next session goes well, I’m not feeling confident about CBT at the moment, I’m not sure but all that confidence and hopefulness has just emptied out of me and I can’t find the reason why.

Liam

25 ways to indulge in self care. #MHAW17

Self-care is incredibly important, on your good days, and your bad days. Self-care is always needed. I try to take the time to self-care every day or so, but when I’m feeling bad, it’s hard but it’s still possible! I wrote a post on self-care, you can check it out here!

This post will include 25 methods of self-care, however, self-care is different for everyone! It’s important you find a few things that you do for self-care so you can alternate them each day or so!

  1. Have a nice, hot bubble bath.
  2. Read a book you enjoy, even if you’ve read it already!
  3. Go for a walk or a run.
  4. Go fishing, it’s really relaxing!
  5. Take a social media break, at times we need to do this.
  6. Clean your room, organise things.
  7. Play your favourite song, whether it be a piano, guitar or whatever you play!
  8. Draw! Draw anything! Let your mind run free!
  9. Have your favourite meal for lunch.
  10. Listen to your favourite songs or listen to a good upbeat playlist! (Spotify has loads!)
  11. Watch your favourite tv show or movie. (I recommend Shaun of the dead!)
  12. Take a chair outside and watch the sunrise/sunset
  13. Watch Netflix all day, if you want! (my favourite self-care method!)
  14. Search positive quotes and write them down on a piece of paper.
  15. Do some mindfulness activities.
  16. Have a go at meditation!
  17. Have a pamper night with one of your best friends, or by yourself!
  18. Watch funny fail videos on youtube and laugh for ages.
  19. If you have a to-do list, cross out some to-dos!
  20. Practice breathing methods.
  21. Get a towel, lay down on some grass and watch the clouds move.
  22. Go for a nice bike ride with some good scenic areas!
  23. Fix something you’ve been wanting to fix for ages!
  24. Wear your comfiest clothes, may it be a onesie, a hoody or whatever!
  25. Treat yourself. That new thing you saw in the shop and you want? Buy it!

As I said, self-care is different for everyone! I have listed 25, some that I actually do on a very regular basis! If you have any different methods and would like to share with people, comment on this post and people will see them!

Liam

CBT: Twelfth session

// TRIGGER WARNING – SELF HARM //

This post was meant to go up yesterday, but I actually went out and socialised! Shock! I had a great time and challenged my anxiety in multiple ways!As I made a list in the previous session, throughout the week I was trying to tick things off, and add things onto it. I found it really motivating to do so.

As I made a list in the previous session, throughout the week I was trying to tick things off, and add things onto it. I found it really motivating to do so.

I filled out the usual GAD-7 PHQ-9 questionnaire. The scores are going down slowly, which is great! We focused the session on what we can do to get the scores down. She mentioned that my depression can go down with doing things, challenging it. Not staying in all day where it’ll get worse and then the self-harm starts again. I’ve only self-harmed once in two weeks! I am beyond happy about this, things are looking so good it’s brilliant I LOVE IT! We also talked about the CBT formula and the cycle of depression, which I am apparently slowly breaking! Woo!

I mentioned how I seem to be so agitated and I tend to just snap at people lately, even my parents and sisters. I seem to snap for some reason. It makes me feel so crap when I just shout at them but I have no reason why I do so. I also explained how I sleep so much and it’s not making me feel any better, so she wants me to set up a schedule, for each week – I had one with my previous therapist but with my relapse of SH and being moved up to higher intensity therapist, I didn’t really stick by it.

The schedule for this week included getting up at 10 am, prevent boredom by doing things I love – reading, blogging, writing, fishing, listening to music etc. Go out with a friend, which I did yesterday and it was the best day for a long time! It also includes me buying a journal which I’ve already done – god I am getting this scheduled one brilliantly!!! I told her about my low self-esteem and how I feel about myself. She then mentioned trying a “positive qualities log” as she explained how people may say nice stuff, but when you’re struggling it just goes over your head and you don’t really take notice. This log should help me with that. I have to write everything people say positive about me, may it be in person, on twitter or anything!

After the schedule idea was explained and it sounded really good, I think it’ll help a lot. We talked more about my irritability, and like my snapping at people. She mentioned a stress ball and asked what I do to chill… I then realised I don’t really do much to chill and that’s where I could be going wrong. I need to chill out more.

I went on to how I feel about my depression getting better, but my anxiety is still really bad. I know that I am going to ask my doctor about propranolol to reduce the physical symptoms but I also need to make my anxiety go down with other things, not just medication. We are hopefully going to look at that soon – if my doctor does give me propranolol that is!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

 

CBT: Eleventh Session

// TRIGGER WARNING – SELF HARM //

I went into this session the best I’ve felt in a long time. I only self-harmed once in 7 days. I am so proud of myself for being clean for 7 days. I told my therapist this obviously, and she was so made up and she knew I was going to be so much happier when I start going out more. I went for a meal last Friday, a party on Saturday and wales on Sunday. That is such a big step for me with my social anxiety!

My therapist did say that once I start fighting my anxiety and panic attacks and start going out more, my depression will get slightly better over time and my self-harm should do.. and it is!

We basically just talked about what I did the last week, and what I wanted to. There was no CBT involved really, it was just talking and I love it when the session is like that, it’s ace to get things off my chest! I told her about my blog and volunteering with time to change. I also told her that I’m starting to really have an interest in mental health, however, I’ve not done any a-levels and spent my time in college training to be a chef so my life can only go down one route, but as my therapist said.. there’s always time to change! I can always do a-levels whenever I want to! Or even a counselling course!

She asked me to write a list of things I wanted to do. At first, I listed about 3 things as I was struggling, but we got talked about what I want to do and the list was massive!

The list is:

  • Go out more – challenge my anxiety
  • Start working again
  • Read more – it’s a good distraction for me
  • Going out alone – don’t be afraid to go out by myself
  • Go to London – meet some of my really close friends from twitter!
  • Meetup in July – try and go to a meetup in July.
  • Blog more, and do media for time to change.
  • Host talks – Something I’d love to do, express my passion in mental health and host talks in youth centres, schools etc.

I never realised this until yesterday. It’s good to have a list of goals what you want to do, it keeps me motivated, and whenever I feel low, all I have to do is look at the list to get motivated to feel better.

I’d recommend making a list of things you want to do, I am always adding things to it, it’s not a list of what you need to do as soon as possible, it’s just for motivation purposes and it’s helping me already!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam