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.

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)

Going Back To Therapy

I honestly thought I would never be going back to therapy. When I first found out I was going back to therapy, I felt like a failure, in all honesty. I cried when I went home after that appointment with crisis team where they told me to go back to therapy. All the thoughts in my head were amplified so much after the appointment, I couldn’t stop thinking that I was a failure. I felt like I let everyone down. I was doing so well before this stupid relapse (i have written a post on the relapse, you can read it here). I actually had hope and I had plans for the future. Well, hasn’t it gone to shit?

That’s made me very iffy about starting CBT again, I hope it helps, I really do. I am clutching at straws trying to find something that helps, things are really hard at the moment, I’ve decided that I well and truly hate my brain. My first appointment is on Thursday and I’m not sure if it’s an assessment or an actual therapy session. It just says you have an therapy appointment on the letter. I don’t know why but I need to know what kind of appointment I’m going into or my anxiety goes crazy, it happens all the time like I plan ahead every time I go out so I know what I am doing, it makes me feel such at ease.

After a week of thinking about it, I got a letter for my first appointment. The psych said he was going to put in an urgent referral so I guess he did.. with it being so fast. I started to think better and feel better about going to therapy. Healing is not linear, relapse does not erase your success and your speed doesn’t matter, forward is forward. I am being a bit hypocritical now, because I do this all the time but, don’t compare yourself to others; everyone’s recovery is different, some people may recover faster or slower. It doesn’t matter, what matters is you and your recovery.

I have read over my CBT posts, every single one and it’s helped calm my nerves. I don’t think I am going to write about each session as I guess it’s going to be simillar to my other sessions so there would be no point of writing about the sessions. I may do a monthly update though.

 

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

Book Review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Audrey can’t leave the house. she can’t even take off her dark glasses inside the house.

Then her brother’s friend Linus stumbles into her life. With his friendly, orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again – well, Starbucks is a start. And with Linus at her side, Audrey feels like she can do the things she’d thought were too scary. Suddenly, finding her way back to the real world seems achievable.

The main character in this book, Audrey, has major anxiety and panic attacks due to horrifying bullying. Throughout the book, she struggles with it and visits her therapist frequently, making a really good relationship between them both. She finds a friend through her brother, Linus. Linus was respectful of Audrey’s issues and supported her throughout her struggles. It hit home for me as I have a friend exactly like Linus who supported me in my recovery with my mental health.

I have never read a book that is so detailed and realistic about mental health. When reading the therapy part of the books, especially the exposure therapy, which I have done in therapy, it was mindblowing as it was the same questions asked by Dr Sarah in the book, that my therapist actually asked me when I went through therapy.

The author, Sophie Kinsella, has done a fantastic job on this book and it is obvious that she has researched the topic because the book is phenomenal.

My favourite part of the book was the friendship between Linus and Audrey developing, turning romantic too. I liked how he was so supportive of her, going out with her for exposure therapy. This is the only book I’ve read that includes mental health recovery in it, a lot of young adult books don’t really include this or go into as much detail as Sophie Kinsella did in this book, I hope more books follow this path as I truly think it will help destigmatize mental illness,

Overall, I really liked this book, it was an easy read, very realistic in terms of mental illness and overall a very good book, If you haven’t read it, I recommend you to!

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: 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.