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.

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

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.

 

 

Why I started blogging #MHAW17

I talked a bit about this in my post this week, social media & mental health. I thought it’d be a good topic to make a stand-alone post for, I’ve wanted to do one for a few weeks, but silly me hasn’t got around to doing it! Pro procrastinator over here.

I started blogging early January this year if I remember correctly, it is the same week I started CBT for the first time. My first post was my introduction to CBT. I started blogging because my therapist mentioned that I should have something where I can just vent, and just write whatever I want. A friend of mine mentioned blogging, I thought it was too late at first because there are many bloggers out there. I then realised I don’t do it for views or whatever I get, I do it for a place to vent, I still do.

I remember spending ages writing my first post and putting it out. It was scary, but it was a good feeling actually writing stuff. It got such a good and lovely response I was honestly shocked. I didn’t expect people to read my posts – I’m not the best writer at all…

I got into blogging real quick, I was doing a post every two days, I had so many things to write about and get off my chest, it really did my mental health good to start blogging and join the community of mental health bloggers. I was writing personal posts just because I wanted to, it was scary, posting about your life on a blog where anyone in the world could see, but it was good to do so, as I said before, it felt good.

I’ve not stopped blogging since I started, and I always tweet, like way too much. I’m so happy I started blogging, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have made so many supportive friends in this community, it really has made me a better person. The community is so positive and supportive and that’s why I love blogging so much, I am happy my friend mentioned blogging to me.

 

A letter to Gemma #MHAW17

Where do I start? You are such a great friend, you may not realise this but you’ve saved my life. Being able to speak to you about anything and everything really helps. I feel like a burden to you sometimes, but I know that is just my MH speaking, and I know you truly care about me, and that’s amazing as I feel like not many people do.

I love how you are always there for me, anytime, any day. I can always rely on you to cheer me up with your hilarious jokes (you are so funny it’s unreal)I don’t know how you do it, but whenever I have urges or horrible thoughts, speaking to you makes them all go away or makes them controllable.

I remember you helping me with finding sites for stock photos, and ever since then we have become so close friends, and I am so happy for that. If I didn’t have a friend like you, I don’t know where I would be, or what would happen to me really.

You are a star, you are absolutely brilliant and beautiful. You are so kind to everyone on twitter, and I am so fortunate to have you in my life, you deserve all the love in the world and all the chocolate.

I love love love your blog, you are such a talented writer, and you always help me with posts, you are one of the best bloggers in my eyes. I admire how honest you are and how strong you are with battling your mental health, your strongness drives me to beat my mental illness, it really does.

I wanted to write this to show my true appreciation to you, Gemma, I am currently sobbing whilst writing this (i truly am an emotional mess). I am so lucky to have a friend like you, I always feel like I don’t deserve you. I love you, you’re the best.

If you want to read her amazing blog or follow her on twitter, here are the links!

https://mysweetanxiety.com/

@gemcals

Social Media & Mental Health #MHAW17

It was recorded on January 17, that there were around 3.773 billion internet users and 2.789 social media users.  81% of millennials check Twitter at least once per day. this is likely to increase as more generations are born into this era. Growing up with social media developing has shown me just how powerful the influence of social media can be. Unfortunately, this influence can be both positive and negative with the creation of cyber bullies & trolls, and the general ability to comment on each other’s lives from behind a screen. But, I don’t want to focus on the negatives. I want to talk about the positive impact social media has had on my mental health, and how it can help yours too.

For me, social media has helped me so much. For four years, I had no one to talk to about my mental health. I was isolated and knew nobody to talk to. I didn’t even speak to my parents as I wasn’t quite ready for that.

I then googled mental health blogs, as I thought there would be people who blog, and there was. There were hundreds. I was scared to join in, but I did it as I thought it’d be good for me. I joined in January this year, and ever since that, I have made so many friends, and met a good friend also! Social media may not be the best place at times but I have found that the community on twitter is fantastic, it has helped me so much and gave me friends that I will have for the rest of my life. It is truly fantastic what a community can do to you, it can help you so much it’s unreal.

Twitter has to be my favourite platform. I don’t think any other platform comes close to it. Twitter has this extremely personal feel at times, especially with followers, and being in a community related to one single thing, you get to know people and make friends. It is great how easy you can find new people and new friends, that’s why I love it.

Here are a few of my favourite people in this community, they all are so helpful and supportive it is absolutely amazing! I would list them all.. but this blog post would be too long, literally, there’s like 500 people I could list!

Gemma – Blog / Twitter

Sophie – Blog / Twitter

Rich – Blog / Twitter

Nicole – Blog / Twitter

Laura – Blog / Twitter

Mike – Blog / Twitter

Rosie – Blog / Twitter

Rachel – Blog / Twitter

Liam

sources:
http://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/
http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016-methodology/