Grief

I have never felt pain like this. Before my mother died, I had never experienced grief so extreme. Every day I wake up, walk downstairs and stare at that empty part of the sofa that belonged to her, my heart feels just as empty.

I wasn’t shocked when my mum died. That sounds bad but she was in the hospital for two weeks prior to her passing away, she got better then got worse again, over and over. Her heart couldn’t take her blood pressure going from 40 to 120 throughout each day for two weeks.

I was by her bedside before she died, I held her hand when she took her last breath. I get flashbacks every single day of that moment, the moment she took her last breath. As soon as I realised she passed, I burst into tears. I have never cried so hard in my life, I was hysterical. I thought I would be okay because I was expecting it, but that’s the thing – grief hits you so hard even when you don’t expect it to. The one thing I didn’t expect about grief was the physical pain – my chest and my muscles were tight for weeks. My eyes were sore from all the tears. My throat was dry from the screaming. I thought I was prepared, but can you really prepare for losing someone you so truly and deeply love?

I am hoping to make her proud by writing again. She loved me writing and could tell it helped me a lot. She always motivated me to write, but my motivation has truly hit rock bottom. I’ve tried everything but it’s just not happening and that’s the true nature of this grief. I’m trying to write how I’m feeling, but words can’t really express the pain I am still feeling today. I am consumed.


97 days have gone since she passed and it still hurts just as much as the first.

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross


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. 

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!

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!

 

 

 

CBT: Eighteenth Session

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

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

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

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

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

Loving yourself.

This is something I personally struggle with, loving myself. Not so “loving” but having a good attitude towards yourself, not putting yourself down just because you can’t do something, being angry at yourself and so on. May it be during your recovery, the way you handle your mental health or anything. I lack motivation all the time and I tend to hate myself, hate myself for not going out, hate myself for not being able to push myself out, and hating myself for having so many problems mentally.

Self-care is so important and helps you to feel better about yourself. Prior to my relapse, I was doing so well with self-care. (I have a post on self-care if you want to read it’s here) Now, it’s literally gone through the window and all the good self-care I was doing is no longer. I really need to get back into the rhythm and routine of doing something to self-care every single day.

I have been struggling for motivation since the relapse, I’ve tried everything, absolutely everything. I can feel my motivation coming back, but extremely slowly which is annoying. I’ve recently been trying to find a hobby which helps me just release all my feelings/relax, and I’ve found fishing to be helpful for that!

BDD doesn’t help me with liking myself, due to me looking at my body in a different way to others, it just doesn’t help with confidence what so ever. I am trying ever so hard to beat it though, it is manageable and beatable with CBT and medication, which i’m currently on!

I was having a chat earlier last week with one of my best friends Laura (her twitter is here) and she is so supportive, whenever I’m struggling she always helps me and doesn’t take my shit and no for an answer! she knows that I need motivation and she has literally just given me so much motivation to carry on trying to beat my mental illnesses and to write this post too! It’s great if your struggling with getting motivation, it’s important that you have good people/people you like around you to help you with that, may it be a friend or even your parents or a family member! They can all help!

I’ve been struggling a lot recently with my mental health and I need to learn to “love myself” more. So, if you’re struggling to “love” yourself like I am. Just know that you can do it. I am learning to do it slowly, and so can you. It’s extremely hard but I can do it, and you can.

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

CBT: Ninth Session

This session, again, was the best session I’ve ever had. It’s making me feel so good how each session is just getting better and better! I’m thinking back to my first few sessions with my previous therapist, I liked the sessions and learned a lot about myself and my mental health, but I just think they didn’t help much as it takes me a while to open up in a session, and I’m so happy I’m having longer sessions now!

I had a mini panic attack out of the blue today just before this session, didn’t really know why up until I had the session, funnily enough, the session was solely about panic attacks and how they work, how they get triggered, and what I can do to stop them/control them!

As usual, it started out with doing a questionnaire. I then told her how bad I felt last weekend, solely because I got invited out for a few drinks but I kept overthinking it and said no, and it made me feel so down and depressed. She then went on to explain how it’s a vicious cycle. Being invited to go out, end up saying no and then feeling low and then the self-inflicting behaviours start, but she reassured me that we can break that vicious cycle.

We talked about the symptoms I get from panic attacks, she wrote them down (legs shake, uncontrollable breathing, churning stomach and light-headedness) She then explained how thinking about those symptoms or panic, can actually cause you to panic, I thought that was pretty unbelievable, so she told me to say those symptoms out loud until I felt those symptoms, it actually happened. Me thinking and saying the symptoms out loud, actually brought on the symptoms, something I’ve never heard of/thought of before. She wants me to try and socialise more, and if I feel a panic attack coming on, don’t leave situations like I normally would, and try to ride the panic attack out and see how good I’d feel then – as I feel awful going home from somewhere early as I had a panic attack.

My therapist also explained about the trigger of panic attacks – fast breathing. If you are able to control your breathing, you can stop the panic happening. She then told me to start breathing really heavy, as I would if I was panicking. I did it, and it caused a panic attack, and she was able to calm me down out of it within minutes. That was just to teach me the trigger of panic attacks and also teach me that they are not dangerous or bad. We went through Diaphragmatic breathing, and she showed me how to do it, I have to practice it every single day now. I have tried doing it before, but when I went bad in terms of mental health, I just stopped as I had no motivation what so ever.

This was my last session for two weeks. I am motivated to do well in between those two weeks. It scares me as whenever I have no CBT for a week, I tend to go downhill a bit, but I am determined to not go down and just keep going up!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

 

CBT: Eighth Session

I was going into this session with a bag load of nerves, anxiety and panic. I was panicking for this session as I had to tell my therapist something pretty serious which happened within the week of having no CBT. Luckily enough I could actually tell her, sometimes when I want to say things, they just don’t come out, but they did today!

As usual, I filled out a PHQ-9 GAD-7 questionnaire but didn’t get told if my scores were higher, the same or lower. It was hard for me to truly say everything, but I did and it made me feel so much better getting it off my chest. We then spoke about how I went out to Liverpool, and that I panicked when out, and how it stops me from going out again.

We started on this formulation sheet, that spoke about my experience of bullying in high school, which makes me think that everyone is thinking horrible things about me, so anxiety is basically being the bully now. We figured out that my core belief is that people will think I’m “weird” “not normal” and “strange” which I worry about people thinking on a day to day basis, and it makes me panic when I see people staring at me, as I immediately think that they are thinking that.

I also found out my unhelpful thinking habits, I got told to have a read over them within the week without CBT, and I related to “emotional reasoning” “judgments” “mind-reading” “prediction” and “critical self” These are important to find out, as once you’ve found out you can then focus on beating the thinking habits! She also wants me to start exposure therapy again after a few more CBT sessions, but she wants it to be more intense, like in my previous exposure therapy, I just left after doing it for like 5 minutes at a time, she wants me to do it until I have a panic attack, and that panic attack ends. Which is scary!

I got shown a “thought record” which she wants me to fill out, especially when I go out. It has columns of “emotions/moods” “physical sensations” “unhelpful thoughts/images” This will give her a wider view of what I feel like when I go out. Pretty similar to a panic diary, same layout just different columns!

I spoke with her about how I rarely go out because of the chance of anxiety taking over and then making me panic, and therefore going home early. We both know my mental health is ruling my life, but the session was so good and informative, I came out of it with such a big smile on my face, knowing that I have learnt so much about my mental health in one hour session means a lot as it’s stuff I 100% know and I 100% know I can beat!

After that session, I felt the best I have felt in months. It felt so good, to come out of a session not drained, and feeling happy! On to the next one next week!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam