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.

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: Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

 

(thanks to my amazing friend Rosie for taking this flatlay for me you can find her blog here and her twitter here)

What does it mean to feel truly alive?

Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living.

This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again. A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

I really loved reading this, I really resonated it whilst reading as I also struggle with depression. Matt has got this book spot on. The self-help parts are really helpful and I have written down some of the information to use myself. I like how Matt recommended books in this as well.

He writes from personal experience and this is what makes this book so raw and powerful. I felt really inspired whilst reading. Matt went through so much and it must have taken a lot to write about the raw emotional times like when he was in Ibiza and close to jumping off a cliff.

This isn’t your typical half memoir half self-help book. It’s written for younger people which I think is great and everyone should read this book sometime in their life time. I loved how he included advice from his twitter followers, I was surprised when I read it but I thought – this is amazing, having other people give advice so if the reader is suffering they can feel like they are far from the only one suffering.

The book also has some witty parts which I think books of this genre should have. It gives a break from the raw emotion. As the title of the book suggests, this book gives you many reasons on why you should stay alive and why not to let depression defeat you.

My favourite part of the book is the forty pieces of advice how to live. It includes advice like “Don’t worry about things that probably won’t happen” and “Three in the morning is never the time to try and sort out your life”. Those pieces of advice really stood out to me as I tend to worry about everything and anything.

However, I didn’t like the view he had on medication, fair enough it doesn’t work for everyone but the way he wrote about it is like it would never work ever, which isn’t true

I feel like everyone should read this book, whether you suffer from mental illness or not. It truly is a beautiful piece of writing.

 

 

 

CBT: Final Session

I got discharged after this session, my therapist thinks I am ready and to be honest, I felt ready but I did feel a bit lost a few hours after being discharged, but I am feeling more motivated every day!

We filled out the usual questionnaire, and for the first time in 7 months, I got two number 0’s one on agitated and one on thoughts, which incidents I’ve not had any feelings of agitation like usually and no thoughts and urges really!

This session we filled out the maintaining progress log, it has things which I should do if I feel like I’m getting out of control again, and it has things to remind me of how well I’ve done recently, for example, the “what have I learned” section includes “exposure therapy has helped a lot” “Big I Little I – BDD method” “tools to manage my moods and urges”

Also, it includes triggers of mine so I can see what situation will be a trigger and mentally prepare for that situation. I really like this log as it just shows me how much I’ve learnt and gives me tips and information which is vital, especially if I feel like I am losing control.

It’s been twenty-one sessions of CBT. I honestly thought I’d be in it for years, I had no faith or motivation from my first session, but look at me now! I’d like to thank all my blogging friends for helping me on this journey throughout therapy, couldn’t have done it without you guys, you are all amazing.

If you’re just starting therapy or waiting for therapy and not feeling motivated, I know exactly how you feel, but if you put in the effort into it then there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.

 

 

 

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!

CBT: Seventeenth Session

// T W // Self Harm 

 

Before I go into detail on this post, I would like to just say that I am certainly not bragging about having CBT, some people think I am. It’s like they think I like having therapy. Fun fact – I hate going therapy, I hate telling my therapist what I feel, I would never brag about doing something I fucking hate, I’m never going to stop blogging, it helps me and I’ve been told it helps others have an insight of therapy when they are worried about starting it. Nobody will stop me.

This session was really good, I should have been 6 weeks clean from self-harm on the day of the session but I self-harmed. However, I’m not letting it rule me, It’s one time in 6 weeks, I am so proud of myself for doing so, here’s to longer next time!

I asked my therapist about the assessment she mentioned as my mood swings are getting awful, really awful. But, because I’m in the IAPT system, I’ve got to see my GP first.. and she’s on annual leave, just my luck eh!

She asked me what I wanted to focus on, as all I am doing lately is exposure therapy for my social anxiety, which is actually going surprisingly well! I said I want to focus on BDD and on my mood and having things to get all my anger out, as I tend to snap at my friends and I hate myself for it.

 

Facing BDD is like facing social anxiety, it’s basically exposure therapy but without doing stuff to hide your body. For me, my exposure therapy includes wearing shorts and short sleeves, as I always wear jeans as my legs are a big part of my BDD and I always wear hoodies to hide my stomach and arms. I don’t quite feel ready for it at the moment, but my therapist says that’s okay! I need to still focus on my exposure therapy for my social anxiety as that needs to be a regular thing for me for the time being!

Hopefully, after I’m home from my holiday I’ll be able to see my doctor and get the reason for my horrific mood swings because I really need to get to the bottom of these as they are horrible and I can’t manage them at the moment.

Liam

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

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.