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)

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!

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.

 

 

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: 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: 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.

 

Music & My Mental Health #MHAW17

For me, music helps me so much in related to my mental health, especially when I’m having a bad mental health day. I also love music so much (if you follow me on twitter, you can probably already tell that I love music so much and my music taste is so wide, I LOVE MOST MUSIC!)I find music really chills me out and makes me drown out the horrible urges and thoughts, especially if I play it extremely loud! – a tip I got from my therapist to help stop urges, and it works!

I find music really chills me out and makes me drown out the horrible urges and thoughts, especially if I play it extremely loud! – a tip I got from my therapist to help stop urges, and it works! I have heard from other friends that music also helps them, it’s a beautiful thing, right?!

I thought, why not write a post and tell you guys what my favourite songs when I’m having a bad day, a good day, in need of energy and when I feel good!

Music for when I have a bad day:

  • Bleachers – I Wanna Get Better
  • WALK THE MOON – Shut Up And Dance
  • The 1975 – UGH!
  • The xx – Angels
  • S Club 7 – Reach
  • Pvris – Holy

Music for when I am having a good day:

  • Ian Carey Project – Get Shaky
  • Christine and the Queens – iT
  • Clean Cut Kid – Vitamin C
  • The xx – Say Something Loving
  • The Cranberries – Dream
  • Theia – Roam

Music for when I need energy:

  • Skepta – Shutdown
  • The 1975 – Heart Out
  • Fickle Friends – Say No More
  • Cascada – Evacuate The Dance Floor
  • S Club 7 – S Club Party
  • The Veronicas – Untouched

Music for when I feel good:

  • Good Charlotte – Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous
  • HOLYCHILD – Happy With Me
  • Kesha – Your Love Is My Drug
  • The 1975 – Loving Someone
  • Sia – Cheap Thrills
  • The Wombats – Greek Tragedy

I could of literally probably list about 50 songs per list but you know… that’d be too long and you wouldn’t read it.. right?

If music helps you, then stick by it! If it doesn’t, try and find some songs that cheer you up, I guarantee music can help in some way, it’s a beautiful thing!

Liam