22 May / The ‘Work’ Thing

So would you believe, I have two job interviews coming up(?!). They’re both part-time, one in an admin/receptionist role and the other as a care assistant in a dementia/elderly home.

The idea of work is still absolutely terrifying, my heart is beating and my breath is short, as I’m writing this. (Here’s where a lot of my anxiety about work has come from.)

I have been offered a ‘work coach’ through the job centre as I’ve recently started claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and have an assessment with him on 31st May, this is to talk about what I think my needs are and the help that I want.

Obviously I’m really torn as this has all come at once, but I’ve a good feeling about the admin job in particular. That is a huge step in itself, because I do apply for jobs and wholeheartedly so, but if/when I get an interview I panic because it makes it that much more real. I panicked at first, but after a few days to think it over, I think I’m feeling better.

The place itself offers ‘chakra puncture’ for anxiety which is a good sign I guess?

The reason I’m so afraid of going back to work is because I’m scared of getting overwhelmed. I don’t adjust to new situations very well emotionally and often find my emotions ‘crash’ when I push myself too much, so I need a lot of down time to rest my mind. I really don’t want that to happen and then I just end up crying at work all the time and get too physically anxious to go to work again. (My physical symptoms of anxiety often include vomiting, numb limbs, shortness of breath and uncontrollable crying.)

I’m not sure how to help myself though. I am on a waiting list for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) but God knows how long that will be before it starts.

I’ve really no idea how this is going to pan out because I find my moods and decision making very sporadic and I could change my mind about a lot of things at any given moment. But, we shall see how it goes – I’m trying to think positive!

If anybody has any advice on returning to work and handling overwhelming emotions, please drop me a message!

Note to self:

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Quick Tips: The Power of the To-Do List for Motivation

Depression is a real motivation sucker and can leave you feeling incredibly empty and hopeless. One way I have found to combat this is by writing and following to-do lists. It seems fairly trivial but trust me, ticking those boxes off is very rewarding!

Here’s my to-do list for today which I have completed;

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I wrote this list before I went to bed last night, so I knew I had a list to complete when I woke up. This encouraged me to get up and out of bed, instead of the usual staying in bed until it’s frowned upon.

As you can see, some of my to-do’s are very simple day to day tasks, so never think that anything is too small – if you feel accomplished doing it, then write it down and get it done!

The feeling of satisfaction I get after completing a list is a very positive one and a reminder that I can get up and see the day, no matter how hard my mind tells me I can’t. This is a perfect bridge to setting yourself up for a good day. Give it a go, you could be pleasantly surprised!

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The Anxiety Solution: A Quieter Mind, A Calmer You by Chloe Brotheridge

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I’ll tell you now, I am incredibly guilty of judging a book by it’s cover. And, that was literally what had drawn me to this book at first (shame on me). It is so beautiful, and makes my book shelf look totally gorgeous!

But, oooobviously what brought me to read it (and cheekily ask for a copy from the lovely Chloe herself, thank you!) was the title itself. It’s simple, easy to understand and straight to the point. Perfect for an anxiety sufferer such as myself.

The problem I have found previously with Mental Health related books is that they allow too much dedication to profanities. Sure, the phrases ‘Life’s too short’ and ‘Tomorrow is a new day’ are inspiring, but realistically they’re just not going to help me move forward.

This book is separated into easily digestible chapters which touch on helpful subjects andIMG_7291 self-help tips, that you can bring into your everyday life as slowly or as quickly as you feel comfortable with.

It sections off different parts of your everyday life and delves into where we might be going wrong and how we could turn that around.

Through subjects and topics such as diet, exercise, worrying, schedules, alcohol, self-esteem, mindfulness, meditation and many more, we learn of the affects of seemingly small habits that can cause a much larger butterfly effect on the health of our minds, negatively and positively.

Another great thing that separates this book from a lot of Mental Health related reads is that it provides us with helpful advice, but then also gives us ‘exercises’ to utilise that advice. These exercises are bite size ideas, given throughout the book and are also a part of ‘The Anxiety Solution Toolkit’ in the final chapter, which gives you space to write things down. I find this all incredibly useful, and in my opinion the more something is broken down, the better!

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Chloe is a therapist and also a sufferer herself, so you can trust that these are tried, tested and successful techniques. This meant more to me reading this as I often don’t find a connection with books that are written by those who haven’t suffered themselves, as I find them to be more like ‘textbooks’ than anything else.

Overall, I found this book an effortless and enjoyable read, with giggles and quirks along the way. Chloe becomes your best friend throughout the book, building your trust and reeling you in with each and every word.

From The Anxiety Solution by Chloe Brotheridge

A post shared by Gemma (@gemcals) on

I would absolutely recommend reading this if you suffer with anxiety, and also reading it and reading it again, which is exactly what I plan to do! And, whilst the book is generally directed at female readers I definitely wouldn’t discourage males to read it.

As well as this book, Chloe has a website with lots of useful resources and links, check out Calmer You here and also have a watch of the video below!

Self Esteem: Being a Girl in The Blogging World

Over these last few months as I’ve started blogging, I have been blown away by the community. There is nothing like having your own group of blogger cheerleaders encouraging and congratulating you at every milestone.

But unfortunately, being a girl in the blogging world means the tons of beauty and fashion bloggers are unavoidable. And, don’t get me wrong I love cheering others on too and these girls are so talented and beautiful they absolutely should be blogging. But, I can’t help but feel inadequate because of this. I mean I’m not exactly your run of the mill girl blogger and I probably do my make-up once a week, if that.

Honestly – I’m not very good at my make-up, I don’t have the loveliest most expensive clothes and my hair isn’t silky smooth. I don’t go out everyday and drink soy lattes and I don’t eat Instagram worthy breakfasts. Normally, I wouldn’t be too fussed about these things but lately (and especially today) I’ve been feeling very self-conscious and low in myself. I did my hair and make up, and then decided I looked awful, wiped it all off again and then sulked in my bed before a nap.

I am surrounded by beautiful, self-taught make up gurus being buried with gorgeous free clothes who are doing great things with their lives. It’s just not very good for my mental health or self-esteem at all.

Ideally I think I need a bit of a break from Social Media and to focus on myself again for a little while, although sadly I find it quite difficult. I often sit on my phone to fill a gap of time rather than doing something constructive or caring for myself.

I’m aiming to read more as I have some lovely books to read (three to review!), and want to start playing my keyboard more too.

 

Mental Health: We All Have It!

It seems to be a common misunderstanding that only some of us suffer with our Mental Health, the truth is; we all suffer with our Mental Health at some point in our lives. There are just some people who battle with Mental Illnesses and Disorders on top of that.

Stress is probably one of the most common causes of Mental Illness (don’t quote me on that but I’ve definitely read it somewhere..), and I challenge you to find any normal, functioning human being (whatever THAT is?!) who has never dealt with stress in their life. And shock horror; stress IS a mental health problem!

Our minds are not equipped to deal with the modern world and the everyday stresses it provides, and that is why there is such a vast majority of people who do struggle.

And, if you think that Mental Health is not an issue that needs to be taken seriously, please try and digest these stats, from the Mental Health Foundation.

  • In 2013, 6,188 suicides were recorded in the UK alone. (Theoretically that’s nearly 17 people every day!) Of these, 75% were Male and 25% were Female.
  • Between 2003 and 2013, 18,220 people with Mental Health problems took their own life in the UK.
  • Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England & Wales.
  • In 2013, there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK.
  • Mixed Anxiety & Depression is the most common Mental Disorder in Britain, with 7.8% of people meeting the criteria for diagnosis.
  • In 2013, Depression was the second leading cause of years lived with a disability worldwide, behind lower back pain. In 26 countries, depression was the primary driver of disability.
  • In 2014, 19.7% of people in the UK aged 16 and over showed symptoms of Anxiety or Depression (a 1.5% increase from 2013).

Now if those stats don’t shock you (I could write more!), I suggest you read them again. Because they give me serious chills. The wave of devastation caused by Mental Health is unavoidable and yet it doesn’t nearly tally up to the importance of physical health right now. (And, I’m just going to say now, I’d rather have 2 broken legs than my Mental Health problems.)

So why are people ignoring it? I think mostly because they believe it’s not as bad as people make it out to be, or that it just simply doesn’t affect them. But, I wonder how many people cover up their Mental Health problems, ignoring the fact they are Mental Health problems because they’re minor, and just continue rather than listening to their minds? I bet it’s a lot!

Somehow ‘Mental Health’ became a dirty phrase and people don’t like to admit they struggle, so they ignore it. And eventually with some, something breaks and they come crashing down and are left with no other option but to be absorbed by their Mental Health.

It’s like any illness, if you don’t look after yourself it will only get worse. Got the flu? Rest. Have a sickness bug? Rest. Feeling stressed? ‘Get on with it’.

Please if you’re ever feeling stressed, allow yourself to listen to your mind and what’s causing you to feel that way. Combat it, allow yourself time for self-care, have a lazy day, talk to somebody, do SOMETHING – just don’t ignore it, it could be a big mistake and cause you more problems in the future!

 

Anxiety Self-Help / My Journal

If you know me in real life, you’ll know I don’t go anywhere without a pen and my journal. And it’s not your everyday journal, titling each day with the date and what I had for breakfast. It’s the most messy, confusing and inconsistent diary you’ll ever read. (Not that I’m going to let you read it.)

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But, it is an absolute life saver for me. Whenever I’m feeling anxious, I take out my journal and write about it in that moment. I’ll ask myself questions such as;

How am I feeling?
What are my symptoms?
What is causing me to be anxious?
What are the positives in the situation?
Why everything will be ok.

And, questions like these really help me ground myself when I find my mind is spiralling out of control and losing all logical thought. They help me to see the positives in a situation, swaying my focus from negative thinking.

Often I find myself having an anxiety attack before doing something I know should be excited about. I know I’ll have fun and that it really will be fine, but just because it’s not in my routine it sends off huge alarm bells. So, I find it really helpful to list the positives in this sense. These could be things like;

I’ll be with people I know and who will look after me if things go bad.
I won’t be too far from home.
I can leave if I feel too unsafe or scared.
I’ve been here before and it was fine.

A lot of the time I feel anxious because of things like lack of planning or I if feel vulnerable about going to a place I’m not familiar with. But, if I know I will be able to take myself away from a situation/people (by going home or to somewhere I feel comfortable/safe) it tends to stop the anxiety altogether.

Not just thinking these things but writing them down and reading them back, sometimes saying them out loud, really helps me to take a step back from the emotion and fear, and analyse a situation with logic (as we all know logic and anxiety don’t go hand in hand.)

If you suffer with anxiety and find it difficult to ground yourself during an attack I’d recommend giving this a go! I know not everything works for everybody, but you may be surprised!


Happy Friday and I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

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Backwards? 15 March ’17

I feel like I have gone so, so far backwards since Monday. The guilt has already set in, the shame, the depression. All I have done today is sleep, I haven’t even spent 5 minutes out of bed. I can taste my hunger but I can’t seem to eat. I know I should change my clothes but, why bother?

They say money doesn’t bring you happiness, but the ominous ‘they’ never thought about what happens when you don’t have it?

Waking up to the same texts each day; ‘You’re on or over your limit. Please make a payment before 3:30 to avoid extra charges’, ‘You have missed your payment, reply YES to pay in full now.’

If I had just had a physical illness, somebody might help me.
Somebody might tell me that they’re sorry I’m not well.
They might send me a message asking how I am.
They might care.
But instead, not working for mental health purposes suddenly becomes a dirty secret, an excuse that I ought to just get over.
I see it in the avoidance of eye contact, in the ignorance of my health even though it’s everywhere to be seen – oh, you don’t understand?
Well, that’s okay then, we’ll forget about it. 

Your Sweet Anxiety / I Have A Voice / Submission #6

I Have A Voice

It couldn’t have chosen to present itself at a worse time. But is there a good time, really? It was twelve years ago; I was rehearsing for a live show. That evening, eight million people would hear me sing. And that’s exactly when I first heard it – as tiny as a hiccup, but as big as a mountain in my mind. I went to sing a note and something didn’t work, there was a kind of constriction. I got through the show, of course, without much nervousness for the television audience, considering, but something had inexplicably changed in me.

From that point it spiralled. Further and further it dragged me until I was a nervous wreck before I had to sing. I tried to ignore it, but it didn’t go away. It got worse and worse – sounds just didn’t come out, my body ached from the effort of trying to get my voice the way it used to be.

Six years on from that first point of recognition, I couldn’t speak. I had a voice, but couldn’t speak. For two weeks I went to make sounds and I was strangled, muted and terrified. It came back eventually, in its own way and some days I sound almost normal to the unsuspecting ear.

Two years ago I was finally diagnosed with an anxiety condition – hyperventilation syndrome, or a breathing pattern disorder. More simply, I suffer with anxiety and depression. This has presented itself more in the last few years and I can very clearly see I have suffered since being a teenager, bullied throughout my entire school life.

So where does that leave me now?  

It leaves me with hope. Hope that somewhere, underneath, I have a voice. Right now I can make sounds that are like words, sometimes they come out well and sometimes they don’t. They are the words I say to quickly end a conversation, or the only words I can struggle to get out. The things I often really want to say are held inside me like prisoners, staring through the bars, longing to be on the other side. I know exactly what I want to say I just can’t get the words out.

And I can sing. I can sing without the great effort it now requires. Somewhere underneath it all I don’t become paralysed in my stomach, chest and throat when I sing, and I can get through more than a couple of lines of a song. I can do the thing I used to love doing more than anything. The thing I was good at, the thing that is a natural part of my being.

I’m lucky; I love my life, my beautiful family and my work. For whatever reason we sometimes have to learn to take a different path for an undeterminable length of time. I don’t believe in regrets – life is too short for that. But I do believe in hope.

Sarah Wilkinson, 31


Sarah blogs about alternative education, check out her work on the links below!

https://sarahmwilkinson.wordpress.com/
https://sarahmichellewilkinson.contently.com/ 


If you’d like to submit a piece to Your Sweet Anxiety check the details out here!

Your Sweet Anxiety / ‘my anxiety is an old friend’ / Submission #3

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My anxiety is the uncertainty that demands I’m an hour early for every appointment.
It’s the panic that makes me leave a busy venue or forces my gaze to the floor in supermarkets.
It’s the pounding heart in my chest because I have work in the morning. 

My anxiety is the near constant wrenching and churning in my gut for no reason at all.
It’s the two blue ticks that dominate my mind, waiting for you to respond.
It’s the nausea that spreads when you don’t. 

My anxiety is the sudden gasp as several thoughts rush into the front of my mind at once.
It’s the voice that tells me I’m making it all up, wasting people’s time, that the depression isn’t real.
It’s the hours wasted sleeping to shut it all out. 

But, my anxiety is also the reason I’m rarely late for an appointment.
It’s the empathy that supports those around me going through the same thing.
It’s the drive to work harder and love my job more.

Most of all, my anxiety is an old friend.
It’s teaching me slowly to be me more resilient.
It’s definitely a pain sometimes, but I wouldn’t be me without it.

 


Chas Brickland, 32, is a writer for #MentalMovement and is on Twitter too, check him out!

If you’d like to submit to Your Sweet Anxiety check out the details here.

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21 Feb ’17 – Cue Weird Video Diary from Yours Truly

Sorry I’m awkward & cringey. Hi.