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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Mental Health Week / It Doesn’t End For Everybody

I have been blown away by the support for Mental Health Awareness Week online. It warms my heart to see so many people that genuinely care and want to raise awareness for this cause. It’s so important to battle stigmas, help those who are suffering, both openly and in silence, and to help those that don’t quite understand the importance of mental health yet.

However and like my title says, this week doesn’t end for everybody.

When I wake up tomorrow morning around 10am, I’ll still need to persuade myself to get out of bed. I’ll still look at myself in the mirror whilst brushing my teeth and think, ‘What’s the point?’. I’ll still take myself to the kitchen and avoid making breakfast because I just can’t be bothered. And, I’ll still return to my bed as soon as possible, seeking comfort & isolation in my metaphorical, mental fort.

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It’s like this for many, and I will never stop my efforts to help others suffering with their mental health, and you shouldn’t either. Too many people suffer in silence and hide it from those around them due to shame or embarrassment.

Your mental health is nothing to be embarrassed of; you should be proud of the battles you’ve fought and the strength you have built. You are a warrior, wear that badge with pride.

“You don’t have to be positive all the time. It’s perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared or anxious.” – Lori Deschene 

I urge you to reach out to people, ask how old friends are, offer your support to those who seem unhappy and make that extra effort with those who seem to be isolating themselves. You will never truly know what someone is going through, and as for mental illness, a lot of the time you’re unlikely to spot it. The best way we can combat this is by offering our support to those around us. We can talk about mental health online to let people know that we care & understand and continue to raise awareness.

Please if you’re suffering and don’t now what to do, just talk about it. It’ll help more than you know.

11 May / Learning to Handle Overwhelming Emotions

Overwhelm [o·ver·whelm] – verb
Overwhelm is defined as to completely overcome or take over. An example of overwhelm is for a teacher to assign students five lengthy papers due on the same day.
Source: http://www.yourdictionary.com/overwhelm

Being told you suffer with a specific mental illness or disorder is not conclusive of your symptoms or emotions. I am learning about my mental health each and every day, we are all different and unique in our own minds.

IMG_7531Yesterday I had a really great day. It was a beautiful day, and although I didn’t get up until gone 11am, I felt very productive. I sunbathed (& got sunburnt), meditated, stretched, listened to a TedTalk, went to the post office, did some chores for my Mum, wrote a blog post I’d been putting off for a while, and showered. These seem like normal every day tasks, right? But they’re not for me.

My usual day consists of; getting up late morning, eating my breakfast downstairs with my Dad, going back to bed and either sitting on my laptop or watching a movie/TV, I will then nap around 3pm until my boyfriend comes home, we will eat dinner downstairs with my parents, then go back to bed and watch TV until I go to sleep around 1-2am – all the meanwhile keeping a close eye on social media.

So, whilst yesterday was great and I felt very positive, I suddenly clicked last night that I’d feel crappy today because of it – and I was right. I had to drag myself out of bed today after waking up feeling very sick and anxious.

And, that’s because I’d overwhelmed myself with positive emotions and gotten carried away with the productive feeling.

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I need ‘down time’ whenever I experience something out of the ordain. For example; I am unable to spend an entire day socialising, without needing quiet time in the evening purely for the fact I am not used to socialising. I am also not used to feeling positive or productive for extended periods of time (a day is extensive).

My personal goal with this realisation is that I must take things slowly. Mentally I always seem to be in a hurry, which I think is largely due to my anxiety struggles. So, I must learn to take a step back, take a deep breath, be mindful of a new situation or emotion I’m not used to feeling, and not jump straight in as it were. This way I will be able to take in a situation easier and also analyse how it is affecting me.

I have a job interview on 26th May for a job as a receptionist/administrator, 3 days a week and full 9 hour days.

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I’m very anxious about it and it’s constantly circling my mind, as to whether or not I will be able to handle this drastic change in my usual life if I got the job. Three days a week to the average person may seem a dream, but to me it’s terrifying. Especially as the days are so long. Ideally I think I need to start getting up earlier and trying to tackle my tiredness, maybe that will help me.

I’m going out tonight for my boyfriend’s Nan’s birthday. We’re just going over to her house with the rest of his family and to have some fish & chips. It will be good to get out, socialise and also exercise my mind to unusual situations.

Product Review: Aromatherapy with Stress No More & FitAir

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week Stress No More are offering 20% off all Aroma Diffusers with the code AROMA20 – don’t miss out. (Offer ends 14/05/17.)

I was lucky enough to receive a FitAir Eden Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser with FitAir Aromatherapy Oils with Carved Wood Storage Box from the lovely Stress No More to try for myself – so, thank you very much!

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If you’ve read previous posts from my blog you may know that aromatherapy is something I rate highly with management of my anxiety and stress levels. After purchasing a diffuser starter kit last year, I fell in love. I could hardly wait to get into bed each night, put together a new blend of oils and relax.

After getting in touch with Stress No More, who have been very supportive of me, they recommended trying this set of oils and diffuser (which they use in their office!) and I was delighted at the opportunity. Anything to do with essential oils and you can count me in!

First impressions with these products; the diffuser is compact, simplistic and portable. Unlike a lot of diffusers, you are able to charge this one (providing up to 50 hours with each charge) and put it where you like. It actually fits in my handbag, which is great! I’ve always wanted to take my other diffuser away on holidays but it just takes up too much suitcase space!

The size takes nothing away from the effectiveness of the product itself, as rather than diffusing with water, you diffuse the oils alone. So, you literally screw a bottle inside the diffuser and you’re away. You can use a standard 10ml oil, but they also provide you with an empty bottle to make your own blends. 10/10 for convenience!

The technicality of the product is great. It comes with different intensities and you use these depending on the size of the room that you’re in. You can also set a timer for up to 1, 2 or 4 hours, so if you’re going to bed you don’t have to worry about turning it off or wasting any of your oils. If you enjoy convenience and are looking for a high quality product, I would 100% recommend this diffuser.

The oils themselves are 100% Pure and you can buy them individually as well as the set. As well as diffusing, you can use them for massage with a carrier oil or pop a few drops in your bath.

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In the box you receive the following 6 oils (as quoted on each bottle);

  • Energise & Revitalise; an energising mix of citrus and uplifting pure essential oils. Containing Lemon, Scotch Pine, Rosemary and Lime.
  • Strength & Harmony; combining clearing Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Pine, Peppermint and Tea Tree to banish Winter blues.
  • Sensual & Arousing; combining the juicy aroma of Sweet Oranges, sensuous Ylang Ylang, Patchouli and sweet floral Palma Rosa.
  • Focus & Concentration; to help keep you on top form and a great companion during exams or when working. Combining Rosemary, Basil, Peppermint and Pine.
  • Relax & Mindfulness; to leave you feeling relaxed. Containing relaxing Lavender & Marjoram, balancing Bergamot (FCF) and calming Petitgrain.
  • Invigorate & Inspire; to kick start your day. Containing uplifting Orange & Lemon oils, comforting Mandarin, stimulating Pine and reviving spearmint.

Both products are rated 5 Stars on the website and I can see why. They’re convenient, simple to use and great for aromatherapy beginners. If you don’t want to get caught up in which oil does what, and what oil blends best with another, this set of oils is definitely the way to go.

Overall, I’m very pleased with these products and they work brilliantly together. I enjoy being able to carry this around with me and use it when I wish!


Find out more about Essential Oils – #MentalMovement / How Essential Oils Could Improve Your Mental Health

Check out my product review of The Beurer TL60 Right Light for Stress No More – #MentalMovement / The Beurer TL60 Bright Light: How Light Therapy Changed My Mornings

 

 

Mental Health Month: 5 Ways That You Can Get Involved

There are many ways you can get involved with Mental Health Awareness Week & Month, and please don’t think just because you don’t suffer with Mental Illness it means you shouldn’t get involved!

  • Hashtags

    There are various hashtags floating around on Twitter/Instagram etc. Make sure every time you Tweet anything related to MH you use the tags! (#MHAW #MHAW2017 #MentalHealthMonth #MentalHealthWeek …)

  • Twitter Chats

    If you’ve never joined in with a Twitter Chat fear not, they’re pretty simple! All you do is follow the specific hashtag (make sure you click the ‘latest’ tab!), answer the questions and respond to others using the hashtag in your Tweets! I will be hosting #LetsChatMH tomorrow night at 7.30pm GMT. 

    You can also join the following that are related to MH:

    Wednesdays @ 8pm GMT – #MHChat
    Thursdays @ 8.30pm GMT – #TalkMH
    Sundays @ 8pm GMT – #PosiMH

    If you’re interested in getting involved in more chats, have a look at the list I compiled here!

  • Reading & Sharing Blog Posts

    For some people there’s nothing more settling or helpful than a good, honest post from someone who suffers with their own Mental Health. I encourage you to read others’ posts related to their MH as this will help better your knowledge of MH as a whole, and don’t forget sharing is caring!

  • Use That Retweet/Share Button

    If you see something particularly powerful or that could be helpful to others suffering, why not share it?! It takes maximum of 10 seconds of your time and could really help someone. If you follow the hashtags you’ll be sure to find something interesting!

  • Offer Support

    If you see someone reaching out for help, don’t ignore it! You never know if that’s their final cry for help. Offer your support, and always say you’re there to talk if they need you. The power of talking to someone who wants to help you and understand is hugely underrated.

I’m going to try and get involved with Mental Health Week & Month in any way I can so if you’ve got any good ideas or suggestions throw them my way, and I hope to see you at tomorrow’s Twitter chat!

 

To The Ones I Love, from Me & My Mental Illness

Compared to a lot of others, I wouldn’t say I’ve got a lot of people close to me. But the people that I do have close to me, I treasure very much. My boyfriend, my family and my friends mean the absolute world to me and without them all, I don’t know who or where I’d be.

So, first of all, this post is an apology.

And, I know people often say you shouldn’t apologise for the way you are, but the guilt is often unbearable. I truly am sorry. But, I guess I’m not apologising for who I am, but rather the ramifications of that. I’m snappy, I’m quiet, I’m loud, I’m too opinionated, I’m rude, I’m forgetful, I’m confusing, I’m exhausting, I’m indecisive – I’ve no doubt that I can be hard work to be around. These emotions and reactions aren’t me they’re the result of my mind being under a lot of strain and stress, but I promise I won’t be like this forever.

I’m not only mentally draining, but financially draining also. I don’t often see people talk about their finances when writing about their Mental Health, but it’s something that causes me a lot of stress and I feel through constant worry, stops me from getting ‘better’ in a lot of ways. I don’t currently work and am in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), desperately seeking help to get back to work. As I believe, through such severe anxiety of going to work, I’ve now developed a phobia of it and it just sends me into mental turmoil. I check job sites every single day hoping that ‘perfect’ job will arise. Who am I even kidding here? 

Anyway, I digress. I’m sorry for the financial strain that I’m offloading onto you. I promise that I want nothing more than to go to work and earn myself a living. I want to lead a normal life, and do normal every day things; like going to work. If this ever becomes too much for you, I understand you must leave. I would never want my mental health to start damaging other peoples’ mental health. I would hate myself even more.

Here is my thank you.

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetTo the one I love, you have stuck by me through the hardest time of my life and for that alone, I owe you my life. I know I’m not nearly out of this rut yet but I promise when I am, I will make sure you know just how grateful I am for all that you have dedicated to and done for me. You have made me feel loved when all I ever felt for myself was hatred, you have made me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry, you’ve pulled me through depressive episodes and held my hand through panic attacks that I thought would never end – you have shown me that hope and love exists and that’s been the brightest light in the dark. I cannot express enough, my gratitude for you and all that you’ve done for me. You are everything to me and I love you so much.

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To my Mum, you are an inspiration with the battles you have conquered. You are always there for me through everything I go through, and you get it. That’s something that’s difficult to find and I’m so grateful for it. Thank you for trying your hardest to help me, and for supporting me each and every day. You are my Guardian Angel.

IMG_5586To my Dad, your determination falls second to none and if I carry even half of that, I know that I’ll succeed with happiness one day. You’re always there for a chat and have an open mind to whatever I wish to talk about, thank you so much.

To my family, I often feel some of you have turned a blind eye to what’s been going on with me and I guess I understand. I understand that you don’t quite understand, and that you have your own problems to deal with, I also know that me reaching out is half the battle but burdening you is something I do not wish to do. Regardless of this, thank you for making me smile and laugh through dark times.

To my friends, I’m sorry I’m quiet sometimes but I often need time to myself. Thank you for sticking by my side through my hardest days, that alone means the world to me. I’ve a lot of friends that drifted over the years, but you never did. Thank you for asking how I am, for endless laughs and for being there night and day.

Thank you to you all for being here along the way, you may not quite understand the mental battles I am currently challenged with, but it’s important to me that you’re still here.

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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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Why I’m Not Afraid To Talk About My Mental Health Online

I am not afraid of being judged, believe me I’ve heard it all. Crazy? F*cked up? Attention seeker? Dramatic? blah, blah, blah.

I know that many people don’t want to hear me talk about my Mental Health, (or even Mental Health in general) so they choose not to follow me or they even unfollow me. That’s totally their choice, obviously. But, it’s also my choice to decide that I don’t need them in my life (or anywhere near me as a matter of fact) if me talking about MH bothers them.

Since I’ve been speaking openly on Social Media about my Mental Health, I’ve had a lot of unfollows. But I’ve also had a lot of follows too – nearly doubling my overall online following in three months. (Not that this is about Social Media.)

My point is that there are plenty of people out there who care, and who want to hear what you have to say. I’ve had dozens of messages encouraging me and telling me how I’ve been helpful. So, forget about the people that don’t want to hear it. If they’re not interested in what you have to say, and don’t care about a real problem then they’re not even worth the thought.

Never be ashamed of who you are or what you’re going through. Be proud of how strong you are, and remember you can inspire others by sharing your story! We’ve got stigmas to destroy and people to help, so f*ck the people that don’t want to hear it and remember the masses of people that do!

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Mental Health and Why You Need To Lose The ‘Miracle Cure’ Mindset

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the miracle cure doesn’t exist. I wish it did, but it just doesn’t. And, the sooner you realise this, the sooner your recovery will begin.

The problem with Mental Illnesses and Disorders is that they’re largely and collectively still a grey area. See, we can’t just open up the skull and point at a part of the brain and say ‘yep, just tweak that one a little’ and ‘oh, just rewire that somewhere else!’ Believe me, I wish we could.

So, we must experiment with the techniques, medications, therapies, self-care routines etc. that are out there to find what best suits and helps us. We’re all different and not everything works for everybody. And a spoiler with a lot of these: You have to want to help yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate it when people say that just ‘being positive’ will solve your deepest and darkest mental issues, because they see you’ve perked up today. What they don’t realise is as soon as you’re alone or in comfort, the mask falls right off and the base of your emotions and thoughts is still there. Ah yes, hello negativity, it’s been a few hours.

I saw a psychiatrist a little while back and he said to me that you need to practice the self-help techniques on your good days too.

There’s no use waiting until you’re hiding under your duvet to say ‘Let’s start some CBT!’. And it’s true, you’re lucky if you find me out of bed that day. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so in theory practicing a self-help ritual for three weeks will help form a routine. Which is definitely a lot easier than it sounds, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything solidly for 21 days. But, I think it’s definitely worth a try.

So, my point here is just to stop looking for the miracle cure. First, start looking for those little sparks of happiness that you find in each day. Whether it’s putting your make up on, going out for a walk, reading another chapter of a good book – whatever it is, keep doing it! Self care in my opinion, is anything that makes you authentically happy. So I urge you to think about what things make you feel this way!

Write them down, schedule them into your daily life, ask yourself why they make you feel good and find similar things you can do! Here are some of the things I practice for self-care:

  • Reading
  • Having a nice hot shower
  • Watching a funny movie
  • Going out for a walk/generally getting fresh air
  • Literally just pushing myself to get up and have a cuppa’
  • Tidying my room
  • Diffusing Essential Oils

And secondly, trust that your counselling or therapies provide some form of help and to utilise those as well as you can. Some things may seem like they’re never going to help you, but give them a chance and allow yourself to explore the help you’ve been offered.

Take your time, keep your mind open and look for positivity in your every day life. You don’t have to be ‘better’ next week, next month or even next year. You just need to believe tomorrow will be a better day. You can do this! 

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