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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28 April / An Update On Me

I haven’t blogged about myself much because I’m feeling a bit on the fence with everything really. Generally, I just feel lost and my mind is so blank.

I had an assessment for counselling on Wednesday and I have been put on a waiting list for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) of which I am very grateful for. But, since I’ve had it twice before and didn’t find it very useful, I’m also a little disappointed.

We discussed how I’ve been feeling and what my general ‘goals’ are. I hate that question, I just want to live a normal life, with normal emotions and not hate myself. Please?

I also spoke about how I’d seen a Psychiatrist in January who came to the conclusion I was suffering with Generalised Anxiety (it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or diagnosis to realise that). I’d actually had the referral because my Dr suspected I could be suffering with Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder due to my constant mood changes, impulsivity and general confusion in myself (amongst a lot of other ‘symptoms’). But the psychiatrist kind of shut me down.

For one we met in a local activity centre with no waiting room, so my Mum ended up sat in with me which made me feel uncomfortable. He also only asked me a few questions about my childhood and concluded I was ‘normal’. Whatever that is.

The problem is, I have real ‘identity’ issues and I struggle with things like knowing my likes and dislikes. I find myself doing laps in my mind thinking about the things I do in my life. Like, do I do that because she does it? Do I really like it? Am I watching this because they do? Am I actually enjoying it? Blah, blah, blah… These things sound trivial but I’ve always been like it, even with life choices.

I touched on 7 different A Levels in college, trying to figure out if I actually enjoyed the subjects I chose. I actually did Business Studies AS Level twice (two years of studying) and failed both times – I’ve still no idea whether I enjoyed it or if I just liked the idea of business. Career wise I have since been a Letting Agent and a Fitness Instructor and given up on both.

I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing or what I want. I really want some help with this but I’ve no idea where to turn?

Film Review: Disney Pixar’s Inside Out

Inside Out is a Disney Pixar movie based inside the mind of an 11 year old girl named Riley, rated 8.2/10 by IMDb.

The movie begins with an introduction of five emotions that are physical characters inside of Riley’s mind; Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust.

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They navigate Riley’s mind and reactions through a control panel in a space age looking ‘headquarters’. Memories are created that form in the shape of glass balls, colour coded by emotion. These balls are then fed through a big tube into Riley’s mind from headquarters.

giphy (2)We are then introduced to the ‘islands’ of Riley’s mind, these are created by ‘core memories’ which look similar to memories, but glow brightly. The islands build up Riley’s personality; Honesty Island, Hockey Island, Family Island, Friendship Island and Goofball Island.

The storyline itself surrounds Riley’s big move to a new city from Minnesota with her Parents and the emotional challenges this can cause a young girl to have. Whilst Joy seems to be the dominant emotion at the beginning, trying very hard to keep Riley happy, the trail of events invite the rest to the forefront of Riley’s mind. giphy (3)

After an accident happens with Joy and Sadness, they are both, along with the core memories, sucked through the tube that takes memories into Riley’s mind. This causes the islands to be ‘down’ and Riley’s reactions to be turbulent with just Anger, Fear and Disgust left at headquarters.

With no clear route back to headquarters for Joy & Sadness and challenging events happening in Riley’s life left, right and centre, the islands begin to fall and are forgotten.

Joy and Sadness traipse through Riley’s mind experiencing their own challenges, but eventually make it back to headquarters along with the help of Riley’s imaginary friend from her childhood, Bing Bong, who they find amongst her memories.

Joy and Sadness get back just as Riley is running away from home. And, instead of Joy taking control of things she lets Sadness take the reins for once, telling her “Riley needs you.”

Once Sadness takes hold of the controls, Riley returns home. Joy passes the core memories to Sadness who puts them back where they belong. With Sadness’s touch they turn blue, encouraging Riley to feel sadness for these memories and tell her parents that she misses home.

Sadness pulls Joy to the control panel and they press a button together whilst Riley hugs her parents. This creates a new core memory which is coloured both happy and sad, bringing back all the islands. With this new experience new islands form and they expand their control panel to allow all the emotions to take control at the same time.

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I found this ending to be very profound for a children’s’ movie, but it really made me think. Instead of living for one emotion at a time or trying to feel Joy 24/7, it encourages you to allow all of your emotions to be felt to have a healthy mind and reasonable reactions. This allowed Riley’s mind to expand and form more ‘islands’, building on her personality and wisdom. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and the message it conveyed and I hope that children understand the moral of the story.

Walking For Your Mental Health

Even as a qualified fitness instructor, I find the idea of strenuous exercise quite daunting. I’ve fallen off the wagon and been quite lazy over the last few months, especially since I quit working at the gym. Gathering motivation when you’re depressed is very difficult unfortunately.

However, I try my best to keep my fitness up with something I genuinely enjoy, and that’s walking. Walking is probably one of the most underrated forms of exercise in the fitness world as it’s deemed ‘not enough’. But, this post is to tell you that it absolutely is enough and you 100% will receive great benefits from regular brisk walking.

The physical benefits of walking can include;

  • Reduced risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease
  • Increased cardiac & pulmonary fitness
  • Encouraged weight loss and reduction of body fat
  • Increased bone strength
  • Increased muscle endurance
  • Boosted immune system

The mental benefits of walking can include;

  • Improved mood with the release of endorphins
  • Reduction of stress & anxiety
  • Improved self-confidence
  • Improved memory
  • Increased relaxation
  • Helps to control addiction

I enjoy walking for a lot of these reasons but for a few personal reasons too. As I’m not working at the moment I find it very difficult to separate my days, so it all ends up a big blur at times. So, it’s very important for me to get outside as part of a daily routine.

I also genuinely just love being outside in nature. The smell of fresh air is far too underrated and I could happily sit outside for hours with the sun on my face taking big, deep breaths. I find it so relaxing and it really helps me to feel at peace.

Walking ticks a lot of boxes for me and that’s why I love it so much. I’m very lucky to live in Cornwall as I’m surrounded by lots of beautiful places and the coastline is all around me, so there’s always lots to explore.

If you’re struggling with your MH and haven’t allowed your body some exercise, I would definitely recommend giving regular walking a go! Find advice from the NHS on starting out walking here.

Here’s a walk I went on yesterday evening – beautiful!

 

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!

 

6 April / Thoughts

I’m at a loss on how to describe my thoughts right now; they’re up and down, left and right, inside out.

I feel as though everyone in the world is travelling the highway at 100mph, whilst I’m scraping 30mph. Ramming the gear stick into third, when I wasn’t quite ready to leave second. I judder on, hoping things might run smoothly if only I persist and ignore the struggle, maybe I’ll catch up with the speed.

But, I can’t do that. I can’t ignore the fact that I’m just a hinderance to those around me. Because in a financial sense, I am. In an emotional sense, I’m probably exhausting and hard work. My moods are here, there and everywhere. I make decisions in the heat of the moment, and then realise they weren’t right. I find myself to be exhausting.

Although people offer their support, nobody can help you 100% and nobody can totally understand. The snide comments slip, the eyes roll, the anger builds – I can’t help who I am and I’m sorry. I’m so fucking sorry.

I just want things to be right, and more than anything – I want to rid my mind and memory of anxiety and just get back to work. I lack purpose and routine and I need that more than anything. But, I just need an employer who understands that I might have bad days and I might cry sometimes – but I’m there to help and I’m trying my hardest. Does this kind of employer even exist? I fear I’ll never find them.

I fear I’ll never move forward and I’ll always be in second gear watching the success above me.

25 Questions To Get To Know Me

1. What is your middle name?

Louise

2. Share you favourite subject in high school.

History or Drama

3. What is your favourite drink?

Lucozade or Diet Coke

4. What is your favorite song at the moment?

Perfect / Ed Sheeran

5. What would you (or have you) name your children?

That’s a secret!

6. Have you participated in any sports?

I played Netball in school? I’m not overly ‘sporty’ but I enjoy weight lifting at the gym.

7. What is your favorite book?

Looking For Alaska by John Green

8. What is your favorite color?

I couldn’t possibly commit to one colour!

9. What is your favorite animal?

Dogs or Penguins!

10. What is your favorite perfume?

Calvin Klein Euphoria

11. What is your favourite holiday?

Christmas!

12. On a scale from 1 – 10, rate your childhood.

6? Maybe? I don’t know really.

13. Have you been out of the country?

Yep! I’ve been to Spain twice, Turkey, Italy, New York twice and Ireland.

14. Do you speak any different languages?

Nope. I did French in school but wasn’t very good at it!

15. Do you have any siblings?

Two sisters & 1 brother – I’m the baby!

16. What is your favourite store?

I don’t really have one I don’t think! I do love Waterstones.

17. What is your favourite restaurant?

Anywhere that has Sausage and Mash on the menu!

18. Did you like school?

Yep, loved it.

19. Who are some of your favourite YouTubers?

I don’t really have any – oops! I should get into YouTube more.

20. What is your favourite movie?

Agh, there are too many! All the Harry Potters, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Toy Story, Bridesmaids, The Lion King, Beauty & The Beast, Dirty Dancing. 

21. What are some of your favourite tv shows?

Pretty Little Liars, Riverdale, Big Bang Theory, Friends, Fresh Prince!

22. PC or mac?

Mac! My MacBook is my baby.

23. What phone do you have?

Rose Gold iPhone 6s

24. How tall are you?

5’4

25. Do you have any pets?

Yes – I have two French Bulldogs


I’m having a relaxing Sunday today as I’ve had a stressful week! But the sun is shining and I’m okay. Lots of love to you all x

The Willoughby Book Club / Subscription Box Review

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin

Reading is an absolutely fantastic way to escape your thoughts, distract your mind and discover new worlds. Which is why it’s my favourite thing to do when times are hard. What better way to take a break from life than by living someone else’s through your imagination?fullsizeoutput_877

I am a massive fan of subscription boxes as I love surprises, and when I discovered The Willoughby Book Club I was so excited and had to have get my hands on a sample! See, I love reading, but I can just never pick one book. Put me in Waterstones and it’ll take me a good half an hour at least to pick a book to take home. (My poor boyfriend.) So knowing that part will be done for me is just grand!

This subscription box works with your reading preferences and interests to handpick books that you’d like to read. So you can get a new, surprise book every month that’s tailored to you!

There are different packages including; Young Adult, Contemporary, Bespoke, Classic and more. The subscription itself comes in 3, 6 or 12 monthly subscriptions with varied prices.fullsizeoutput_878

“Reading gives us some place to go, when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley

The book arrives carefully packaged for you to unwrap (just like a present!) with a badge, sticker and bookmark as extra little gifts.  It also comes with a slip saying ‘This book belongs to…’. Nice touch WBC, I like that.

And if the whole idea wasn’t lovely enough, for every subscription sold they donate one new book to Book Aid International, which supports the vital education and literary development work that the charity performs in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Overall, I absolutely love the personalised feel, making you feel as though you’d been sent a real gift. If you’re an avid reader looking to broaden your bookshelf, I would definitely recommend getting a subscription!

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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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