Monthly Archives: April 2018

#Blurtselfcareathon

If you have been following me on Twitter then you will probably know that I have been doing the #blurtselfcareathon which is a challenge created by the wonderful people at The Blurt Foundation for the month of April. The idea is that you follow a different prompt each day and share a picture or post linked to it. Therefore I thought I would do a round up of my posts. The prompt is also below.

Day 1: 10 things about me:

For day 1 I just shared a picture showing 10 facts people may not know about me.

Day 2: Obstacles:

This quote is very true. There is never a clear path. There will always be obstacles, big or small, that we have to deal with.

Day 3: Boost:

Everyone needs a boost sometimes. These are some words I thought might help boost others.

Day 4: Snuggle:

This just seemed appropriate at the time. Some days all I want is cuddles but feel all I get is the struggles.

Day 5: Outside:

This quote is quite apt. Nature calms my mind and on sunny days it is great to just get outside and feel the sun on your face.

Day 6: Support:

This is very true for many with a mental illness. We don’t want people to do everything for us, we want people to help us help ourselves.

Day 7: Learn:

As a former teacher I live for learning. I believe education is our biggest tool in eradicating stigma surrounding mental illness. We are never too old to learn.

Day 8: Recharge:

This amused me. If only it was so easy to recharge. But it is important to recharge and take time out to relax. Otherwise we burn out.

Day 9: Lemons:

I was quite restrained here as I wanted to post a picture telling you to throw lemons at people. Life can be sucky but there is always something good to come out of it. Even having a mental illness has given me some great opportunities.

Day 10: Laugh:

A sense of humour is so important especially when you’re struggling. Just because someone is depressed does not mean you can’t laugh.

Day 11: Encourage:

We get put down enough in this life so it’s important to encourage and lift people up. It’s never too hard to offer a little kindness.

Day 12: Animals:

Animals are so important. They are amazing at being there when you feel rubbish. They also help me feel calmer. I’d be lost without animals in my life.

Day 13: Doodle:

I didn’t know how to interpret this one so included a doodle by the wonderful Doodle Chronicles. This is very apt for those suffering with a mental illness.

Day 14: Squad:

This is probably true but in all seriousness I have an awesome group of friends and the Twitter mental health community is like one giant squad.

Day 15: Kindness:

There is not enough kindness in the world. It doesn’t take much to offer words of kindness. If you can be one thing then be kind.

Day 16: Treasure:

This is very true. My treasure is not silver or gold. What is precious to me is my family, friends and pets.

Day 17: Create:

Creativity is a big part of life. And it is important to create what makes you happy rather than doing it for other people. My blog is my main outlet of creativity and I’d be lost without it.

Day 18: Social:

I am very socially awkward. I find it difficult to socialise and get anxious. This is something I want to improve on.

Day 19: Funny Memory:

I have many funny memories. Often at my expense. My memories include falling in a canal and spending the day in Brighton with a friend where we pretended to have burnt down the pier (long story).

Day 20: Letter:

I love getting letters. I also enjoy writing them and have been known to write letters to people I know are struggling. This something I want to do more of.

Day 21: Talk:

This quote is very true. We need to talk to ourselves more lovingly. It’s easy to be cruel in the way you talk to yourself.

Day 22: Small Steps:

In recovery it is the smallest steps that lead up to the biggest actions.

Day 23: Bravery:

This quote sums up bravery for me. Fighting a mental illness takes a lot of bravery.

Day 24: Song:

This is from one of my favourite songs called “This Song Saved My Life” and it sums up how music can be life saving and the different ways it can help.

Day 25: Water:

This quote seemed very apt. Being near water is very calming for me. I love being near the sea and miss being near it regularly. I think our minds are very much like water as this quote suggests.

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Things That Help My Mental Health

Having a mental illness is exhausting and can take it out of you. This means it is important to find things you like or enjoy that can help you when you are feeling particularly bad. Below are some of the things that, over the years, I have found help me and how they’ve helped me. I haven’t included people or pets in this as they are separate things I feel deserve a blog post of their own.

1. Harry Potter: I am a massive Harry Potter fan. I love the world and the detail in it. But Harry Potter means a lot to me because of how it has helped me. I grew up as the Harry Potter books and films were being released. It helped me to fit in with friends at school. I was never very good at making friends but it gave me something to talk about and have in common with others. Harry Potter helped me feel less alone in a world that was difficult for me to navigate because of my mental illness. Harry Potter also offered me an escape from the real world and a brain that was struggling. It still does. I revisit Harry Potter again and again when times are tough.

2. Reading: I’ve already mentioned my love of Harry Potter but reading in general has always been a huge part of my life and something I love to do. It offers me an escape from the workings of my mind, and takes me into different worlds. It can also help me understand more about myself. I read a wide variety of books, encompassing non-fiction and fiction. I’ll read about philosophy and psychology, to understand about our brains and society, but I’ll also read children’s books to escape from the difficulties of the day. I just love reading.

3. Music: I don’t think I would still be here if it wasn’t for music. It means such a lot to me and is a big part of my life. I have found an escape in music; when things are difficult it is easy for me to lose myself in the songs. It is also a great distraction from the voice I hear; I can just out my earphones in and try to drown it out. Music has also helped me to express how I am feeling, not by playing myself, but by finding songs with lyrics that express what I am trying to say. At times I’ve found it hard to show an emotion but music has allowed me to do it in an easy way.

4. Writing: It might be hard to believe but I used to hate writing. Throughout my education I was told I was no good at it so I resisted doing it. However since leaving education I have found a love for expressing myself this way. It helps me to get things out of my head and written down in front of me to see. It has become my main way of expressing myself; I’d much rather write something down than say it. Now writing is something I am passionate about and would love to do as a career. I feel it is something I am getting better at with time.

So those are a few of the things that help me with my mental health. There are others that have had an impact too. What things have helped you with your mental health? Feel free to share in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Intrusive Thoughts

Please be careful when reading this piece as some of the content may be triggering.

Intrusive thoughts are quite common in people who have a mental illness. The reason I chose to write about them now is because my own intrusive thoughts are impacting on my life a great deal. Therefore I thought it would be good to share about them and make others aware just how much of an impact they can have.

Intrusive thoughts can turn up in a multitude of guises, from ruminating thoughts to obsessions. It can be defined as an unwelcome, involuntary thought, image or idea that is upsetting or distressing. They are often difficult to manage or get rid of. Intrusive thoughts are heavily linked to OCD but you can also get them with other mental illnesses including anxiety and depression. 

What form do my intrusive thoughts take?

My intrusive thoughts tend to centre around people dying. In particular people close to me. I become convinced that some how my actions are going to cause people to become unwell and die. A fair amount of the time these thoughts are fleeting and I can work to stop them becoming an overbearing part of my life. At other times, like currently, I cannot control the flow of almost constant thoughts through my brain. I become convinced people will die and it will be my fault.

What impact do my intrusive thoughts have?

 My intrusive thoughts tend to leave me in a state of high anxiety at nearly all times. I am hyper vigilant a lot of the time. When the intrusive thoughts are at their most demanding, I feel constantly on edge. The gear pulses through my body and I am terrified. I can’t control the thoughts at this level so they are constantly rolling over and over in my mind. It is exhausting as there seems to be no off switch. 

These thoughts can lead to self harm and suicidal thoughts, as my brain tells me this is the only way to stop the bad things from happening. It can also lead to other rituals, for example, I have to keep my fingers crossed or someone will die. I can do this to the point my fingers are painful because they’ve been in that position so long. 

How can you deal with intrusive thoughts?

Coping with intrusive thoughts is tough. There is no quick solution. They are always going to be there to some extent, I have found. When my thoughts are at their worst I get and use distractions to keep them at bay. This can include colouring, origami or listening to a podcast. I also try writing. Sometimes this doesn’t work and my anxiety keeps rising, at which point I have to use PRN medication (in my case Lorazepam) to help me cope. If intrusive thoughts are really effecting you, it is worth discussing with a mental health professional or doctor as there is treatment available. You do not need to suffer.

Have you experienced intrusive thoughts? If so what has helped you? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Late Night Anxiety

This is a personal piece I wrote a short time ago. Please be trigger aware when reading.

It’s eleven at night and I am wide awake with anxiety. I stupidly decided to look up a medical procedure I have to have and I’m now terrified. It suddenly seems a much bigger deal than I first thought.

This is anxiety that is acceptable but it is no easier to deal with than the waves that pour over me for no reason. I am still terrified to sleep. Still tight chested and struggling to keep my breathing at a regular pace.

Anxiety has been a part of my life for about four years now. I mean I always got anxious a little bit but this was when it started to get out of control and rule my life more. It stopped me doing things I wanted to. Anxiety became a prison. It trapped me in my own mind and in my house. It trapped me in situations I could not change.

People discard anxiety as not that serious, but it has been one of the most debilitating illnesses I’ve had. It has controlled me. Made it impossible to work. Taken away experiences in my life. Made things I should enjoy, unbearable. I hate anxiety.

Telling someone with anxiety everything is fine so why are they worrying is unhelpful. Most of the time we rationally know that the world will not fall apart but we cannot stop the waves that tell us the opposite. They come over us and drown us in doubt. The “what if’s” creep in and suddenly we are panicking. We cannot control this. If we could we would. We might learn strategies that help but the anxiety is still there.

Panic attacks come in many different forms. Everyone seems familiar with the hyperventilating panic attack, where the person is struggling to breathe. This is the obvious panic attack. But there is also the quiet panic attack. The panic attack where you sit quietly, feeling the dread come over you, unable to move. Or being so overwhelmed you cannot gather your thoughts together. This is the side of anxiety people don’t see but is as equally debilitating.

Having no explanation for your anxiety is highly frustrating. Everyone will ask you “why are you anxious?” and you just can’t answer that question some of the time. Oh how I wish I could. I’d love to know why my brain is finding a situation threatening. I would love to stop the panic of the unknown. But sometimes it’s not to be and anxiety just takes over.

So that is just a small insight into an anxious mind, though all of them are different. I just ask that you are patient with my anxiety and understand I’m not trying to be difficult. I’d love things to be different but some days it’s just not to be.

If you would like to share your experiences of anxiety you can in the comments, on Twitter or Facebook.