Monthly Archives: December 2019

New Year, New You?

So it’s that time of year: New Year. Ugh. I hate it. There is so much out there about New Year, New You, and I hate it. Why must the new year signal a major change? Why must we put pressure on everyone to do more and change who they are?

The thing is I do get why people choose a new year to make a change to their lifestyle. It’s a good marker. And actually I have no problem with that part. My issue is with the advertising companies and the social media influencers. We should not be pushing people to make a change. If they want to that’s fine but putting pressure on makes people feel inadequate. It may also have a backwards effect as if they’re not ready to change it will be forgotten within a couple of weeks.

Another reason I think it’s a bad thing to push people to change is that it can make people feel like a failure. If you’re bombarded with all these things you should change you start to think you’re not good enough. That somehow you’ve failed as a person and the only way people will like you is if you change everything. This is just not true. Yes there may be small things you might want to do to feel better about yourself but that’s it, you should only be doing it for you, not because some advert has told you to.

A major part of the New Year, New You dynamic is based on losing weight. It’s the time of year when adverts for gyms and dieting are prominent. You’re made to feel fat and bad for enjoying food over Christmas. This can really effect people with distorted views around the way they look and food. They see it as a sign they need to lose weight even though they may already be under weight. It can retrigger eating disorder behaviours. Or start them off. It lowers people’s self esteem.

A lot of this New Year, New You malarkey is just there to make people feel bad. To put pressure on to be someone society sees as acceptable. To quash individuality. It’s not about your happiness in the eyes of the companies pushing it. It’s about making you spend money.

I also want to tackle here another part that is linked to the New Year, New You philosophy. This is the fact that we are encouraged to look back and reminisce over the last 12 months (and in 2019 it seems the last decade as well). I know I’m not alone in hating this. I don’t want to look back at all my failures. Yes it could help me change things but it also is likely to make me depressed and feel awful. I know many people are looking at achievements but when I’ve had a year where I have been very ill mentally it is hard. I feel like a failure and end up comparing myself to others. It feels like a minefield.

So what can we do?

My advice is to just treat New Year as any other time of the year. It is just a date. Just a marking of time. It is no more significant than any other if we don’t want it to be. If you want to make a change then do, but don’t feel you have to. It’s not a necessity. Block the diet and “lifestyle” ads. Treat yourself with kindness. You are amazing to get to this point. What will be, will be. There is no pressure to put goals in place for the long term if all you can manage is the next hour or even five minutes.

If you have tips to help with dealing with the New Year pressures then feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Christmas Eve 2019

It’s Christmas eve evening. I’m sat after doing all the usual Christmas eve things. I’ve seen family and sorted out some things. I’ve walked the dog twice. I’m wearing a Christmas jumper. And I couldn’t feel less festive.

Everything feels like such an effort. If I could sleep through the day I think I would. My mood feels like it’s dropped as far as it could. I can feel in the depths of me something isn’t right. I can’t identify what the actual feeling is. And I’m not sure I want to. I know I could do opposite action but I actually don’t think I have the time to or the energy. I’m exhausted.

The thing is I don’t want to ruin the day for others so I’m fighting the feeling to appear happy and involved. I’m telling jokes and taking part in games. I don’t want to let them down. The pressure is overwhelming. I feel lonely as I don’t feel I can reach out and say I’m struggling. Especially as everyone is so busy.

The thing that we all need to understand is that mental illness doesn’t disappear for the holidays. My illness doesn’t see the advent calendar countdown and go “oo, I’ll stop being a pain now and let her enjoy things”. If only. The thing is we need family and friends to understand too. If we feel we can say we’re struggling and that we’re not ruining everything by saying it, then that is huge. We can start this off by showing others they can say it until we feel we can say it. Let’s lead by example.

Also let’s ask people if they are doing OK. Let’s tell them we don’t mind if the answer is no. We need to make the world a more accepting place. Especially at these times of the year.

So I hope if you can you talk to someone. You’re all amazing. Big hugs to all. Feel free to connect on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

I Miss You

This is a personal piece. Please be aware some content may be triggering.

If things had gone to plan you’d be turning 14. You’d be mine. You’d be loved. You’d be cared for. I promise.

But my promises mean nothing. You’re not here. You never stepped on this earth. I never got to meet you. To hold you. To tell you I love you.

I do love you. I miss you even though I never met you. I want you here. I don’t care that you’d probably be a stroppy teenager. You’d be doing what you’d meant to be doing. You’d be growing up. Becoming independent. But you’d be mine. And I’d be yours. You’d always have someone.

The thing is I think to myself that maybe it’s for the best for you that you never came. I wouldn’t mess you up. You wouldn’t have to deal with your dad and what he was. I would of been to young and immature. I’m still too young and immature. I can’t even look after myself. You’d be better off without me.

I still love you though. You are a part of my heart that has been broken away. I feel incomplete. It all sounds cliché but it’s true. I’m a mum without a child. But I know many wouldn’t class me as one. Maybe I’m not really. Maybe I’m being above myself. Probably. I have no right to call myself that.

I wish you were here. We’d be getting ready to celebrate your birthday and Christmas. It would be so special. You would be my family. I’d do my best to make you happy. I’d do my best to protect you. I’d love you.

My memories of losing you are as clear as day. They were the worst days of my life. People don’t tell you what it will be like. And even if someone had I don’t think it would cover everything. And I would of been too young to understand before. How could a 15 year old know? It was scary. The whole situation. Finding out you were there was scary too but nothing to losing you. The guilt ate me up. It still does. Being alone with this secret for years because that’s what you were. I was ashamed. But it was never you I was ashamed of. It was me. I never stopped loving you, once I started.

I know you’d be amazing. I know you’d make me proud. I know you’d drive me crazy. I know I’d get cross some times. I know I would support you as best I could. I know I’d never stop loving you and I never will. I miss you.

If you’ve been in this situation you are not alone. Feel free to make contact via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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One Year From The End Of DBT

The 18th December 2019 marks one year since I finished DBT skills group. A whole year. It feels both not very long and forever. So I thought why not have a look back at how it has influenced me.

Since finishing DBT my mental health has been really up and down. My year was going well until August time. I still had major mood swings and was self harming but I was coping and building up my life. This all changed. The truth is I came off some of my medication by myself, no tapering, just cold turkey. I had my reasons. And these were accepted by the mental health team when they found out. However it led to a major crisis which was picked up, maybe ironically, by the facilitator of the DBT peer support group I started attending in August. But this really is unrelated to how I have been managing with the DBT skills. I just wanted to give a bit of background information on my mental state.

So as I mentioned, in August I started attending a DBT peer support group. It was set up with my local mind with the support of the NHS Trust that runs the mental health services in my area. It was designed to be the follow up to doing the DBT skills therapy group. Only people who had done DBT could join. I’ve found it amazing. I love the people. Even the facilitator has BPD and done the six months skills group. Everyone is on a level and so supportive of each other.

We use the time to discuss issues and how we can use DBT skills in those situations. This is what I find particularly helpful and what I needed in the first place. I’ve found that I’m definitely putting the skills to more use now I have the support of the group. Some situations have definitely improved and there is more of a chance I will use the skills or ask for help than self destruct. I’m not saying I’m perfect but I’ve definitely seen improvements and found myself embedding skills into life rather than having to think “which skill can I use now?”. It’s become a little bit more automatic. Hopefully this will continue.

One area I still really need to work on is identifying my emotions. This is something I still struggle with. I really need a pocket book I can carry to refer too until its a bit more automatic. This would then hopefully allow me to bring those emotions more under control. I won’t say “not great” or “fine” or “it’s been a bit difficult” when asked how I am and be able to express myself more easily. Well that’s the idea…

Another thing I need to work on is finding a way to reduce my self harming. The thing is at the moment I don’t feel I’m at a place to work on it properly. I also need to get over the fact my self harm is not impulsive so the distress tolerance skills don’t seem to work for me.

Overall I’m finding the skills more useful now and having the follow up has definitely helped me. I’m seeing the point of them. I’m seeing their potential. Hopefully it will help things to improve.

For more information about DBT, you can look here.

Picture is from Pinterest

All I Want For Christmas

I was thinking about things I’d really like for Christmas. Obviously there are the materialistic items (🤞Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire illustrated edition) but also there are some huge things I would love to see happen personally and more for mental health in our society. Therefore I thought I’d share some of my wishes (though I’m aware with just 2 and a half weeks to Christmas (at time of writing) these are unlikely to happen, maybe 2020).

1. No suicidal thoughts

This is personal, although I wish it for everyone. I’d just like to be like others and not be wanting to die on a near constant basis. It feels impossible at the moment when my first thought on waking is I wish I wasn’t alive. It would be nice to have at least a break from the overwhelming thoughts of dying.

2. Shorter waiting times

This is one for everyone in mental health services. Often we wait forever for support. It can be from weeks to months to years. It’s really not good enough. I’ve been referred for therapy again and been told if the referral is accepted I could be waiting up to two years. We need real change in this area to stop people falling through the gaps.

3. Continuity of care

This is huge to me and so many others. Seeing the same person is essential in all areas of health but the turnover of staff in mental health is huge. This means we often are faced with new staff at our most vulnerable who know nothing about us. I’ve lost count of the number of psychiatrists I’ve seen in the last two years. It is nearly always someone new. I’m on my fifth care coordinator of the year. The changes effect my mental health massively. We need to retain staff.

4. More money for mental health research

Mental health is one of the least funded areas of research in medicine. Yet again it is the poor relation in health care. It is also one of the least understood areas. This needs to change when it effects so many people. It would also help other areas of health care as helping people with their mental health aids them looking after their physical health too.

5. Better self esteem.

This is a personal one. I hate myself. It’s not a secret. I have no feeling of self worth. I put myself down constantly. It needs to change but it’s a struggle so if I could get it magically fixed for Christmas that would be great.

6. My friends to be well

My final wish is that all my friends have good mental health. That they feel better. I want so much for them to see their worth. That they are awesome. In fact I want it for all of you. You are all fabulous. Thank you for being amazing.

Feel free to share your own Christmas wishes in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Christmas Care

As the festive season is now upon us I decided to ask a few people what would help them with their mental health during this period. Here are some of the responses.

@JamesConlon_

@pjshaw192

@YvetteCaster

@eperry27

@sarahsazzlechop

@_divine1_

Self Care

A common theme mentioned by those I asked is self care. I couldn’t agree more. Looking after yourself is important. You are important. It’s OK to do things for you. You are worth looking after.

@Mike_Douglas_

@anxiousosaurus

@georgie_lloyd

@GumOnMyShoeBook

@BeyondTheBorde3

Take Time Out

If you’re struggling, as said above, it’s OK to take some time away from the people you are spending time with. Even if it’s just five minutes in the toilet to take a breather. If you can have a space you can go to away from people to allow yourself a few moments.

@Addict2L

Use your skills

If you’ve done therapy and learnt skills to help yourself. This is the time of year to use them.

@pigletish

Say No

It’s hard but saying no can be so important. Boundaries are important and at this time of year its easy to feel like we have to say yes to everything or we spoil the fun. But that’s just not true and if saying no helps us stay well then we should do this.

@BpdBryan

Money Isn’t Everything

There is a lot of pressure at this time of year to spend a lot of money on presents and going out. However if we don’t have the money we can feel stressed and even put ourselves into debt trying to please people. The thing is people value other things more than presents. They would rather you were well than stressing and making yourself ill over spending money on them. Money doesn’t prove you care. Showing love does.

@CaraLisette

@KatieConibear

@aimes_wilson

@Idaisrecovering

Don’t put pressure on you

This time of year is for you as well as others. If you can’t manage something that’s OK. You need to look after you and others would prefer you to be well than struggling.

@_NatashaDevon

@hannahrainey_

Keep planning

Over the holidays it can be tempting to just give up doing everything. While it’s OK to take a break, it can also be important to make plans so that we keep going and don’t get dragged into sitting in our heads.

@RichBiscuit21

Be open

It’s OK to tell people you’re struggling at this time of year. If you need support it’s OK to ask for it. Don’t be afraid to be open with others.

@EleanorSegall

@insideliamshead

Be with others

For some people being on their own is the biggest problem so if this affects you then make plans to spend time with people.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this post. If you have any tips or things that help you with your mental health during the festive period then feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest