Category Archives: depression

An Update

This is a personal piece so please be aware that the content may be triggering.

Recently I have been missing in action because things have been tough. I have been in the midst of a depressive episode. It’s a place I’ve been so many times before yet still it hits me with the force of Thor’s hammer. I am at a loss and unable to motivate myself. Basic things take the biggest effort. I just want to sleep my life away.

I’ve been rocked by suicidal thoughts and have had the suggestion of crisis team involvement mentioned a few times. In the end it is decided they are no use to me and will probably not be able to help me. This makes things worse for me as I feel like noone can help me. I’m a hopeless case. Beyond help. Don’t get me wrong people are trying to help me. My care coordinator is seeing me weekly and has organised a sooner psychiatrist appointment for 6th November. I’m lucky I know but feel far from it.

My main coping mechanism at the moment is mainly through self harm. It is giving me a sense of control and making the voice I hear quieter. I know I should be using other ways of coping but it’s my old faithful and its hard not to go back to it time and time again. I have been trying to use the skills from my therapy but I’m finding that hard too. I feel like a failure.

So anyway that’s a quick update on where I am at the moment and why there is no new blog posts at the moment. I need to take a break. Hopefully it will be short and I’ll be back soon. To keep up to date you can comment or follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Tough To Hear

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

The phrase “I think you’re doing well” can actually be one of the most difficult phrases to hear. Especially when in your head everything feels like it is falling apart. It can be meant as a well meaning phrase to buoy you up and compliment you but it can in actual fact make things seem tougher.

This week someone said this phrase to me because on the surface things are going well. I am attending therapy, volunteering my time and keeping up with my blog. All positives. Yet underneath it all I feel I am falling apart. Where am I really at? Yes, I am attending therapy, but each week is followed by a melt down to a friend and me feeling the need to punish myself. Yes, I’m offering my time, but I’m aware I am saying yes to a lot when actually I feel low and need to say no. And while I am keeping up with my blog, I am finding it hard to keep creating content, which makes me feel useless. On top of all this the voice is telling me to die and I am self harming and hair pulling. Not such a happy picture. 

I realise I sound negative, and I promise I am trying to be positive, but it is really difficult to do when so much seems against you. It is hard to put on a smile every day and make people think you are doing ok. It takes a supreme amount of energy to carry on with every day tasks. Being positive is hard.

Then someone says the phrase “you are doing well” and it brings up a lot of different thoughts and emotions. Yes, some are good, like “I’m glad I’m showing I can cope” or “maybe I’m doing better than I think”. But there are many negatives.

One thing you may think is “if everyone thinks I am doing well am I going to let them down?” You feel that because things aren’t going well under the exterior view that if any cracks start to show you will be a let down. Of course this isn’t true but you feel the pressure to appear ok. This can make all that you are feeling with seem more difficult as you’re masking your true emotions, scared to show the ‘real’ you. 

Another way this phrase can be invalidating is that you it makes you feel that you must be ok as that is what others think of you. You feel like maybe your problems aren’t as big as you feel they are and that you’re making a fuss over nothing. This is not true. What you feel is valid. If you’re struggling still that is ok and it is ok to express this to other people. 

So while I understand that people are trying to be helpful by saying I am doing well, when I am struggling still it is actually one of the worst things for me to hear as it invalidates me. If you know someone is struggling please don’t add pressure by using this phrase. Please just accept they are struggling and validate their feelings by saying “I understand why you feel this way and it’s ok to feel like you do.”

 Are there any phrases you wish people wouldn’t say to you when you’re struggling? 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.

Book Review: The Self Care Project

Picture from Pinterest 

Overview

“The Self Care Project” by Jayne Hardy is a book aimed at helping you make the most of your time to look after yourself. It looks at the term self care and what it means in real life. It gives advice on how to incorporate self care into your every day life and tips on what to do when loving yourself feels alien. It is a practical guide with activities to do along the way.

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. The tone that the book is written in is that of a friend who understands just how hard caring for yourself can be. It does not lecture you on what you should be doing, but instead inspires you to make changes, along with suggestions of how this can be done. It accepts that sometimes we are going to fail and instead of telling you off for that, it has practical solutions.

Jayne Hardy is honest about her own difficulties in this book and this helps you feel more at ease when reading as you realise you are not alone. Jayne makes you feel like she cares deeply about what you do and your well being and that is why she has written this book just for you. 

The description of depression in this book is the best I have ever read. It shows just how paradoxical depression can be and how we are all different in the way we suffer. It makes you feel understood and therefore maybe it is possible for you to incorporate self care and feel better about yourself.

The book also incorporated practical exercises to get you thinking about each area it was discussing, with templates as a guide. These templates look great, are simple to follow and easy to recreate, which means it isn’t turning self care into an arduous concept (which would defeat the point). I am really looking forward to filling in some of these as part of my bullet journal.

Another area of the book I really thought was useful and well written was the discussion surrounding our boundaries and what to do when they go a bit wonky. Jayne Hardy acknowledges that this is not an area that is easy to manage and admits to having trouble in this area too, which makes you feel understood. She explains why it is so important to have these boundaries in place but admits its not always easy. This gives you a realistic view of what it will be like to incorporate this self care. 

Overall I really recommend this book for anyone, not just those struggling with their mental health. It has lessons we can all learn something from. It is very relevant in our society today and has realistic expectations of those reading it. It is practical. Unlike other self help books, it is encouraging and breaks everything down into small steps. It also has emergency self care for different situations to refer to. Thank you Jayne for writing this book.

If you have read this book, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Doubts

This is a personal piece. Please be trigger aware when reading.

In mental health, we talk a lot about recovery and things getting better because ultimately that is what we want to achieve, and rightly so. But often this process isn’t linear and doubts begin to creep in. This is what’s been happening for me recently and I thought I would share some of my worries and doubts with you.

1. Can I ever recover? This is a big doubt in my mind and I often find myself wondering is recovery even possible? Everyone is always saying how things will improve but when you ate in the middle of mental illness it is hard to see things that way. You begin to wonder what will recovery be like and will you ever get there? It doesn’t help that at times, when you think you are making progress, things may relapse and you feel you are back where you started from. This is a doubt that runs through my head repeatedly and probably feeds into all my other doubts. Also, because of the uncertainty of the future, it is something I can’t answer. On my good days I can recover but on my bad days it feels impossible.

2. What if therapy doesn’t work? I am due to start therapy at some point in the future for the third time. All the professionals in my care are sure that this is the thing that will really help me and make me turn a corner in my recovery. This terrifies me as it feels like a lot of pressure and I am still unsure whether it will work. And if it doesn’t where does that leave me? Does it mean I am broken beyond repair? What will happen next? This may sound like a defeatist attitude but its not I promise you. I really want the therapy to work and make a difference but I’m just scared it won’t. The doubt is there and I don’t know how to stop it.

3. How will I cope without self harm? At the moment this is a question I find myself thinking quite a lot. Self harm is such a big part of my life right now and the thought of having to cope without it scares me. In my head, nothing else is as effective at managing the thoughts and voice I hear. Nothing takes away the bad feelings or gives as much relief. So naturally the thought of losing it is terrifying. Of course I know I need to move forward and that means letting it go but I just don’t feel ready. I find myself wondering will I ever be? I know that is the aim of treatment and therapy, to help me cope, but it is still scary and doubt creeps in.

So those are a few of my doubts. At times they bother me a lot but I know that is all part of the process and it is natural to worry. Doubts will always creep in and that’s OK as long as they don’t rule us and stop us moving forward. Have you had any doubts, similar to mine or completely different? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter.

Life UpdateΒ 

This weeks blog post is a little more informal because 1. I am working on a couple of things I want to get right and 2. I’m really struggling at the moment. Therefore I thought I would just do a bit of an update of where I am at mentally. I was in two minds whether to post this after receiving some hate on Twitter but I thought this is part of my story so I should share it. Please be trigger aware when reading. 

So as I said I am really struggling at the moment with different things. One of my main issues is the voice I hear. It is more insistent than ever at the moment and is there more of the time. It is highly negative and convinced I should die in the best interests of everyone else. It is really hard to hear and I try many different distractions to shut it out. Not many are effective at the moment. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve been taken off my antipsychotic medication, so where I was getting some help with the voice, I now have none. This is going to be reviewed soon though.

Hearing the voice more has also been heavily isolating for me. Because of some of what the voice has been saying, I have felt the need to withdraw from people. I know I shouldn’t do it but it is hard when the voice is telling me what a terrible person I am and how much people must hate me. People tell me this is not true but the voice is stronger, to me, and also tells me they are only saying it to be nice. This is why the voice holds so much power over me. It us stronger than me and can keep going when I am too broken to fight it.

As well as hearing the voice I have been having pretty constant suicidal thoughts. These have been quite distressing and I have come close to making plans to try again to end my life. I’m currently safe and my mental health team are aware of what’s going on. Its hard though to accept help when I feel so worthless and such a burden to everyone. I feel life would be better for everyone without me. 

I’m not sure if my suicidal thoughts are part of the Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD or BPD) or part of my depression coming back. I have however definitely noticed signs that my depression is back. Sleep is becoming a big issue for me at the moment. Not only is it taking a long time to get to sleep (a couple of hours) but my sleep is very broken and restless. It is filled with incredibly vivid dreams that are rather unpleasant. This means I have no energy when it comes to getting up, or throughout the day. Another reason I think my depression has returned is that I am back to not being able to concentrate. Reading is impossible, writing is difficult and even watching TV is hard. None of it gives me any enjoyment at the moment. 

So how am I coping? Badly is the answer. I am still self harming and it is probably the worst it has ever been. But I don’t feel I can manage without it. The urges are just too strong. 

I realise this has been quite a negative post but that is the way life is sometimes. Hopefully things will improve soon. To keep up to date you can keep in touch via Twitter too.

Distractions

Many of us who suffer with a mental illness find ourselves with intrusive thoughts. These can be thoughts of how we are not good enough, thoughts to self harm, suicidal thoughts or other unpleasant thoughts. They can be hugely distressing and difficult to manage. A big part of dealing with these thoughts is using distractions. These are things we can try to do to take away from the unpleasant thoughts. I have had to use distractions a lot to deal with intrusive thoughts and thought I would share some of my favourites.

1. YouTube – When things are particularly difficult and the thoughts are very loud, I like nothing more than to put my earphones in and watch something on YouTube to distract. It tends to take my mind away from everything I am dealing with. Some of my favourite youtubers to watch are Miss Anxiety, Tom Fletcher and Jim Chapman.

2. Origami (or any arts and crafts) – I am not the most creative person at all but have found origami a good distraction. Having to concentrate on the instructions seems to pull my brain away from the intrusive thoughts. I imagine other arts and crafts activities would have a similar effect too. Plus you will have something to show at the end of it too.

3. Playing with pets – Animals can be a great distraction. Most of the time they are calming (unless they are jumping on you while you try to write a blog post, as is currently happening). I love playing with my two cats and they always make me feel better. As did my guinea pigs when I had them. Animals are highly therapeutic.

4. Pinterest – I have a love for Pinterest and it is one of my first go tos when the thoughts are bad. I love looking up things on there and it soothes my mind. I can look up quotes, scenes from my favourite films or TV shows or just pictures of bookcases (yes it sounds sad but I find it very calming looking at pictures of books). Pinterest is amazing. Check it out.

5. Listening to music – I hear a voice on top of intrusive thoughts and when this gets really bad I distract using music. I normally have it on reasonably loud (please don’t deafen yourself) and choose something I can focus on the lyrics for and what they might mean. I find this way I am really focussing on the music. Podcasts can be useful for this too.

6. Writing – I couldn’t leave this one out. Writing can be a useful tool to distract or to get all your thoughts out of your head. It doesn’t have to be for any particular purpose. You don’t have to share it with the world. I know its not ideal for everyone and there are times when I just can’t write but finding a way to express yourself can be useful.

So those are just a few ways I distract from intrusive thoughts. I would love to hear if you have any other suggestions. Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter.

Picture from Pinterest