Tag Archives: Medication

Summer Self Care

As I write this it is the hottest day of the year. The temperature is close to 37°C and I’m melting, the dog is melting, the cats are melting, everyone is melting. So I thought I’d put together some ideas for summer self care.

1. Sunscreen

With the sun boiling us, it is important we make sure to use sunscreen. Sounds obvious I know but it is something I often forget. This can be catastrophic for me as the medications I’m on mean I’m sensitive to sunlight and burn easier. It is quite common with medication for mental illness and we’re not always told about it. And if you’re hopping outside then maybe add a hat and some cool shades 😎. (Yes I’m aware I sound like an old person trying to be cool, look what turning 30 does to you).

2. Keep hydrated

Again sounds obvious but is another one I fail massively on. I’ve never been good at drinking plenty and I’ve paid for it with kidney problems. It’s something my mum nags me about regularly. Drinking will help our head too. It means we can concentrate better and feel better in ourselves. Obviously water is the best thing to drink but really as long as you’re putting fluid on your body it doesn’t matter. An ice lolly is also a great way to hydrate.

3. Staying inside

OK, bear with me on this. I know I advocate getting out as much as possible but when it’s super hot it can be safer to stay inside. So don’t feel you have to go out in the sunshine. If it’s safer stay inside with the fan on.

4. Get outside

Yep I know I just said stay inside but I want to cover the whole summer not just the hottest day of the year. When the weather allows try and get some time outside. Being among nature especially can be beneficial. Or going for a walk is great self care too. Obviously it’s all about being sensible. Also if it’s summer rain soak up the smell after, it’s one of my favourite smells.

5. Read

If you’ve got the concentration, reading can be great self care. In the summer it is nice if you can find somewhere to chill with a book, be it the garden, park or beach. And if going outside isn’t your thing then it’s the perfect activity to do indoors.

6. Get out the pool

Having a puppy has revolutionised summer. We now have a paddling pool “for the dog” but it’s also lovely to dip your toes in. So why wait for the excuse of having a dog or child to put a pool out and have a paddle. Also if you’re feeling particularly energetic (so not me) then why not go swimming (obviously in a swimming pool rather than a paddling pool).

7. Gardening

I’m not the greatest fan of plants. Having hayfever seems to of turned me against them. But this year at the group I attend we planted flowers and tomato plants and I’ve really enjoyed watching them grow. It’s also given me a sense of achievement. There are many studies exploring the impact of gardening on mental health, all positive. My favourite are sunflowers🌻.

8. Take a shower

In the heat there is nothing better than getting under the shower. It is a really good bit of self care too. Even a wash is good. And you’ll be surprised how much better you feel.

9. Do the little things

Finally, while it’s hot it can be hard to get the motivation to do things but if we can keep doing the little things like taking our medication then that is what’s important. Break down tasks into smaller bits to make them more manageable. Little steps lead to bigger things.

Those are just a few ideas for summer self care. If you have your own feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

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1000 Days Of Self Care

As many of you know, especially if you follow me on Twitter, I have been doing the #365daysofselfcare challenge created by The Blurt Foundation. This involves trying to do some form of self care each day. Recently I managed to reach 1000 days. Therefore I thought I’d reflect a little and discuss self care again.

First of all let’s totally go over the point that self care isn’t selfish. It is the act of looking after and treating yourself with respect. People may interpret it as looking out for number one but really it’s bigger than that. By treating yourself with kindness you are helping those that you care about too. In order to be the most effective friend, parent, son, daughter, carer or partner you need to be in a fit state yourself. Self care is important.

Why did I take up the challenge?

The reason I started #365daysofselfcare was because I knew things needed to change. Mentally and physically I was a mess and I had no respect for myself. I felt worthless. Then I saw that The Blurt Foundation had started this challenge. I’d never really considered self care before; why would I when I felt so rubbish about myself? I decided to read about it and discovered it didn’t have to be big gestures but instead could be simple things that meant I was looking after myself. I thought I’d give it a go, after all what harm could it do?

What do I do for self care?

As I’ve already said self care isn’t all about spa days or trips to the cinema (although they obviously do count as self care and are great if you can do them). Sometimes self care is a nap, getting dressed, having a shower, clean pyjamas or just eating and drinking. It might sound boring but self care doesn’t have to be exciting. It’s just important that you are looking after you.

What’s been tough?

Doing some form of self care every day is not always easy. To begin with it was really strange deliberately doing something each day to look after myself. It was a totally alien concept and I felt like I didn’t deserve to look after myself (and quite often I still feel this way). There were many days where I didn’t feel I had done anything that constituted self care. I learnt though through talking to others that I was actually engaging in self care without realising it. Doing it as part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge actually made it easier, especially at the beginning, as I felt I was doing it for other people rather than me which spurred me on when I felt worthless. Also having the support of The Blurt Foundation team, as well as other people taking part, made things easier too.

Overall I would highly recommend trying to incorporate some form of self care into each day. It helps me be a little more respectful of myself. It makes it easier for me to be there for others and feel less of a hypocrite when telling others to look after themselves. Even if you just start small it is just as important as the big things, maybe more so.

If you want more info on self care you can check out my blogs on the subject here or check out this information from The Blurt Foundation. A very big thank you to Jayne Hardy and the whole The Blurt Foundation team. If you want to follow me on the #365daysofselfcare challenge then head over to my Twitter. You can also keep connected on Facebook and Instagram.

Thanks to Jayne Hardy and The Blurt team for the pin.

CMHT Fail

This was not the post I planned on sharing today but I needed to get this out.

Today I had a psychiatrist appointment. It was with a new psychiatrist and my latest care coordinator. Except it wasn’t. While in the waiting area I received a phone call telling me my care coordinator had left on Friday and trying to arrange an appointment with my interim care coordinator. When I told her I was waiting for my appointment that was already running ten minutes late they rushed down. Remember they don’t even know me.

In the appointment the psychiatrist had no access to my notes as he had been blocked from the system. Thanks to the interim care coordinator he was able to access the last letter but couldnt read in detail.

He asked me how I was and when I mentioned my mood was low a lot and unstable, he asked more questions about my concentration, appetite, memory and sleep. He asked me to rate my mood which I put at two at best. I mentioned I was having suicidal thoughts and that the voice I hear is worse. He said I didn’t have plans to end my life, he actually didn’t ask.

The psychiatrist then wanted to refer me to a service that has refused to take me on. When I explained this he said he understood and offered no alternative. He did not want to change my medication despite my obvious deterioration. I managed to persuade him to up my mood stabiliser but he did it by the smallest margin possible.

I tried to bring up some other concerns but by that point he was already wrapping up the consultation and urging me out the door with the words “I’ll see you in two months”.

Everything felt like it was too much effort for them. This is from a trust that is rated as outstanding. A trust that can’t seem to retain staff or offer support. It is currently a postcode lottery within this Trust as to what treatment you can access (I am aware that this is actually down to the CCG).

When did continuity of care in mental health services become unimportant? Especially with people with BPD where fear of abandonment is a major symptom. When did it become acceptable not to fully risk assess people?

Unfortunately this seems to be the way it goes for many service users of mental health services. It isn’t often I cry in an appointment and straight after in the street but today’s fiasco made me feel awful and worthless. (Thanks to the psychiatrist who actually sked if I felt worthless).

To keep up to date with my mental health experience, follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram or use these and the comments to share your experiences.

Body Image

This year’s mental health awareness week has the topic of body image. I was unsure how to cover this as I don’t have an eating disorder or body dysmorphia. However I realised I have had my own issues with my body and my mental illness has effected how I feel about myself physically.

What is body image?

“Body image is a person’s perception of the aesthetics or sexual attractiveness of their own body. It involves how a person sees themselves, compared to the standards that have been set by society.” (Wikipedia, May 2019).

My body image

Throughout my life I have been overweight. This has led to me hating my body and the way I look. It’s eaten away at my self esteem and led to me having little confidence in myself. My body image has had a negative effect on my mental health. It hasn’t been helped by the medication I’m on leading me to gain even more weight. It has become a bit of a cycle of feeling worse so increasing meds leading to increasing weight and then feeling worse again.

People have told me that they have found me attractive or that there are nice features of me. I struggle to believe it and cannot see this at all. My body image in their eyes is skewed. I think this hasn’t been helped by the trauma I’ve been through that has led to me hating my body even more. I can only see something that has been used and abused. Something that has let me down when I’ve needed it most.

Improving body image

There are some things we can do to help our body image. They are not always easy and it won’t be a quick fix.

The first thing you can do is avoid negative media. Avoid looking at diet accounts and airbrushed models. They give us a false representation of what we feel we should look like and feed into our doubts about ourselves. Instead try and look for body positivity accounts to follow. Body Positive Panda is a great account on Instagram to follow and there are many more like her.

Another thing we can do to improve our body image is to stop comparing ourselves to others. Easier said than done, I know (I am probably one of the worst offenders for this). But we should know that we are unique.

We can also improve body image by dressing in a way that makes us feel confident. This will be different for everyone. I’m most confident in a funny t-shirt and jeans. Others may prefer a suit. It’s up to you.

Practicing self care can also help with body image. Seeing ourselves as someone who is worth treating nicely and respecting our bodies will have a positive impact.

For more information on body image check out National Eating Disorders who have lots of information (you don’t need to have an eating disorder to have a problem with body image). Feel free to share your experiences and tips for better body image in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

A day in the life…

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

I thought I would do a little post about a day in the life with someone who has severe mental illnesses, in particular BPD, depression and anxiety. So below is my day. It includes my thoughts and feelings.

7.20 am: Woken up by my mum. This is common as I don’t tend to wake up until late otherwise. This is generally because I take medication to help me sleep and I also don’t sleep well. My sleep last night was broken with me waking up continually. I could of done with longer in bed. I did not want to get up. My thoughts were that I wish I’d never woken up. I tend to start the day wishing I wasn’t alive.

7.40 am: Breakfast and medication time. I tend to have cereal for my breakfast. I’m a creature of habit so this works well for me as its easy to do even on the days when I’m feeling like I can’t be bothered. Today I was actually quite hungry. I then take my morning medication which is 100mg Lamotrigine, 300mg Venlafaxine and 6mg Clopixol. This is a fairly new regime as my medication has been recently upped. I take them with water as in the morning that’s all I feel like drinking.

8.00 am: Social media check. I go through my social media checking what’s happened overnight. I guess I’m a little addicted as I hate this time being interrupted. Today I also had to help with washing.

9.00 am: Go out. I don’t always go out at this time but my mum had a blood test and I needed to pick up a prescription from the Doctors and the chemist. Today I picked up my Mirtazapine and ordered my Clopixol from the chemist as they don’t keep it in stock.

9.40 am: Christmas shopping. Me and my mum went to a big out of town toy shop to buy some Christmas presents for the children in our lives. This made me a little anxious as it was somewhere new and I wasn’t sure exactly where it was and what the parking situation would be. I wasn’t even driving yet it worried me. The voice started it’s usual repertoire of telling me to die. This can be distressing when I’m out but I tend to hide it from other people. I manage to find a toy for my friends son quickly so I can escape the shop quickly.

10.15 am: Morning Walk. Some mornings we take the dog for a walk in a different place. Today we met my Dad with the dog and I went for a walk with my Dad and Bramble (the dog) and then met up again with my mum for a drink. I enjoyed this and felt happy for a while. Walking has only really become a part of my life in the last two months since we have been able to take our puppy out for walks. It helps me a lot having the dog with us as it makes me concentrate on something other than the anxiety of being out where there are lots of people. It also helps being with other my parents. Otherwise I tend to get scared.

12.00 pm: Lunch time. The voice is back and I’m back feeling incredibly low. I don’t want to be alive and am thinking of ways I could die. I manage to eat a sandwich but not my piece of fruit that I usually have. I’m exhausted.

1.00 pm: Nap time. I don’t always have a nap as I don’t always have time. But today I do and I’m grateful for the escape from my mind for a little while. People don’t understand how tiring it is to fight your own brain everyday. Plus the medication makes me feel tired.

1.30 pm: Ironing. One of my least favourite jobs. Boring but necessary. Though I fold a lot of things without ironing them as it seems such an effort. The voice starts telling me to use the iron to burn myself. Resisting it is hard so I use some of the distress tolerance skills I’ve learnt in my DBT skills group. I use the paced breathing and the paired muscle relaxation skills. This allows me to get through the ironing.

2.00 pm: I play with Bramble for a while and check social media. This isn’t my second check of the day but my more detailed check where I manage to reply to people and share things on Instagram. I feel OK. The voice is quiet.

3.15 pm: Walkies for Bramble. This time it’s just a short walk around the block with him but this time I’m on my own. This brings up anxiety about going outside alone. It’s easier having Bramble than being completely alone. This I can manage but completely alone I cannot. Completely alone makes me physically sick with anxiety. Getting a dog has been a great thing for me as I get out a lot more and do more exercise. It’s not a miracle cure but it does help, especially as my love of photography has been reignited.

3.45 pm: TV. Only for 15 minutes but I watch the end of the quiz show 15 to one. I like it and enjoy answering the questions. When I get one right it makes me feel like I’m clever. Something that is a very alien feeling to me now. I have a degree and am a qualified teacher but still I feel thick most of the time.

4.00 pm: I spend some time writing. I enjoy writing but depression has made it hard work. I lost all motivation to do any. My ideas dried up. I’m still not completely back to normal and can only write for a short while.

5.15 pm: Dinner time. Not much else to say. My relationship with food has become more healthy with age.

6.30 pm: Shower time. I enjoy my showers. It is a time for me to relax. I do however have to be careful that I don’t overthink. I can find myself taken back to times which were basically horrid. Tonight was an OK night though.

7.00 pm: Chill out time. I use this time to watch TV and go on social media. This is also the time the voice takes over. Tonight was pretty awful. The voice was constantly telling me to die and what method to use. It was a struggle.

9.40 pm: Bedtime. I also take my nighttime medication now. This is 100mg Lamotrigine, 45mg Mirtazapine and 4mg Clopixol. I then self harmed. I was struggling with all the thoughts from the day and needed to feel some control. After harming I lay down to try and sleep. This normally takes me an hour or so. Tonight was fairly good.

So that’s a day in my life. It varies a lot though and this was a pretty reasonable day. I may write again on a bad day or a therapy day. If you’re interested in my life you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest.

Running Out

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

I’m about to start a change in my medication. In particular to the antipsychotic I take. This is nothing unusual; I’ve changed my medication lots of times before. Yes, it can be anxiety inducing waiting to see if you get any side effects or if it is actually going to help, but time things feel different. Why? Because this time I’ve been told they are running out of options.

I have recently found out that there is a problem with my heart, caused by medication I have taken (prescribed). Please don’t be alarmed by this, it’s just something that can happen, not always though. This does mean, however, that a number of medications are off limits. It’s restricted my options for treatment a lot, especially for antipsychotics. This has left me with a lot of different feelings.

First of all I’m kind of scared. I’m scared for what the future might bring. As someone who has anxiety anyway this has piled it on. My thoughts have been racing, filled with what if’s. What if this new medication doesn’t work? What if there is no alternative? What if I can’t get better? At the moment I feel a long way from coping with the voice I hear. In my own mind I’m not sure how I can cope with it without medical intervention. What if I can’t cope? In my mind I can’t face living with this voice forever. 

This leads me on to my next feeling; desperation. I was going to call it hope but it’s beyond that. I’m not just hoping for this new medication to work and have few side effects, I’m desperate. It is a longing that I can’t describe but I’m pinning everything to this new medication. This is a dangerous thing for me to do as if things don’t work out I know I won’t react well. 

In my mind there are suicidal thoughts starting to surface already (linked to this in particular; I always have some suicidal thoughts). I’m beginning to wonder if I’m untreatable and what this means for my future. Do I even have a future? I mean I don’t know if there are other options outside medication; I’m already doing therapy and struggling. The thoughts just won’t stop invading my brain no matter what skills I use to try and slow them. It is overwhelming. 

None of this is helped by the anger I also feel. Anger is a difficult emotion for me to deal with anyway but I’m truly angry at myself for having this issue. I hate my body for always reacting to medications in the worst way. I’m angry that I need the medication in the first place. Anger is rippling through me and I’m not quite sure what to do with it.

So what’s next? There isn’t much I can do about this situation. I have to accept it and hope for the best. This is of course easier said than done. I’m lucky to have good support in place. I have a team of professionals looking after me and support from friends and family. If you are experiencing something similar this is my suggestion: get a good support system in place. If you have any advice feel free to share in the comments or on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

Medication and Mental Health

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. All that I am writing is my own experience with medication. Every person is different and will react differently to each medication. If you are having issues with your medication please speak to a doctor.

I first started on medication for my mental health when I was 19 and it has been a huge journey full of trial and error. I’m still not even sure I have found the correct combination nine years on. This doesn’t mean it will be the same for you. Some people find the first medication they try works for them.

My current medications for my mental health are Sulpiride (an antipsychotic), Sodium Valproate (a mood stabiliser), Venlafaxine and Mirtazapine (both antidepressants). I have also tried Citalopram, Fluoxetine, Sertraline, Risperidone, Aripiprazole, Lorazepam and Diazepam. Here I plan to discuss my experience and journey with medication.

When I first went to the doctors, seeking help for my mental health, I was reluctant to try medication as I had heard negative things about it. So my doctor decided to get me to try counselling first but I continued to struggle and it was eventually decided to put me on an antidepressant. The drug of choice was Citalopram. I was started off on a low dose and had it gradually increased over time but, for me, it was not very helpful and didn’t make a dent in my depression. I was also lucky in that I didn’t get any side effects from it. I was on it for quite a while.

Then I was changed to Sertraline, another antidepressant. Again it was started at a low dose and increased. This time I felt a small benefit from it but I also felt disconnected from the world and like my creativity had gone. So I stopped it without discussing it with a doctor. This is something I would never advise and it ended badly for me with me becoming more unwell until it was restarted.

Eventually it was decided that Sertraline wasn’t right for me and I was switched to Fluoxetine. This is where I began to run into problems quite quickly. Fluoxetine, for me, was the worst medication. I quickly descended into a crisis and became extremely suicidal. My depression was at it’s worst with me being unable to get out of bed.

Me medication was quickly changed and I was put on Venlafaxine and Mirtazapine. These two drugs really helped me. Mirtazapine sorted out my sleep and I remain on it. I think this is the one drug I’d be reluctant to stop as sleep is important to keeping me well.

As for Venlafaxine it was also helpful but was decided I would stop it as the withdrawal from missing a dose was awful and I was always anxious I’d be ill and unable to take it. It took 6 months to come off and I was off it for several years before it , recently, was decided it should be added back in at a low dose. It is helping me slightly again.

These are all the antidepressants I have tried. I am also on a mood stabiliser and an antipsychotic. The mood stabiliser I am on is Sodium Valproate and its the only one I’ve tried though the dose has been played around with. It is currently working for me and stops, to an extent, the rapid mood swings of BPD. It has weight gain and acne as side effects and these are things I’ve struggled with. But the benefits outweigh these at the moment.

The first antipsychotic I tried was Risperidone and it worked for me. The voice I hear was reduced. I, however, couldn’t stay on it as a blood test showed it was effecting my kidney function and hormone levels. It was stopped and for a while I was without an antipsychotic.

After a while my symptoms were not improving so it was decided to try a new antipsychotic; this time Aripiprazole. Aripiprazole didn’t help me. It didn’t touch the voice and caused my anxiety to sky rocket. I also felt more like a zombie on it and even my parents noticed I wasn’t with it.

In the end I decided I needed to come off Aripiprazole and so with a doctors help I did and was put onto Sulpiride instead. This I am currently still on and I am not sure how much it helps me. It has had an effect on my hormone levels but it seems the benefits outweigh this. We shall see how it goes.

I have also tried Lorazepam and Diazepam to help with anxiety and have found them useful in the short term. I have not used them enough to go into detail though.

So this is my experience of medication. It has been a rocky journey but my current view is that medication can be a useful tool to manage symptoms. It may take a while to find the right one or it may not be right for you but it is a valid option. Noone should feel ashamed of taking medication for their mental health.

Please feel free to share your experiences of medication in the comments. Everyone is unique so I am sure many of you have different experiences.

Picture from Pinterest.