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Understanding the uniqueness of an individual and their #therapy and / or #mentalhealth treatment journey.

Recently, I’ve enjoyed (‘experienced’ is probably a better word) a substantial ‘spell’ of living without anxiety and lows. How great is that? I mean, I’ve had a few, but so does everyone. It was manageable and wasn’t debilitating in the excruciating sense I’m used to.

Old me used to believe that these mental health problem free times were just temporary. That I’d always go back to depressed and anxious me. Hence why I referred to it as a spell. Part of me still thinks it may be, just that. However, my mind set and possibly beliefs, are changing. I think it’s a result of experiences, therapy, and family support. If you’d read the article someone wrote about me (though it reads in first person) in Stylist, you’d probably think I believe that a strong part of my experiences of anxiety and depression are inherited or passed on due to my maternal and paternal mental health history. Suicide is rife and there’s some diagnosed and non diagnosed mental illness/issues involved. I also (some may say strangely) feel somewhat paradoxically comforted by my similarities in sharing some of the distressing experiences my dear mum had. Despite the intense pain, the crisis, the hurt, the deep sadness and the aching heart and chest, I felt connected with my mum through these horrendous feelings.

Now, I’m not saying it won’t come back. I know very well any inkling of feeling (normal levels of) low or anxiety and I quizzically and nervously wonder if it’s the full blown bouts coming back for a spell or for good. Yet, somehow, my optimistic and I think more rational side of my brain, is beginning to think that no matter what, I’ve learned some darn good tools to look after myself for when these times may appear and stick around.

For ages in therapy, I’d often wander and question my therapist, is this working? Still, week upon week I suffer. (This was only a couple of months ago I had this conversation). I experience intense low. Paranoia. The negative side of my brain was jointly in charge with anxiety and together they reigned. I was also so very sceptical of CBT and it’s only after it having been explained to me and talked through a few times, do I see the light with it a bit. I can actually use those techniques. I think this is really important to note, here. I feel the same about counselling from when I was a child. We aren’t always going to ‘get’ the purpose or function of mental health treatment first time round. Some might, and whoopie do for them. They usually spread light and fairy dust around others raving about it (and in some way I guess they should, and genuinely, that’s great news) yet it can either make YOU feel you’re a hopeless case when even though you know everyone is different you still question why YOU can’t get the hang of it. This could feed your poor sense of self worth and esteem and fuel your lack of confidence. Or…if you’re prescribed the same treatment and hear it works for someone else, you may become cynical and a tad arrogant staying stubborn (again, perhaps rightly so at the time for you, I’ve been there) in the belief that it just doesn’t work for you. Having come through the other end…a little bit…I would say it doesn’t hurt to be a bit open minded about it all. I guess this goes for all therapies, medication and attitudes toward recovery.

We are all unique at the end of the day. We will all experience treatment if not similarly, then differently, and that’s okay. Also, don’t time limit yourself. I was famous for, “Yes, but I’m an adult now and I should be and know better. I understand my mental health why aren’t I getting better. Yes, I get what you’re saying and I’m fully self aware and we’ve been talking through this sh*t for long enough so why aren’t I over it by now?!” This happened again. And again. And you guessed it, again. In therapy. I’d judge myself for not being ‘fixed’ yet. When in all truthfulness, I think I’ve realised that perhaps, the length of time it’s taken/ing me, is in fact, right for me. I’m still learning and I’m going to continue to. I’m in no way writing that I have the * Magic * answer and I’m cured (I won’t join the fairy dust sprinklers just yet and I don’t think I ever will – maybe that’s the wrong analogy as it’s too nice – who wouldn’t want fairy dust!? But you know what I mean!) What I am acknowledging is, that we all have a different journey when it comes to therapy and or medication and how we view it.

A non judgemental approach to how someone is getting on is key.

I want to highlight the importance that if you have ‘come through the other end’ or are a supporter of someone going through treatment, please try your best not to impose your views on what you think is right for them and where they should be by now. It’s not helpful or therapeutic. If they ask for your advice, that’s a different ball game. Just think about the terminology you use.

One blessing I count is that I think not one of my friends or family have ever tried to tell me how far I should’ be in the process. Or what I should try and how mindfulness is the answer to all things in life etc. It may work for you, but it doesn’t mean you need to enforce it on someone else or criticise if they can’t get to grips with it. Real Mindfulness wouldn’t allow for that anyway, but it’s a misused buzz word and an example of what can happen when someone else finds ‘the magic cure’. I went to an evening recently where someone said essential oils are the future! I mean, I love lavender oil as much as the next person but it’s not the leading treatment in my eyes! It may be for that person though, and that’s okay.

I’m proud of where I’m at right now with regards to it all. I’m not sure how long it will last, but I’ll try and keep an open mind to how I navigate the ropes of coping mechanisms when things aren’t great.

I’ll hope the same for others too if they’d like.

Abs. 💚 x

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#BodyPositivity #BOPO #ED #recovery #mentalhealth 


Okay.

I don’t imagine this will be an easy post to write. Usually I write pretty quickly as I just type what’s in my head. I wonder if I’ll publish this post or whether I just need to write. Or whether I’ll send it to the author who inspired me. Who knows? 

Most of you know I sparingly write about my battle with a couple of ED’s or ‘disordered eating’ sometimes I refer to it as. Hey, I can barely even type the words. I’ve carried more shame and self stigma with them than I ever had for anxiety and depression. I’m still not even there yet – to be fully open and maybe I never will be. Here’s some baby steps though as I know it can help others. I’m giving it a go. For any other of those ‘half in the closet’ type people suffering, this one’s for you. 

Earlier this year I was in group CBT (cognitive behavioural) therapy course for an ED I still can’t even admit to (note – my language is wrong here, there’s nothing to ‘admit’ – there shouldn’t be shame – I still have a long way to go). I thought parts of it helped but after reading the incredible book from Megan Crabbe aka @bodyposipanda – I really wish my group and I were enlightened to the ‘body positivity’ movement as part of this supposedly healing and helpful process. I sincerely think body positivity should be acknowledged and even the community consulted upon when designing these seemingly non co-produced (sooooo important – big believer in the power of lived experience expertise) courses that are prescribed to ED sufferers. This is my opinion, of course. Also based on a group for a specific ED so I can’t talk for all! 

I was scepticle about the concept I’m not going to lie. I look at a few ‘BOPOs’ (Body Positivity peeps) on social media and I think wow. Go them. They’re awesome. I’m not them, though. I’ll jump on that wagon when I get to a physical place I want to be. Low and behold there’s a whole chapter in Megan’s book titled ‘I’ll do it 10 pounds from now’. It was really educational on diet culture and how for so many years it’s been deeply ingrained and dictated to us how (especially women) we should look. Body positivity promotes self love at any size. At any health status. The latter being really important actually and something I think being new to it quite a few people may struggle with. We’ve been taught ‘Health’ = looking a certain way. As our outsides represent our insides. Wrong. 

Pre BOPO judgemental me would not get to grips with that latter part. I was guilty of, “but surely that’s not healthy”. BOPO teaches and preaches that we are ALL worthy (and damn straight we all are) of self love. Life’s too short. So many judgements are made and myself included have a long way to go with adjusting that mind set. There’s definitely a few influences that has shaped mine and I’m sure there are many in common with what may have shaped yours.  

I’ve struggled with eating distortions since the age of 13 as I wrote about for B-eat eating disorder charity here.

There are times I’ve also loved my body. Not for the right reasons though. People often comment on my shape – “Hourglass.” “Lovely and curvy ‘but not too much’.” “Suits you because you are tall.” I grew up thinking these were nice things. When actually, my body can be whatever it wants to be. I don’t have to scrutinise what I eat. Restrict. Binge or exercise for the purpose of a ‘figure’ that is built for others or my own false sense of approval. My body does more than represent the way I look. It looks after me. It enables me. It functions. It holds organs.  I am aware my weight fluctuates and like the book says – we all have a rough set point weight we end up being around naturally and it’s okay. Whatever that is. Except I’ve been taught to think it’s not okay. I’ve had comments about it. I look ‘well’ if I’ve lost weight. I ‘need to lose’ when I put on. Well, no, actually. I don’t need to do anything except accept. Accept me for me. 

As a girl, correction, woman, who only months ago ran up to a family member tears at the rim of her eyes, sharing that I hate my body so much I have to cover it with all the duvet even when I’m hot and bloated when I’m in bed because I don’t want to, correction, can’t bare the thought of seeing it or even feeling it, I can say that BOPO is important. It is needed. And that EDs are real. They are mental illnesses that deserve to be taken seriously. It’s not always about body image. It can be so many things and people need to educate themselves. 
As the girl who is in awe of some of the way people in her circle are open with their body, getting changed without leaving a room. Wearing things I didn’t think we could/should because media tells us only certain shapes should wear those. I’ve never thought I could have that freedom. As the girl who was fixated on the eating habits of others around her because an ED controlled most her thoughts. As the girl who is definitely not there yet but strives to be and will try and retrain her mindset. 

I urge you to think before you judge or speak about the physical appearance of someone else. Or your own for that matter. 

There’s enough shit in this world without us having to go around putting down others  based on the twisted messages from media giants and passed down negative and unrealistic ‘ideals’ from older generations. 

Here’s to BOPO and body autonomy. 

💫 x 

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#Wellbeingatwork #WMHD17

It’s World Mental Health Day!
Having worked in different mental health charities it’s usually a day that leads other awareness days with various campaigns to get the universe talking and thinking about mental health. Each year there is usually a theme involved and this year it’s ‘Wellbeing at Work’. 

I’ve been contributing to feedback about workplace wellbeing for a while now where I’m at and in my previous work place I created a ‘Wellbeing at Work’ reflective space initiative for my team. We did monthly meditation and shared openly. Innovation is important and we need to champion the voices of those who may be struggling with their mental health. After all, being able to work with a mental health problem is not always a walk in the park. I started out part time and as I got older and realised the cost of living a life I desired combined with the expectation of me from society, I aspired to work full time. This may be ‘normal’ to many. Of course. It’s a given. “Work hard, play hard!” they say. You’re labelled if you don’t. Whatever that label may be, there’s a strong chance stigma is behind it all. 

I remember the first time I went full time. 2 part time jobs it was that made up full time hours. A 2 day and 3 day post. I was overwhelmed. Anxiety caved me in and I was very, very low. I didn’t last long in the 3 day one. I was given 2 weeks off to ‘recover’ and make a decision as to what I wanted to do. My 2 weeks off to recover were mostly spent catastrophising and feeling like an automatic failure.  (I know, I know – failure comes with learning and resilience but at the time it made me feel like that as a whole person. Not just my work self). I spent evenings calling Sane Line for emotional support and Samaritans in the day time. I didn’t want my family to think I was struggling. I was ashamed.

Many don’t realise there’s a lot of reasonable adjustments out there that can be requested to support people with their mental health at work. From flexible hours, to working from home, to meeting amendments and more. WRAPs (Wellbeing Recovery Action Plans) are also available. The problem is, sometimes we struggle with self stigma. Which can affect our ability to ask. Or worse still, workplace stigma. 

I know I for one self-stigmatise/criticise and fear workplace stigma even if it’s all in my not so well head, it still feels real to me. 

“I’m not good enough”, “I don’t deserve to be here”, “they’d be better off without me”, “They’ll think I can’t do the job”, “they’ll think I’m rubbish”, “I’ll fall behind”, “I’ll let others down”, “they’ll think I don’t deserve and shouldn’t be here”, “they’ll want me to leave”. 

👆🏻Me. Most times my mental health goes on a downward spiral. 

I was having a conversation just the other day with a friend where the familiar question formed as to whether work was affecting mental health or mental health was affecting work – as living with mental health problems, sometimes it’s really hard to tell what way round it is. 

The worst part about all of this is that we may not talk about it. It’s become more acceptable to talk about ‘Burn Out’ but more as a risk to an organisation if someone were to ‘burn out’ rather than a risk to the individual’s mental health. 

Feeling isolated on top of what you are already are experiencing can add to the turmoil. Even if you have one or two trusted folk to confide in, try and let it out, you don’t need to suffer in silence. Managers and leadership in a workplace should be working toward understanding and best practice when it comes to managing staff who are experiencing poor mental health at work. It may not be easy to have faith in support but it’s worth a try. You do deserve it and you are so worthy. 

I know this blog refers more to workplace wellbeing and self employment will differ but do reach out. Whoever that may be to. 

✨Have a very good World Mental Health Day ✨wherever you are in the world 🌎

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The Lonely Reality. 

Hello,

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I went back to the feeling before my first ever post where I couldn’t bare the thought of people reading what I wrote but then I realised it’s up to me how and if I share my blog and what therapeutic purposes I utilise this platform for. I also remembered the ever so important impact of when I share these thoughts and feelings through words, just how much it can help break down the isolation for others struggling and offers empathy, hope and peer support. Everything I stand and fight for. 

Living with mental health darkened times can be, ‘a lonely reality’ despite the many struggling with it.

Being a smiley and friendly person, I definitely don’t appear how I feel at the moment. The countless conversations I’ve had today. “How are you?” “Yeah I’m good/okay thanks how’s you?”. It’s such effing bollocks. Excuse my French not that I particularly care much right now. Going through a bit of an angry spell too, yay. It really is though. We all know it. Sometimes I’ll be sure to say ‘ okay” thanks’ instead of ‘”goodthanksbut more than often I’m caught out. Especially in scenarios where ‘being more real’ is not an easy option. People don’t have ‘time’ to hear my stuff. I might not always have ‘time’ to hear theirs, but I guess it really depends how we encapsulate and define time. If anyone was really in need and as for loved ones, of course – time would be made. 

Luckily in writing, (and my vow in this blog to be as honest as I can) I am able to fully articulate how I feel however the hell I want to. 

“Write.” My therapist said. And so here I am typing on my screen (not quite her preferred method of me writing!). Letting it out. 

Things are a bit rubbish at the moment. There are some lovely things happening in my life don’t get me wrong. Really exciting things. That make me warm, giddy and bubbly inside! It won’t deter this dark smokey grey fog in my head though. 

“Challenge the negative thoughts” they say. And I do try. When I’m able to, I acknowledge and think ‘wow, how negative. It’s hard to escape from though’. It’s like wading through mud with a limp, headache and not to mention a mighty huge back pack. 

That’s just the depression side. There’s anxiety too. Chipping away at my chest causing spikes of discomfort, even if I’m having a not particularly anxiety inducing conversation with loved ones. I seriously wish it would just DO ONE. Leave me ALONE. There’s the paradox though. The ‘lonely reality.’ I don’t want to feel ‘alone’ in this. Yet having such a seemingly different happy exterior to my crying interiror is already a pretty lonely place to be. 

I’m tired. So tired of this. It physically manifests and drains my energy. 

I’ll keep wading through the mud though. 

Thank you to the loved ones who see through this shiny hard shell. The ones that hold my hand through it. Keep holding. Keep squeezing. I need the healing energy to support me through this. Here’s to the ones that love me through the good, the bad, the ugly. When I don’t feel deserving of it, you have no idea how much it means to me. I’ll try and believe I’m worthy. 

For anyone reading struggling too, you’re not alone. I feel you. 

Abs x 💛

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A weekend of you mum. You’re always here 🌻 #acceptance #friendship #gratitude #grief #life & #love

The field was full mum. Full of you. Everywhere I looked. Everywhere I turned. Strong. Thick stemmed. Beautiful. Tall. Sunflowers. 


There you grew. There you stood. Face towards the sun. 
Petals bright, bold yet delicate.

Proud. With presence.

Gracious. Glorious. 

Sunny. 

I’ve never witnessed more beauty and more you since you died than I did yesterday. Not only because I visited a field of sunflowers. Not only because of the vastness of you spread across a special place. It was the people I had around me and what this weekend represents to me.

We’ll start with Friday 28.07.17 – a year to go until I get married. I’m not going to pretend I have the perfect relationship and despite how lovey dovey I am I’m more proud of the fact that our relationship has had hardship and struggle but strengthened from that to form the partnership that it is than to present a flawless fake impersonal view. I’ve sat at the crematorium when times were tough to talk through with you whether it was right. 

What I can proudly express is that the man you’ll never meet in person is one of my favourite people on this earth. A protector. A gentleman. A rational, intelligent, strong man who offers me support like you couldn’t imagine. He’s an optimist, he’s calm, he’s patient. He’s thoughtful. 

He completed Ride London today where I greeted him at the finish with the love and admiration I readily feel for him flowing strongly. On this symbolic weekend what I feel is representative of his hard work ethic and ability to keep going. His resilience. I’m marrying a man I’m excited to build a home with mum and start a family with one day. I wish you could meet him but I felt you this weekend celebrating with us in the sunflower field. 

Yesterday some of my best girls came together and planned a day centred around sunflowers and lavender. Both I associate with you. 1. Yes, your favourite flower. 2, Lavender. Your nighty always smelt of lavender oil and olbas combined. You’d dab it on my pillow. You’d drop it in my bath. 

A meal that followed was a place not only to toast the year to go but a safe place free from judgement from beautiful females that have individually influenced my life and during different times. From the one that was there on the day of your death. To the one who was there through the turmoil teen grief. To the one that saw me through an experimental unsure entry to adulthood. To the one who found me later as I navigate life without you whilst holding you near. They know and accept me. Mental health struggles and all. I am open with them. I am vulnerable with them. I am me. With them. How lucky am I?

We don’t choose the cards we’re dealt. We can choose what they mean to us and whether we keep them close to our chests or out, open and free. 

I am blessed with family, friends and a partner I adore. 

My mental health may be a ‘forever’ journey to an unknown destination, but I know I’ve got you with me all the way through. 

More ups and downs will come. Keep shining around us mum. 

We love you 🌻💜 we need you. X 

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Work episodes

You know you’re not doing so great when you don’t even want to start your blog with a ‘hello’. . . 

Oh dear. . . It will pass. 

Currently sat on a hot tube home early after a wave of sadness and tears came over me and a feeling of anxiety like a stab to the chest.

Lovely.

I’ll repeat it time and time again but one of the most annoying and frustrating things I find about (mine anyway) mental health issues is that you cannot prepare for their onset or pick when they arise. There is no better or worse.                                      Happens outside of  work? You miss out on your weekend/social/leisure/me time. Happens at work? You might get an added ‘Argh how embarrassing’ feeling/will I be able to work like this?/everyone’s looking at me/I can’t do this…

Well. It sucks. It’s uncomfortable. 

Somehow writing is gently lessening the stabbing pain of anxiety in my chest but it’s still hurting.

I was spaced out earlier. I go through this weird zombie like stage where my mind takes an age to process things. I feel like I look scary as I just stare as intently as my feelings feel. 

The (arguably) problem with me though is, despite my smiley bubbly self, I can’t hide tears. Nope. Can’t hide ’em. Today, I was teary. I stood no chance. 

I had a glowing annual review yesterday, I’ve seen a best friend this week and been to the gym… positive positive positive – BOOM – my mental health decides to take a U turn. I don’t want to moan but it just feels unfair. It’s unfair to be managing, coping, riding life and never knowing when your mental health issues are going to strike you. 

It could be one email, a phone call, a conversation, just one extra stressor and it will tip functioning with mental illness over the edge to, ha – defeated. We win.

Well, no, anxiety and lows you won’t win. Yes, I now need to go home to rest my throbbing chest pain and 100mile per hour brain but I’ll keep going. Like I always do.

It’s so important to realise mental health issues are so different for everyone. 

I’ve just described an episode today that reminded me of the random rain storm we had the other day in the middle of a really hot summer. You think you’re fine without an umbrella, you put your rain coats away, then a heavy downpour comes out of nowhere. 

I have a feeling this will be short lived. I can’t see this turning into a (what I call a ’bout’) of depression or anxiety, but it’s length doesn’t take away it’s nastiness.

Here’s hoping for some good rest and to re balance keeping the low from getting lower and the stabbing anxiety not going any further deeper. 

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“30 by 30” … #Travelling #travelblog #Brazil #riocarnival #Denmark #Copenhagen

Once upon a time there was a girl who was curious and hungry for adventure.

She still lives and is writing this blog on a plane to her 30th country. 

I don’t know what age it was I decided but I set myself a dreamy, slightly hipster-ish goal of wanting to have visited 30 countries by age of 30. 

I didn’t care how I’d do it or who with but I was hooked after my South American adventure in 2009.

As a child I’d say I was pretty lucky. At the time my family had enough money that meant we got to go to many places and stay in nice hotels but I didn’t appreciate it enough as I was so young. My senses weren’t as awakened as they are now where I somehow (defintiely some of my grandma’s influence!) stop pretty often to admire a plant or flower! It’s the simple things folks! The free things. Nature! 

I was determined to go travelling to South America after (again, somehow!) managing to get through sixth form pre-uni because of my love of *the sound of* reggaeton music. Put simply, that’s mainly what it was. I was also quite into foreign cinema and watched a lot of Brazilian films. It was an infatuation with the culture too. Living with a hearing loss in both ears means that to this day (I have many a friend to back me up here!) I don’t often hear the lyrics in songs but I love the beat. From 15 (illegal I know) I’d been able to go clubbing (something I’d really rather not now at the ripe old age of 27!) and since then I’d been dancing away to the sounds of Latin infused tunes and was especially drawn to the South American and tropical sounds behind our pop hits. When I learned about carnival (Rio) my mind was made, I just simply had to go. 

I saved up all my pennies (and yes, also used my savings fund the ‘rents had started since I was born) and off I flew. 19. Care free. Alcohol full. A little on the crazy side. That was me.

I still remember the sticky feeling I got when I came out of the airport in Rio where my long sleeved top stuck to my skin. I’d booked to join a tour but had 4 days prior to explore the sounds and colours of the famous Rio carnival. Mmmmm I can feel it now. The rhythm beating through my veins! 

I was so ill prepared I can’t tell you. I didn’t have enough money. My card was compromised – I didn’t bring a back up one – and I was just a wee bit naive. But hey, I was 19. 

I’m very different now (you’d hope wouldn’t you!?) but I still love travel. There’s still so many places I want to go. So many experiences I want to have. I’m not in a rush though. I realise that although life the next day is not garunteed, I do have my whole existence to go on adventures and maybe one day I’ll be bringing a little family along with me. 

This time around, I’m writing from a plane heading to Copenhagen. A place I’m super excited about after hearing such good things and ofcourse because of the buzz word ‘hygee!’ Let’s see how the Danes do it! A country or one of the few my fiancée teases me where he thinks I’m really from. Often people think I’m Scandinavian. 

I’m hoping for some beautiful walks and being Dora the explorer with the man that proposed to me almost 365 days prior in simply stunning Iceland. Mmmm again, I can feel the memories.

You don’t have to travel abroad though as staycations are easy and super popular and there’s some real beauties to visit in England (or wherever you’re from I’m sure). Time away just really helps me mentally reinvigorate. I love a good day trip too! 

Immerse yourself in what makes you happy. Me? I’m off for a little adventure.

Over and out, travel about…

Abs x 🛫

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The power of #sleep on #mentalhealth #wellbeing #selfcare & #resilience for #stress & #mentalillness #lifestyleblog 

Gooood Morning,

I write with a mighty yawn! I used to catch myself yawning all the time. I’m much better now although I do get times where it feels like (another one coming now!) it’s non stop. 

I’ve been called out in a large meeting before at work for yawning. “Am I keeping you up?” Management said. Although a joke, I was struggling with anxiety and paranoia at the time and I felt embarrassed.    It grated on me a fair bit. 

I’ve had all those tests anaemia etc for low iron levels but I’m clear from that. 

Sleep is often underrated. Memes of ‘Go Hard or Go Home’ styles can make you feel like you’re not young and cool if you can’t handle ‘it’ and that sleep is over rated. 

In this blog I’m not referring to that type of sleep and energy though. I’m writing about our weekly routines around work/education/lifestyles. 

Recently, I made a brave (likely slightly ‘bonkers’ in a nice sense as the School for Scoial Entrepreuners put it! SSE) decision to embark on a competitive course I secured a place on and apply for and take a grant I won to run a social impact project. Let’s pause for a second and remember I live with ongoing mental health problems and question in my lapses and relapses whether I can cope working full time and manage my issues alone. (I have. To this date. Go me! 💪🏻 But..I struggle through when I’m ill). 

This is the thing though…it’s exactly what #MHAW17 themed this years mental health awareness week campaign on – Surviving or Thriving. When I’m well and thriving, just try and stop me. Ideas, integrity, innovation, inspiration (all the I’s it seems!). When I’m ‘struggling’ or just surviving, that gets turned on it’s head. Upside down. In the gutter. Overwhelmed, over stretched, over stressed and feeling like it’s all…’over.’ How sad is that? Not to mention exhausting. Feeling like I won’t be able to be ambitious passionate me anymore knowing when I’m well that I can, I do, I will, I show and much more.

So anyway, here I am (although this post doesn’t just refer to here and now) juggling away these things that I’ve bought about myself and I’m writing this in ‘well’ state. One thing I was this week (nothing to do with mental health problems) was stressed.

I could really tell the difference between stress and and mental health issues because stress is more natural. We all experience it and it’s common with every day pressures. Feeling low and nervous (not depressed and anxious in the clinical sense) are also common. Me, I was stressed. Tired too…here’s when she finally gets to the point-you’re probably wondering, phewf!

The problem lies where we’ve become so robotically inclined to just over do, over commit, work later, sleep later, eat later , get up later…(or earlier having not slept well), and it will all be just that bit too late won’t it? 

Food and sleep. Basic neccessities to keep ourselves well. Yet the latter, well, we don’t do it. We don’t prioritise it for FOMO fear of missing out, fear of letting down others and fear of falling behind. Guilty as charged. 

I have been absolutely knackered this week. Between this week and last week I had 1 night where I generally thought I’m going to be (physically) unwell and 1 where I thought (today) I would wake up even more, if possible, tired. BUT…on both accounts, guess what simple remedy cured all? A Good Night Sleep. I went to bed that bit earlier on both evenings and I feel different. Yes, stresses and pressures may still be there I put basic self care in place.

Give yourself permission to rest. You can pour from an empty cup. 

Have a chilled out weekend where possible fellow sleepy souls. You deserve it. Or nap! Don’t get me started on napping… mmmmm gotta love a nap! How old am I again? WHO CARES!!!

Love Abs x 💙

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13 isn’t unlucky #bereavement #grief #suicide #peersupport #MHBloggers #TalkMH #PosiMH

Good Morning,

Here I am today, never knowing what it will feel like each year as it comes. It’s the anniversary. 

The 13th anniversary. 13 isn’t unlucky to me though. It’s the date of mum’s birthday. This year despite it being a tough one so far has been in some way positively challenging and testing for me and my own resilience leaving me looking at my personal growth.

Whenever I come out of a bad spell I feel exhausted albeit stronger. 

This year I also got a card. ☺️ 🌻 look at those lovely sunflowers (pic at top!). At work someone in the office receives flowers on their deceased relatives birthday each year and I thought, ah how lovely. It’s the little things in life. That keep your face toward the sunshine as the quote says. 

I’d like to use the post today to send a special type of thank you to the mental health blogging and twitter community online and my own support network offline. The card in pic actually came from an exceptionally caring and active campaigner. You can find her work here Just a girl interrupted .

Through my blog, through my Vlogs and through my working and volunteering in life I’ve managed to create a network of invaluable support based on peer support. The type of support you can only get from people that have been through similar experiences. I wonder to myself if this was ever offered to my mum? Those countless times I picture her trying to get help. Did she try and get help? Or did she only really get ‘help’ after attempts? It’s sad to think about. I think they call it ‘social prescribing’ this kind of support which should be an essential offer that gives people the opportunity to reach out to or have others reach them alongside professional treatment when they’re in need. Rarely, rarely! or have I even ever? (I don’t think so) been told about a charity’s support service after a visit to the doctor. My last trip ended up with metaphorically a doctor throwing medication at me. I burst into tears. This made said doctor extremely uncomfortable. True story. 

I see and I feel the difference people power makes and that’s why this year I will also be launching my very own peer support and mentoring project for young people with mental health problems. I feel immensely proud and can’t wait to fill a gap in something I never had when I was younger. Peer education can reduce that throbbing pain and fear of isolation and stigma we experience. Whether internal or external. Watch this space!

So despite 13 years of hellish struggle, light has appeared from many in my network lighting candles in my darkness and believing in me. 

If you’re struggling, I believe in you. You’re not alone. Reach out or be reached. Try the #TalkMH or #PosiMH hashtag on twitter. Engage in weekly conversation with an uplifting inspiring bunch of brave individuals. Although they clash with other commitments I have at times I know they’re there if I need it.

Mum, I bloody miss you. I bloody bloody miss you. As I look back at photos of the key events in my life and don’t see that sunny sunny face of yours I sadden. But your daughter is okay. You’re daughter is fighting for change. Change you needed. Change I need. Change.

Love you mum,

Abs x 💓

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A letter to my … #DisorderedEating ? #CBT #Grouptherapy #eatingproblems #therapy

Dear All,

I hope you had a wonderful bank holiday weekend! I certainly was grateful for the R&R it allowed for and caught up on a nice amount of life admin!

Here we go again with another blog post I dont feel comfortable writing. BUT, equally, here I go again sticking to my vow of promising where possible to be honest in this blog of mine, to kick stigma where it hurts. Every message I receive from strangers or followers of how my honesty and sharing has helped them reassures me that I know this is right for me to do. Not just for my own therapy, but for others.

So, off we go.

By the time I post this blog I will be on my merry little way to the final session of a 13 week CBT intensive course for eating problems. I still shy away from the word ‘disorder’ because for some reason I don’t want to use it. Almost like I don’t feel ‘ill’ enough with it to claim it’s part of me. We’re often guilty of this us mental health problem sufferers. Especially those with eating problems as doctors have such strict diagnostic tools for it. I didn’t feel as worthy of help until I became desperate. I didn’t feel as worthy  like I did with depression and anxiety. Pehaps that’s also why there are so many alternates and abbreviations for eating disorders such as EDNOS (eating disorders none otherwise specified) or why people say ‘Disordered Eating’ instead. I’m more comfortable with that. It doesn’t mean it’s less important. A mental issue is an issue. If it controls your mind and you struggle to control it, help can be necceary to lead the life you want to live. That’s how it got for me. That’s when I asked for help.

It’s common for people to have issues with food. It’s almost incomprehendably trendy, or stereotypically present among the young trying to establish identity and that’s where it can often start. It’s not all about our physical appearance. It can be about control. It can be about coping.  

If you haven’t done so already and you fancy a read, you can see my (condensed and sensored!) history of it all on this blog I wrote for B-eat Charity (which I highly recommend) here – https://www.b-eat.co.uk/latest/6317 https://www.b-eat.co.uk/latest/6317

I must say, this post, (the one thy you’re reading right now!) is positive. Because I’m going to tell you that this course really helped me. It took me a while to seek the right sort of help because I’d always been more concerned about my A&D (anxiety and depression) but ED can be an unhealthy way (it was for me) to cope with A&D. Some use drugs, some abuse alcohol, some engage in criminal behaviour. Just because we need food to survive doesn’t mean it’s a less scary coping method to be hitched on!

The group was a bit daunting at the beginning. You don’t know people’s stories and you don’t want to judge but fear your own judgement too or of being judged. Sooner or later we clubbed together to offer to be there for one another and even now we have a whatsapp support group as a result.

If you have a mental health issue, don’t trivialise it in your mind. You are WORTHY of support. And hey, you better start looking now, because the rate our mental health services are being cut and how long the lists are to get help are just not ideal! 

I’m going to leave you with a letter writing exercise as part of the course I did  – we had to write to our ‘problem’ as a friend and as an enemy. 

Lots of well wishes always, I’m on the mend with this.

Abs x 💚

Dear Disordered Eating ,

My friend.
You are ‘my friend’ in the way that you offer comfort. You’re there when I don’t know what else to do. You’re there most the time with immediate effect or within easy reach if not. I can always walk 10-15 minutes to get to you if you can’t come to me. Day or night. You’ll always open your door as I open my jaw.

When I feel empty inside even when my life is full, you fill a void like no other I’ve identified so far. You’re fulfilling in a way like no other. You heighten my senses, you make me feel less lonely. You’re accessible and there for me in times of need. Thank you for offering that to me.

Abbie.

Dear Disordered Eating,
My enemy. 
My arch enemy. My rival. You’re competitive. You have an evil streak. You’re 2 faced. You’re a bad influence. You seem fun at first but then I soon realise you’re dangerous. Like nicotine or alcohol you have the potential to be addictive and you do your best to make me addicted to you. It’s like falling in with the wrong crowd at school. Befriending a bully. You like my vulnerability. You feed off my sensitivity. You’re manipulative. You’re sneaky and you’re sly. You leave me alone in dark places after taking me there. You may fill my emotional voids in the short term but you then leave me in a ditch in the dark every time after, taking away my confidence with you, to leave me to struggle my way back out, then back to you and your addictive self. Please leave me. Please leave anyone. I don’t deserve you. You don’t deserve anyone.

Abbie.