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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. 

“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 fiancΓ©e 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 πŸ›«

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

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! πŸ’ͺ🏻 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 πŸ’™

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 πŸ’“

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 πŸ’š

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. 

But #Whatif ? Severe #anxiety #paranoia #depression #negativethoughts #mentalhealthatwork #mentalillness #mindfulnessΒ 

Hello,

Happy Easter everyone. I hope you’re enjoying a 4 day break or a general weekend whatever you may be doing.

I’ve been struggling for quite some time now. The day before ‘good Friday’ I began to suffer at work and as internal tears streamed down the inside of my face I was holding it in on the outside until I couldn’t take it anymore.

Everyone has pressures at work, however big, however small and some days they can handle them and other days it’s tougher. As a stressful scenario arose I just couldn’t cope. Even if in my rational mind, it didn’t need to be stressful, I (Anxious ‘I’) put added anxiety on my head and shoulders that spoke into my ear: “You’re not good enough, you don’t get it, why can’t you do it? You shouldn’t be here.” 

Pleasant, huh? 

Eventually, I wrote on a post it note to my colleague at work, “I’m really struggling and teary”. They advised me to go home but in my head that was being a ‘failure’.

After a few trips outside for some air, attempts at mindful breathing, calls to my loved one and family, I did eventually leave. 

I was not in great headspace. Boy was I not. 

My mind had accumulated everything that had happened in the week adding on to the stress of the day and multiplied it by the really low thoughts I’d been having for over a week mixed with a handful of anxiety and finished with a paranoia melt. What a recipe!?

I’m usually a pretty good communicator when it comes to my mental health. I reach out, even if I’d been struggling quietly, it eventually happens. I know I’ve really not been good as I’ve just barely spoken to anyone about it. About the real it. Just how scary it is. 

I’ve been so afraid of this… 


Someone I know, love and care about is also really struggling ATM but in a different way and it suddenly (although I already knew this) dawned on me how easy it is for our thoughts and minds to control us, instead of the other way around. How these thoughts can turn to voices. How these voices of negativity can cause such detriment that if we don’t nip them in the bud how an earth will we be able to do something about them? Our brains are powerful and yes, we have so much strength but living with anxiety and depression you can get depleted pretty easily if you don’t stop to restore. 

I’m understanding more and more about why mindfulness can help but it takes a good while to form a habit. Patience can be low when you are so desperately hurting, so desperate to get better with immediate effect, knowing, there’s no fully transformative ‘instant’ cure. 

Those suffering with mental illness have an abundance of internal conversations and a dialogue of beating ourselves up because of guilt. “I should have done this.” Etc etc etc. 

I know I try to help myself in many ways yet I’m still hard on myself for not trying harder. 

This is defintiely a testing time and as much as my dear other half is trying very hard to help me see the positive, my immediate response catastrophises and whilst we try and take it hour by hour, there I am over by next week. 

What I can do when I’m like this, some how, is focus on others. If others need me to be strong for them. I can. But when it comes to a trip back to my own reality, I feel stuck in thick, sinking mud. How my mind feels.

I get the same feeling multiple times a year. I (strangley perhaps) wish, that I could afford, to take some time off. To recover. To admit myself to some much needed help. Whilst waving a magic wand so that none of my loved ones are worried and know that I will be okay. I know I will. I just can’t bare, the suffering along the way.

I will carry on as I always do. Please be patient with me, friends I’ve not spoken to , friends I’ve not seen. 

I wish I could be a friend to myself right now and give in to myself. Give myself a hug. Accepting all parts weak and strong.

I still love you, dear Abbie. And on with the fight we shall go.

Stop for air on the way. You can do this. It’s okay to rest in between.

Love Abs x πŸ’™

#Weddingdress shopping without your mum – #bereavementbysuicide #grief #loss #anxiety #depression #mentalhealth #flashbacks #bereavement #bride #wedding

Goooood morning all,

Something really special happened almost a week ago now, but I needed some time to digest it. 

Over a year in advance…

I couldn’t resist a dazzling designer donation, immaculate, glistening pristinely in the window of a boutique where proceeds are given to the less fortunate.

Designer dress (my size, dream shape) βœ… Affordability βœ… Charitable cause βœ… 

If my friends and family could sum up what my tatste and values were combined, they’d make this equation! I’m always bargain hunting (it’s in my blood), love a good charity find, and have accumulated some pretty beautiful dresses from these types of places, vintage markets and carboots! 

I know not everyone is close with their mums or would choose to share this experience with theirs, but it’s something I’m sure I would have done had I been given the chance. I also know not everyone is a weddingy person – but I am. 

They’ll be other weddingy blogs in the future, I’m sure. One at least about wedding dress shopping with regards to body shape/image and eating disorders if I’m brave enough. For now though, I’m going to focus on bereavement. 

Let me walk you through the story..πŸšΆπŸΌβ€β™€οΈ(slightly longer blog than usual, go on…grab a cuppa!) 

I’m not actively looking for dresses as I get married next summer, but as an excitable weddingy person, I follow a lot of designers/boutiques that pique my fancy online. I’ve also popped to a sample sale to get a sense of what type of beautiful gowns await me. 

On one cool Friday evening I’m walking in a trendy (I doubt anyone uses that word anymore!) area of North London. Kind of a mix between Shoreditch and Richmond if that helps Londoners put it in perspective! If you can understand, Richmond is a well to do area and often in their charity shops you’ll find some designer buys at a good but still kinda up there (for me!) price. The boutiques in this area were of that calibre and there in the window was just what I dreamt of but with a little twist. 

I check the store opening times for the following day (knowing a beauty like that won’t last 2 mins in a place like that!) and when I get home I tell my grandma -dad’s mum- the story, showing her a photo snap. An aunt of mine happened to call and before we knew it the trip was arranged. Early Sat morn pick up and off to the shop the following day we were to go! 

I arrive a good few minutes before it’s due to open and wait outside to be the first in. My grandma and aunt are more patient browsing next door and we’re all full of excitement. 

The store manager is delighted to hear I’m bright and early for the wedding dress in the window and rounds up the team to make it into a special experience. As I’m whisked into the changing room with one of the staff, others are busy putting out chairs for my grandma so that it’s like a little catwalk for when I come out.

Meanwhile, this was happening for me:

Before I even got in the changing room I had a rush. A wave of overwhelm. It’s difficult to describe. Some wedding or general cynics may argue that it can’t be that big a deal buying the dress or getting married in general but for me, it is and it was. As a reflector, I’m strongly aware of where I’ve come from. My story. My journey. I don’t believe in leaving the past completely in the past because I believe it can shape who we are and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Here I am buying a wedding dress when 8 years ago I was in hospital being diagnosed fed meds and resting from a breakdown. I felt I was a burden. I felt connection to my mum through the depression. I didn’t see a future beside being the lost troublesome lass. 

I was about to have another (I’m not pining all success on a wedding here, I also have a much stronger sense of identity and a career!) defining moment in my life that kicks my inner self critic and low confidence aside and says, “Hey. Look at you, confirming you can create a future you are deserving of and nurture relationships despite your lack of trust heavily influenced by that awful life event”. 

You see, because death by suicide is sudden and you’ll never ever have closure, forming and sustaining relationships (of many a kind, family, friends, loved ones) proves difficult. I pushed people away / I held them extra close / I was convinced everyone I had an attachment with would leave at a drop of a penny. Just like mum di(e)d. 

Mum left. Mum left. 😦 as I was getting changed I could feel myself tearing up and as my ears picked up on the already emotion full staff and my family excited for my moment I was overcome with a yearning for mum like no other. This is the mother daughter moment we won’t share. At least not on planet earth. The store assistant caught sight of me and I could just about mutter, “I miss my mum.”‘ “I lost my mum, too”, she sobbed, and before I knew it we were cuddling in the little cubicle and trying to cry quietly before we joined the ‘audience’ who were there to share my moment. I knew as soon as I stepped in, that this might be the dress. All I wanted to do was to give my mum that moment too.

“She’s here with you in spirit, my love. You’ve got your other women out there who love you, they’re there for you. Are you ready?” 

I wiped my tears away. Took a deep breath. Out I strode.

Gasps and tears filled the store from the staff to the customers to my family. The ones who were there. The ones who are there. 

I cannot describe in words (and I’m pretty alright with them!) how much how much!!! I needed a hug from my mum in that shop. How much I needed her there to celebrate with me. To hold me. To be excited for my future with a man she’ll never meet. 

What I know I do have though. Despite everything. Despite all the pain and loss. Is a beautiful family. A loving network. People who understand that buying a wedding dress wasn’t just buying a wedding dress. 

People that appreciate this story and it’s meaning to me. 

 I’m getting married next year, mum. And I wish you could be there. I wish. I’ll decorate with sunflowers so you’re there all around me.

I love you mum. I always will. No matter how many moments you’ll miss.

Abs x πŸ’™ x

 

#Relapse after a ‘well spell’ #recovery #mentalhealth #selfcare #anxiety #depressionΒ 

You know life’s a little difficult when you can’t even make a decision of how to start your blog by choosing a simple, ‘hello’, ‘hey’, or ‘good morning’. 

Also, I can tell my ‘low brain’ is in charge after referring to ‘wellness’ as a spell rather than anxiety or depression being one. Maybe I just liked the rhyme, though. 

The sun is shining after yesterday’s literal and metaphorical rain, so maybe I’ll feel lighter and brighter. 

Anyway – let’s get stuck in.

Recently, if you ask loved ones they’d likely say I’ve been pretty ‘well’, but I could only half agree. 

People can associate ‘wellness’ with ‘success’. I first hand and second hand can tell you that (sticking with hands here) they don’t always fall…’hand in hand’. 

Promotion? Found love or freedom in being recently single? Lost or gained weight that you were aiming for? 

Achievements can be things to be proud of but they don’t always equate a feeling or meaning of ‘well.’ You can be doing well without feeling it.

Arguably, I have been well for a nice while. Though having lived with depression and anxiety long enough, having a ticking in the back of my head like an egg timer wondering when it will next set off again, even though things were… ‘going well’. 

I’ve written about this before and seen at least one article published since but being functioning with A&D isn’t as great as it seems. For those who don’t know, it refers to people still able to work or get on with their usual life activities and commitments whilst living with mental illness. That’s where the term ‘functioning depressive’ for example, came from.

The problem is it gives out an illusion that life is rosey and that I’m ‘cured’ or fully recovered. Especially being off meds. The truth is, despite my weekly fight and mask that those who are functioning know only too well, I’ve been finding things quite hard. 

I’ve also found a new and not so great alternative way to coping because I’m also experiencing great anxiety in confiding in the person I always do because recently they were struggling. That classic bad practice of not wanting to burden someone who you know as things going on…everyone has things going on! However, this was a bit deeper and I won’t go into that and why it’s been so hard. 

We both know talking is essential but a recent experience has left me unable to fully expose the brunt of my (now regular) battles. 

It’s also not rocket science to know that masks aren’t permanent and in fact, you could (in my case anyway – not meaning to diss financially ‘cheap’ brands here either!) compare them to being made up of cheap make up (think cheap clothing for guys if that helps, ones that make you sweat, smell and show when you don’t want to). They give an instant cover but it fades and soon reveals the cracks. You may also get a bout of acne after as your skin breaks out and struggles to breathe. Basically, they’re a short term prop to ensure you (not so )’ful’fil your ability to function. 

Eventually, you don’t want to wear such a cheap mask anymore and you miss your face. No matter how you feel about it’s appearance. I used to feel that medication helped my mask like a good primer or moisturiser. Made it long lasting. There’s no stigma in being on meds and I often contemplate whether I can keep on my stride in life without them. 

So as of a gentle starter conversation with a friend the day before, where we were both beautifully open with one another, something else opened too. 

*Once an opening of a wound is out to air, it’s easy for more to come out.*

Last night that happened. All suppressed anxiety and depression surfaced for air and it came bubbling up for me to have to face.

It felt good to release but sad to realise yet again (as with all relapses and well spells) that I am indeed affected by mental illness. When you’re well for a while and think you’ve escaped, it’s not always the truth.

Standardly for me, it manifested in my chest. A cold hard feeling of bursting air pounding like it wants to escape me. Almost like an out of body experience.

Despite all this I must say, I’ve become much better at self care using natural methods since being off of meds. The power of essential oils for example. I was able to dab some lavender and peppermint on my wrists and breathe mindfully whilst my partner got a hot water bottle to warm my chest. I lit a candle and turned off the lights to watch it flicker and immediately experienced a sense of ease and relief.

My chest as usual is still fragile this morning (like a hangover, ‘the morning after’) but I had my release. I acknowledged my pain and self worth by taking off my mask.

Here I am now, back as ‘functioning’ ever at work, ready to try again for the next week. 

“Take regular breaks,” my partner said, as he kissed me goodbye.

That I will. That, I will.

Happy Birthday Mum πŸ’œπŸ’™πŸ’šβ€οΈπŸ’› #blog #bereavement #grief #bereavedbysuicide #suicideawareness #suicideprevention #survivorsofsuicide

Happy Birthday Mummy! 🎈

Tomorrow is your special day πŸ’«  I hope you’re having a wonderful time in heaven or wherever you are ✨

You would have been 63 tomorrow. 

Let’s take a breath to process that…

A couple of weeks back I went to visit and have a quick chat with you. It was nice. It was natural. It felt like a hug around my birthday. 

I love you mum.

I thought this blog post would be easier than it’s proving to be. That’s okay though. It’s all part of the process.

Let’s think, last time last year I was in pain around your birthday. I was riddled in guilt and I couldn’t get myself down to the crematorium to visit you. I was in quite a state. Once I recovered, days after, I made a vow to myself never to let that happen again.

This year me and one of the bros are spending your day together. 

That makes my heart fuzzy. We’ll prob Skype our other brother. Your other son. Your 3 kids together. I type these words slightly pained reliving whom and what you left behind. I don’t want this to be a sad blog post though, mum. No, no. It’s okay (I know, I know), if it is, I just don’t want it to be.

I want to tell you all the things that have happened in the past year. Your baby girl got engaged. She got engaged. I got engaged. Me. Moving on with my life. I found a man I want to spend my life with. A man open and receptive to everything I believe in and dream of. We had a big party. We decorated everything tip to toe in sunflowers 🌻🌻🌻 in your loving memory, mum. You were everywhere.

You ARE everywhere.

All of our hearts you touched and kissed – we can take you everywhere

I changed jobs. I now look after an even bigger region with what I do in mental health. I campaign. Big time and hard. For you mum. For your loving memory, mum. 

I will not stop. I will not stop until stigma stops, until education is communciated regularly and freely. Until lives like yours are saved. Because you are so so badly, truly, deeply, missed.

Hole in my heart.

This will not be a sad post.

The year past was the year of the blog. Named after you ofcourse. The year of the vlogs too: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRaU6_Bs7G8MCx4WWlLlfpA the year of MORE awareness. More help. More support. 

I take you everywhere, mum. On my birthday this year me and 3 of my closest girls sung our hearts out (I can’t sing) to one of your favourite songs, mum. (God, I clearly miss saying, ‘mum’.) It’d been a while.

Mum. I love you. I love you so much. I miss you with all my sorry heart and I live each day ensuring I do my part. I do my part in society to create a mental health friendly approach to get people the help that they need and so rightfully deserve. Like you did. Like, you did. 

I’m sorry the system failed you, mum. I know deep down thoughts of suicide took over your mind not only once in your life and I hope you are finally at peace wherever you are. 

I will continue to learn to be at peace with this non-physical relationship I’ll keep with you. 

I’ll tell you verbally when I visit you at the crematorium how much you still and always will mean to me. I’ll tell you all the news although I know you’re watching over me. I’ll get little signs now and again.

Oh the amount of family celebrations we would have had around this time of year to celebrate the birth of the amazing you, mum. Yet now, I can only write. I can only speak of. I can only share about. Because physically, you are no longer here. You’re on another universe you always spoke of that you believed in.

I believe mum, for whatever brings your heart peace, I believe for you.

May you have a very special birthday.

I’ll be thinking of you.

I’ll never stop loving you.

Bye for now, mum.

Abs πŸŒ»πŸŒ»πŸŒ»πŸŒ»πŸŒ»πŸŒ»πŸŒ»πŸŒ»πŸŒ»πŸŒ»πŸŒ»πŸŒ»πŸŒ»πŸŒ»πŸ’™ X

Coping with #ED around a special occasion #eatingproblems #eatingdisorders #blog #BEDΒ 

    Hello All,

    I’ve been thinking for a while now, how and whether to write this post. I’m still not fully “open” type ‘open’ if you know what I mean when it comes to eating stuff and I fear every time I write about it whether it may be picked up by someone who will then scrutinise my every movement around food choices. 

    However! I need to have a little faith in humanity, especially the select few in my special network I do speak so highly of. I know speaking about difficult things also helps others too. 

    Okay. So. It was my birthday on the weekend. In how many languages does birthday = cake? Exactly. It’s just the known thing. It’s also a known thing that I like chocolate. What do people do on people’s birthdays? Buy them a gift they like? Correct. 

    Now for a person without an eating problem this will feel like a nice indulgent time of year. “Oh go on then, it is my/your/his/her birthday/graduation/wedding…” etc, etc. 

    For the person with a problem it’s, “here we go again…”

    The hard thing about me in particular is that I’m not that open about it. Only to a select few. So I really don’t expect certain family members for example to get the memo. Perhaps I don’t even want them to have the memo. Although deep down, I wish they had the memo…this is one of the many joys of living with these problems without being open. (I’m trying, it’s blooming hard with self-stigma and fear of it). For regular readers and people who know me more personally, you know just how open I am about my A & D (anxiety and depression). About Suicide and Grief – other just as important painful things. This, however, is going to be a slightly longer and different journey with more hurdles. Unfortunatley where I often feel I’m at with it means the hurdles = more guilt, more shame, more embarrassment. What a lovely recipe of feelings… 

    How can people help? For me, if you do know and you’re close to me – reach out and have a proper conversation. I could also do this too, I’m not putting all the responsibility on someone else but hey, take a look at those glorious other emotions I’m dealing with here (above, just written)…help a girl out. See how you can help. How you can help practically, perhaps having conversations with others. Raising general awareness. 

    For the love of God please consult me first if you do this. The last thing anyone needs is some nasty surprise and someone thinking they’re being helpful and you not knowing they knew…again, revisit the emotions and feelings people often struggling with these problems are going through. 

    Another hard thing with me (how do I even have a network!?) is that unlike many stereotypical ideals of  people with these kinds of problems, I actually LOVE food. I feel like I should take it out of caps lock but it’s true. I have an (outward looking) healthy living relationship with it, often using my tall, curvy frame (and up until bad bouts now – higher metabolism and regular exercise) as a technically true excuse for the odd portion size. What people might not know though, is the internal relationship and thought processes around it = not healthy. 

    With the knowledge that most people know I, ‘love food’, it might make sense sometimes to buy it or bake it. Again, especially around occasions (talking chocolate in particular here for example, for my birthday). If some people did this, it would bring me a small amount of joy that I have some nice chocolate in the house. Hey, I think I even posted a pic of some proper posh chocs that I absolutely love online saying something like “I’d love you forever if you buy me this” or something rather. Admittedly, a bit silly of me (but I’m trying to appear ‘normal’ and have a *WTF is?!* ‘normal’ relationship with food and enjoy it without the mental crap attached! – that is the goal, that is the dream…). It’s never the case though… that only a few people will buy you chocolate. Think about it…chances are you’re not going to be the only one who’s bringing the birthday girl/person a tasty treat. For me personally, the safest bet is to let me decide or let you know (or without declaration, just let me try and be me) that I am safe eating whatever I’m eating without judgement.

    I’ve spent the days since my birthday in a head / heart frenzy of, “oh, but I guess it was my birthday” nom nom nom, to “yeah, but remember your eating problems” pain pain pain, to, “why can’t I be normal?” to…you get the gist.

    Day to day with eating problems isn’t easy at the best of times. Although intentions are good, it you’re in the know, please take extra time and caution when making the decisions to buy these things. Hey, even ask me (or others depending on your relationships) out right. I might be struggling before you’ve decided to buy even more ‘goodies’ and fretting over my body and how it appears to others. If I need to learn to be more open, close friends/family need to, too. We’ll take these steps together and ‘be brave’ or anti stigma campaigns would call it – be normal. Like any relationship, it takes 2 to tango πŸ’ƒπŸΌ πŸ’ƒπŸ½ 

    I realise how complex and uneasy it must be to take these things on board and therefore I’m sure you can see why I applaud my network for still being my network. I feel like there should be a Network Navigation Support Team! 

    On that note, have a happy weekend!

    An abundance of love as always,

    Abs x