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Happy birthday mum – 2018

Happy birthday mum 🌻

I miss you!

It’s 2018 now. You’ve been absent from planet earth for half of my life. So much has happened and somehow I got this far.

You were 28 when you married and I share that with you as I plan to tie the knot this year.

I like sharing things with you as it makes me feel closer to you.

A sad thing I share is a version of the deep depression you suffered with behind your giant smile and heart.

I try and be open with the reality of struggle I’m experiencing as I want to be here. I will ask for help. I need to get better. I want to live a life that is full.

I may be predisposed to mental ill health but I will carry on through the thick mud and live for those brighter days, the sheer love that family and friends show, the beauty that life has and can bring. The memories that can be made. The laughter that can be had, you know the type – where you can’t breathe easily because you’re laughing too hard or it comes out as silent cackle.

Mum, this year, and it’s only February, I got that frightening taste of what it could be like to be in such distress that your mind becomes foggy and your vision blinded and you wonder how you can plough through.

This year. This year. Also known as by family and friends as my year. The year where my inner child was supposed to be jumping for joy at wedding excitement, the year of a new job that was everything I could possibly wish for on paper, the year I would look to purchase my first place with the love of my life. This year.

This is how I know, this is how I know, that mental ill health is not a choice. For who would choose such turmoil? It is not always in your control.

What I can do is try my best. Coping mechanisms, medication, talking therapies, family, friends, art, writing, time, love, exercise, nutrition, sleep, rest…

I miss you so much and my suffering can be as painful that I often want to be with you mum. Hold your hand wherever you are and be together.

I’m not ready yet though. I have my life here to live first. I know I have a lot more to give to my fellow loved ones in the here and now. I know that somewhere, somewhere, I will find that light in my belly and let it shine again.

I love you with ALL my heart. I miss you with every possible inch of me.

Today, mum, I’ll start the day with a cup of tea and a dark chocolate Mcvities biscuit…your favourite.

I will be with my family. We will toast you. I will have a massage (I heard you were the best beautician there was! Oh how I wish I was old enough to have experienced one from you before you departed!).

Mum, on your birthday, I hope you are at peace wherever you are. I send a virtual hug.

I ask in return for guidance of some sort. I have some incredible women around me but nothing is filling that hollow hole that is sore and cold where you are missing, nothing will replace ‘mum’.

Be here with me in some way mum, make it happen.

I love you forever,

Abs x

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There are differences between #empathy, relating and trivialising. #mentalhealth #mentalillness

Hello and a happy new year. How lovely is this card from my dear friend Jodie!?

I’ve been quite quiet on here as I’ve been struggling which is usually when I’m able to write the most, but it felt too ‘band wagon jump like’ in the midst of other Christmas and New Year blogs.

I often write to mum around Christmas and new year. Fill her in. Tell her how it’s been. How she’s still missed. How she’s still needed. How she’s still loved by sore heavy hearts. It’s a time people reflect on growth or challenges overcome. I couldn’t this time around though. I knew the year that was approaching was supposedly, ‘my year’. ‘Our’ year for me and the hubby to be. The year of the wedding. The year of the new job. How could I possibly be sad? Hmmm.

My anxiety and very low mood flared up in the festive season and that ‘first week back blues’ thing people made a fuss of? Well, that hit hard. Those memes galore that flooded your social media accounts only touched and humoured what I felt like I was going through. Thick mud and fog before my eyes.

It’s been a long while or so it seems since I had a panic attack and twice now it’s risen right to the top of my throat bursting at the seams, lusting to come out, but it got caught some how and resembled a choke and stomach wretch instead. How pleasant.

I’m making a really conscious effort though at times, to be a bit more real when answering ‘how are you?’ when I have energy because, well I am part of the movement trying to get people talking without shame (which I still at times struggle with) and I don’t always want to wear a mask, even behind a phone screen.

It’s been interesting the responses that have come. The unsure replies. The dismissive and head straight on to a new conversation types. Those who I believe intend well but blur lines between empathy, relating and trivialising. The ‘everyone gets that. We all just have to get on with it’. The ‘but you have nothing to be sad about. It’s your special year!’. Luckily I haven’t had any of the typical, ‘There are people out there much worse off’ which I sadly think is probably a very common response to those suffering.

I think some people may be (in their minds) trying to ‘make you feel less alone’ by jumping in with their own examples or minimising your experience when perhaps what they could do is simply give you space to express what you need to, offer empathy and be non judgemental.

Trivialising or explaining how you’ve felt something similar but you ‘got/get on with it’ can be unhelpful and lead the other to feel that they’re weaker and unable. That they should be able to manage. However, it is important people know that it is actually strong, to be talking about it, reaching out, support seeking, or just simply being, when your mind is working against you.

Recently many of my days have sadly been filled with a heavy weight of negative and intrusive thoughts and I’ve been wearing a cloak of anxiety that feels sewn to the skin. This is not because I am not grateful. This is not because I am not looking forward to my year ahead. This is just me describing my mental health and I am not to blame. We don’t pick our times to struggle, or perhaps we wouldn’t at all.

A big thank you to my partner who inspired this blog post and responded to my difficult time with active listening skills that would put the inventor of them as a concept to shame. Compassion so beautiful I’ve never received it that organic before and for the gift of his time and patience. He pointed out that not everyone will understand and reminded me how loved I am despite my inner dialogue wandering how that could possibly be.

Thank you to all those around me that have actively been there in presence or through other means.

You make this world a better place and the universe sees your kindness.

Abs x

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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 💙