The trouble with sunshine …

The sun is great. We all wait eagerly for the first few sunny days of the year when we grab our sunglasses and flip flops and run out the door, headed for beaches, parks, pub gardens and BBQs.

We hear “the sun makes everything better” and “you’ll feel better if you go outside”.

But it’s not that easy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Sun on my skin, the warmth on my face and being able to drive around with the window open and my sunglasses on. But I always feel like there is extra pressure to be outside, to be enjoying yourself for every second that the sun is out, and that’s not always possible. We hear the fun and games of outside, the laughter, the smell of BBQs and the sunny photos of everyone enjoying themselves, sometimes we want to be out there too, sometimes we don’t, but there is he pressure that everyone else assumes we SHOULD be outside.

 There are so many reasons that we may not enjoy going outside: It could be hiding scars, depression, loneliness, we may want to go out but feel we can’t, anxiety, physical worries, mental worries, emotional worries. We can never truly know what people are suffering with or are going through at that moment in time.img_0723

I love nothing more than lying outside reading a book, eating an ice lolly, or perhaps on a beach or in a pub garden with friends, but in the last few days that it has been warm and sunny, it hasn’t seemed as easy and care free as that. I’ve been very much stuck in my own head, worried about what people think, wanting to hide away but internally fighting with myself as I do want to be outside. I have memories that I love and hate at the same time, maybe I’m not strong enough to face those at the moment, I don’t know, but I do know that I’ve sat inside looking out the window and hating myself, crying and being angry that I’m inside, despite it being my decision- decision, if you can call it that. I look outside, I see the pubs I could be sat in, the gardening I could be doing, my old garden that I could be sitting in, and all I want to do is hide. I want to close the curtains and pretend it isn’t happening. I know there are things I have to deal with but for now, I want to sit inside, be by myself and not have anyone judge me, I don’t want the stories of how amazing the dun is being rubbed in my face. I don’t want to feel lonely, and I don’t want to feel pressured to be doing anything that I’m doing.

Please be kind and considerate , whether to those enjoying the sunshine, and those that may be avoiding it as we never know what internal battles people are facing!

Advertisements

Self care kits…!

Over the years I have struggled with social anxiety, panic attacks and desperately wanting to feel anyway other than this. This can happen at home, with friends or in a social setting and unfortunately it’s not always easy to predict when you will feel this way. Nothing can prepare you for an anxiety attack, even if you have had them before and know you will be ok, during the attack, you think it will never end and that you will never survive it. You heart races, you struggle to breathe, you become dizzy, hot, sweaty, confused. It really is one of the worst experiences you could have, and while you can’t prepare for it, there are small tips to try and help you get it through the worst moments.

I get a lot of comments and questions asking how to help calm yourself during a moment of panic or anxiety, or sometimes how to encourage yourself to leave the house when the worry is overwhelming, how to meet friends in public and I wish I had all the answers but it’s hard!! Everyone will feel differently and everyone will have different reactions so there isn’t a universal answer!

As  I have realised that there will be different methods for each situation, I have put together a ‘self-care kit’ which is something I can have with me when I’m out, or at home to try and ease my mind and help me out in tough situations .Sometimes you will have things that will help in the moment, and sometimes just knowing you have them will help you. Whatever is in it will be different for everyone, there’s no right or wrong!

*Tissues- you never want to be without tissues! Runny nose, tears, spilt tea all over you… You’re covered!

*Water- When you’re worried you often forget to eat and drink, and keeping hydrated is so important and so good for you! Great relief for headaches too!

*Make up- I’m likely to cry it off at some point during the day and for certain things eg, work meetings, I feel a lot more confident if I don’t have red blotchy eyes! It’s just comforting for me to know I can put on a ‘mask’ and pick myself up and get on with things.

*Favourite snack- I have something to treat myself when I’m not feeling great, or after facing something difficult as something to look forward to.

*Book- I can get so lost in a book and sometimes it’s good to have a distraction and be somewhere else for a while!

*Earphones- It’s good to be able to listen to a favourite song if you feel down so I always keep my earphones with me so I can shut myself off and listen to my favourite songs.

*Perfume/spray- Sometimes a soothing or familiar smell is comforting, but at worst, after feeling sweaty and worked up, perfume or a spray may make you feel a little more fresh if you’re out and about!

*Gym kit- I always keep my gym kit in the back of the car because after a long and stressful day, I know nothing will make me feel better than exercise!

*Tea- When I’m home or in the office, I’m never far away from a cup of earl grey! Being able to take a break and a step back from what you are doing and concentrating on a different/simple task can sometimes be all you need to see a situation differently.

 

I’d really love to hear what you would have in your self-help kit, so please comment or retweet and let me know and give others ideas! 

 

Related image

Grief and depression…

When I started CBT in 2016, my therapist said due to the grief I was facing due to my recent break up, that it would be difficult to tell which symptoms were grief and which were depression, as they symptoms can come across as very similar.

To start with, it’s important to remember that there are many forms of grieving. When we speak of grief and loss we often think of death, however, there are many other kinds of loss, including separation from a loved one, loss of friendships, or loss of a job. I often also grieve the loss of my life as it was before, before I was ill and before all of the changes that came along with that. I wish I could say that it’s easy, but it’s not. Dealing with grief is something that we will all have to face in one form or another at some point but it some of the worst times of our lives.

Grief is the inevitable process we experience as the result of a loss and regardless of what that loss may be. There will be stages involved on coping with this loss which in time (and unfortunately I do mean, plenty of time), can start to help you heal.

There are usually 5 recognised stages within coping with grief that will be mixed in with feelings of confusion, sadness, fear, guilt or hopelessness which will change day by day.

Denial – You want to pretend it’s not happening, to bury your head in the sand, you don’t know how you can possibly keep going so you want to hide away to protect yourself from the pain. You don’t feel ready to face the world an often this meant you become isolated, and avoid situations and people that will remind you of this ( as if you could think of anything else anyway) but so you can get through this first stage of grief.

Anger – The next step is usually frustration and confusion at the situation. A lot of thoughts such as “why me?”, “what did I do to deserves this”,” Why has this happened” will be at the front of your mind while the pain comes at you full force. Other feelings such as sadness and confusion are often expressed as anger, and possibly taken out on others while you try and come to terms with this huge change and awful loss.
You want to try and change what happened, you would do anything to take the loss back so you start bargaining such as “ I’d give anything for that not to have happened” or promises such as “ I promise if things went back to normal that I would be a better person”. Again, this is just the pain and hurt being expressed in a different way, by trying to take back control or responsibility. This may also include questioning every little detail such as why did that happen, could I have prevented it, is it my fault, what can I do now to make it right.

Acceptance – perhaps the first sign of recovery from grief is acceptance. Accpting you cant change what has happened so learning how to prepare for it and look forward. You learn to build up coping mechanisms and telling yourself that you will get through this.

Its important to remember that all of these feelings are normal, they are horrible, awful and heart-breaking, but they are a normal part of grieving for something that meant so much to you.

You have noticed I only mentioned 4 stages there, that’s because the missing stage is depression, which to me is the most significant as it’s the hardest stage to face.

Depression – Everything becomes so painful, so upsetting, so overwhelming that everything feels numb. You go from feeling the heartbreak physically, to feeling empty and alone. You don’t see the point in carrying on anymore, its too hard. You want to cry, curl up in bed and wait for it all to go away. You don’t want to see anyone, you don’t want to have to pretend its all ok, when it feels like the whole world is falling apart. It feels like it will never feel better than this. And it’s a long process, it wont feel better over night, and you will most likely never stop grieving in some way, but it can get better, you can cope, you can move on.

There is no timeline for grief, but we are always told that time helps heal. If you feel any of these during the grieving process, its normal! Its your body’s way of trying to protect you through the process, but its ok to need help. Please reach out and don’t suffer alone, there are always people to support you and guide you through so please don’t feel you’re alone in any of this! It’s important to know when its more then grief, and whether you do need more help in any way.

grief attack

Signs of Depression…

Since my last post, I have a few messages saying that people didn’t realise exactly what depression was. Some said they recognised these feelings in themselves, and some said they noticed it in others which lead to conversations of mental health. Either way, I want to use my experiences to create these conversations so thank you to all of you who read and commented!

See the source image

When I was first diagnosed with depression 8 years ago, I didn’t really know anything about depression, or mental illness at all. Due to circumstances, I was feeling low, sad all the time, wasn’t eating, oversleeping, missing lectures, not going out, but I didn’t think that was anything but just how I was. It was only when I was diagnosed that I really researched it and realised most of the characteristics were staring me in the face, but I was so used to feeling that way that it felt normal. But its not normal to feel so awful all of the time and you don’t simply have to deal with it alone! ! There are many ways of helping deal with depression, and I don’t mean cure as unfortunately its not that easy, but if you have to live with depression, there are ways to manage it through therapy, medication, support, distraction, so its important to have all of that in the right place to help you get through the day.

Which is why I want to write this post. A lot of people may not notice the signs in themselves if you’ve been living with depression for so long, but I think its also important to notice the signs in others to know when to help and when to be more considerate and when to offer help if you can!

Depression will be different in everyone, and can be different day to day. There are many types of depression but overall I think the feelings can be the same.

Depression can come through in many way, whether physical, social, psychological, and therefore there will be many symptoms, many feelings, many emotions, too many to list so this is just my experience.

*Feeling hopeless or unworthy

*low mood or sadness

*Irritable

*oversleeping or struggling to sleep

*Struggling to concentrate

*No interest or enjoyment in things you may have used to

*Lack of energy

*Avoiding friends and family, trying to avoid contact/communication

*Cancelling plans and going out less

*Not wanting to take part in activities, however simple

*Struggling to out of bed, not because you’re tired!

*Crying

*overeating or loss of appetite

*short term memory loss

*struggling to make decisions or want to make decisions

*You stop caring about your appearance, showering less etc

*Negative thoughts

*overwhelming thoughts that you don’t want to feel this way anymore

 

If you feel like this and are worried about how you feel, please reach out!

CALM

CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.

Website: www.thecalmzone.net

Depression Alliance

Charity for sufferers of depression. Has a network of self-help groups.

Website: www.depressionalliance.org

Men’s Health Forum

24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.

Website: www.menshealthforum.org.uk

Mental Health Foundation

Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.

Website: www.mentalhealth.org.uk

Mind

Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.

Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)

Website: www.mind.org.uk

Rethink Mental Illness

Support and advice for people living with mental illness.

Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm)

Website: www.rethink.org

Samaritans

Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)

Website: www.samaritans.org.uk

Depression and me…

I have been trying to write this for quite a while but it’s not something that’s easy to think about and I’m already frustrated at myself for not being able to put it exactly in the right words but I’m not sure if there are any right words for depression.

You know you should be happy, especially when those same things used to make you happy! You remember how it felt, you remember laughing, and you remember that warm feeling of happiness and Love, but now you feel numb at best. You feel empty, frustrated that things have come to this.

You know that you should be grateful, you know that in most aspects you are lucky, you have a good life. You have everything you need, you should be happy!! But you’re not, and you hate yourself for it. You feel like you’re letting everyone down.

You start to wonder what is the point of trying when you still feel like this when you do.

You’re tired, so tired everything. Physically tired, mental tired, emotionally tired, tired of how you feel, tired of living like this.

People think you’re lazy.

People think you’re cancelling plans for no reason that you’re flaky, you’re not worth the effort and you’re unreliable. There are so many times they will ask and for you to cancel before those invitations come less often, and then not at all. They don’t realise it’s because you’re sat crying your eyes out on the bathroom floor.

Sometimes you can’t get out of bed, I don’t mean because you don’t want to because you’re tired, or because you had a late night and you’d rather stay in bed for a few more hours under a warm duvet. I mean physically it feels like you cannot get out of bed, like there a large weight on top of you stopping you form moving, your limbs won’t work, you can’t catch your breath.

It feels like the weight of the world is constantly on your chest, making it harder and harder to breathe. Some days you don’t fight it, you’re too exhausted, you don’t see the point or a light at the end of the tunnel. You curl up in a ball and hide away. You want those feelings to stop, but they don’t stop, they keep coming while you’re curled up, wishing the days away.

Sometimes you cry, well you cry a lot of the time. People sometimes think that depression is simply being sad, but its not, its so much worse. Its overwhelming sadness that very often feels like a physical sensation mixed with the feeling of not being good enough, not being worthy, not deserving happiness, feeling like an awful person, an awful daughter, sister friend. Sometimes you cry on the way to work but manage to stop yourself to be able to get up and go into work. Sometimes you cry in the shower when you have 5 minutes to yourself after a long day and you can’t stop the tears from coming. Sometimes you just can’t stop the tears and you cry anywhere, supermarkets, pubs, cafes, your desk, the gym… You just can’t help it, it all gets too much and you’re crying without realising. Sometimes you know why, you’re able to pinpoint what may have caused it, but more often than not, you’re just crying without knowing why.

The worst part for me is the physical ache in your heart almost constantly, its something you get used to, something that’s always there. Almost like the dull ache is the only thing you’re sure of. It sounds awful, but on really bad days, you don’t even feel that, you feel empty, you feel numb and you would do anything to get that horrible ache back just to feel something, feel alive!

 Every song you hear, whether happy or sad feels like it’s aimed directly at you.

You accidentally waste hours of your day, just staring…

You think everyone is better off without you.

In simple terms, its hell. Worse than that, because you have to live through it every day. There’s no way of sugar coating it, its horrible.. but sometimes there is light on a dark day, stars on a dark night and friends and family to pick you up and help you through.

You feel like a failure, but depression is not a sign of weakness, its a sign of strength. A sign that you keep going when times got tough,a sure sign that you can overcome this. Its not easy, and I’m still in the middle of it, but I have hope for the future.

 

See the source image

What if…

What if this is me ?

What if I can’t take it back ? 

What if I can’t be the person I want to be?

What if I can’t be the Person you want me to be?

 

Do you still want to know me? 

 

Maybe I’m no longer the person I was 

Maybe I won’t ever get back to that person. 

Maybe I’m a better person now

Maybe I’m not

 

Would you give me a chance? 

 

What if I forgave myself?

What if I forgave myself even if you didn’t ? 

What if I don’t care what you think?

What if I’m still learning?

What if I don’t know who I am yet , and that’s ok? 

 

Maybe I’ll fail

Maybe I’ll fall

 

Maybe you want to know me and wait and see, maybe you don’t.

That will have to  be ok too, because I am me, whoever that may be

“Comparison is the thief of joy”…

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

Theodore Roosevelt

We compare ourselves to others on a daily basis and for many reasons:

Jobs, their school grades, income, social following or social interaction, the amount of free time they have, physical fitness, wellness, skills or hobbies, the way people look, their clothes, their cars, the perfect Instagram lifestyle….

 

It is so easy to see what other people have and compare yourself. Things you want, things you feel you should have, places you want to go, where you want to be in life. This is something I really struggle with. I’m 26 this year and while to most people that’s still young and am constantly told “you have the best years ahead of you” I always worry that I’m a failure compared to others. But what is right for you, may not be right for someone else. By the age of 25 I expected to be in a job I love, in my own house, with someone I intend to be with long term, planning for a wedding and children. The reality of this is quite different, but I also didn’t expect of what I have experienced in the last 7 or so years.

I look at my closest friends and think they have what I want, it’s not fair that I am so far behind, however it doesn’t mean they feel they have everything, and don’t compare themselves to others as well…

My one friend recently had a baby, she bought her own house not long before and she’s planning a wedding to her wonderful fiancé. I look at that and I’m jealous, I’m over the moon for her of course, but I also get jealous because that’s what I pictured for myself and I couldn’t be further from it. But then if you look closer at that perfect picture, it’s not all as it seems from the outside. She suffered from post-natal depression, what looked like the perfect life, didn’t feel anything like that to her, in fact, she looked at my single lifestyle, and cried over the fact she wanted that instead while I was crying that I didn’t have her lifestyle.

Another friend has a job she loves and dreamed of since we were little girls, has a beautiful house and lives with her partner. However, behind closed doors she suffers badly with anxiety.

What i’m trying to say is, we never know what people are going through and the battles they face. Particularly online, it’s so important to remember that everyone has a persona that is the version of themselves that they want you to see, a mask they use to hide behind. You see their ups and what they are happy for you to see and rarely see their downs that they try and hide. You look at what they want you to see and get the idea that they live a perfect life and you compare their good days to your bad days and don’t see the complete picture. Don’t compare yourself to their highlights when you don’t see their negatives. Most people are going through things you couldn’t start to imagine.

Comparison and jealousy isn’t rational or realistic and just because something is an option for others, doesn’t mean that it is for us just keep in mind, you never actually know what is going on in their minds or the bigger picture!