Looking at relationships…

For me, relationships and mental health have a pretty negative experience together.  Since I have started looking into other people’s opinions on this, I have realised that this is not the case for the majority of people which gives me hope!

when-a-relationship-ends

Based on studies that I have seen, communication is the key aspect in mental health and relationships working well together.

Mind did a study where is saw that 77% of people told their other half about their mental health. Of that group of people, 63% didn’t show an understanding when it was first discussed with them but 74% wanted to learn more.

They looked at how communication about mental health affected the relationship, and out of the 74% of couples that said that they regularly discuss mental health and how the other person feels, an amazing 60% of these people said that it helped strengthen their relationship.

50% of people asked about dating someone with mental health said that it wasn’t daunting as they first thought which really makes a difference. I think the stigma is fading and now that we are more open with mental health, that it doesn’t have to be as scary or discriminating as it used to be! 47% of these people said that their reasons for thinking this is because that the mental health doesn’t change that it is the person they want to be with!

relationship 2

As I said, I haven’t necessarily had the best experiences and I really hope one day that this will change! For now I’m not ready to start a new relationship but I am keen to hear other people’s opinions on mental health and relationships!

Whether you are single, in a relationship, married , divorced, whatever it may be, if you would be willing to talk to me about your opinions on this for my blog please get in touch! Im interested in looking at peoples individual thoughts as well as talking to couples, so please message me on twitter- @strongertoget or email me at beckypritchard1@googlemail.com

 

I look forward to hearing from you !

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A panic attack experience

This may seem like a pointless blog post but I wanted to be able to try and put into words how a panic attack feels.

I used to have almost daily panic attacks and now I don’t have them as much, but I could feel an attack coming on today and it scared me just as much as the first attack I had.

First I would like to say , a panic attack can happen for so many reasons so please never judge someone as you never really know what is happening for them and what’s happening in their heads so please be patient, understanding and stay calm!

I’ll be honest with you, today I feel my panic attack was very much based on a grief attack. I was feeling low this morning anyway after having a distressing dream that I couldn’t shake off and it built up until I was stood in the middle of Sainsburys shaking, crying and about to be sick on the poor man stood next to me! Luckily today I got through it without it escalating to a full blown attack, but it was equally as upsetting and exhausting!

 

grief attack

A panic attack will affect anyone in a different way so this is just my experience! It generally happens in the same way most times, I notice my breathing first. It almost feels painful and I become very aware of the short and shallow breathes as it feels like my throat is burning. My heart rate increases dramatically until I can feel every beat in my chest. This then affects everything else so my fingers start to tingle and then become numb, the numb feeling travels up my arms and makes them feel heavy and like they are no longer part of me! My legs turn to jelly and my knees collapse from under me. it feels as though someone has kicked me in the stomach and punched me in the throat. Once I realise what is happening, I panic and it all feels like a truck has hit me and I’m no longer me. I start to shake uncontrollably then my hands tense up, and I cant uncurl my fingers, I curl into myself like I cant straighten myself out, like I just want to be in the smallest ball I can to protect myself from what will happen next. My Face is the worst part. My lips start to tingle and I lose the feeling in the bottom part of my face. I’m unable to speak as my lips are so numb that I cant get the words out , inside I’m screaming for help, but the noise just doesn’t come out. I feel so dizzy that I don’t even want to have my eyes open, but then when I close my eyes, the dizziness gets worse. I want to be sick, in hope all the bad feelings will just leave me alone! My head is spinning, my thoughts are a mess. Its overwhelming , terrifying and it feels like the world goes dark, like I’m not really here anymore. Every single time I think this is it, I really am dying…

I never do of course, I always get through but that doesn’t stop the feeling of dread every time. As you can imagine its exhausting, draining and terrifying. Deep breaths help my heart rate return to normal, which usually slows the other symptoms enough to try and think of all the techniques and distractions I have learnt, but honestly, its usually simply because my body is so tired that is physically cant keep that up and I exhaust myself to sleep.

As I said, everyone will have different symptoms, but everyone will always know it as a terrifying and unpleasant experience, so please be as supportive , calm and helpful as you would want someone to be towards you!!

 

 

 

#MHunch!

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imageI have previously mentioned that Stronger together came from my own experiences of mental health when I realised there simply isn’t enough support! As a patient, I felt no one knew how I felt or why I was reacting the way I was , and on the other hand, I had family and friends trying their best to support me but not knowing what on earth could help!

Since then I have been working on various ways that we can create the support that wasn’t there when I needed it so I have come up with Mental health lunches! Or MHunch !!

Are you still with me?!

I have ‘met’ some wonderful friends on facebook and twitter and I want to give us all the chance to meet, so we are going to be putting on mental health lunches around the UK so make sure it gives everyone the chance to meet up wherever they are based. We want to create a comfortable, casual and friendly afternoon to be able to talk, swap stories, share experiences whilst being able to meet new people with a lot in common with ourselves. I want this to be open to absolutely anyone who would like to come along, whether you struggle with mental health yourself, or you know someone who does and want to have a better understanding or any reason at all for wanting to come, you are more than welcome!

There will be games, quizzes, food and laughter and I really am so truly excited to meet you all!!

The first MHunch will be in Liverpool on Saturday 9th September and we are hoping to be in Manchester and Birmingham later on in the year!

Please message me or @rossclark2017 if you would like more information or if you would like to come! The more the merrier!

Please follow me on twitter at @strongertoget and facebook @strongertogether2 to updates!!

One whole year…

In July last year, I had my heart broken into a thousand tiny pieces by someone I was in serious and long term relationship with. I had a man I loved, friends I treasured and a job I was achieving in. The week before we had made the decision that we were going to live together and life was finally looking up!

And then, within moments it felt like  had no life left to live. I sat on the window sill of my 3rd floor room and wondered what would happen if I simply didn’t stop myself from falling…

My dad was my saviour that night. He tucked me into bed, gave me some diazepam and lay with me and my suicidal thoughts until I cried myself to sleep.

I wok up the next day and I simply didn’t want to. I didn’t want to be awake. I didn’t want to eat. I didn’t want to shower. I didn’t want to be alive. I didn’t want to die. All of these options suggested I had a life and I really didn’t feel like I had. That Monday, my dad called work for me and told me I wouldn’t be in for a while,  I got a sick note from the doctor and crawled back into bed. For the first few weeks I didn’t see anyone outside my own house. I didn’t bother having showers or brushing my teeth, what was the point? I stayed inside, I stayed curled up under my duvet and I watched the Full Gilmore girls box set twice over and didn’t look at my phone because I didn’t feel I had a place in the world outside of my bedroom.

But then one day, I got up, I had a shower, got changed and put my make up on and went back to work. Sometimes I don’t know how and sometimes I don’t know how I’ve done it everyday since but I got on with my life, that surprisingly still existed.

That was one year ago, and since then , I haven’t had a single day off due to mental health. For everyone that may seem like an everyday task and not something to be proud of but surely everyone does it?! Well no they don’t, for some people getting up in the morning is an enormous struggle and simply getting through each day deserves praise!! In the last 7 years, I have missed my final year of university exams, spent 4 individual times on a psychiatric ward, took 6 months off work and left jobs because of my mental health…

But today I can say that I have been at work for one whole year and I’m living my life as I never imagined being possible!!

be proud

Mental health and Relationships

 

I worked with @adventureanx on this to look into the effect that mental health can have on relationships and vice versa. It is something that has affected me very strongly in the last few years with friends, family and partners so I was grateful for the opportunity to look into this further and I found it really helped me understand more how these are linked!

I would be very interested in your own answers to these questions or any thoughts, so please message me if you want to discuss! (@strongertoget)

relationship

1. Introduce yourself! Tell us about your blog, tell us which post you’re most proud of, and tell us about your mental health story!

Hi, my name is Becky and I’m behind Stronger Together. I started blogging earlier this year when I started the charity “stronger together”. I hoped that sharing my own experiences would make it easier for people to understand mental illness or people would feel more comfortable talking to me if I had also been open and honest. It has also helped me understand my feelings a lot more and I find it really helpful to keep note of certain times and events and how I was feeling through blogging! I chose the name of the blog and charity as I wanted something that would make people feel united and to remind people that you are not alone because one of the worst feelings is to be lonely and I wouldn’t want that for anyone!
I created “stronger together” because when I was ill, it was a complete shock to my family and friends who had never experienced anything to do with mental illness before. They didn’t know what to say, how to help or what on earth was going on so I wanted to create something to provide them with information, experiences and support for them to be able to help! I had noticed that this information wasn’t there and that most people were thrown in the deep end, the support is there for the ‘patients’ but nothing at all for everyone else who is going through it with them!
I created “stronger together” to send out self-care boxes, not only to the patients but the people supporting them, as they have dark days too and it seems like people don’t see how important they are! Without those people looking after us, we wouldn’t get through ourselves so I wanted to show them we do realise everything they do and that they are important too!

2. Have you discussed your MH with your loved ones? If yes, how did you start that conversation, and if not, why not?

Yes, I have now 5 years in but, to begin with, I did struggle with it. These days there are some things I’m comfortable talking about, for example, mental health in general and what I have been through in the past, but when I’m struggling, I still do have a tough time opening up to my family and friends as I feel like it makes me look weak. I tend to text them, even from the next room as I struggle to start the conversation, so if they can start it, I usually find it easier to speak about.

3. How have those closest to you reacted? Any particularly positive or negative feedback?

Some have been wonderful and some not so much… To start with I think it was a shock for everyone I told. I can’t say there has been any particularly positive feedback, but not everyone is as negative as you would expect. I have had a lot of support which I’m really grateful for, but have also lost a lot of friends and relationships over it. I think a lot of that is a lack of understanding. I had my closest friend telling me “she didn’t know how to be my friend anymore” after 10 years of friendship, and my parents barely spoke to me for a year due to some things I said or did at the time, some things they said and did, and it was generally something no one knew how to handle.

4. How has your mental health affected your relationships (whether with a partner, friends, family)?

Personally, I have a lot of friends and relationships where I’ve expected too much from them. Some people aren’t strong enough to be able to help and I shouldn’t expect them to, but I think it’s natural, especially for those struggling with MH to want those who love and care for us to help us! I think overall they can’t win. I don’t want them walking on eggshells around me as it makes me feel like I’m weak or a failure, but when they treat me normally, as they would anyone else, I sometimes wish they took my MH into consideration a bit more. It can cause a lot of tension and extra stress for them and can put a strain on relationships.

5. In the reverse, how have your relationships affected your mental health?

It can confirm your insecurities and make everything feel worse which hurts so much more when it’s someone that’s close to you. For me, I have a problem with trust, so every little thing made me feel like I was paranoid, always looking over my shoulder and constantly on edge which makes MH so much worse. It’s important to focus on yourself and accept things before you take on someone else’s emotions, whether family, friends or relationships. I think it’s so difficult to get the right balance of looking after yourself and still considering someone else in that too.

6. Is there anything you wish you could tell those closest to you or wish that they understood? What is stopping you from telling them?

I wish they really knew what it felt like so perhaps they would be a little more sensitive with what they say, however, I would never wish this feeling on anyone so maybe I’m glad they don’t really know.

7. What advice would you give to people who want to tell their loved ones about their mental health?

Communication is so important and as difficult as it is, it’s so much worse to keep it inside and try and deal with everything yourself as people will be there to help. Asking for help in any way isn’t a sign of weakness, we all need help from time to time. Try writing things down and try to explain how you feel before it reaches a crisis point as it will be too overwhelming to actually probably tell anyone what’s happening in the middle of a crisis. It will also appear a lot scarier to someone who doesn’t expect it and they will be more likely to run – and not because of you, but because they don’t know what to do for the best, so if you can have something in place before that, hopefully it won’t reach the worst!

8. What advice would you give non-sufferers who want to support their loved one with their MH?

I thought I would know what to say for this question, as over the years I’ve been thinking “I wish they would do this” or “I wish they wouldn’t do that” but I don’t know what to say as, on the worst days, there will be nothing that will help. Just remind them they are loved and love them just as much on the bad days as you would on the good days.

9. Are there any support systems (other than loved ones) you use that you’d recommend for those who may need them?

I would say Twitter can be a great support system as sometimes it can be easier to speak to people you don’t know as well as you don’t have the same emotional response. It can also be very good for speaking to others with an understanding of what you are going through or that have been in similar circumstances where as your family and friends may not have the same experiences. I think you can learn a lot from others.
To see others like this, have a look at http://www.adventureandanxiety.com!!

J&J giveaway!

Hi lovelies!!

So in less than 6 months I am on over 800 followers and I couldn’t be more proud and overwhelmed by the love and support you have all shown me and my charity in that time!!

I would LOVE to be able to hit 1000 followers so I’m going to run a competition for the month of August to welcome new followers and thank all of you already following me !!

All you need to do is follow my twitter @strongertoget and my blog to be in with a chance to win and I will pick a few winners at the end of the month!

So for for the exciting part… the giveaway is Joma jewellery bracelets! I have a few that friends have bought me and I love them so much! I find them so inspirational and they have the cutest little poems with them as a little reminder each day so if you win, you can pick which will mean something to you!

 

lots and lots of love,

Becky

A-Z of what makes me happy!

I recently saw an idea on pinterest about writing an A-Z list of what makes you happy, the idea being simply focusing on the good parts of life.

When I was writing this I realized how many little things make me happy and all those little things you overlook and take for granted. I chose to write them anyway which is why some of my choice are slightly strange!!

Id love to hear some of your reasons for being happy, so please comment! ( I didn’t do X because I really couldn’t think so any ideas welcome!)

 

Image result for what makes me happy

American cream conditioner

Bubble baths, Barry Island, Birthdays, bonfires

Christmas, car, coffee shops

Daydreaming, Disney

Exercise, eating

Friends, family, flowers

Gardening, Gym

Holidays, hummus, home

Ice lollies, ice cream sundaes

Joma jewellery, Jam, Jacuzzi

Kindness, kayaks

Lush, laughing, love, lazy Sundays

Memories, music

November, new nails

Outdoors

Photographs, presents, painting, perfume

Quavers

Ribena, Rio, road trips, reading

Surprises, self-care, sand, sleeping, snow, slush puppies, sunshine

Travelling, Tea, TV shows, Tan

Unicorns, us

Vegetables

Weekends, work, water

X

Yankee candle

Zoo

 

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Things I wish I knew about being an adult

Growing up, we see adults as glamourous and mysterious creatures that we can’t wait to be like. But in reality, being an adult isn’t always so great. There are so many things you worry about that you didn’t even think you cared about, but you find yourself just wanting to curl up in a tent made of bed sheets and doing some colouring instead of going outside and dealing with real lifeHere are some tips on adulting that I wish I had been told when I was younger:

*A true friend isn’t the person who will tell you look great when you don’t, or tell you it’s all that assholes fault, when actually you’re just as much to blame. I’ve been lucky enough to have a best friend who is honest with me and listens and acts with my best interest at heart, rather than just telling me what I want to hear. I know she will still be there with me at 3am in the bad times, but will also tell me to suck it up and move on when the times right.

 

*Your dream job is still a job. There will still be days when you don’t want to get out of bed, where you stare at the ceiling debating whether you need a job or whether you should just stay in bed and just let them fire you. Usually this changes when you realise you then couldn’t fund your Lush addiction. You will have days where you love it and days where you hate it. Days when you wonder if you’ve done enough with your life or whether you should quit your job and travel the world, or simply quit so you can spend more time watching Gilmore girls. You can compare yourselves to anyone that you think has a big, exciting job but I can guarantee these same thoughts will cross their minds too!

 

*Not everyone will like you and that’s ok. Stop caring so much about what people think of you, as long as you like who you are that’s all that counts! You may lose friends but you’re just finding who the true friends are, and that’s all you need! You will have failed relationships, but it will just teach you what you don’t want, and make room in your life for the right one! Sometimes there is nothing to do but take deep breath and hope something better is just around the corner!


 *Love doesn’t fix everything and sometimes it’s just not enough. Love won’t fix your broken heart and it won’t make up I feel worthy. You need to accept yourself and be happy alone before you’ll be truly happy with anyone else.


*People will leave . Maybe it’s your fault and maybe it’s not. People will hurt you, people will say things they don’t mean and sometimes things don’t work out they way you planned. Things happen for a reason and in the long run, you will realise that if they leave, they were never meant to last anyway.

The secret to being happy!

Hi everyone,

This is my first post in a while because I was struggling to find the right words. something recently clicked in my head and has changed the way I have viewed previously anxiety provoking thoughts so i wanted to share with you

So last week I turned 25. I know it’s not really a big age, and it doesn’t mean I’m old, but I panicked, I cried and absolutely dreaded my birthday. I’ve had a bad few birthdays in the last few years where I’ve expected too much, and all I mean by that is a day when I’m not sad or worried, and where I’ve built it up until it got too much, and then it’s gone down like a lead balloon…

I realised that I wasn’t where I expected to be by the time I was 25. I don’t think any young girl dreams about stays on psychiatric wards, painful break ups and moving back home. I think people sometimes see their birthday as a new year, a chance to look back on the last year and the start of a new one but that can be terrifying and upsetting. To realise where you aren’t, what you have and haven’t done… and let’s face it, all we really want to do is eat the birthday cake.

But this year was different .I had the best birthday, happy memories and I realised that that its pointless to be upset because certain people aren’t there, and for the things that I’m not doing but to focus on the amazing people who were there, who did wish me a happy birthday, who did spend time and effort picking out the presents they knew I would love and the people who went above and beyond to make sure I had a perfect day!!

Image result for grateful quotes

It made me realise that I should focus on what I want to do rather than what I expect and what’s happening rather than what I think should be happening because overall, all we really wasn’t to do is be happy! The reality of getting through may be completely different to how we pictured it but however it happens, we are working towards the goal of being happy, and it doesn’t matter how we get there as long as we enjoy the ups and downs and the journey along the way!

 

Image result for don't look back you're not going that way

What I learnt from CBT …part 2! 

Since I wrote my last post on what I had learnt from CBT and how I have been able to challenge and change my behaviour through looking at my negative thought processes, I have had so many questions ! A lot of people have read my blog and especially though who haven’t experienced CBT for themselves , and have asked how exactly this works, so I wanted to share the best information I was given to hopefully be able to help people that have been in the same sort of situations as myself ! 
I know it won’t work for everyone, but I highly recommend giving it a go, even those who don’t necessarily struggle with mental health difficulties, as I think it is a much healthier way at looking at any problem! 
There are so many different distorted, automatic thoughts but I want to go through the points I think are easiest to change …
*mind reading- we assume we know what other people are thinking at all times, but we don’t! This is so important to remember , we can think we know, but we will never really know what goes on in other people’s mind so we shouldn’t try and guess because the only people we hurting is usually ourselves ! 


*fortune telling- I think this is the most common but can be the most damaging! We tend to predict the future very negatively, as yes of course that could happen, it it may not, so it’s not worth worrying about! Believe me, I know that’s easier said that done but life really is too short to worry about something that may happen, and if it does, we can deal with it then. I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of worrying and getting worked up over something that’s not there, let’s face it we have other things to face that are actually happening that needs our energy more! 
*black or white thinking- by looking at everything in black or white thinking terms, everything is brilliant or the worst day of your life, the best day ever or a total waste of time, but this won’t be the case. When I found I was doing this , I created ‘ the thankful diary’ [see previous post]. This allowed me to find the good in everyday so even when I think everyone must hate me, or I’ve had the worst day at work and I’m a complete fool, I can stop, take a step back and realise it wasn’t all bad and that there is still good in the bad days and I find this gives me a much more balanced outlook! 
*labelling- I always use this to challenge anytime I say “I am…” Because it usually followed by something self deprecating. I stop myself to ask if this is just my negative thought process , whether I have I have any proof of this or whether I just need to be nicer to myself… It’s usually the latter! Trying to reword it may do wonders for your self esteem! 
I really could go on all night but I find this worked best for me, but if you have anything else that you find helpful, please feel free to share it with us !!