Head Meds?!

Recently, I have been hit straight in the face by my old friend depression, out of the blue and almost from nowhere – it’s back again. The same fog I cleared only 2 months ago has appeared once again in a different form…

Whilst scrolling through facebook the other day – up popped this picture of a beautiful field and the caption “ this is an antidepressant…”

It made my think how yes, going outside for fresh air is a fantastic alternative to being inside for days on end – but then again how it is not always that simple for everyone.

I started taking medication for my mental health just over a year ago now after accepting I couldn’t ‘fix this’ without an extra added boost. 

See, Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It isn’t your typical sadness but simply, dopamine is your drive in life, your ambitions; excitement and enthusiasm whilst serotonin is in charge of happiness regardless of your actual achievements. 

Basically, without the right amount of these chemicals no matter how much love, support, money or family you have around you it is very difficult to feel ‘ok’.

Imagine a bottle filled with the most glorious, colourful, magical concoction, it sparkles and fizzes, it has a light of its own, when you drink it you are in love — let’s call it ‘joy’; now imagine a great selfish, hulking beast comes out of nowhere, it stamps and shakes the ground, roars, snatches the bottle with terrifying hands, and tips out all the joy, because if it can’t drink it nobody can. Depression turns you into that bottle, empty, held in the shadow of a beast; strewn on the shore, wishing for the tide to wash you away.

I can’t take away the effect of nature and healthy living, I mean going for a bike ride can be the best escape for me some days! And it has such a positive impact on my mental health. 

Despite not yet finding the right meds for myself I still have some positives from them which without I wouldn’t be able to enjoy. A flash of inspiration as I walk through my favourite field, have coffee with a friend or sit in the sun with a perfect breeze. Deep down inside in them moments I feel a relief that things will be ok.

So please detach the image of people with depression being selfish and the stereotype that taking antidepressants is somehow a sign of weakness… because personally without my meds I am more likely to hurl myself towards a tree than go for the ideological stroll this circulating photo portrays.

“A breath of fresh air is a perfect aid for recovery – but for some this can never be a replacement of these life saving pills.”

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Exams – my own interpretations of impossible…

I did it!! I completed my AS levels and today sat my final Maths exam. Yes it didn’t go great but I’ve never walked in or out of that exam room any different – something I must learn to accept in order to move on.

 
 Regardless of how terrible I thought it may have went, the tears that came with it – I’ve achieved my biggest goal of this year “to complete my AS levels and sit all my exams”
It has finally sunk in, I’ve done what I didn’t manage last year, I’ve completed my goal and every single day despite of how hard it’s been I have got myself into school. 

And yes I will say (a rarity)… I AM SO PROUD OF ME 

SO many of us, myself included, go into exams knowing what they want to get…for some this may be high expectations and others just not to fail. 

There is a huge tendency to focus on the worse case scenario and what we DON’T want, and do you know what happens when we do this?

We continue to get the same thing, we continue to be stuck in the same vicious cycle over and over and over again…

What we focus on expands, replaying like a broken record over and over “I want to pass, I’m going to fail, I need an C, B or even an A”. 

What starts as an aim becomes an obsession that actually ends up a detriment of our study. We focus on something, we just keep attracting and creating the very thing that we don’t want in our lives… 

I’m guilty. I’ve psyched my self up for this date – the 7th of June – my final exam but unlike most who are happy it’s over I’ve dwelled on it like it’s the key to my life, happiness and possibility of any future.

I have worn myself down with emotions, nerves and fear and successfully made myself so unwell that I’m writing this from the bed I’ve crashed in with exhaustion. 

Unfortunately I’ve let the pressure effect me tremendously and now I’m sat here wondering was it really worth making myself unwell. Why didn’t I believe that yes it’s just a Wednesday. That fundamentally no exam can change the person I’ve become, no date any more or less significant. No grade can erase my current achievements or even change what those around me think.

I have learnt a valuable lesson that I hope will never affect me again.  I have achieved my own interpretation of Impossible just by sitting in that exam room today.  I hope you realise something too, for as long as you are alive it is always possible…

Take care lovelies ☺️

Dear Anorexia,

Dear Anorexia,
You came into my life and stole my happiness.

I guess you had been hiding in the shadows for a while, following me around, watching my every move. You crept up on me slowly stepping closer only when I was most vulnerable. I was convinced you where a friend.

Oh how I was wrong.

At first I noticed you at school sat at the back of the classroom. You noted every flaw. Natalies spinal surgery; you whispered advice. Mums cancer; you stood by my side. Grandads heart attack you took my hand. Everywhere I turned you where there always in the back of my mind.

Your voice grew louder as I grew older. You started commanding me to do things. STARVE, EXERCISE, PURGE. I followed your commands believing you would help. Every time I listened you gave me a sense of control. But then you snatched in from me and I realised I never had it all along. I became weaker as you grew stronger.

You stole those closes from me pushing them into the shadows. You took over my soul and stole my laughter. Family and friends became an inconvenience to you as I sat back helplessly frightened of your power. You starved my hope and purged my dreams.

Nothing was left.

The day came when I was constantly cold and plagued with fatigue. My hair began falling at my feet, as death blackened my sunken eyes. I was screaming for help but you never let them hear. You left them hurt, raw and crying at my hospital bed.

I was never good enough for you.

But now I’m stronger and things are different. You made me miss out on so much so now I’m fighting back. One day at a time I will fight your lies, releasing your grip. See, you have lied to me and I will never forgive or surrender to you.

From now on I am stronger.

No matter how many times I fall down, I will always pick myself up because I am no longer living a life with you. With living a synonym for barely existing in a world suffocated by the war you created, I am regaining my strength and continuing the battle.

I WILL live my life. I WILL follow my dreams and no matter what is thrown at me I WILL beat you.
It might take until my dying breath but this is a promise – you will never win…

I’M FINALLY BACK!!!

Well, I’m finally back after nearly three whole months without a blog update… 

And if I’m honest I wish I had a good explanation for my absence but it’s down to poor time management and making the most of every opportunity.

So what have I been up to?

  • Well as of friday I have been discharged from CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health service) and transitioned to the Adult eating disorder team and CMHT (community mental health team)- which I will talk about in a later post.
  • I’ve been on the interview panel for CAMHS
  • Celebrated my 18th birthday by going out with my family, seeing bastille in the o2 thanks to my sister, having a house PARTY (which I never imagined would happen earlier this year) and just spending it with those closest to me.
  • I’ve been on my first night out, which after a lot of previous anxiety around situations involving any type of socialising or alcohol I can well an truely say I have fought through the worst of it and am now ACTUALLY ENJOYING MYSELF.
  • I have bought myself a little red car, ran the battery flat, had to be jump started at school and nearly drove down the motorway the wrong way. (pretty successful in my eyes)
  • Visited my Best Friend at Uni and stayed with her in Birmingham.
  • I’ve done a week of work experience at the Hospital in the cardiology department, watched a operation, and visited the children’s ward I was once on.
  • And now I have completed my first term of school, missing zero days and so far achieving my goal of making this year count. I have helped out in a place for students to go who struggle with the playground at break and lunch – which I really enjoy because it gives me the chance to use some of my experiences to help others.

The last few months have been filled with a lot of wonderful moments and considering I have significantly struggled with some aspects of my mental health recently I can well and truly say despite of it I have tried my best to keep going and participate in everything I possibly could.

“I think suffering from mental health has made me realise that good days give you happiness, bad days give you experience and the worst days give you a reason to get better”

International Peace Day -“Blowing out someone else’s candle will NOT make yours shine brighter”

So this post is a bit different from my usual topics but I chose today to address the subject of “peace” as the 21st of September marks the international day of peace. The day was established by the United Nations and in 2001 the general assembly voted that on this day it would be a period non-violence and ceasefire. Instead of focusing on some of the bigger issues such as war, government and religious conflicts I have chosen to focus on some of the daily problems that go on in modern-day society…

Nowadays I would say there is a lot more equality around issues such as religion, sexuality, disability, mental health etc… but this does not mean everything is perfect because people daily experience direct attacks regarding what they believe or who they are. People of all ages are called names, laughed at, victimized and even bullied due to their individuality.

This is in no way right.

Not only can words be hurtful in the moment but they can also create a long-term impact on people’s lives. I personally have seen how comments can single-handedly destroy a person’s self-esteem, self-worth and send them into a downward path of self-destruction. It’s not nice and for what some of the people involved see as funny at the time, never seem to consider the damage they can be doing.

In the last year alone I can think of multiple events which have contributed to the worsening of my own mental health…. For example: When I first became ill someone who I thought was a close friend began to reject me from my friendship group, excluded me from any events they organised and ignored me when I tried to be apart of the group.

I tried my hardest to strengthen our friendship but the more I tried the more hurt I became. As someone already suffering from poor mental health, these events led me to completely withdraw from socializing, become anxious around the school environment and at the time I thought I was the direct problem – which contributed to my self-destruction.

It wasn’t a pretty time of my school life, but in no way do I blame the individual for what has happened to me over the last year. Yes, I still don’t understand how someone could do or say such hurtful things but at the same time I don’t believe they understood how much words can hurt a person who is already struggling.  

What happened to me no longer has any significance in my life but I have learnt something from the person’s mistakes which I now follow with the aim of preventing a similar situation happening to anyone else, as “everyone you meet is fighting a battle you could know nothing about, so we should always be kind, always!”

The only emotion I now feel over what happened is an anger that someone could be so hurtful to my previous self, but instead of causing any conflict I have decided to channel this emotion into preventing similar events happening to others by writing this post and following my own advice…

I feel sorry that a person could spread hurtful comments about someone who was fighting for their life in hospital and I feel sad for the same person who clearly has underlying issues that they haven’t been addressed properly…

“Blowing out someone else’s candle will NOT make yours shine brighter”

For anyone out their directly involved in creating conflict, please stop before you say or do something to someone because you don’t know what they might be going through and the impact it could have on their life. Think to yourself “would I want the same to happen to me?”,” is there a better way to solve the issue?” and even “what is going on personally that could be triggering you to feel this way towards someone else?”.

If you are a victim of hurtful comments, actions or even bullying remember there is always someone out there to help…whether it be a teacher, parent, carer, friend or even an online support group/help line. Just keep in mind “some people won’t be happy until they have pushed you into the ground. What you have to do is have the courage to stand your ground and not give them the time of day. Hold on to your courage and never give it away because those who are true friends stick around and are there not only when they need you, but when you need them!”

Things can get better, they have for me, I am now so much more confident at school back socialising more than ever, I have many different circles of friends and have people in my life so much valuable than ever before.

I no longer feel like what people say to me has as big effect on the way I feel about myself because I am now a lot stronger person…. From this day forward I will only choose to listen to the positive comments I get, as those are the ones coming from the people who are actually important in my life…

But when is the right time for Recovery?

Anorexia is unlike any other illness, it makes you believe you want to be ill. Yes, it sounds strange but Anorexia tricks you into thinking that the lower your number and the sicker you get the better life will be.

It won’t.

There is no magical number or life changing day and something that my nurse has said to me on many occasions “never in all my years have i met a happy anorexic…”

Its sad but true.

Even, when I laid in my hospital bed a few months ago with the doctors telling me I could slip away in the night. It never hit me that I was actually days off death. “I’m fine” I told them, convinced I wasn’t like the “other Anorexics” who where actually ill. I felt not sick enough to deserve the treatment and not thin enough to deserve the diagnosis.

Having spoken to someone the other day who also went into hospital a few years ago, I found comfort when hearing that she also felt the same. We discussed how we felt that we where not worthy of recovery at the time because we thought we weren’t “that bad”, and how looking at our dropping heart rate didn’t help us see the severity either. I think that’s the hardest thing with this illness is that you become in-denial to what damage you are doing to yourself – your literally blinded from reality.  

So when is the right time for recovery?

This is an easy question for me to answer now but back then was a little harder.

“I believe it is always the right time to recover”

You do not have to be underweight, in hospital and incapable of walking before you recover, because believe me when you get there it will still not feel like the right time. I never had to be fed by an NG tube, does that mean I was not ill enough to recover?

No it certainly does not!

If someone has the diagnosis of Bulimia or EDNOS does this mean they are less worthy of help?

NO they equally struggle just as much!

We don’t compare physical illnesses in this way so why should we mental? You wouldn’t say to someone suffering from breast cancer “you aren’t ill enough as the lady over there dying of terminal cancer to get help”. They should both get the access to the right treatment to help them to have the best possible chance. But why still are people turned away from Doctors not being taken seriously. People no matter what they are sufferring should not have to wait until they’re on deaths door before getting help. It’s just not right!

Only a few years ago i was battling an eating disorder but because I was not underweight at the time I felt that I couldn’t possibly have a problem and people wouldn’t take me seriously. Well I was wrong! If only I had dealt with the issues then it could have prevented my recent admission.

I was still as mentally ill back then, yes not quite as physically but after all Anorexia is a MENTAL illness! And just because I didn’t look physically unwell didn’t mean I wasn’t struggling just as much as at my lowest weight.

Looking back I can’t change what happened to me but if anyone else is struggling at the moment you will never find the right time to recover. Dont waste your day’s saying “when i am sick enough then I’ll recover”, because honestly until your 10 feet under Anorexia will never be happy. Its harsh but true but….you can be happy without Anorexia!
I’ m not saying it’s easy, but I am saying its worth it!!

“Your current circumstances don’t determine where you can go they merely determine where you start!”

So this week I have attended a group for people in recovery from Eating Disorders located in Bedford. I have met some lovely people since I first started going, built up my confidence as I have got on the train independently, I have developed new skills and also it has benefitted me by speaking to others who ‘get me’.

Just to clear things up for anyone thinking we sit in a circle moaning about our life problems for an hour its the complete opposite!

Each week I have gone we have participated in art activities like scrapbooking, canvas painting and on Monday this week a guy called Ben came in to show us something called Pyrography (aka; wood burning!).

Its been a great distraction attending and a great way to spend some of my holiday – Thankyou everyone involved!!

The pyrography was really interesting and highly therapeutic! We all engraved key rings with patterns and writing in between the time spent burning pieces of wood because it smells AMAZING!!!……

I would recommend it to anyone even just for the smell!! Aha!

Anyway…Ben like many other people has suffered from poor mental health but after seeking treatment he has gone on to help other people with similar difficulties. He started a campaign “Let’s Be Open About Mental Health To Break The Stigma” (like the page on Facebook) to try to get people to talk more about mental health, bring awareness and to let others know it’s okay to ask for help.

He battled for many years avoiding reaching out to others due to the stigma attached to mental health and feels (like myself) that it is extremely important to let others know help is available and it is possible to Recover.

‪#‎BreakTheStigma‬ ‪#‎MentalHealthAwareness‬

The group sessions have really opened my eyes to the vast amount of people who are, or have been sufferers. I have met people of all ages, genders, races and backgrounds who have been victims to mental health since I began my journey to recovery and it has shown me just how mental health can affect anyone.

Previous to my difficulties I would never have imagined I would suffer from a mental illness (I don’t think anyone does!) but it just shows you how we have no control over who gets taken by these demons.

It doesn’t matter how supportive their family are, who they are friends with or where they come from – mental illness DOES NOT discriminate!

Ben could be that genuine, friendly guy, living round the corner from you with every right to go through life living happy and care free! But no, this wasn’t the case when he suffered from an illness that periodically left him believing he had no hope tomorrow let alone a future. I could sit here all day asking questions of why such a lovely person happened to become a victim? But instead because I cannot change what happenned I am thankful of how he has managed to overcome the worst of it and gone on to inspire other (like myself).

His experience has made him who he is today and we should be happy that after the pain he’s been through the outcome has created a remarkably stronger person than before!

Stories like this I find remarkable and just help re-assure me that although things might not be perfect at the moment in time it can all turn around and I can achieve something whilst helpingto show  others the way…

After all “Your current circumstances don’t determine where you can go they merely determine where you start!”

Like this page on Facebook and help support  us in beating the stigma surrounding mental health!!! >>> Let’s Be Open About Mental Health