Anxiety, art, depression, mental health

Blooming into the new (old) me

I know I’m not 100%. I know that those anxiety bouts get the better of me sometimes. Over analysing and I still remain BFF’s. I know I’ll have to manage this all my life. 9 years with it feels like a lifetime, like watching anything with Piers Morgan on.

But somethings happened. Through these blogs. I’ve really got to know a lot more about myself and who I am. And how I haven’t been that person for a long time.

A close friend told me the other day. Although I’ve had a shit time, she’s already seeing me as better, funnier, more chilled out person. Isn’t it amazing what new meds and getting rid of metaphorical baggage can do! (Don’t leave your baggage unattended though, the non metaphorical kind. I did that once and my bag went to Middlesborough).

Now I might get a bit hippy and deep here. But y’know, we’ve entered spring (I know! Tell the weather that!) and I feel I’ve entered the spring of my life. Out of the cold, ice of winter and into the blooms of spring. New life.

Yes it’s going to be a constant battle with me and my thought processes, but I’m armed to fight them. The bulbs are sprouting and I can see so much light shining in. Pass me my shades.

This could well be down to therapy today. Or, it could be down to me. I’m on a journey of self- discovery (god I want to punch myself right now for writing that, next I’ll be packing a back pack and off to south East Asia to ‘find myself’ and stroke a sedated tiger).

I go back to work on Thursday and I can’t wait. Nursing is part of my identity, that I’m re-building. This time with the knowledge that I have a support system. And I know I can trust this support system.

Everything happens for a reason. I had to reach rock bottom to climb back up.

Oh and… Karma bitches ✌🏼

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Anxiety, art, depression, mental health, Uncategorized

Dear Friends

I’m sorry I lied to you. Im sorry I put on a front and never really said how bad it was at the time. I’m sorry I pushed you away. I cut myself off, I hurt you.

I spent so much time trying to maintain a ‘not going anywhere’ relationship, that I neglected you. And myself.

You’d think I’d learn (I learn the most ridiculous facts why can’t I learn my own bloody patterns!) But I didn’t and I’ve been here before.

I’ve pushed a group of friends away in the past. When the dark, scummy well pulled me in and replaced my usual self with anger and self-destructive behaviour.

You see, when you’re not coping, as I wasn’t over the last year. My old pals D&A (I’ve abbreviated them now to be cool, and because we are so acquainted 🤞) cloud up my own judgements and I refuse to see what I’m doing. Trying to explain how these pals of mine tend to affect me is like telling a fat kid he can’t have seconds at an all you can eat buffet. It’s just so difficult!

It does seem weird to people that it can manifest into resentment. But, I’m afraid it does. And I get snappy and shitty with my friends. And sometimes the dog, but she’s a bloody idiot!

It’s taken a really shit time. And some discussions with psych liaison, initial therapy appointments and an old time friend (who is conveniently a therapist) to acknowledge how low I have truly been. And how now, I can be me again.

But a me who will not cut off, who will be open with when I’m anxious, upset, angry.

It’s time to be honest with you rather than subduing it and making things worse.

I have to end on a sassy note (of course I do, it’s me). And that note is:

Yes, I live with mental health issues. Yes it’s hard to get your head round sometimes. No I don’t want to hurt anyone. I just want to be the best me I can. And that comes with my chemically unbalanced brain. Take me or leave me. It’s part of me.

Also part of me is my massive cheeks but I can’t take anything to make them smaller. I’ve looked into it.

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Anxiety, art, depression, mental health

I wasn’t happy.

Hindsight is a great thing. And if I learnt anything from my nurse training, so is the power of reflection (Gibbs knows what I mean).

Reflection is the process of analysing your own behaviours, decisions, mistakes and questioning why they may have happened. And most importantly, how you can learn from a positive or negative experience going forward in your life.

I’ve reflected on a lot of things professionally (we all slip up, we’re only human, but I promise I can get that catheter in the right hole ok!).

But what I’ve done over the last day, is reflect on the last 6 months of my life. The relationship I was in, my actions and my beliefs. It’s a hard thing to do, it’s difficult to take off those rose tinted glasses of the past. It is even more difficult to reflect on mistakes you know you have made.

I’ve stood in front of that mirror now. I’ve embraced and acknowledged my reflection physically and mentally (physically I get angry at cellulite, but what you gonna do? I don’t have the Kardashian’s bank balance).

I haven’t been happy for a while. I lost myself in trying to maintain something that was falling apart. Polyfilla couldn’t bridge those cracks. I let myself be treated as a second rate citizen in the hope of keeping someone who wouldn’t fight my corner. Put it simply. He was just not that into me.

My main reflection from this whole situation. Is that I truly deserve to be supported. And most of all, to trust my gut instincts. Be braver. Have the courage to walk when I feel it’s time. I wanted to walk 4 months ago. I wasn’t getting what I deserved from a partner. I wasn’t me, albeit I was unwell then, I knew, I knew deep down that this couldn’t go on anymore. If you’re not encouraged and assisted to be the best version of you. Then you need to be your own cheerleader.

But I was consumed by my anxiety. I wasn’t brave enough to walk. Instead I cried to my mum that I just didn’t feel the same about that person anymore – but pushed anyway to try. When I should have been brave.

I was disrespected. I was put second. I put more into things. That’s not how it should work. Now is the time to put me first. Do what I want to do, engage in my health and well-being (I had a personal training session today and my legs won’t work. Send a wheelchair.)

I’ve smiled a lot today – part of me feels guilty for that. Wary, worried that I don’t deserve to smile. Not with how I’ve felt for numerous months. The butterflies of fear have been sky high on and off today, I put this down to the fear of the unknown. But I deserve to smile. I’m I am me. I’m finding myself again, and that will involve smiles (and probably prosecco).

You might have noticed today’s post has a colourful drawing. I felt colourful today, slightly. And you’re probably in shock about this positivity. Well, it does happen – even to the ones with the chemically imbalanced brains.

We had more in common than I thought we did. You were my priority. You were your priority. – Kate McGahan

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Anxiety, art, depression, mental health

It’s time to talk about self-harm.

I know. No one really wants to broach it. Or hear about it, and definitely don’t want to see it. But it happens. Everyday, all over the world. People are using self harm as a coping mechanism.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1 in 10 people self harm. This can be through cutting, taking tablets, burning, piercing, or even swallowing objects.

My chosen method has always been cutting. Yep, I’ve been a self-harmer. For years, on and off.

I’ve had to answer the awkward questions about the scars (rooky mistake as a 17 year old, doing it in obvious places, what an idiot eh). I’ve honestly come up with the most stupid excuses, and I know people know exactly what they are, so why do you even ask?!

Some of the best excuses for the scars have been;

“Oh my cat did it, she had really sharp claws when she was younger.”

“I was moving a fence panel with me mum and chunks of the wood splintered and cut me.” – why oh why did I ever use this one.

“It’s from when a mirror smashed and fell on me as a kid.” -this actually happened but the scar from that is on my hand.

Sometimes I have simply just said “it was a long time ago.” Because I know you know what they are.

So I moved on to my thighs, I’ve never got them out. Unless I’m on holiday sunning myself up, or if you’re a lucky enough person to see.

A common misconception I have come across in my years of slicing and dicing, is that people think these scars are from a suicide attempt. Let me clarify, I, and many others do not self-harm to die.

For me, it’s to get a sense of control when I have none. No control over my racing thoughts, panic, fear, hopelessness. I’m in so much pain mentally, I want to feel something physically. And for a short amount of time I’m feeling something else. Physical pain. The mental pain is still there, but I can focus on the stinging.

I was taught distraction techniques as a teen.

Like putting an elastic band around my wrist and pinging it when I want to cut – didn’t make a blind bit of difference. Just aggravated me having a laccy band on my wrist.

It upsets and angers my family and friends. They tell me not to do it. Or to talk to them when I get the urge – if it was as simple as that I wouldn’t have scars all over my thighs. Sorry guys, I can’t stop myself when I get the urge. When I’m that hopeless and out of control. That’s what I want, and need to do.

I’m sensible about it (which is odd for what I’m sure a lot of people won’t see as a sensible choice). I obviously use clean sharps, I care for the wounds, I know signs of symptoms of infection to look out for. I’m my own patient post cutting.

The closest people in my life have resented me for it. I’m not trying to hurt you. In fact, I’ve hidden it so well a lot of the time, not to hurt you.

Basically (after all this rambling). What I’m trying to say is. If you see someone with scars, don’t point, don’t ask. Support, keep that extra eye on them. They’re fighting a painful battle. But not from the pain of their injuries, from the pain that caused them to injure.

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Anxiety, depression, mental health

The finale. AKA what went down.

So here’s the curtain call on 6 years. Feel free to throw flowers on my metaphorical stage as I take my bow.

As you know, the last 8 months have involved daily anxiety, regular panic attacks, frequent days of low mood and self doubt. Little did I know it was that pesky sertraline! My family noticed (apparently there were discussions about it). And at the time, my partner was aware.

When I drank, and decided to let lose and try and have some fun, my anxiety was also in on the act. He wanted a slice of the party pie. The butterflies would emerge from their cocoon.

In this state, whatever someone said to me, would cause offence. I hold my hands up, there were times I got extremely nasty in these moments – really upsetting friends. But when he would say something nasty to me I’d break down, or tell him I can’t be with someone who doesn’t understand. I’d rant about my constant fear and hopelessness. We would eventually agree that we are going to get through this, together, as a team (he always said we were a team, I just must be the player that was sold off to a team in a lower division.) I accessed therapy – with an 18 week waiting list.

We were fine, we booked a holiday, we had loads planned. We were going to a festival, comedy gigs, general gigs.

It was the weekend after valentines (I’d been working nights during the week – the worst bloody shifts that had been quite traumatic). It was also his sisters birthday so we were going to her flat for drinks before us two going out for a meal. We had a few drinks, I wasn’t drunk. Chatting to people, even his dad, who suggested we join them for their meal, we obliged.

This is where the tide turns, waiting for our taxi into town, he decides to tell my anxiety wriggled self that his sisters friends have commented that I speak to him like shit! WHAT? Like really WTF! now if you know me, I do tend to be quite banterful, and this is always how me and my friends and he have communicated. Here’s and example “oh you bloody idiot” in a jokey way.

You can imagine this yeh? He went mad. Saying his family thought the same. The anxiety raged, I broke down, I’ve never meant this in anyway at all, what have I done wrong now?!

We got to the restaurant, he went in, I said I couldn’t sit with his family knowing that they think that of me. So he went in without me.

There I was, tear stained, shaking in the middle of cold drizzly Manchester. I began panicking, my hearing was going, I couldn’t see properly. I wanted it all to end, all the fear, all the self blame, the constant feeling that everyone has something against me. So I rang him, and yes I told him, that I can’t cope with things like this setting me off into oblivion anymore. I wanted to end it all. (I still can’t physically write it out, but I’m sure you get the gist of what I really wanted to do at this point).

He ran after me, I told him everything, how it makes me feel. Constantly on edge, feeling everyone hates me. He cried, I cried. We ultimately decided we needed to go home and talk, which we did. On the train home I broke 2 paracetamol in half and went to take them (I had no drink) and he slapped them out of my hand and asked me what I was doing. Clearly thought I was going to top myself on the train, paracetamol wouldn’t do that – trust me I’ve seen people post paracetamol overdose. It doesn’t work and gives you liver and kidney failure. (I’m trying to tell myself to keep this bright!)

We talked, he told me he wants to support me, we slept, we cuddled, we kissed. The next day he was fine. We had a Maccies (I had one of those massive big Mac’s and it’s the first time a Maccies has made me full.) He then went home, said he loved me and to stop worrying, that we were fine and we will be okay. He even rang me on the way home because he was worried I’d be worrying. Well, how that lasted long…

He went to his parents house and that’s when I got the messages. That he needed space after telling his parents what I had said and done. That he loved me, but after talking to his parents I had “caused irreversible damage to his family”. That I was correct about his dad not liking me. (I know I’m not the nations sweetheart but I’m not Satan himself!) He said he wanted to know how my initial therapy assessment went on the following Tuesday.

Well long story short I told him how it went, he still didn’t want to speak to me, 6 days passed, I contacted him telling him I need to know what’s going on. Once again the reply was “more space” (what does he want to be in a black hole! That’s not a euphemism). That it was difficult for him to and he misses me and loves me, that he wasn’t trying to “alienate me” that we were still together (he was on tinder at this time). A further 9 days went by… I went on his email (it was logged in on safari.)… my heart dropped to my feet, I was dizzy, I was wretching . He had signed up to tinder plus…. he had strung me along, not knowing where we stand, yet he was searching for other options the whole time.

Obviously I contacted him, literally just saying “I’ve seen your emails, we need to talk now”. I was met with a stone cold brick wall. Brief and blunt responses, he couldn’t talk, he couldn’t meet me for at least a week. I finally asked what I knew the answer to – “so have we broken up?”

The answer: “I think that’s the conclusion I’m coming to.” THINK, THINK?! He was still dangling that carrot in front of my rabbit face (I do have the chubby cheeks, fortunately not the teeth).

I went to my mums, I sobbed, I screamed, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t eat. Then the next day arrived. When I received the following:

“That few weeks allowed me to get some perspective on things. I feel it was a long time since I put myself first and made decisions to benefit myself, so I’ve decided that needs to change. What also struck me was when was the last time we went out together when it didn’t end up in an argument and all the time it was in the back of my head when we went out, I was worrying if things were going to blow up and sure enough at my sisters or properly blew up. What happened that night has stuck with me and I can’t forgive it, what happened on the train especially. It’s caused irreversible damage to me and my family. I can’t go back into the relationship now because that will always be with me. I’ve got to move forward and that’s by myself.”

There you have it, his end to 6 years. Firstly his punctuation is SO poor.

Secondly, there you have it, this is why people hide their mental health problems. Because even the ones you love, you trust, who you THINK would support you. Can so easily turn their back.

Yes we’ve made progress. People talk about it more. But people who haven’t experienced it will never understand it.

Maybe I should have bottled it up, I feel either way he would have done this. Because my depression was changing me, my meds were changing me. But still if I had bottled it up, who knows, I may not be here now. Or most likely, mental sectioned.

It’s long. It’s depressing. Its cruel. But it’s the truth. And that’s poor mental health and poor understanding. Peace out.

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Uncategorized

Not much to say today…

I’ve not felt I have anything to say today. I’m feeling a bit numb really, like when you sleep on your arm and worry you might have had a stroke in the night.

I managed to do this painting. I even managed a bath! That sounds gross doesn’t it, but it’s a genuine goal for me. I don’t leave it to the point that I’m circled by flies though – I have a smidge of respect for myself left.

I actually had, for me, a busy day. An old friend came round, and she honestly made me see things from a different light (helps that she’s a therapist. She owes me from looking after her when she was paralytic at uni, whilst we all shouted “flick your flaps” at her.)

Although I’m at the bottom of that metaphorical well, and I’m still struggling with the panic and abandonment issues I have (I know you can’t wait for a blog about that!) She made me see the tiniest glimpse of sun from the bottom of my well, which is pretty damp and there’s some fungus growing down here, unsure if it’s edible.

My Aunty also came round, her and my mum are identical twins, so genetically she’s also my mother (two mums – nightmare or a blessing?) Unfortunately, she’s been in a very similar situation to me, her husband deciding to leave when she hit rock bottom with her own mental health. I saw her at her lowest, in hospital. I see her now, happy, and supporting me, I’m so proud of her. Maybe, if she can do it, with our shared mental fun in our head. MAYBE, I can do it too.

I don’t really know right now. I’m not sure about anything. I’m just trying to get through each day. Daydreaming up plans to get out of this well. I’d build a ladder but I have dyspraxia, and construction and dyspraxia do NOT mix.

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Uncategorized

When depression and I became acquainted

I was 16 when it hit me. Like a metaphorical train. Ever been stuck in a well? I should hope you haven’t that’s such a stupid situation to get yourself in, anyway, I digress. I have been, but only in my head. Stuck down there, can’t get out, you can see the light, you can shout, but you’re at the bottom of a bloody well!

Little did I know it had been manifesting it’s self with its little demons for years, I was first dragged unwillingly to the doctors by my mother at the age of 10 due to my uncontrollable rage. At first everyone thought “here we go she’s getting to puberty, everyone grab a shield and throw chocolate at her.” But little did I know, that was only the start.

I have fond memories of my childhood, made an adequate amount of dens, fell off my bike too many times, I even had a Barbie Ferrari!

But there were troubles. I really feel far too scared to discuss right now – I’ll save that for my therapy sessions.

Long story short, divorced parents (like everyone these days) but a messy divorce. Police presence, giving evidence in court at 14.

Now, don’t be jumping to conclusions here, I was never abused, but there was an element of that in my life. A lot of anger.

I’m sure you’ll be glad to know, I have a good relationship with my parents through all this.

Now, you may think “how is anger in anyway related to being depressed?” WELL, Sigmund Freud described depression as “anger turned inwards.” And despite all his other theories (honestly that man had some really concerning ideas) his description is pretty accurate.

In my case, it was ‘maladaptive anger’. With traumatic experiences contributing to dysfunctional responses to my inner anger. The anger being driven by the critical parrot on my shoulder telling me that nothing will ever be okay.

I got into a wonderful habit of letting the inward anger build, and build, and build until I had an Empire State Building of hate in my head. Then BOOM, I’d scream, shout, throw knives (not even in a way that could get me on a talent show doing it) and in general go bat shit crazy. Then hide away for days, feeling guilty, but knowing no other way of expressing and releasing the inward anger and deep hurt.

This was on and off until I was 16, doing my AS levels. Got myself my first proper boyfriend, it was the whole ‘first love, besotted, best feeling in the world’ thing. During this time of my infatuation my mum couldn’t cope with my maladaptive anger and I was living with my grandma in another town. Then….

You know how the story goes, girl gets heart broken by first love. Crying, eating ice cream, being the junior Bridget Jones. Despite how much I was told “you’re only young, you’ll get over it it’s fine.” It was rejection. My crap functioning brain couldn’t deal with it at all.

I missed school, I lay in bed for days, I lost friends, I fell into a trap of self destructive behaviour to punish myself and him (We’re actually pretty good friends still and we often lol at our teenage antics.)

I was soon dragged to the doctors again when I was discovered plotting my own demise. The anger turned to a deep deep sadness, I didn’t even have the energy anymore to behave crazily. In come the child and adolescent mental health team, anti-depressants and therapy. I started to build myself up and realise what’s been happening for years. I focused on me.

But just like herpes… it never truly goes away. It’s sat there on your shoulder, muted slightly with the meds. But just pushing you to see everything negatively. Reminding you when you smile or laugh that it won’t last, you’ll soon feel like you’re in that well again. It took 2 years to get to a place where I felt in control. However, as I went to uni, I was lost in the big old mental health system. Seeing my GP 6 monthly for a meds review where I would kindly nod that I feel okay and go get on with my pretentious art degree.

I WAS feeling okay at that time. I made some great friends who I will forever love, I had some of the most hilarious times, especially in Cockpit (may that place forever rest in peace). And I met someone new, someone who had so much in common with me, made me laugh until I almost pee’d. Everything was going swimmingly.

But that parrot was still there… and at some point I’ll let you know how it’s been there.

3 in 4 mental Illnesses start in childhood. With 50% of mental illnesses taking root before a child hits the age of 15.

Can we look out for these kids?! Keep an eye, let them play, use their imaginations, try and protect them (not from everything these kids need a back bone, they’ve gotta be able to tell another kid not to use a stick as a weapon.)

And that’s all for now, it’s like war and peace, sorry. (Can’t help but apologise for everything that’s another great trait.)

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