mental health

I’m back bitches.

I neglected writing again. However, I have managed to keep a house plant alive for 2 weeks so, that’s consumed a lot of my time.

Firstly, let’s hit this off by saying, I think I’m okay hun. I won’t say I’ve been “living my best life”, which is all the rage these days. But I’ve been living A life (some of it blackout drunk).

Anxiety has been pestering me, that bitch constantly wants my attention, needy is not the word. But, BUT, I have managed it and live to tell the tale.

So here’s what’s been going down for this loco lady….

I’ve completed one of my three courses of therapy. This was talking therapy. A charity based therapy service with qualified councillors. I paid what I could afford each week (really what I could afford was paying in filter tips I find in the bottom of handbags but it’s not acceptable currency.)

Now, it has helped. I’ve recognised in my 26 years I’ve been through stuff many will hopefully never experience in their lifetime. And guess what I did with it all?! Never questioned it, never challenged it, never processed it. I accepted things as normal and felt the need to power on. Constantly striving to please people to avoid any upset to those around me. Never really saying “nah, I don’t like this.” (Unless it’s salmon, I do NOT like salmon, it’s not a thing.)

I’ve begun to acknowledge what’s made me the anxiety riddled small human I am. And most importantly, take steps to challenge that and my perceptions of the world, relationships and my own self worth.

For too long I’ve let situations niggle me, I haven’t spoken my true feelings or why I feel them. In turn this isolates me, I isolate myself. I resent those around me because I don’t feel what they feel. Not see the world through their eyes.

I’ve been crying out to have my opinion and wishes heard for so long and it’s fallen on deaf ears. I’ve been mothered and modi-coddled because of my inept persona. I’m clumsy, no common sense, little, cute, I need help with things. Well, no, no I don’t.

I’ve been told what to do and made to feel stupid by those I allowed to influence me. Be it family or a partner.

I’m a responsible person. They don’t let any one do my job. I’m caring, compassionate, opinionated, loud, and damn it I really do have my head screwed on. And it’s time some people recognised that, including myself.

The last month has been a whirlwind. I’m moving out on my own. It was a shock.

I didn’t anticipate it. But I got myself a new place. ON MY OWN. I’ve fought panic attacks about situations from “how will I disassemble a bed” to “what do I do when I’m alone in a new house with my irrational thoughts, will those thoughts win”. Truly one extreme to the next.

Really what I’m saying here is. I’m starting a new journey now. I’m scared. I’m excited. I’m “living my average life” and you can come along with me. If you fancy it. Belt up.

We’re gonna take a tour through millennial life. The rising prices of avocados, buying furniture, “upscaling”, alcohol, trying to get that bikini bod, and dating… yeh, dating. All with the under currents of an irrational brain.

Send help.

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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, art, depression, mental health

Abandonment Part 2.

Just what you need on a Saturday night eh!

So now we’ve got the curtain call on my last piece of the abandonment pie. I’m going to tell you about another one.

Let me tell you now, I am absolutely TERRIFIED about writing and publishing this one. I feel I also may need to hide it from some people (but you can’t hide on the internet! Shit!)

My Mother and Father divorced when I was 14. As divorces go, this was no Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow ‘conscious uncoupling’. There had been violence, alcohol, police, arguments and so on. All the fun stuff right?!

Now I forgive what happened, partly. But I can’t forget. My Dad left the family home for the final time. And our relationship faltered. I’d see him for an hour or 2 a week at my grandma’s house. It was weird, strange and confusing. It’s like we became strangers. Especially for a few months when, I had decided I was strong enough to stand up in court (probably shouldn’t have thought that because solicitors are mean, even to kids.)

I saw my mum try so hard to bring two children up alone, through heartbreak and hurt. I had her. Who was amazing, the woman has been through a lot shit. She even slapped cancer in the face not long after this time. But again, where had this other male figure gone from my life?

He was a good Dad, embarrassing, with crap dad jokes. But he had struggled since losing his father – and he showed some maladaptive anger.

Eventually my dad met someone else (well quite quickly really). I was diagnosed with depression and my dad just didn’t know what to do. He wasn’t there.

When I went off to uni, I passed comment on Facebook that him and his partner always go on holiday to the same place (he always said you should travel to different places and see the world.) To which I received threatening messages from his new partner (one saying I was an ungrateful T**t that should have been drowned at birth) and from her friends on Facebook. She’s always had a problem with me and my sister. Particularly me. I wasn’t even invited to my own dad’s wedding. My sister was, and she went. And I stayed at home. Unwelcome. And he didn’t fight my corner. He abandoned me.

And I can never ever forget that.

He’s supportive now, he rings me every other day. We’ve built up a relationship. But it’s a relationship that doesn’t involve his wife. She’s equally been as nasty to my sister.

She may be facing her own demons. Maybe she needs to access and accept some help. But in my eyes, she was chosen over me.

And the only man a woman often feels she has through thick and thin, is her father. And I didn’t.

So there you go (cheery isn’t it!). But just know. We are okay now, I can slightly forgive, but obviously not forget. It’s just been an added brick to my abandonment wall.

He’s still also majorly embarrassing and tells the worst jokes. I tend to laugh at him now with him (the man has his reading glasses on a bloody string around his neck!)

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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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Anxiety, depression, mental health

Side 2 of side 1. When we entered shit creek without a paddle.

We got back together. You know that yeh? It took some time for me to trust him again. Feeling on a knifes edge that any minute he could drop me again. He reassured me, we lived different lives now.

I was still doing my nurse training (half way through, which is the worst time where you really want to throw anything to do with reflective writing off a cliff). He had organised to go travelling for 6 months with his friend. And I accepted he wanted to do that.

Off he went, I went all the way down to Heathrow to spend one last night with him before he went off to do complete his millennial task of ‘finding himself’. I remember sobbing at the tube station of Heathrow, full snot bubble sobbing. But I trusted he needed to do this, and I had a lot on my plate as it was.

I can’t say it wasn’t a struggle. I missed him, his presence, his smell, just hugging him. And anyone who knows me knows I DO NOT let people hug me. I’m not a big personal contact person (despite being a nurse, I’m not hugging patients all day, I make an exception for the cuties).

There were times I said to my friends, and him “why am I doing this? It’s so difficult.” I even met him in Thailand for Christmas and it was lovely, I had a mini travelling experience with him which I’ll never forget. Especially when a Thai street food vendor stole my new pants! (I wasn’t wearing them as he stole them, that would of been awkward).

I met him when he got to his Europe leg of his trip in Rome, my favourite city. With hope there was just a month left before he would be back in sunny England.

Eventually he was back. We went back to having a semi-normal relationship. (Living only 60 miles apart has its challenges, especially the M6 on a Friday night!)

But there was one major MAJOR niggle. His father. Now, I know in-laws can be a pain in the arse at the best of times. But when someone goes out of their way to ignore you, not make conversation with you, decline you as a friend on Facebook (big deal in this day and age). It puts a lot of strain on how you feel about yourself, especially when you have anxiety and depression as it is. Obviously I thought “god he bloody hates me it’s so obvious.” And guess what, it turns out for once, my anxiety was completely correct. He who shall not be named told me. After noticing it himself and feeling trapped between the two of us, he confronted his father, who confirmed he didn’t like me. Due to how I had upset his son in the past…. WHAT?!

Now up until the end of our relationship, this wasn’t actually confirmed. I pushed on, was polite, attempted to build some form of relationship, but that’s hard when you’re provided with metaphorical circular breeze blocks.

I even had it out with the ex once, in my drunk and anxious state about why the hell shouldn’t his dad like me. I’m not a waster, I’m an RGN for Christ’s sake. To which, he launched at me and put his hands round my throat (red light?! Yeh probs). Probably, due to some delightful childhood experiences I just thought “okay, it’s fine I aggravated him, everyone lashes out now and again right?”

We carried on. Our relationship wasn’t perfect, who’s is?! But 95% of the time we were best mates. Totally in love, marriage talk, kids talk, the whole shabang!

He went away to sea, and forgot to organise his flights home early enough. Therefore missing my graduation. In-fact, he’s missed the majority of my life events (but muggins here still managed to blag time off placement and drive to DEVON, for his passing out parade. Which, I would like to add is 2 hours of standing and staring at people standing. YAWN)

Anyway, I don’t want to ramble. He went away for months on end. We were apart, I missed him but I got on with being me. During this time, as GP’s like to do. My anti-depressants were changed from citalopram to sertraline, as I was having palpitations. Citalopram can affect your QT interval and cause arrhythmias. So my GP panicked and off I went on sertraline.

Little did I know, this knew SSRI was doing sweet FA for me. My anxiety spiked. I wasn’t socialising enough, I was having angry outbursts at friends and family. Spending time off in bed not communicating with anyone.

There was even a time I didn’t think I loved him anymore. We stopped doing things together. Just sat around in a rut. When he touched me my skin crawled. Especially when I found him texting one of his ex’s. (I slapped him on this occasion –maladaptive anger.) He cried and begged me not to break up with him.

He who shall not be named noticed (fair play to him there) and suggested I get some therapy. I self-referred into the wonderful 18 week waiting list for talking therapy.

But things weren’t getting better. I was having them butterflies all day. I had to lay in bed in the morning and rock myself back and forth to distract me from the fear. The low self-worth, the dark thoughts. But knowing I had no reason to feel this way.

I was always scared. Always felt judged, by everyone, and I mean everyone. It would make me tetchy especially after a drink. So I stopped going out drinking. I told him all this. I expressed my darkest feelings to the person I trusted with all my heart. And it backfired. Big time.

See you for the finale!

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Anxiety, mental health, Uncategorized

My heart might be healing, but my head isn’t.

I’ve had a wild one today. I did a lot of hoovering (always found it very therapeutic). Unfortunately as I hoovered, I wasn’t channeling Freddy Mercury in the ‘I want to break free’ video. Think more dishevelled toddler.

My mood has been quite settled today. Flat really. But I’m recognising that I’m getting into a bad habit. Slightly agoraphobic. I went two doors down to my grandma’s, and being out sent ripples of nerves through me. What do I really have to fear at my grandma’s?! I mean, she could stab me with a knitting needle, but I think I’d have the upper hand in running away fast.

This has happened each time I’ve been out over the last week, after ten minutes, POW, there it is, my heart pounding, my stomach dropping, the beads of sweat wherever it is possible to sweat.

Explaining such fear to others when you’re clearly in a safe environment can completely go over their head. And guess what world? Saying “Calm down” is as much use as a one legged man in an arse kicking competition. It’s not happening.

The fear is going to be there if I’m feeling calm or not. I only expect something bad to happen. The butterflies throwing themselves around are telling me to expect the worst, always.

So, I’ve become to see my Mum’s house as my ‘safe place’. My new comfort blanket, if you will. The pesky parrot on my shoulder chirping up “You don’t know what could happen out there, most likely hurt and pain. Like, look at you, you’re a mess anyway who wants to see that. Stay here it’s warm and there’s more TV choices.”

With each day that goes by, my heart heals ever so slightly, and I mean slightly. My trust is on its arse, hate is starting to build. But utter disbelief and grief is still there. Holding hands with the anxiety and depression which is always going to be my toxic under-current.

I’m still in that well, and it’s been snowing so it’s freezing down here. But my friend sent me down a blanket.

With every minuscule piece of strength I can muster, tomorrow I am going to go out. I’m going to see my Dad. I am.

I don’t want to push myself too far and end up freaking out Britney 2007 style – but I’m actually going to try and go back to my flat. Pick up post, see how I feel, bin some stuff.

But the butterflies are raging. The associations with my own home hurt me too deeply.

Wish me luck. Or send meds.

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Anxiety, mental health

Let’s talk about abandonment. Strap yourself in… it’s a wild ride. Part 1.

8B8EF22B-3452-470E-B0F0-5ED425259A54Today hasn’t been a good one really. Them pesky butterflies have been speeding round like no ones business, and I’ve just managed to work myself down from the dizzying heights of a panic attack (with the help of some beta-blockers and knowing my sister is with me).

Taking my mum and Aunty to the airport this morning triggered me – I recognised the trigger, why I was panicking. That the last time I was there was a really happy time. And now I’m there in the depths of my well after another male figure has gone.

I panic every time I’m in the airport anyway, a lot of people around and I’m the sort of person that loses their passport and sense of direction very easily.

This came up when I was first diagnosed. In a few of my therapy sessions, we explored my fear of being left. Especially by men.

Now don’t get me wrong, my family is a family of strong independent women, we’re all a version of Queen B. But I’d like to add I’m the only one with the moves 💁‍♀️. And I absolutely love them, they’re all an inspiration to me. No one NEEDS a man to be successful, happy and powerful. They make me see that everyday.

But I have a little niggle (by niggle I mean massive issue) with constantly feeling whatever man I trust, and love, in either a romantic or family way, will leave me. Even if it’s not out of their choice, they’ve gone.

I was 7 years old when I lost my best friend. My Grandad. He was an intelligent man, a genealogist (he did what ancestry.com do for you.) He was even an author, but most of all he was my favourite guy. I called him ‘Grandad Glasses’ can you guess why? What an observant child I was. Anyway as usual I’m digressing, let’s get to the point.

We went to the park every other Saturday. We would get an ice cream with raspberry sauce, and he would tell me that the sauce was “Sampson’s blood”.

Now in the shittest of situations, my grandad suffered a cardiac arrest due to a hefty MI (heart attack, sorry I just can’t help call it an MI. I never knew if it may have been an NSTEMI OR A STEMI. (I really do need to stop I’m such a nerd)) on his 60th birthday. And I was there. I saw it. I watched my family attempt CPR – and like 82% of out of hospital cardiac arrests, my grandad died.

That day he wouldn’t let me play cricket with him and the boys, I was his ‘princess’ and i think he just didn’t want me hurting myself. (But I’m cracking at rounders so I bet I would of been the next Freddy Flintoff) But promised he would play a game I wanted to play later. He didn’t.

Yes I KNOW, that isn’t my fault, he died, I didn’t make that happen. I KNOW, he meant what he said. But the promise wasn’t fulfilled. And my first sense of abandonment occurred. And it’s sat with me in my little well, even when I’m sat on the edge of the well, every day since (maybe that’s what that fungi is – it’s DEFINITELY NOT edible.)

(This is so jolly to read isn’t it? Got your bag of popcorn with you?)

After that I don’t know about you, but I fancy a pint of wine! Happy Saturday.

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