Anxiety, art, depression, mental health, Uncategorized

The fear of being disliked.

IMG_0889.jpgI know I’ve neglected writing these posts for a while, the way I neglect all house plants I have ever owned. However, I’m sure you’ll be glad to know I’ve been pretty busy. Went away on a caravan holiday (the one I got custody of, it also appeared the rest of my family got custody too because they all came.) I got sunburnt, I laughed, I got overwhelmed by so many people in one space I did one of my ‘disappearing to be on my own in bed’ acts, stroked a Donkey, the usual really.

I started therapy just over a week ago. My god I forgot how awkward that first session is. Sat there with a complete stranger. I always feel I just have to fill the silent pauses in conversation, even if I’m not with a therapist – I can’t stand the all-consuming feeling that if I don’t talk (usually complete utter crap), or if there is any silence, that the person I am with is just feeling awkward and thinking I’m boring.

I had to face some issues I never even knew I had in therapy. I naively thought after all this time with D&A (remember, I abbreviated them, to be cool) that I was quite self-aware. That I had at least some awareness as to why I think and feel the way I do about myself and others. I was wrong. I hate being wrong.

Now, all that was discussed will stay between me and my therapist. But it did get me thinking (probably irrationally as per) about my phobia of being disliked. Apparently there isn’t actually some fancy Latin name for this, disappointing. But, it’s something that’s sat festering in my head for years and years, producing a pungent smell of self-doubt.

I know I have hurt people, I have offended people, and I’ve damn right pissed people off. But, I really, really, never ever want to hurt anyone. I just crave everyone’s acceptance. Hell, I’d probably want Donald Trump to like me and he’s a grade A idiot. To the point of apologising to others when I know I’m not in the wrong. Letting people speak to me in a way that upsets me, but instead of letting my feelings known, I apologise or try harder to be liked. This is with people who don’t even know me. I’ve had relationships, and friendships that I haven’t been happy in. But instead of acknowledging that and walking away. I’ve tried harder, because I don’t want to be the bad guy.

But that never works. Because then it snowballs. I snowball. And people end up disliking each other through the process.

What I’m currently trying to learn. And hope others who feel the same as me should try hard to learn is that, people aren’t always going to like you. Everyone can’t like everyone. Some people, you just don’t take to. Simple as that. But with the anxiety eating away at you, telling you various reasons as to why you can’t be liked, it’s hard to see clearly.

There are plenty of people who do like you, and they will make that clear. So like them ones back, make them smile, spend time with them. Do NOT waste your time desperately clinging at the idea that you can make someone like you.

If they’re cold with you. Leave it. It’s not good for you, it’s not good for anxiety. And through the worst, you will learn the truth. Like yourself, make yourself like yourself, not like, love.

And fingers crossed, with all the support. Everything will fall together.

That’s my own prep talk mantra I’m desperately trying to live by at the moment. It’s difficult, old habits fie hard. But I’m determined.

I’ll leave you on a quote from one of the sassiest beings of all time:

If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else. Can I get an amen?! – RuPaul

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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, nursing

Why I became a nurse, and tried to hide my mental health.

Nursing wasn’t my first career choice. Well, I had expressed a wish to be a “nurth” when I was about 3. (My grandad kept a diary every day for years and these sort of things were in it, that and the cricket scores).

Unfortunately, when applying for universities at the tender age of 17, my school never highlighted nursing as an option. It didn’t seem something that was possible. It was more of a case of “pick one of your A-levels and go to that at uni.”

My A-levels were in Sport Science, Psychology and Fine Art… I flipped a coin. I had always been quite academic, and when that coin flipped and narrowed it down to Art, my mum wasn’t happy (IS SHE EVER?! I’m Sorry I broke your favourite wax melter get over it!)

Why was I going to go off and do art when I loved the challenge of learning facts and science. WELL, I was being a stubborn teen and thought I was all cool and edgy heading off to Art College with my vintage clothing and red hair.

I did the degree (hated it). Had all the confidence kicked out of me. Plodded home covered in acrylic paint and shame and took a job in an office doing graphic design (yawn).

Then my second grandad died. Suddenly and unexpectedly. And something clicked. Heart problems are in my family (yeh I’ll cut down on the saturated fats when I’m good and ready thank you) I was suffering at the time. depression, grief, a break-up. It was truly god awful.

But as I said, something clicked. I was discussing nursing with a friend and I just decided to apply for a nursing degree. I had hope, that I could finally do what I wanted.

That I could help others. That I could work with people like my grandads and make a positive difference to others. Even if I struggle to make a positive difference to my thoughts.

I took a job in a nursing home. The hours were ridiculous, the work was strenuous, the management was poor. I was bullied by my manager there – told I wasn’t capable of being a nurse. I nearly let her words win. Until…

I got the interview (why I decided to try and make jokes in my interview at MMU I’ll never know!) I didn’t have much hope, people I had spoken to had said how high quality the degree was there and how it was difficult to get in. So obviously my anxiety said “Not happening love, that cow at work is right”.

I went home, I quit my job at the nursing home. And pondered what the hell I was going to do with my life. When I got the call. MMU wanted to offer me a place on Adult Nursing, and to start the following month (March) as opposed to the September! (My jokes must have paid off). I felt truly happy, apprehensive but happy. For the first time in a long time. I was finally putting me first, doing something scary, but something I had always wanted to do. This was for me. And my grandads.

Throughout my training, I hid my mental health issues from my personal tutors. I brushed on it in lectures (honestly, go into a lecture of nursing students it’s like a therapy session!). I struggled at various points but it was my main focus. I was older now, I didn’t have the distractions of living in a big city, £1 vodka lemonades and Big Mamma’s takeaway. I lived at home or with my grandma depending on placements and uni blocks.

I hid my mental health, so wrongly believing that it could affect my ability to practice as a medical professional. That it could impact on the care I gave, that people wouldn’t want me to be a nurse.

The media has covered stories of those with mental health issues, in medicine or not, who have put others in their safety in jeopardy. In the media day and age we read it, and fear is attached to those with these health conditions. So of course, why would I want to declare it!? I’m stigmatising myself here. The Sun has a field day with it but I wouldn’t wipe my backside on that ‘newspaper’.

I qualified, I was so proud. I had done it all off my own back. I got a great degree. I got a job in the field I wanted… and again I hid it. Until it all got out of control. Admitting to the mental pain I was in, as a nurse, in the hospital I worked in was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

And you know what… I’m glad I did. It’s actually common in medicine. We see a lot of heartbreaking things day to day. We put up with verbal and physical abuse. But all we want to do is help you. That takes its toll on anyone, even if your heart is made of Stone! Or another strong item… even steel, that’s really hard. I digress again.

What I’m saying is finally opening up in my profession opened floodgates of support. My management and my colleagues have been amazing. I couldn’t thank them enough. Yes the NHS is under funded – especially mental health. I’m still on waiting lists. But those who work in it are a support system themselves and I love the NHS for that.

I might still feel the stigma, I might still feel I have to hide it sometimes. But it’s only because I really, really care. I LOVE my job. I’m such a nerd about it. I will look at all your veins when we converse and think where I would cannulate you. Possibly think of care plans I’d need to put in place for you.

I may have let my care for myself slip but it will always be there for the public.

I go back to work next week and I can’t wait. Of course I’m scared. But I know I have so much support.

As the NMC has said, there is NO evidence mental health will detriment the care a nurse provides. I stick to the 6 C’s, I work within my code of conduct. And I’m in my dream job. If that’s not something to smile about. I don’t know what is.

I’m a nurse with mental health issues. But you’re always going to come first patients of Britain.

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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, Uncategorized

Inadequacy

When Googled, inadequate is defined as:

Lacking the quality or quantity required; insufficient for a purpose.

(Of a person)

Unable to deal with a situation or with life.

This is an on and off friend of mine. At the height of anxious and depressed periods, we’re best pals. We spend nights in together, snacking, watching films. We go out together, hit the Town up. Me and my ol’ pal inadequacy.

But he’s also, usually there in the background.

Lurching, to re-build our friendship when I’ve climbed back in the anxiety and depression boat.

It comes down to the fact I’ve never felt I’m good enough. For most things, instead of pushing myself I reach a wall and I hear the sweet whisper of anxiety chime in “you’re not good enough for this anyway. Just give up.”

And that’s what I’ve done in the past.

The weird thing is, I can be a perfectionist, I’m competitive (honestly I’ve had blazing rows over trivial pursuit and the logo quiz game). And if I know I’m not the actual best – even if it’s MY best, and enjoy what I’m doing. I can’t be proud – I’m just not good enough so there’s no point carrying on.

It was the reason I gave up Athletics. And I was good, I’m a fast little thing. I was a coach too (but most of the kids were taller than me, I coached under 11’s).

It’s why I stopped caring half way through my art degree, everyone else seemed so much better so why should I have bothered. It’s why I’ve LET myself be treated badly and disrespected by men. Because I’m inadequate. I’m not the best so I don’t deserve the best…

I know I don’t deal with situations others may soldier on with. I’m overwhelmed by what some would see as daft inconveniences.

I’m overwhelmed when there are two people in-front of me in a queue, when the dog ate my favourite plastic spoon (yeh I know, mortifying. It was he best spoon to eat yoghurts with).

I’m inadequate at dealing with minor stresses. And little things like this, build to make me think.. can I actually deal with anything

I’ll never be promoted, I’ll never get a mortgage (not entirely easy for anyone that started their career at 24 in this financial climate! Bloody house prices and Tory government!).

I so easily forget that, no, sod off feeling of anxious inadequacy. I’ve achieved so much! I live independently, I own my own car, I got a first class degree in Nursing. I manage well through the most ridiculously stressful shifts and staff shortages (Again, bloody tories).

One day, when I learn to face these feelings head on. And overcome them. I can progress in my career, I will have a house, I won’t settle for being second best to someone. I won’t let knowing I’m not the best at everything, make me think I’m not the best at being me. And respecting myself.

I can’t say I’m not still going in and out of fight or flight. But I can say I want to embrace positivity – engage with treatment and learn to be me. The new me. Because the only way out of this well is up. Chuck us that ladder. But also pass me the beta-blockers because I’m tachycardic and panicking. Cheers.

I may feel inadequate. But I’m not, I’m more than adequate. I’m the best me ever, granted, I need some work doing (extensive and pricey work on the foundations) but I’ll get there…however…

Easier said than done when the anxiety parrot is on your shoulder, pecking, screeching. Making you want to hide and bury yourself under a pile of lies he tells you.

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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

1 step forward, 2 steps back.

Motivation is extremely difficult when your lucky enough to have depression. It can easily, by seen by those not in the know as laziness. Please don’t mistake the two.

With laziness, which we’ve all felt. People don’t WANT to do anything. Often with depression, you DO want to do something. You want to get out and about, you want to have positive experiences, be productive. And the annoying thing in my case, after struggling on and off for almost a decade is that I KNOW being productive, engaging in activities will lift my mood. But it’s as simple as this, I just can’t.

I can’t face the idea of having a shower, getting dressed, eating, or engaging in conversation face to face. Fear builds at each thought of those, how can I possibly even complete any of those tasks?! I want to, but my head won’t let me.

I just stay in bed, in and out of sleep. Passively watching Netflix (friends is my current choice). I often just stare at nothing, with thoughts racing in and out in succession.

Today is one of those days. I feel horrendous. Also slightly numb and flat at the same time. My stomach is churning (a combination of not eating and anxiety) I just can’t see a better time ahead of me.

I’d like to thank every single person who has got in touch with me as a result of this blog. Sharing their experiences, letting me know I’m not alone. I know I’m not alone. And I certainly don’t feel brave as people have said I am (I’ve not wrestled a grizzly bear). But today is one of those days I feel truly and utterly alone. Alone in the presence of people, alone with my self-loathing, panic and questions.

I do want to get better. I want to look back at these posts a year from now and think “Christ, look at me now.” But today, I’m just not feeling jumping over those hurdles (I’m short as it is, hurdles are difficult at the best of times!)

I want a hug. I want someone to just hold me and tell me everything will be okay. But unfortunately, the only person I ever felt safe in the arms of has shown their true colours. And it makes me sick to the very pit of my stomach.

I am FORCING myself to go to the gym tonight. I even bought gig tickets today, just to have something to have to do in the not so distant future. But I can’t see past this dark, thick fog (even with my full beams on.)

I just want today to be over. I just want to fast forward to a better time. I want my new meds to kick in. But you know what they say, want doesn’t get (I think that’s what they say I’ve forgotten, my brain is all fogged up too).

I want help. And the mental health system is on its arse, after my stint as a patient in A&E with all this I’m still waiting for therapy. I hate waiting.

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