Mental Health | The Good the Bad and the Ugly…

This post is actually going to be based on a BBC News link that my mum sent me and if I’m honest I was pretty frustrated when I read it.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-37504679

The Good side to this article is that there are ways in which you can receive help and with thanks to the NHS (if you live in the UK that is), help is more accessible than ever. So WHY have things not improved???

It makes me frustrated that people still feel as though they can’t talk or seek help. Maybe some don’t want it or aren’t ready to seek it yet but for those who do there is a huge waiting list for counselling/therapies when applying or being referred through the NHS. This may not be their fault directly due to budget cuts etc but I feel as though there are things that could help. The media for example could help to prevent depression/anxiety over body image etc by promoting a healthy figure instead of models who look like skeletons. Yes there has been progress with plus sized models etc but companies are so reluctant to support a ‘normal’ size model in their campaign. Of course the recent Calvin Klein ad featuring a ‘plus size’ model who was a size 10 caused uproar….I wonder why! Unrealistic expectations of body image can kick-start the amount of young people suffering from depression/anxiety and I’m not just talking about females!

The stigma of having a Mental Health disorder, common or not, is still present which in this day and age makes it worse considering how prevalent the topic is. There are those which don’t understand the feeling of having anxiety or depression who think that its something which will just ‘go away’ and don’t want to think about the problems that come along with it. I have to be honest and admit that although I am, or try to be, an advocate for mental health and increasing awareness there have been times where I’ve been embarrassed to admit that I suffer from anxiety. This shouldn’t be the case for ANYONE, no matter what age, gender or beliefs. I feel as though sometimes people view it as an excuse and there have been times where, personally, I have felt judged and have received that ‘this girl is crazy’ look. Not a nice feeling.

So as not to end this post on a sour note those who do and don’t have mental illness can still be supportive which really does make you feel like you’re not alone and crazy! Since writing about anxiety and my own experiences on here the support that I have felt and comments I have had made me feel so much better and so more normal than I actually feel. I only hope that my blog can do the same for some of you out there as having a mental illness, no matter how big or small is not something you should feel ashamed of.

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The shame of having Anxiety…

Have you ever been in that situation where you won’t do something and you can’t explain your reasons for not doing it? This is what I mean by the ‘shame of anxiety’. Not necessarily this example but the feelings that come along with it. The frustration you have to suppress because others don’t understand why you really don’t want to do something and are looking at you like you have just grown antlers and a beak! (a winning combination may I add.) The embarrassment because deep down you know it sounds stupid but you can’t and won’t and you really don’t have a reason why. The ‘feeling like a failure’ feeling because something that seems so simple is so daunting? I hear you.

I can honestly say that being in this situation is hard and no matter how many times you experience it, it doesn’t get easier, you simply become more adept to dealing with it. I am not saying that everyone who doesn’t suffer from anxiety will make you feel like this but in that moment where something seems so simple, like walking outside for example, it can be easy to forget that actually something so mundane can be so scary for others.

It feels so degrading knowing that this simple task in front of you is just that, but to you it feels like you are about to climb Mount Everest. You feel stupid, embarrassed and frustrated, I bet those people who have climbed Mount Everest didn’t feel those things! It’s hard to remember that those little things are actually big steps forward and although they may not feel like it, these things will be building you up for the future, its one thing more that you can now do.

Having the right people around you makes such a big difference! They may not completely understand themselves but they will sit there and give you patience, time and try to understand. Use these people to help get you out of your comfort zone, lean on them and take the support they are offering. They won’t tear you down they will help to build you up with all these little things that you will and can overcome.

I guess what I’m saying is that no matter how rubbish you may feel there are always those around you who will help you to get out of the rut you are stuck in over these seemingly simple tasks, which are in all reality, big things to you. Don’t feel stupid or embarrassed just use the right people around you to overcome it.

Being in a Relationship with Anxiety…

Those of you who have anxiety will already know how hard it is to live with it and yourself on a daily basis, but what happens when you combine that with a relationship?

As someone with high anxiety I can tell you it is pretty hard! I am fortunate enough to have a partner who understands me, the way I think and how I feel. Yet still, it is a struggle. You constantly feel like everything’s your fault yet you still continue to act the way you do and constantly question why? Why do I keep doing this. For this there is no clear answer or solution. I know I come across as being annoyed at my partner if every single moment of spare time isn’t spent with me, yet the rational side of me appreciates the fact that a lot of time is actually spent with me and with me being around more at the moment he rarely gets anytime for himself.

The rational side of me can really appreciate the fact that he doesn’t complain once and constantly stays loyal by my side, dealing with whatever I may throw at him, calming me down when I’m getting stressed – which can I just say is my state 98% of the time! I feel horrible when I get on at him and cause an argument because he doesn’t deserve it in any way, shape or form.

Yet I still carry on at him, all the time. The problem with having such an understanding partner is that they then become an outlet for how you are feeling and because most of the time this is stressed and frustrated that’s what they get, because at the end of the day they stick around and they stay there, don’t they?

I am becoming increasingly worried that at some point in the near future, something will snap and with that so will my relationship. I’m petrified that he will leave me because he’s had enough of the way I am. Although he says he isn’t going anywhere the anxiety in my head is saying, won’t he? Constantly convincing me otherwise.

I have made a promise to both him and myself that I am going to try harder to give him the space he needs and to stop constantly taking the way I feel out on him. I need him to know that he and everything he does is appreciated, he is my best friend and the person I love and I need to start trying to help myself for him.

An Open Letter to my Granddad…

Dear Granddad,

I have loads to tell you in the past ten years you were taken from me. I think perhaps the most important thing is that I miss you… LOTS. I was always a granddads girl and always will be and one of my best friends has been taken from me. I know you wouldn’t want me to be sad in anyway as you would believe you have been reunited with nanny and others who you lost in your life. For you, I hope this is true, I hope that what you believed has come true and I hope you are happy. For me, i’d give anything to see you again, tell you what I have done since the last time I saw you, introduce you to my two little guinea pigs and my loving partner – who I think you would approve of! I’d give anything to hear you say ‘learn all those lessons’, it is only now that I have grown up that I realise two things: 1) this is probably the best piece of advice that I have ever been given and 2) that unbeknownst to me at the time not only did you mean educational lessons but most likely also meant life lessons. I know I have done things you wouldn’t approve of, such as getting piercings in my ears, but I know that even though you may not like it, you’d accept it, just like you accepted me for all my faults and flaws. I always knew that at the end of the day, you would be there to help make things better. It is thanks to you that I know how powerful love is and feels but also how painful it can be. How painful it is to write this post and how painful it is to know how sad you would be to know that this is part of the way I feel.

Deep down I know that you would still be proud of me, and are always there to comfort me even though I can’t see you, I know you are up there smiling down and I try to believe it with everything I have that one day, one day I will see you again and you will tell me that I learnt all those lessons.

For now I will have to make do with my memories of you, for them I will always love you.

Social Anxiety 101…

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god…people…people…what do I do?!

Generally a common thought that goes through my mind. Although I have anxiety towards pretty much everything, I’ve decided this post should be dedicated towards the social aspect in time for the holidays!

That feeling of sheer panic, covering the panic up (or trying to!), wondering who is going to be the next person to kidnap you, attack you or rob you. There are so many scenarios I know I struggle with, walking down the street, travel and even from the safety of my bed wondering about the day and who thought what of me even though realistically they are strangers and I will most likely never see them again.

Whatever situation I’m in when I feel that sheer panic, I try and reassure myself, crime wise my mind goes into overdrive, possibly from the years ive spent studying serial killers etc, but in reality the chances of someone stalking, kidnapping or murdering a stranger are slim, although being reassured by this is hard it is rare.

When I was thinking about travel situations, personally, I realized that what i’m worrying about is what I look like and what people will think of me, so, I pose this question to you, who the hell cares?! The thing with anxiety is that you always over think, reality check, the people around you won’t be thinking about you at the end of the day. Scenario: you fall asleep on the train or you get the wrong one, there are so many people, even if you feel as though they are laughing at you that have done it before.

I am aware that this type of social anxiety won’t be the same for everyone as it’s all different but who says that acting like a badass bitch that doesn’t care what others think to cope with taking a train or walking down that street is a bad way of dealing with things???

Just remember as a general rule of anxiety, it’s always worse in your head.

Life and other drugs…

(And by other drugs I mean happiness!)

Over the past couple of days I have been home, been to a wedding and spent time with my other half whilst having a zen moment in his garden. It made me realise that at the moment i’m not happy with my life, there are things I want to do and see and i’ve gotten to the stage where I want to be happy with my life, I want to feel as though i’m living it and not just going through the motions I think I should.

One such example of this is that I want to start a YouTube channel. Whether or not it would be any good I don’t know but how do I know if I don’t try? I’m just going to be forever wondering what would’ve, what could’ve happened?

However, its all very thinking this but the amount of guilt I feel at even thinking about doing something different than working with the children I currently work with is phenomenal. It shouldn’t feel that guilt provoking but it does and it stops me thinking about my happiness and my life. I guess i’ve realized over the weekend that what makes me happy and what I think I should be doing/should do are two different things…

 

Expressing Self harm…

Self harm is a topic that is so important yet rarely spoken about.

It seems very hush-hush and frowned upon when actually its something that needs to be worked with and understood. In the job that I have one of the children self harms on a fairly frequent basis. Over the past few months the self harm has gone from more severe cuts in places which adults can’t see to superficial scratches which she makes a point of showing.

The reason she does this is because she wants people to know how she’s feeling and where she’s at emotionally and mentally. As a solution for her, instead of cutting herself because she doesn’t know how to verbalize it, we have given her a red ribbon to tie around her wrist whenever she feels as though she needs to harm herself then take it off when she’s in a better place and feels as though she has talked enough to work through what she’s feeling.

Obviously not everyone will be at this stage where they want to show of scars/cuts and maybe never will, but for those of you who are at a stage like this girl I thought I’d mention this as an idea for you to try.

To those of you who do self harm, it gets better, you can push through it and although its hard get the help for yourself.

 

What MAKES a mother..?

Every single one of us has a biological mother. Note how I say biological, because even though they gave birth to us and are related through blood does that really mean the title of mum goes to them? From working in the environment I do every shift one of the staff gets called mum and each time we have to sit there and say no, I care for you but i’m not your mum. I’m not trying to put a downer on the upcoming mothers day (I for one love my mum very much!) I just want to put another spin on it.

Due to the abuse the children I work with have suffered unfortunately, we can’t give them all the care and love in the world as it will confuse and add to trauma, but for me the good foster families, care homes and adoptions out there are more deserving of the title mum if the child has suffered abuse (obviously situation dependent) but the children I look after for example have received more care from us in their placements than they did for the years they lived at home with parents or a parent.

Biologically you have the title mum but emotionally, physically and psychologically? That’s a whole other ball game…

In a World of Loneliness…

Even when you are surrounded by people, the world can still feel lonely. In fact it takes quite a lot for some people to admit they’re lonely, but loneliness itself is sometimes hard to pin point in your own head. I say this because there are times when you are surrounded by people, either at work or if you just go out with friends and you don’t quite feel yourself but you don’t understand why, I mean you’re with your friends and having fun right? You can’t be lonely?

Wrong. Loneliness can cause depression and cannot really be diagnosed itself. Over the past couple of weeks the idea of loneliness for me has been thought about quite a bit when one of my work colleagues turns round out of the blue and asked if I was lonely. Me?! Of course i’m not lonely! It was after I had said this when I realized that actually…I am. Yes I have admitted it, even though i’m at work most days and live with my landlords the next, yes I am lonely. For me it’s a very frustrating concept, because I moved from home I don’t have a lot of friends in the area and my friends don’t live close and I can’t drive yet so meeting up with people is hard! I also like having my own space, but over the past few weeks on my days off I keep wishing I had someone who I could meet up with, even if its just for a quick coffee and chat. I feel as though I don’t do anything fun and am not a person who had loads of hobbies. I also always make excuses as to why I can’t do things, which is part of the problem I guess!

I know there are a lot of people out there who are lonely so if that person is you I hope that you can help yourself sort it out, if you need anyone to talk to i’m happy to listen…

Projections are a powerful thing…

I am almost a month into working with troubled children and have recently realised the level of empathy I have towards them and what they are going through. It has made me realise that I have never dealt with my own problems I just ignored them and although I was feeling more positive with life this feeling has made me realise that I do need to sort my own crap out and I do need to deal with it in a better way.

My problem now is that I have no idea what to do with any of it! As a result of this and being around the children I am slowly going back to an old defense of just not feeling anything which is so automatic I don’t realise its happening. I discard myself and focus on whatever I need to do and the children and staff. It’s a strange feeling as I feel like I am and should be one of the children, yet I know i’m not and I don’t want to be!

This line of work really makes you realise how vulnerable and fragile the human mind is but at the same time this is an empowering thing, knowing why someone does the things they do, knowing why you are doing the things you are doing and learning how to help the children and others manage them. Every shift there is always a new emotion that you feel and you hold onto all these emotions for them because they can’t. When I first started I never fully grasped the concept of projections but three weeks later i’m beginning to understand it on a ore intense level. It makes you realise how that in order to help others you do need to help yourself, there is always someone there who will listen and help you, you’ve just got to look in the right places and work out what you need to change and what only you can change instead of sitting there hoping someone will come along and change it for you…