When There’s ‘Nothing’ To Be Depressed About

I realise that I haven’t been talking as much about mental health awareness recently. It’s still something I’m passionate about but for the past few months I’ve struggled with my own health, meaning the last thing I wanted to do was write about it. In fact whenever I tried I just couldn’t get the words on the page.

It would be easier if depression only came when something bad happened. That might not sound right but I believe that. You see if depression follows something terrible, people can understand it. When there’s a reason, people are kinder, mostly because they can at least have empathy for someone. They can imagine themselves in your situation.

What about when everything is…good, or even just fine. When life is going swimmingly and there’s no reason for you to be depressed, to feel hopeless. From the outside looking in people would want your life. I’ve found myself there time and time again. Days or even weeks where I feel so low and there’s no reason – and I’m not alone.

These periods of deep sadness, emptiness and loneliness are the descriptions of depression. It’s the difference between feeling sad and having a diagnosable condition. Even with that in mind, some people don’t get it. I think we’ve all been guilty of having the thought of what do they have to be depressed about? Usually talking about a celebrity or successful person.

Here’s the thing, depression doesn’t exclude anyone. It doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank, where you live, who you are – it is an illness. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, it’s a deficiency in the body, but so often that is forgotten.

I beat myself up so much when everything is going ‘right’ but I’m in the depths of depression. I know there will be at least one person that is reading this who can agree and maybe we all need to be that little bit kinder to each other. Maybe, we need to let people feel what they need to feel, what their body is making them feel. That’s not to say we can’t help and we can’t try to make ourselves better but knowing our feelings are valid.

What do you think? Let me know below.

Book Review: The Year I Didn’t Eat – Samuel Pollen

14-year-old Max has a fight on his hands. Living with Anorexia is tough enough without having to be at school and trying to keep it secret from your closest friends. As Max writes to ‘Ana’ and tries to navigate his illness he has to deal with the new girl at school who won’t stop staring, family drama and seeing his therapist. Can he beat this?

I was asked if I would like to receive a copy of this novel and I was immediately intrigued. There are very few stories of teenage boys going through an eating disorder, so of course, I wanted to read, I’m incredibly glad I did.

Starting and ending on Christmas day, the novel chronicles a year in Max’s life, alongside writing a diary to his disorder – aptly named Ana. This was a particular highlight for me, the writing was emotional but not sad – I actually laughed a fair bit reading this. Pollen isn’t trying to make Max a sympathy figure. The combination of the diary entries and showing some of the obsessive thoughts was incredibly well done –  I could see similarities between Max’s and my own thoughts from our respective mental illnesses.

It is mentioned a few times within the novel the disconnect that Max feels from what is stereotypically viewed as what a with Anorexia looks like – a teenage girl. By confronting this head-on, Pollen shows insight into something incredibly important – anyone can get a mental illness. The fact that Max is a teenage boy, known for being quite geeky with a loving family and great friends and still has these problems reinforces that.

This shows a new level of representation that is rarely seen, in fact, I don’t believe I have ever read a novel featuring a guy with an eating disorder – which is absurd! I’m hopeful that this will start more conversations. The fact that Pollen has drawn on his own experiences makes this even more realistic.

The novel shows not only the impact that eating disorders have on the person with the illness but also the pressure it can put on families. We meet Max’s family and often feel for them as much as him. That said, despite the hardships faced, Max’s relationship with his older brother Robin was probably my favourite part. They truly seem to care for each other and Robin’s encouragement of Geocaching really seems to be a turning point.

Of course, this is a tough read and it does give descriptions of disordered eating and calories – if these are tough for you to read it might be worth picking this up at a later point.

Is it any surprise that I gave this 5 stars?  This is a novel that needed to be written. Showing that eating disorders can affect anyone and that, by talking about it, we have more of a chance of helping those going through it. I absolutely adored this novel – it will truly make its mark. I truly feel that this will make people feel less alone.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Conker communications for the chance to read this in exchange for an open and honest review.

5 Things You Can Do To Make January A Bit Better

5 Things You Can Do To Make January A Little Better

Let’s face it, as a month, January is pretty rubbish. Christmas is done, it’s cold and pretty miserable – not to mention this feels like the LONGEST month ever. I for one don’t want to spend all month being completely miserable. 

With that in mind, I wanted to put together 5 things you can do to make January a little more bearable and a little less rubbish.  

Embrace the cosy life! 

Big jumpers, scarves, fluffy socks. Wrap yourself up to your hearts content and love it. It might be cold but you can still look cute…or just warm. I’ll go for warm. 

Try something new 

There’s a lot going on in January clubs start up, there’s those magazines to make or collect things for 99p (all the rest of the 5000 issues are £5.99 but you get my drift). It could be a great time to try something new, whatever it is you’re into. 

Crack out that boxset you’ve been meaning to watch or that book you’ve had for ages  and haven’t read yet

It’s not so great outside so why not have some fun with fictional friends? I mean, you could also have your real life friends over but that’s totally optional. 

I love to curl up with a blanket, big cup of tea and a book in the winter months. This year I’m planning on going on a bit of a fantasy binge so I can imagine I’m somewhere warmer. 

Plan your time 

This really helps me if I’m feeling down – I like to have a sense of purpose. That doesn’t mean you have to be doing something huge every weekend for me just knowing I want to curl up with a book, meet a friend for a hot drink etc. 

It can really break up your time and make it feel less lonely.  

Talk to someone if you’re really struggling

Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder is a very real thing. If you’re finding that this is more than just the average January blues talk to someone about it. 

It can be really scary to open up about how your feeling, particularly to a doctor but there’s nothing to be ashamed of. 

Is there anything you’d add to the list? Let me know in the comments below! 

5 Things I Learnt in 2018

5 Things I Learnt in 2018

In a word, 2018 has been intense. I’ve felt like I’ve been pulled in every direction but I’m a world away from where I started the year. When I thought about how I wanted to write about the year I was a bit conflicted, I didn’t want to make it look like everything was perfect but didn’t want to moan.

So, why not put a positive spin on the crappy times from this year? Instead of thinking about how much things sucked, I wanted to look at what I learnt from them. Do any of you try to do that too? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

My own happiness is important

This seems quite obvious but it’s something I neglected for a long time. I thought the aim was to work as much as possible, that’s it. It didn’t matter if I couldn’t do anything at the weekend because I was so exhausted or my skin was an angry spotty mess because of stress. This was life right?

Wrong. I started prioritising what was important to me and what I wanted out of my life. I still don’t have the perfect balance (I probably never will) but I’m working on it.

Sometimes doing the scary thing is the best thing

Going freelance was slightly terrifying. When my job was no longer needed I didn’t know what to do. I did what I thought I was meant to do. Applying for more office based jobs, trying to find something closer to home.

I didn’t think anyone would hire me as a freelancer, and besides it was too much of a risk. But I posted on Linkedin, chatted to a few people I knew and within a month I had started in a job I could only dream of. I’m finally happy and the fear was worth it. Doing this comes with it’s own challenges but I’m ok with that.

Standing up for your own body is important

My body isn’t always kind to me but knowing when something is normal and when it’s not is so important, especially this year. I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, after knowing something wasn’t right. That was the first step. Similarly, knowing when side effects of medication was too much was also important.

Later in the year, I had to really push myself to disagree with medical professionals to get help. After a lot of misdiagnosis I had a few days in the hospital, we’re still not clear what exactly happened but I was firm with my doctors that something wasn’t right and needed investigation – or at least pain relief!

Finally, I had to deal with a dismissive Gynaecologist who refused to acknowledge my own feelings about the Coil. After talking to a brick wall, I thought about my options and replaced my implant – as I knew the pill would impact my mental health and was pleased I listened to my body as it was exactly what I needed!

I’m allowed to say no or walk away

I used to feel like I owed something to the person who employed me, loyalty and positivity at all times no matter what. I thought jobs were meant to be for the longest amount of time possible. Wrong.

Much like being in charge of my own happiness, I’m allowed to say no to things! I’m allowed to walk away if I don’t feel like I’m being respected. At times, these had consequences but I’m proud of myself for actually putting my own sanity first.

I am a badass!

There, I said it and I’m going to keep saying it! I haven’t given up or given in this year when things got tough and I’m pretty damn proud of myself.

What have you learnt in 2018? I’d love to know!

Taking Medication Doesn't Make You Less Creative

Taking Medication Doesn’t Make You Less Creative

This is a lot of debate around medication for Mental Health. I’m a proud taker of Citalopram, it’s something that keeps me healthy and that’s that. There’s an idea that having a mental illness makes you more creative – I’m not sure that is exactly true. But why is this coming up? 

Recently, Kanye West went on a Tweeting spree, within his many, many he states  ‘You don’t make runaway on medication’ and he was ‘six months off medication’. I was pretty worried after reading this. 

While medication is 100% someone’s choice, the idea that you can’t be creative and well frustrates me. For many people, medication saves lives every single day- just like insulin does for a diabetic. The idea that your creativity, your creative worth is tied to you being mentally ill is sad. 

Everyone deserves to feel well and the problem when you are mentally ill it can make you feel that either you are not worthy of feeling better or that you are not ill – you are fantastic, you have every single idea and why would you want to slow down…before you crash.

It is true that beautiful things can come out of these times we’ve seen Art and Music and ideas born from mania but it’s not sustainable. Living in that way is not sustainable and more than anything it worries me that people will think it is, especially those in mania. 

Taking medication doesn’t make you less creative. There are medications that don’t work and can make you feel worse BUT there are a lot you can try while you find one that works for you and makes you feel like yourself. 

I hope that Kanye can get the help that he needs. Mental illness is hard to deal with and I cannot imagine what it is like in the spotlight. Do I agree with the things he does and says all of the time? No, but he’s human and I do have compassion for others. 

It goes without saying that I’m not a medical professional – if you want to change/come off your medication please, please talk to a doctor before doing so. It can be incredibly dangerous to go cold turkey on these meds. 

Take care of yourself and those around you. 

 

5 ways to pace yourself over Christmas

5 Ways To Pace Yourself Over Christmas

CHRISTMAS IS COMING!

I absolutely love Christmas, it’s one of my favourite times of the year BUT it’s also incredibly busy. Because of that, I need to pace myself and I know that’s the case for a lot of other Spoonies too! So here are 5 ways I plan to pace myself.

If you can get things done in advance, go for it! 

I started Christmas shopping as early as I possibly could. Not for the bragging rights (although yes it is a nice feeling) because it took a lot of pressure and stress out of the run-up to Christmas.

It also meant I could spread the cost out which was another thing off of my mind. For me, long periods of intense stress can cause a flare so I’ll try and help myself as much as possible.

Plan in rest time. 

I know that I need to get a good sleep and not be on the go every minute of every day. I need to plan in rest breaks to make sure that I’m healthy and can get the best out of the day.

To do this, I try and have at least one day of the weekend to myself or make it more chilled. I try and make sure that I get to bed at a reasonable time too! Health is important and being sick over Christmas completely sucks.

Know that it’s ok to say no! 

Everyone wants to meet up, go to this, go to that. As much as I’d love to go and do everything the simple fact is that I can’t. Over Christmas, I miss out on pay because I’m Freelance! I need to not only look after my health but also my bank balance!

Let people help you.  

I’m not great at this. I fight to be as independent as possible but with such a busy time of year taking help when possible can really help. Someone else wants to drive? Let them! Someone else wants to do the cooking. Go ahead! If people want to help you they’re doing it out of kindness and, usually, love.

Try and stay in some kind of routine where you can! 

Christmas day is obviously exempt from this if you are like me and wake up stupidly early because you are so excited. I get a week and a bit where I’m not working. As much as I want to nap as much as possible every single afternoon I know it’s going to impact me later so I try and stick to some kind of routine.

I might get up a little later, stay up more or go out with friends – but I still have some idea of getting a good 8-9 hours every night then get dressed and get on with what I want or need to do.

 

Is there anything you’d add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Why I get so excited about Christmas

Why I Get So Excited About Christmas

I LOVE Christmas, love, love, love. Recently I have been met with more than a few people who don’t get why I get so excited for the season. Why I can’t stop listening to my Christmas playlist and why on earth I started my shopping in September. 

Now, aside from the fact that deep down I have an inner basic who needs to come out every now and again, there’s a much better reason as for why I love this holiday so much. I love it because I can. I can feel the excitement and love when previously I haven’t been able to. 

In the deepest parts of my depression, I couldn’t find joy in anything. These were times when I was very ill. One Christmas in my teens I just felt empty. I cried for no reason. The darkness swallowed me whole. In short, it was the worst. 

Because I have known that feeling I am so grateful to feel excited and happy. I am grateful that I have my health under control enough, that my medication works and I can feel happy rather than empty. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a miracle. I am not ‘cured’ from my mental illness. I still have to work on myself every day and it’s something I live with. BUT, for me, each Christmas shows me moving forward from that one year when I couldn’t summon any joy. 

This year, my focus well and truly is just to try and enjoy myself as much as possible. See my friends and family, while also making time for myself (which is super important over Christmas). As well as trying not to put huge amounts of pressure on myself for January, although that’s a whole other post all together! 

If you’re reading this and right now your mental health isn’t great, give yourself a break. No one chooses to live with the monsters in their head and, unfortunately they don’t seem to take time off for Christmas. Be kind to yourself and take it one step at a time, you’ve got this.