Looking After Your Mental Health Over The Holidays

Blogmas 2019: Looking After Your Mental Health Over The Holidays

Ah Christmas, jolliness, lights, and joy – right? But what if you’re not feeling like that during the holidays? It’s worth remembering that for a load of reasons this time of year can be tough for people. They may be living with depression, dealing with grief, not be able to celebrate or could be dealing with a mental health condition.

So here’s a few things to remember to look after your own mental health.

You’re allowed to take a break when you need one

The world might seem like it’s go, go, go over the break but that doesn’t mean you have to. Even if it’s a bath at night or having a cup of tea and 5 minutes to yourself – having a little me time is ok and should be encouraged!

Remember that your social media feeds aren’t always real life

Last New Years Eve I was really ill with a chest infection and while everyone else way partying I was in my PJs and asleep while Ali worked. Christmas is full of decorations, parties and Best 9’s most people aren’t sharing their hardest parts, the days where they cried, their break outs and break ups!

If you have toxic family members in your life you don’t have to spend it with them

I know a lot of people who have tense and sometimes unhealthy relationships with their family but still drag themselves to spend time with them because ‘Christmas is for family’. If it’s detrimental for your physical or mental health then you don’t need to go. If you can’t get out of it try to limit your time where possible – also bathrooms are great places to take a minute to yourself!

Know it’s ok to be sad or tired

This Christmas is going to be a tough one for me and I know there will be times when I’ll be sad. It’s my first Christmas in 12 years without my dog. I will have also worked 7 days straight before so I might not be as festive as I normally am but I’m working on not feeling guilty about it.

Only drink alcohol if you want to!

There’s a lot of pressure to drink around this time, you don’t want to? Then don’t! Also remember no one turns down a designated driver!

Know it’s okay if you need to just get through it

Take it one day at a time.

If anyone comments on your weight eat them

Yep, I know it’s an old joke but I hope it gave you a laugh.

Do you have anything you would add? Let me know below.

I Don’t Always Love My Body

One of my favourite YouTubers Jessica Kellgren-Fozard posted a video earlier this month about the fact that it’s okay if we don’t always love our bodies. It really got me thinking about my own feelings toward my body and how I fit into the body positivity movement. I have a really complicated relationship with my body I can both love and loathe it sometimes within a day I can intensely feel both.

Before my accident I didn’t always like my appearance but it was pretty standard stuff, I’d like a flatter stomach, longer legs etc. I had my accident, then I got sick. All of a sudden I was putting on a lot of weight, I was in pain all the time, I was getting dark circles under my eyes and I felt awful. I didn’t recognise this body and I didn’t want it.

There have been hours where I’ve fought with my body, where I haven’t been kind or treated it well. Where I’ve restricted food that I wanted or pushed myself too hard to try and look how I used to before. Bare in mind that when I had the accident I was 20, I’m now 25 and I don’t know many women who can still fit into the same jeans from 5 years ago…

There are still times, days or sometimes weeks where I’m not happy. Where I can’t shout SELF LOVE and shake it all about. I do want to hide, I feel sad and I wear my baggiest clothes. I also get mad and upset and frustrated. And that’s ok.

When I am FEELING myself I will take pictures and post them online. I’m not wasting my days where I am in love with the way I look, people don’t want to see them? They don’t have to follow me. You can probably see where my physical and mental health are good because there will be a spatterings of selfies and outfit pics.

The thing is I know in the next 5-10 years my body will continue to change. I’m currently working towards getting fit and healthy so I feel better when I know all eyes are on me at my wedding AND so I can keep up with Ali on our honeymoon. After that I do hope to be a mother and my body will change again and then it will keep changing throughout my life.

When your body can go against you and there’s nothing you can do I think it’s pretty normal to have periods where you aren’t loving it. Where you don’t want to post pictures or smile because it’s maddening. I’m also still getting used to knowing that I will have issues for the rest of my life.

So, no I don’t always love my body but sometimes I feel great and want to share – I think that’s pretty normal. I still think we need the body positivity movement. We need to see stretch marks, different shapes, disables bodies and wobbles because airbrushing and ‘perfection’ is so done.

What’s your view on body positivity?

Why Haven’t I Been Talking About My Mental Health?

It’s been a while since I have written a post about my mental health and how I’m feeling. Now, it used to be something I wrote about a lot and, of course, with my Fibro diagnosis I started talking about that more because it was new and I was finding my feet with it. That said, there were some other reasons too, and I feel like I should share them with you.

Part of me believed that I wasn’t saying anything new, I wasn’t helping anyone. I didn’t want to repeat myself with my struggles but I also didn’t want to pretend I was feeling really positive either. I sat down to write and the words just wouldn’t come. I didn’t know how to talk about it.

I went through a period recently where I didn’t look after myself physically or mentally. I had a lot on and I pushed myself to my absolute limit because I wanted to do good. I wanted to feel like I was kick ass and I could do as much as anyone else. The result was exhaustion, terrible skin and terrible anxiety – the type I haven’t felt in years.

Anxiety is a funny thing – of course everyone has times where they are anxious but I know I’m struggling with my anxiety when either there is no logical reason for my anxiety or I feel out of control. I can spend hours struggling with my own mind about something small I said or did. I analyse all of my relationships and every interaction I’ve had with people recently.

That anxiety also spread to my blog – did anyone read it? Did anyone care? Why was I writing? My brain tortured me and I guess a part of me was too scared to admit it because, what if people agreed? I’ve been writing this blog for over 6 years now.

Thankfully I seem to be getting a little better, my body is slowly adjusting to the changes in the weather (finally) and the fog is lifting. I know that the darker months are tougher but I’m not planning on letting them take away my personal sunshine.

Anyway, thanks so much for reading I really do appreciate each and every view.

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!