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. 

Why Sleep Is So Important For My Mental Health

I love to sleep. For me the idea of curling up in PJs at the weekend and getting a solid 10 hours is bliss. I know, I know, I’m 23 years old, surely I don’t need that much sleep. I thought so too until I worked out that, actually, sleep can completely change my mental state. So, why is sleep so important for my mental health?

Before I had Depression or Anxiety, I knew that if I didn’t sleep, I wasn’t in the best mood. My sister is the same if we’re tired we’re easily annoyed and I get particularly emotional. Joy of joys but I could deal with it, I was just grumpy doing so. Then when I was a teenager I realised that a lack of sleep meant much more, it made me get a lot sicker. I struggled with my emotions, even more, to make sense of what was going on with me. It took on another meaning.

In my recovery and fight with mental illness over the past decade, I’ve had to make sleep a priority. And I’ve also had to be kinder to myself. In uni pulling an allnighter wasn’t an option for me, the emotional drain the next day from not sleeping was not worth it. I started making sure I had a plan for busy times to make sure I could get my 8 hours and be as mentally healthy as possible. Did it always work? Of course, it didn’t! But I had the knowledge and knew that sometimes if I felt down that was why.

Just as I managed that and was happy, I broke my spine. Even after I recovered I found the fatigue getting worse and worse, impacting me mentally and physically.  Eventually, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which meant sleep was even more important as it now impacts me physically.

Why am I writing about this? A lot of people who prioritise sleep are deemed ‘lazy’ or ‘boring’, I’ve been in the situation so many times. A lot of people claim that, because of my age, I should be out and partying and shouldn’t need sleep. You know what I do and even if it didn’t impact my health it’s my choice.

Are you a fellow sleep lover? Let me know in the comments below!

Where I’m At – World Mental Health Day 2018

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Today is World Mental Health Day. I thought about what I wanted to do for a while and then it hit me. Why not give you guys an update on how I’ve been doing recently? I’m hoping that by talking about my own life and feelings it opens the conversation and takes away that damn stigma that’s still hanging around!

So, how am I doing right now?

Things are very different this year to any other. I took a big step going freelance and the change in job has had a big impact on my mental health. I was really struggling for the past year with that I wanted to do with my life and my career. I wasn’t happy but I thought that was just life, you went to a 9-5, you had a commute you hated.

Until I didn’t. Freelancing has many challenges and its own stresses – it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but that’s another blog post. BUT, the stress of two 45 minute commutes? Gone. The stress of not having control over certain aspects of my career? Gone. If I need to take a break for my health, I can do that. In that regard, I’m doing much better and my self-confidence is growing.

I’m still working on myself – this is an ongoing health condition. Some days I feel great and can do everything. Other days I struggle to even get out of bed, to see the point in what I’m doing and think I’m terrible at everything. It’s taking it day by day.  So, I’m a lot better than I was a year ago, but it’s a constant effort.

How’s the self-care going?

Ummmmm, well….. Ok I’ll be honest with you, I’ve kinda been slacking. There’s a lot of excuses I could give about the fact I haven’t been looking after myself a much as I should.

More time for me, more baths, more early nights – I will try!

What I wish I knew a year ago

You don’t need to please everyone, things will work out no matter what.

 

On Loneliness

Recently, I heard that young people between the ages of 16-24 feel the most lonely It didn’t surprise me in the slightest because I completely agree. The last few years I’ve felt very lonely – even in the last few weeks I’ve struggled with loneliness. I have a very loving family, I quite often just go and hang out with them.

I feel like there are so many ways you can feel lonely and, often, it’s not easy to talk about. You don’t want to worry people, you don’t want to seem needy and, for me at least, there are confusing feelings. Have you ever been in a room full of people and felt alone? I’m sure you have.

But what are the biggest reasons to feel lonely?

Social Media

I love it, it’s literally my job to create, manage and monitor social media. That said, everyone posts a highlight reel which means it can look like everyone is out having fun, living their best life and you’re sat at home in your PJs. I know this and, sometimes, I still feel lonely! It’s easy to get swept up in it.

Growing up and apart

Your late teens and early twenties are also a time of huge change. You grow up and a lot of times you can grow apart from people you’re really close to. Some people I know have moved to new cities or even countries.

Not knowing what the hell you’re doing

I can *seem* like everyone else has their shit together. They don’t, I promise you. Everyone I speak to says they don’t know what they’re doing with their lives, they question everything they do. But for that conversation, one of you has to admit it and that can be the hardest part, am I right?

Relationships

So many people I know feel lonely because of relationships. I have friends who are single who feel lonely, friends in relationships to feel like they’re disconnected from friends who are single or in very different relationships. For me, I feel lonely when Ali goes on tour, as I write this he’s in Manchester. Not having him to hug can be really lonely.

That’s just some of the reasons I think people my age are lonely – but I might not have your reason listed. I guess I’m writing this because I wanted to say you might feel lonely but you’re not alone.

You Matter.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. It’s something that I talk about on this blog every year because it is so important. Depression can happen to any one of us and suicidal feelings can be a part of that. I know for a fact that it can feel like you don’t matter, to anyone at all. Your brain lies to you because of an illness you can’t help. I’m here to remind you that you matter.

I’m not going to try and tell you everything is magical and everyone in the world is lovely. People can absolutely suck. When you’re already feeling down other people’s opinions can weigh so heavily on everything you feel. But you know what? While some people can make you feel like absolute shit – there are people in life who you matter to.

There are friends or family members, work colleagues or perhaps even teachers who care and would be upset if you weren’t here. That would feel your absence like a hole in the heart. You’re important to someone – even if you feel like they would be better off without you.

Living with depression is hard. Sometimes, even the smallest of things can feel like a mountain. There are either too many feelings, each and everyone one bubbling to the surface, or none at all and it’s hard to know which one is worse. I’ve lived through both and when I was younger, of course, there were times when I wished it would all just end. Just for everything to stop. BUT I’m glad now that it didn’t.

Slowly, bit by bit you can get better and the road to recovery is different for everyone. For me – talking to someone was key but so was being creative. I wrote a lot of poetry, I wrote songs, I wrote anything I could. For me, I needed to get those feelings out. I took medication, got some 1-1 counselling and eventually those feelings calmed down.

Your feelings and emotions are valid. Your worries, anxieties and pain are valid. But the world is better with you in it! I can’t tell you what to do – I can’t reach through this screen and give you a hug, believe me, I want to. There are people you can talk to when you’re low if there isn’t anyone close to you that you can talk to.

You matter, I promise.

 

If you’re feeling suicidal please talk to someone, book an appointment with your doctor, talk to a friend or family member. In the UK you can call these numbers:

 

Samaritans – for everyone
Call 116 123

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day
Visit the webchat page

 

Papyrus – for people under 35
Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm
Text 07786 209697
Email pat@papyrus-uk.org

 

Childline – for children and young people under 19
Call 0800 1111 – the number won’t show up on your phone bill

 

The Silver Line – for older people
Call 0800 4 70 80 90

Book Review: Notes On A Nervous Planet – Matt Haig

Notes on a Nervous Planet - Matt Haig

In a world where we have constant access to social media, instant news and 24-hour access, the world can feel a little too fast. Now, I love social media, it’s one of my passions but even I need to step away sometimes. Matt Haig captures that in this book, that we as humans need to have that distance. We need to go on walks, to have someone step in sometimes and go hey, this is the real world. Well, I know I do!

I absolutely adored Matt’s previous book on mental health Reasons To Stay Alive. It talks about his own experiences of depression, as he stood at the age of 24 at the edge of a cliff, contemplating killing himself. But, how does someone get from that point? With great difficulty, but Matt has a beautiful way of writing about it. So, of course, I pre-ordered this the second I found out about it.

While I was reading this I was struggling with panic attacks, things weren’t going as planned, I’d lost my job and this is the book I needed. When I told people this book changed my life I meant it. This is broken down into short chapters, with lists, ideas and this format makes it so readable. I wasn’t sure at first but when the whole books is about breaking things down, slowing down and taking your time, it makes perfect sense.

The best thing is that Notes on a Nervous Planet doesn’t tell you to just stop using technology, sit in a field and meditate. Let’s be honest, it’s not easy to do that an avoiding the world around us isn’t possible, nor is it healthy. I was refreshing to read because it made me realise I wasn’t alone in feeling anxious about the speed of the world around us.

If you’ve ever felt like you’re struggling, if you’ve wondered if you’re alone in this then you need to read this book. Even if you haven’t I recommend reading this for a beautiful look at the world around us. This is an inspiring, thought-provoking and beautiful read.