5 Things You Might Not Realise When You Start Therapy

5 Things You Might Not Realise When You Start Therapy

I’ve mentioned on my social media that I started therapy this year. I’d been on the waiting list for 11 months so I’d had a lot of time to think (read worry) about what was going to happen, if it was going to work, if it would ever happen.

Then I started and while I’m not going to go into detail, because therapy is private, I have had some realisations about therapy that I didn’t know I would. I’ve heard from a number of you guys about your own mental health, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt.

More people than you think will have gone through similar feelings

I was really open about going to therapy and so many people surprised me with their own stories. I was shocked by the number of people who had been to therapy, were currently going or hoping to start soon.

It was a real reminder that no matter how much our brains make us feel like we’re completely alone, we’re not.

You may turn into a human tap

I cried, oh man I cried. Not even about the things I was talking through. I’d watch a cute video about animal friends on Facebook and start blubbing like a baby.

After my first 2 sessions in particular I just kept crying. I think this is down to the fact that some of the things I’ve been going through I haven’t dealt with, I’ve pushed it aside because I didn’t have time to fall apart – shit needed to get done.

So, lifting the lid in the first session just opened up the part of my brain that makes the tears come. That was not so fun.

You can feel both heavier and lighter at the same time

This is a weird one to write about and to describe. In on sense just being able to talk about things makes me feel lighter. On the flip side after the sessions I was incredibly tired and my body felt heavy…hopefully that makes sense.

There may be trauma that you haven’t processed

Oof this is something that hit me harder than I thought. We realised in the first few sessions that a lot of what was going on was linked to the accident I had where I broke my spine and after.

Going back about 5 years and working through it is a lot but I’m glad I can finally deal with it.

You’re going to be ok

It might take a while, but you really, really will.

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-Eight - The Week I Wanted To Give Up

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-Eight – The Week I Wanted To Give Up

Well, what a bloody week. It’s definitely one that deserves a large gin…or three. I think this has been the toughest week for me, mentally. Literally as soon as I woke up on Monday this cloud of sadness was above my head. I couldn’t think and all I could feel was my foggy brain and a tidal wave of emotions. I have been SUPER fun to live with (sorry Ali).

This was the first time where I just felt like giving up. I couldn’t focus on anything, I didn’t have that much work to do and everything just felt pointless. I’m pretty sure the weather didn’t help as I noticed a LOT of people mentioning a dip in their mood.

I’ve always had a thing about wanting to to be doing something productive most of the time. I’ve mentioned before that I find it hard to relax and switch off which I’m working on but when I’m not in a great mental state it goes out of the window. To feel useful I have to be doing something, right? I know I’m not alone in this.

That was until Wednesday afternoon, all my calls were done and Ali decided we were going to start our Marvel marathon whether I liked it or not. He got pillows, the duvet and put on Disney Plus. We ended up spending the next 6 hours watching Captain Marvel, Captain America and Iron Man before eating burgers together. Thursday was pretty similar.

Today was much better and I knew it as soon as I woke up. I just felt more capable getting out of bed. There wasn’t a struggle to get dressed and showered. I grabbed my laptop and made a to do list. I think I’m getting through.

Whether you’re someone who’s had dealings with depression before or these are new feelings it’s hard and it can feel so completely overwhelming. Everything and nothing feels too much.

Needless to say I’m not giving up but I wanted to write this to be honest. Because there will be people who are also struggling and feel bad because of it. There will be people who can’t be open and honest with people at home about how they’re feeling for whatever reason. I wanted to say it’s ok. It is ok. Next week is another week. We’ll get through this.

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty-Seven - Has Anyone Seen My Brain?

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty-Seven – Has Anyone Seen My Brain?

I have been playing with what to write for days, literal days. I even started writing a post yesterday only for it to stop flowing through my fingertips. I just couldn’t write. For the past few days, my brain has been as useful as fluff.

On some days, I can get things done but others it just seems like my creativity has just taken a running jump and left me. It’s strange, I don’t know who I am really without being able to write. Normally it’s second nature to me, it’s how I make sense of things.

My guess is that while we’re seeing amazing things coming from creatives there are also times when they struggle – like I am now. I thought I’d write blogs upon blogs, my novel might get a good chunk written – maybe I’d create videos too! While I’ve blogged more than normal, that’s about it.

I know that a big chunk of it is that my mental health has struggled. Anxiety has been buzzing in the background and distracting me so much from my own creativity. It’s different when I’m working, for some reason I can still do that but my own stuff has struggled for a few days. I’m hoping it finds its way back

Is there a point to this post? I don’t know, I guess I just wanted to write something to try and get back into the mojo I haven’t had for a few days. Also, to see if any of you have felt the same.

Anyone else?

Anxiety is something that is floating around a lot right now and rightfully so. It’s incredibly normal to feel worried and feel anxious. But how about when you have anxiety? When you’re pretty used to your brain freaking out. I’ve lived with anxiety for a really long time now and have found ways in the normal way of life to cope with it but those aren’t quite working right now. So I thought I’d put down a few of the ways that I, and other people I know are feeling right now. You Don’t Want To Sound Dramatic, But You’re Absolutely Terrified Usually, any kind of anxiety or panic spiral that leads to catastrophising can be challenged with reason but when you look around and see other people who don’t have anxiety disorders getting worked up it sounds alarm bells. So it makes sense that your brain is on high alert and EVERYTHING feels like its on fire while you’re standing in the middle watching. Panic Attacks Feel A Lot More Scary Last week I had one of the worst panic attacks I’ve had in a long, long time. I was petrified that something was seriously wrong. Part of a panic attack for me includes a tight chest, trouble breathing and chest pain. Sound familiar? Exactly. Thankfully, I had Ali to help me with this one because it wasn’t going away on its own. In the moment logic went out of the window and it just overtook my brain. Afterwards I was completely exhausted mentally and physically. Regular Symptoms Are Harder To Deal With It’s kind of mentioned above but a lot of the symptoms of anxiety are similar to that of the virus. So your chest feels tight, then you worry, then you get anxious, then your chest gets more tight and so it carries on. You’re Not Quite Sure How To Manage Without A Lot Of Your Coping Strategies I spent years working on strategies to help me when I was feeling anxious, one of the easiest was going for a cup of tea and a hug with my Mum, which is out of the window. Borrowing a dog for a walk and play? Nope. Meeting a friend to get out of my own head and space? Also no. You Feel Alone I completely get this because it’s easy to feel alone in all this. BUT I can promise you that you’re not.

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty-Four – What It’s Like To Have Anxiety Right Now

Anxiety is something that is floating around a lot right now and rightfully so. It’s incredibly normal to feel worried and feel anxious. 

But how about when you have anxiety? When you’re pretty used to your brain freaking out. I’ve lived with anxiety for a really long time now and have found ways in the normal way of life to cope with it but those aren’t quite working right now. So I thought I’d put down a few of the ways that I, and other people I know are feeling right now. 

You Don’t Want To Sound Dramatic, But You’re Absolutely Terrified

Usually, any kind of anxiety or panic spiral that leads to catastrophising can be challenged with reason but when you look around and see other people who don’t have anxiety disorders getting worked up it sounds alarm bells. 

So it makes sense that your brain is on high alert and EVERYTHING feels like its on fire while you’re standing in the middle watching. 

Panic Attacks Feel A Lot More Scary 

Last week I had one of the worst panic attacks I’ve had in a long, long time. I was petrified that something was seriously wrong. Part of a panic attack for me includes a tight chest, trouble breathing and chest pain. Sound familiar? Exactly. 

Thankfully, I had Ali to help me with this one because it wasn’t going away on its own. In the moment logic went out of the window and it just overtook my brain. Afterwards I was completely exhausted mentally and physically. 

Regular Symptoms Are Harder To Deal With 

It’s kind of mentioned above but a lot of the symptoms of anxiety are similar to that of the virus. So your chest feels tight, then you worry, then you get anxious, then your chest gets more tight and so it carries on. 

You’re Not Quite Sure How To Manage Without A Lot Of Your Coping Strategies 

I spent years working on strategies to help me when I was feeling anxious, one of the easiest was going for a cup of tea and a hug with my Mum, which is out of the window. Borrowing a dog for a walk and play? Nope. Meeting a friend to get out of my own head and space? Also no. 

You Feel Alone 

I completely get this because it’s easy to feel alone in all this. BUT I can promise you that you’re not. 

You’re really, really not.

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.

My Mental Health – MHW2019

Seeing as it’s Mental Health Week, it only seems right that I talk about myself. For those of you who have read my blog for a long time, you’ll know it’s something I’m pretty open about but that took a while, for the first few months after my depression diagnosis I couldn’t even say the word.

So, what’s my diagnosis?

I have been officially diagnosed with Anxiety with Depression, why is it put that way I have no idea.

How long have I been diagnosed?

I was diagnosed at 19, shortly before I went to study at university.

How does it impact me day to day?

Sometimes it doesn’t impact me at all, those are good days. Other days I’ll feel exhausted, irritable, moody. I can struggle to have any motivation or really doubt myself and my abilities.

What’s my treatment plan?

Currently, I take Citalopram, an antidepressant and have done for the past few years. Also, because I realised I was struggling more than normal I am on a waiting list to have 1-1 therapy to talk things out and try and get myself back in a good place mentally.

How am I doing right now?

I’m doing okay. There are days I feel like I’ve got my shit together and I’m doing so well and other days I struggle to get up from my sofa or to reply to any messages. Every day is different. I know I haven’t had the easiest time with my mental health recently, despite life going well, because of that I’m eager to get some talking therapy and feel much better.

Thank you so much for reading! There are more posts for Mental Health Awareness Week coming up so make sure to check back in!

Where I’m At – World Mental Health Day 2018

IMG_0690.JPG

 

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.

 

Managing Mental Health Struggles

As most people know, living with a mental illness isn’t one upward motion. There are a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes your struggles are situational, you might have some bad news or a lot of stress, other times your illness just goes into overdrive for no apparent reason and, personally, I find that even harder. I live with Depression and Anxiety, a common but tough combination that has had a big impact on me in the last 10 years.

So, how do you manage? As some of you know I work full time, I blog, have an active social media, relationship, some health issues, family and friends. I have a lot on, probably more than I should BUT that is how my life currently is. That said, when I do have mental health struggles all of this feels incredibly overwhelming and can leave me very, very low. Over the years I’ve found ways that help me with mental health struggles such as

Taking Baths or Showers 

When I’m in a bad way, panic attacked, tears etc water is something that calms me. It’s been that way since I was a young teenager and had regular panic and anxiety attacks. If I’m at home or heading home this is a great way to relieve some of the stress.

Writing 

Most of my poetry is written when I’m struggling. It is a healthy way to get out my thoughts and feelings. It also means that if people read it they think I’m a little dark, which is fine. I see the creativity from a really dark place as something positive.

Letting friends and family know

I’m not as good at this as I want to be but having to let people know when I’m not doing okay. When people know they can help you out, cheer you up etc.

Giving myself an early night or a weekend lie in

Getting enough sleep is really important to my mental well-being, but it’s also the easiest thing to let slip, especially as I’m known to suffer with sleep disturbance when I’m stressed. Making sure I can get an early night or a lie in at the weekend is crucial if I’m struggling – which can also mean saying no to plans.

Trying to remind myself that this will pass  

It’s hard but reminding myself that this has happened before and I got through it can help, although not always.

Taking note of the changes and getting help when I need to 

It’s good to get an idea of how much you’re struggling and recognising when you need help. I, personally, really find this difficult because of past experiences but there are some wonderful teams and excellent resources out there to help.

Take time off/away if you need to

I try and keep a few days holiday in reserve in case I’m feeling really run down, tacking an extra day on to a weekend here and there to have some me time works. Of course, if you are severely struggling and need to take a mental health day then that is also ok.

Is there anything you would add? Let me know in the comments below!

How Am I Doing Right Now

MHAW18 – How Am I Doing Right Now?

Hey everyone!

Well, it’s been a little while since we’ve done this.

As you might have noticed I’ve written about mental health all week and I thought it was only right to talk about my own health right now, because I feel comfortable doing so at this point.

As a short backstory, I’ve lived with Depression and Anxiety since I was a teenager and it is always a case of ups and downs. A little while ago I posted about being in a funk and what had been going on with me but I hadn’t really followed up on how things have gone since then.

I am happy to report that as of writing I’m feeling a lot better. I’ve come out of that low and am feeling much more in control, I’ve also had some great personal news. I’ve been taken on permanently in my job after having a contracted job for 6 months so that was a HUGE relief.

I’ve also gone back to my old medication because the new type made me feel awful. I had terrible insomnia, low mood and heart rate issues so I decided that wasn’t the best idea to take those.

Right now, I’m cautiously optimistic. Things seem to be going well, I’m working my ass off but I’m enjoying it. Things will still rise and fall in regards to my mood, they have been for nearly 10 years and I don’t doubt they will for the rest of my life. I’m feeling positive though. My mental health may make things a little harder but I’m never letting it beat me. I’m going to take it one day at a time.

With all that in mind I still have days where I struggle. Where moving from one thing to the next feels like the biggest effort and I’m not sure how to carry on. Days when the light just seems to go out. I’m not nieve enough to think that because I’ve had a good week or two that these dark periods won’t come back. They do and I try my best to get through them until they pass. It is a very up and down life, but it’s my life.

Don’t forget talking is key! If you’re struggling make sure to talk to someone whether that be someone you love or a professional. You deserve to be heard and you deserve to be healthy.

Love,

Chloe

10 Ways to Support Someone with a Mental Illness

MHAW18: 10 Ways to Support Someone with a Mental Illness

When a loved one is struggling with a mental illness it can be hard to know what to do and how to help. For me, when I’m on a low I don’t even know what I want sometimes! There are some things, however, that you can do to help. I wanted to share them with you.

Listen

Sometimes all a person needs is someone to listen. They don’t need actions or solutions just someone to listen to how they feel and why they might be feeling it. It’s really that simple. Having someone listen to you can make such a change to a person’s day.

Don’t assume you know or understand 

Mental illness may have a set of symptoms but it is a truly personal experience. From experience, someone else thinking they know what you’re going through and trying to guess, rather than listen, is frustrating. It is so, so important to see this as a personal struggle not just a set of symptoms. Depression isn’t just sadness, Anxiety isn’t feeling nervous these are real issues.

Support them with small steps

Sometimes something that might seem small can be a big deal. In my worst times, I struggled to leave the house to go to the shop down the road. I physically couldn’t leave and when I did I had anxiety attacks. So my amazing boyfriend helped with the smaller steps. First, take a shower, then put on some clothes, then put on my shoes etc. It was long and frustrating but we did it and later that afternoon popped to the shop. I do the same thing with close friends with things such as blood tests. Small steps matter!

Let them know you’re there without forcing them to open up 

People will open up when they’re ready. Trying to force it from them will probably have the opposite effect. Just letting someone know that if they want to talk or hang out, you’re there is a big help.

Don’t try to ‘fix’ them 

Don’t listen to Coldplay, people with a mental illness aren’t broken and recovery has to be something the person wants for themselves.

Treat them as the person you know they are 

The person you know is in there, they might just be hiding. You can still make jokes, ask them to go places. They could say no 99 times but that 100th time they might feel well enough to go. It let’s them know that you still love and care for them.

Ask what they need 

It could be someone to just sit with in the quiet, someone to eat with or just being that voice at the end of the phone. Asking them what they actually need rather than guessing makes things a lot easier in the long run.

Swot Up! 

There’s so much information out there to help you understand what your loved one is going through. Read personal accounts, watch documentaries, listen to music. You might not be living it but you can try to understand as much as possible.

Be there 

It really is as simple as that. Just being there for someone.

Be a champion 

Mental illness is something that we need to talk about and even if you’ve never lived it you can be a champion and continue the conversation.

 

What would you add? Let me know in the comments below!