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.

 

Compassion Costs Nothing

As most of you will have seen, earlier this week Demi Lovato was hospitalised for an overdose. Demi has spoken publicly about living with Bipolar Disorder and Addiction and released song Sober in June. She hasn’t hidden from the public that she is living with an illness and doing the best she can.

When I read that she had been rushed to hospital it weighed heavy on my heart. I hoped that mental illness hadn’t taken another young life. I also knew that the internet would be full of narrow-mindedness and, of course, there was. While the majority was positive with an outpouring of love some didn’t want to know. They threw around hurtful words in regards to something that they knew nothing about. They seemed to be completely void of compassion.

compassion (noun)

 

Some would argue it’s ‘just because she’s famous’ that people care and, yes there are some but I think it just highlights that no matter how successful, no one is immune to mental illness. At the centre of this is a young woman in her twenties with a health condition that could very easily take her life. So many people around the world are suffering and, if anything, I hope this reminds people that this is and illness.

Compassion costs nothing, caring costs nothing. There are people you know who are likely working their way through a mental illness and trying to understand and not just write people off could really save someone’s life. Is this the most eloquent post I’ve written? No, probably not. It’s just something I needed to say. I truly hope Demi recovers. This is just the tip of the iceberg and we have so much more to do in terms of talking about mental health and I for one will keep talking, keep learning and keep loving.

 

 

 

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!

Talking About Suicide

Talking About Suicide

In the past week we have seen two very public celebrity deaths by suicide and, of course, there has been a lot of posts, tweets and more about mental health, about suicide. It would be stupid to say that these are easy conversations, that they are pleasant to think about, but they are important.

Within hours of Kate Spade’s death being announced, those closest to her were said to comment on the ‘obsession’ she had over Robin Williams’ death, a picture of her body being removed in a body bag appeared. What seemed to be missing, was how we talk about suicide.

I’ve noticed, and I’m sure others have too, that time and time again there is a narrative of, oh we can’t believe it, this is so unexpected. But, why is it? Whether you are rich or poor, depression is an illness that doesn’t discriminate. Suicidal thoughts can and do happen to millions across the globe.

Instead of focusing on the details of those who have passed, why not look at what can be done to prevent deaths in future. Why don’t we look around us and understand it? I know, for a fact, that mental health services in my own country are at breaking point. That waiting lists are of a year or more. That people of all ages cannot get the help that they desperately need because of budget cuts.

Talking about suicide shouldn’t be taboo, it is sad, it is upsetting but it shouldn’t be hidden. What good will it do? I’d go as far as to say that it does a disservice to those who died this way. We should learn and support those still living so that they don’t feel the loneliness that leads them to view death as their only option.

 

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