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

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!

MHAW18: Does Therapy Work?

Let’s talk about Therapy. Does it really work?

Now, I’m not talking about laying down, a leather sofa to a stony-faced psychiatrist, sorry to burst your bubble but I starting talking therapies on and off almost 10 years ago and it’s never happened. Not once. That is a Hollywood myth, or something you don’t get on the NHS, either way not something I can tell you about.

I know that it’s not for everyone but for me, I’m pretty sure it’s got me to where I am today as a person. Working through my thoughts, problem and general mental health with someone who’s qualified and has to tools I didn’t was crucial. It was just a chat every week. I’d speak about what I felt I needed to and when appropriate try to break things down. It cleared up so much in my own head.

I don’t understand the stigma around talking to someone to try and sort your shit out. Surely that would make us better as people? To talk about things that are going on in our brains.  That said, I completely understand that it’s not for everyone. For some people, they need to work through things in another way and talking isn’t for them, which is fine.

That said, we need to acknowledge that for people who it does help it is vital and that’s where things have fallen down. A year and a half ago I was put on a waitlist because things were going pretty badly in my personal life, I’d had a lot of change and wasn’t doing so well. I’m still on that waiting list even though I feel like I don’t need it anymore. That is not only mind-boggling but also disgusting. I had a support system and wasn’t in crisis but sometimes I get frustrated, what if that wasn’t the case? But, that’s another blog post.

What do you think about therapy? Is it something that’s helped you or not your cup of tea? Let me know in the comments below!

Welcome to Mental Health Awareness Week 2018!

So, a few days ago I realised that it’s Mental Health Awareness Week and had to get a plan together, quick. You see, mental well being is so important to me because I haven’t always been in the place that I am now (here’s a whole post about my story from last year).

Ok, but why?

I think we need to talk because being mentally ill can be really lonely and make you feel like you’re the only person in the world who has these feelings. I promise you that you’re not. This is your brain goblin, stay with me here, that likes to take over your brain and make everything look and feel terrible. It is lying to you, it loves to lie to you.

So, what’s going to be happening over here 

I’m going to write a post about mental health every single day of the week. Yep, that’s a thing now. I want to talk about things to make others more comfortable and open. I’m going to be talking about whether I think therapy works, how to support someone with a mental illness and how we talk about it and ourselves. It’s going to be a full ride of information, emotions and more. Honestly, I could write about it forever but this is just a tiny portion of the internet.

I just want to get people talking and if they’re comfortable, sharing. It’s such a personal thing that gets turned into a political agenda. I’ve been at the point where I thought there was no coming back, I’ve been on a huge high where I thought I was cured forever and it was never coming back (lol, no). This is just what I think, what I’ve felt and hopefully, this week can help someone else as well.

So get into the comments, start talking and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings!

What’s Up With Me?

I’ve been a little bit quieter recently on the blog, on my Twitter and in my general life. Now, I don’t feel that I have to explain everything to everyone but it’s been bothering me slightly. I haven’t written about mental health in a while now, partly because I didn’t know what to say, partly because I’ve been mixing with new people and I didn’t want the first thing for them to know about me was my history rather than the person I am now.

So what is up with me? It’s been a really weird month. My Great Nan died at the beginning of the month, so there was also a funeral. I’ve had some hospital appointments and a week off. So it’s been a mixed bag but even with that, something felt off. Something within me felt strange and I just blamed it on things in my life and feeling tired. Standard stuff.

That was until last night, I’d just had enough of feeling crappy and exhausted when there wasn’t anything that I could pinpoint anymore that was making me feel this way. I’ve been going through areas of my life and couldn’t understand what was going on and I was worried. Then something clicked. Something had changed.

About 2 months ago I changed some of my medication and I was told it would be a straight swap, one for the other but it would help with my back pain as well as serving as an antidepressant that I was already on. There was a catch though…nobody told me the dosage would change to be a lot lower and therefore offset the chemical imbalance again. Not fun.

And that’s the thing, I have a chemical imbalance, that’s all this is. It’s just like a Diabetic I can’t help my illness any more than they can. So I spoke to my doctor, we’re trying out some other options and it was a huge weight off of my shoulders to understand. Living with Depression is all about ups and downs.

I’ve been doing this long enough to know when something is up and trying to work around it. I haven’t been crying every day or the typical Hollywood version of depressed but everything just felt a lot heavier and like it was more effort, that’s when I knew something wasn’t right.

So, that’s what’s been up! I’m pretty proud of myself for clocking it and then doing something about it.

 

Have any of you ever experienced this? Let me know in the comments below!

My Mental Health Goals For This Year

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about mental health, and that’s mainly because I haven’t known what to write. I’ve had so many ideas for other type of content that I’ve kind of tried ot focus on all the positives. That’s not to say that mental health posts can’t be positive, which leads me on to this one…

Last year was incredibly tough for me mentally, my confidence took a few beatings and my self esteem got smashed. I had to build myself back up quite a few times in the space of 12 months (my 2017 in review is here), so I’m proud of myself but want to take better care of my mental health in 2018.

So, here are my goals…

To be able to celebrate everyday achievements 

I’m way too hard on myself. That’s a fact. I want to try and celebrate everyday achievements and be pleased about the small things to try and get a more positive way of thinking.

To work on managing my anxiety in a healthy way 

I get anxious, I’ve had anxiety for years and I want to focus on healthy ways of tackling it. Whether that be through writing, listening to music or simply talking about it rather than letting myself get so stressed and worried that everything seems 100 times worse.

To look after my body better 

Ok, ok, I’ll admit last year I wasn’t great at looking after my body. I know that when I get a bit of exercise I feel better. I’ve also been making steps to drink more water and having a skin care routine too! Fingers crossed!

To accept rough patches as part of life, rather than defining life

I need to stop panicking when I hit a rough patch and thinking this is where it’s all going to go wrong. It’s a known fact anxiety can do this, but I’m stronger than my anxiety.

To make time for self care every week 

A bath, a good book, getting away from a screen, whatever I need to do! It’s really easy to burn yourself out so I’m trying to give myself a little bit of time each week to keep myself in good shape!

What are your mental health goals for this year? Let me know in the comments below!

Feminist Friday with … Charlotte Selby

Why I Need Feminism

This is a guest post by Charlotte Selby, a YA Writer, Book Blogger and Booktuber. Charlotte has requested the following trigger warnings to be in place; Sexual Abuse, Anxiety, and Depression.

Living alone in my second year of University was a bad idea. I was in my own company a lot and my anxiety was at the highest it had been; I was yet to get a diagnosis. I was struggling to leave my flat to see my therapist, never mind going to classes. I hadn’t established a strong enough relationship with the friends I’d made where I felt I could confide in them about my problems. Then someone came along. For the purposes of this post, we’ll call them Ash.

They got me. They knew when to listen to my problems and when to give advice. I became dependent; messaging them when I thought I might relapse, begging them to come over. When they kissed me, I felt it was a turning point: someone wanted me even though they’d seen how broken I was. My previous partner broke up with me because I wouldn’t sleep with them so I wanted to take my time before losing my virginity. Ash respected that. My friend warned me and our friendship became strained. She didn’t understand. Ash was good for me.

After a bad relapse, Ash came to the rescue and took me to their flat. I didn’t want to be alone for fear of how much further I would go. After I calmed down, Ash kissed me. I said no but they became icy after. Later they tried again and I said no. We had already slept together at this point, but this time was different. This time I didn’t want it. But they were so persistent that, in the end, I let them.

“Come on, it’ll take your mind off things.”

I told them I didn’t want to see them anymore after that (outside of class obligations). When I confided in a friend about what had happened, she had her I did warn you moment and explained the concept of consent to me. I felt foolish.

Flash to final year and it all came out. There were six other girls at the same time as me all with similar stories. We didn’t go to the police. We didn’t tell the university. We all knew we’d be blamed until we dropped it. One day when a society I was part of hosted a bake sale on campus. Ash showed up. The boyfriend of one of the other girls came and attacked Ash. He’d learned his girlfriend was one of the many victims. He screamed “manipulator”, “sexual abuser” and “rapist.” I was called out too. “How dare you stand when they did that to you. You’re just as bad as them. You could have helped people.” In the drama of it all, I don’t think anyone noticed I’d been outed; there were a select few who knew the names of the people involved, he just happened to know mine.

What happened with Ash had a big impact on my next relationship – which started during second year and we’re still together now. One night when we were messing around one night, he jokingly said: “come on you know you want to.” When I worked up the courage to tell him about Ash, I expected a breakup. We didn’t and we’re still together now, but it took a long time to fully trust him. Even now if I’m not in the mood for being intimate I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt, like I’m letting him down in some way.

Ash didn’t go to graduation. They weren’t missed.
I wish I could say I felt free when I cut them out. But I don’t. While I’m in a much better place mentally now but I’m easily shaken. I often think of “what ifs.” What if I’d stood up for myself? What if I’d spoken out sooner?

I need feminism because had there been more support for women, if there had been a safe place we could have gone to report it, if there was less stigma around sexual abuse, maybe Ash wouldn’t be out there right now. Living their life, probably never thinking about what they did to all those girls.

I speak out now. I shut down negative discussions about sexual assault/ abuse and rape. I challenge harmful views. I don’t want people to have to go through what I did and then blame themselves after. I am a feminist.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And by god, I am stronger now.

Thank you so much to Charlotte for this post, it’s such an important yet hard topic to discuss. If YOU want to get involved with Feminist Fridays email chloefmetzer@gmail.com with ‘Feminist Friday’ in the subject line.

 

Rest in Peace, Chester

I had a whole other blog planned tonight, but as I switched on my laptop I saw the news and posting a happy and fun book review just seemed wrong. Chester Bennington, singer of Linkin Park has killed himself. It’s genuinely shocked me. Even though I haven’t listened to Linkin Park in a really long time, it was such an integral part of my teenage years and getting me through some of the darkest periods. The fact that he’s gone, someone who’s voice and work has helped so many to be gone.

How can a voice that helped me get through my darkest days have died in such an awful way?  I’m not claiming I was a huge fan but Minutes to Midnight was an album I listened to on repeat because it just reflected how I felt. It was a time where I was lonely, depressed and just had this darkness inside me. When I couldn’t sleep I’d listen to it, along with others, when my mind was going at 100 miles per hour. It was more than just an album to me.

I’m listening to Minutes to Midnight as I write this, feeling so damn emotional. Hell, I don’t even know if this post will make sense. There are so many of us out there with physical, emotional and mental scars. Music was one of the things that saved me, I listen to this album and remember the strength I got from it and the thought that Chester was so low when he helped so many of us just breaks my heart. For his family, his band mates, his fans and the rock community it’s a terrible day.

When things like this happen we need to reach out to those who are struggling or who have struggled in the past. We need to listen to each other, love each other and make it ok for anyone to talk when they’re struggling. I’m not talking about waiting lists and doctors, I’m talking about and every one of us having empathy and openness for those around us.

If you’re reading this and struggling, it’s ok. You’re allowed to feel that way. If this news has knocked you for six, that’s okay too. There’s no clear guidelines or way to have a mental illness, you never know what is going to bring you to your knees. You’re allowed to feel and hurt. Remember you are valuable, you are loved and you are worth it. Reach out to people who love you, practice self-care and speak to someone.

Rest in Peace Chester, thank you so much. 

 

If you need to speak to someone please contact the Samaritans, don’t suffer in silence.