Mental Heath Week 2018 Round-Up

MHAW18 – The Round Up

Well, what a week it has been! After writing all week about different aspects of mental health I’m so pleased with the response. I’ve been amazed by the responses, the number of people reading, it’s been amazing! That said, I know that not everyone checks in every day with my blog (it’s ok, I’ll forgive you) so here’s a round-up of this weeks posts!

Welcome to MHAW18 

A big welcome to the week and a heads up about what I’m planning to do with it.

Does Therapy Work?

One of the big questions in the community is about therapy and whether it works, so I decided to talk about it and why it’s good to talk!

10 Ways To Support Someone With A Mental Illness

It can be really hard to support someone who is mentally ill. So I’ve put together some tips on how to support someone with a mental illness and what might work for you and them.

My Top 10 Mental Health Reads 

Of course, I was going to talk about books! I’ve picked 10 reads I thought did it right when it comes to mental illness.

I Have, I Am – Talking About Mental Illness 

I’m really interested in the terminology we use to discuss our mental health. This post was to discuss that and how we relate ourselves and our illnesses.

How Am I Doing Right Now? 

My own personal post about my mental health right now and how I’m doing. I try and write one of these every year just being honest about how I’ve been doing, what place I’m in right now.

I’ve enjoyed writing and getting to know more of you this week. We have to remember that this week is excellent but mental health awareness needs to carry on. It needs to be spoken about without shame or stigma.

Thanks so much for reading!

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!

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!

7 ways to Help Your Mental Health Day to Day

As the days have gotten shorter and it’s a lot darker, anyone’s mental health can take a hit. Recently, while having a medication review, I spoke to a doctor about medication and dosages. He told me that he does not unless he has to for the patient, lower or bring anyone off of antidepressants in the winter months.

I completely understand why he does this. A lot of people feel good at the end of the summer, it’s been warm, there might have been holidays or romance and a lot of time outside the house. In the Autumn & Winter, however, it can get harder.

So, how can we help ourselves, well…

Recognise when you’re not feeling great

Remember that it’s ok not to be ok, it’s like a giant light has gone off for the world, it’s going to knock you! That and it’s cold, not exactly the best conditions to be happy. Know that it’s ok to feel that way and you’re certainly not the only one.

Try and leave the house 

Despite the temperature drop try and go outside. Throw on a big jumper and a coat and go somewhere. It can be as simple as popping to the shop or going for a 10 minute walk.

Practice self-care 

Self-care is really important in whichever way you chose to do it. I’m trying to be healthier and not rely on food  so, recently, I’ve found a nice bath and some poetry makes me feel a lot better.

Make a list of things to look forward to 

I used to really struggle with my day to day because I wasn’t happy with my personal situation. I needed a reason to look forward so I started making notes and writing on calendars at least one thing I was looking forward to. I didn’t need to be anything big but I had a focus point.

Take your time

Take your time with building yourself up. There’s no rush to be the happiest person or to shake off feelings. We’re all different and we all have our own challenges.

Get enough sleep! 

I cannot stress this enough. Sleep is so important to our lives, make sure you get the amount of sleep you need. I know that I can deal with 6 hours a night but to be fully functioning I need 8 hours.

Make sure you eat 

I’m awful at this, I’ll admit that I’m awful at this. When I’m absorbed in something, or when I’m sad food is something I forget about. Don’t be me! Make sure you’re eating and fuelling your body.

World Suicide Prevention Day 2017 – Tips for Tough Days

It’s World Suicide Prevention Day 2017, each year it’s something that I dedicate a post to because it’s important. The fact that we need a day for suicide prevention shows something. We live incredibly busy lives, we’re constantly going, going, going, looking at the world around us and having 24-hour news and updates on the good, and bad in the world. It can all get a little too much. When you’re at your lowest ebb, and suicide seems like an option, it’s hard to know what to do to help, if there is any help at all when you’re slowed down struggling to cope while the world seems so fast. So, for this year I wanted to share some tips, for the days when everything seems too much.

Know that it’s ok to unplug

I love social media and growing my following BUT, sometimes it’s too much. To see other people seemingly having a great time when you’re not feeling great it’s ok to switch off for a while and turn off your internet and just be.

Speak to, or be around, people that love you 

This is so important. It doesn’t matter who these people are, but it can help to be cared for in the smallest of ways.

Get some natural light 

Hear me out. I’ve been in those times where my mind tells me to just lie in the darkness and just sleep, mainly when I was living alone at uni. When you get up, open the curtains or try to go outside for 10-15 minutes. Natural light can really do you good. If not you can get a lamp to replicate light, which also helps with SAD (Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder).

Try and do something you enjoy 

I know it can be really hard when you’re in the darkest parts of depression but even a little something can make you feel a little better. Maybe listen to an album you like, do something creative, cook? Whatever you feel up to doing. I, personally, try to listen to some music or write.

Allow yourself to cry 

My boyfriend is on tour right now, it’s tough. For the past week I’ve been trying to keep myself busy all the time, every evening pushing my mind and my body to distract myself. Yesterday I finally let myself acknowledge that I was missing him and had a good old ‘ugly cry’, didn’t set my alarm and just slept for as long as my body needed.

Know it’s ok not to be ok 

I wrote a whole post on this a while back, it’s ok not to feel ok. It’s part of life and if you have a mental illness it’s a part of life you know all too well. We have down days, sometimes we relapse, it’s all part of recovery.

Know that someone loves you

It can be so hard to remember this. Someone in the world loves you, so much. You’re worth this life. I promise.

If you need any help or are feeling suicidal please, please talk to someone. In the UK you can contact the Samaritans, they can talk things over with you on 116 123. If you feel like you’re in immediate danger of harming yourself please call an ambulance.

Sunday Seven: Ways to kick anixiety’s butt!

I know that sometimes, it can feel like you don’t have anxiety, you are absorbed by the sneaky bugger. Right now, I’m pleased that I’m managing my anxiety, but now and again, of course, I have my moments where I wonder if I’ll feel ok again. It’s on these days it is that little bit harder here are 7 things you can do.

Write a list of things you need to do 

Only what you need to get done, don’e be consumed by something you need to get done tomorrow or next week. Break big tasks down and take it day by day.

Be kind to yourself

When I’m in an anxious state, I know most of the time that it’s not logical. That there are things I’m anxious about that I don’t need to be or I’ll beat myself up over small things. Know that you’re just having a bad day, it will pass.

Get some light in!

Natural sunlight is a great mood booster even five minutes can help you out so open those windows.

Make sure you have contact with positive people 

It can be really hard, particularly if your anxiety means you want or need to be alone but make sure that you can contact people who make you feel comfortable.

Do something you enjoy 

Read, watch a TV show you love, colour do something you enjoy that you’ll find relaxing.

Express how you feel!

Only you will know the best way to calm your anxious mind but don’t bottle it up. For some doing something creative will help unleash how you feel, for others making something or solving a problem. Whatever works, you do you!

What are your tips? Let me know in the comments below!

Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 on chloemetzger.com

MHAW

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, as my regular readers know I’m really big on promoting awareness, sharing my own experiences with mental health and just generally getting mental health in every day conversation. Whether we like it or not there’s still a stigma attached to mental health issues and it’s not the way it should be BUT with weeks like this we can end the stigma sooner rather than later.

This week I’ve decided to relate all my posts to raising awareness of mental health. I’ve got posts planned around my experience, opinions, books related to mental health, motivation – it’s all going to be going on over here! As always I’d love to hear for you in the comments, on Twitter. I’ve found that when I’m really not doing well Twitter is one of the places I can talk to people to understand and generally be in a better mood.

I also want to do an honest mood update each day, because sometimes I can go a few weeks of feeling fine and then it’ll go downhill, it’s the ways of having Depression. For today I’ve been really sleep deprived so my mood hasn’t been the best, I’m at a really overwhelming point in my life and everything’s changing so I think that’s to be expected.

I can’t wait to write this week and raise as much awareness as possible! As always leave comments and questions below!

Book Review: Sane New World: Taming the Mind – Ruby Wax

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As this week is Depression Awareness Week I decided to add this weeks book review into the theme and have picked Ruby Wax’s first book about Mental Health and Mindfulness. The choice behind this was because Ruby was coming to visit my university and I wanted to know more about her views on Mental Health. Unfortunately I couldn’t go to the talk because I just had too much work to get on with and finish BUT I did manage to work my way through Ruby’s first book.I will say before I start this is not what I would class as a memoir, although there are snippets into Wax’s life it more of a big jumble of personal opinion, science and illustrations . Not what I expected, but not bad either.

Although Ruby Wax is a known entertainer she also studied the brain at Oxford University in an attempt to better understand her own mind and the problems she has. Through the book wax tries to simplify the complex nature of the brain into something that anyone with an interest can understand. Apart from the diagrams and scientific names for all parts of the brain, Wax also tries to engage with the practice of Mindfulness and how it can be used in our busy everyday lives. It is because of this that the four sections of the book don’t seem to fit as well as they possibly could have, while I admire Wax for trying to speak about these incredibly complex scientific matters, it does at time feel like too much information that isn’t resolved. For example the second half of the book is focused on Mindfulness and techniques, exercises and stories of the use, leaving the science pretty much forgotten (in my case at least). It almost felt as if this would have worked much better as two books, or even one much bigger book because both seem like they need more time and space to be fully understood.

I think the way to describe her opinion and how it is portrayed is very marmite, you either love it or hate it. Unfortunately I was not a fan of some of Wax’s opinions, I feel like she could come across as slightly rude or even ignorant of other people. There is a heavy presence of wanting to prove herself to people in her past, and while there is nothing wrong with that the sections about her mother in particular seem to be misplaced in the book, almost as if it was a haha look at how far I’ve come. While Wax is incredibly honest about her experiences, it can leave people feeling slightly negative, there are some instances where Wax has tried to make jokes and in the process can come across as quite mean or rude to whole scores of people. This is one of the main problems with the book, it appears that Wax still has a great deal to learn about the people behind the statistics and the lives of others. She may be incredibly open about her own experiences but it comes across that she only see’s others as the numbers and reports she saw at Oxford, rather than the people behind them.

I will say though that the exercises that are in the book are great and a good way to start looking into Mindfulness. It’s definitely something that I want to look into further after reading Wax’s suggestions, thoughts and experiences. That said, I did find her very dismissive of the practice of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), something I myself use. Again Wax quotes statistics to back up her point, but this was another instance where I felt that she didn’t see it through the eyes of someone who does get a great deal of help from CBT.

Overall I gave Wax’s first book 3 stars (***), while I appreciate the topic and the fact that it opened conversations it felt really all over the place as a book. It was almost as if Wax couldn’t decide whether she wanted the book to be science based, opinion based or technique based and so all three have been kind of thrown together in a few hundred pages. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading, I did, but I found the narrative and some of the comments to really put me off of reading and so it took me a long time to sit and get myself through it.

As always I’d love to hear your comments, what do you think of this book, of CBT? Leave me a message down below!

 

 

Back to the Routine

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When you’re in a depressed cycle, getting back into routine after a string of bad days can feel like a mammoth task. This morning I wanted to go back to bed as soon as I woke up, I didn’t want to face going to uni, being around people and facing up to my responsibilities now I’m back from being sick. Urgh. My mentor said she was really proud of me for trying to get back into the swing of things, even though I felt so overwhelmed this morning and just wanted to pull the duvet over my head and cry. From being sick and my body being so exhausted I’d fallen into my depression again and it wanted to pull me down and strangle me.

For someone who doesn’t know much about living with depression and anxiety it might seem like I’m being melodramatic or a giant cliché and I hate that. I hate that there is this sense that I have to defend myself when I’m feeling back enough, so I’ve stopped. I’ve decided to be honest with people and then just see how things go because, frankly, I’m exhausted. I can’t use my energy trying to make myself feel better because other people don’t or don’t want to understand. I’m lucky that I have got a lot of people around me who do support me when I’m struggling, but that doesn’t stop me feeling alone sometimes.

It’s going to be harder to keep routine now that most of my classes have ended and it might not be as strict, but being down has reminded me how important it is. I know that I have some big challenges for me in terms of my illness coming up, I’m going to have to deal with a lot of uncertainty and a lot of change. Am I scared? Absolutely. It’s like my own personal nightmare, leaving somewhere I’ve laid down roots, become the person I wanted to be and feel safe. No one here knows the old me and the way I used to be, the thought of returning to a town where a lot of people know the old me is terrifying, because I don’t want to go back to being that sad and terrified young girl I was. So I’m trying to learn now, get a toolbox of things that make me feel better and the knowledge I need to be able to fight my fears head on and getting back into routine is just the start.

 

 

Picking myself up

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Making myself get out of the flat despite feeling rough 

When I woke up this morning I knew leaving the flat wasn’t going to be easy, I managed to get up later than I though but I get felt deflated, miserable. When I feel like this I know it’s normal for me to stay in the flat, hide from people and that makes my mood worse. I made the conscious decision to throw on some clothes and go pick up some breakfast in an attempt to try and bring myself up a little before my driving lesson this afternoon.

I felt awful, paranoid and generally gross. While other girls were walking around in glamorous maxis and flipflops I was in my usual jeans and converses. I started to use the techniques that I had learnt with my mentor and started questioning why I was anxious, why I was nervous and a strange thing happened…they started to work. It’s a real turning point for me. I don’t know if this will stay but I hope it does.