Looking After Your Mental Health Over The Holidays

Blogmas 2019: Looking After Your Mental Health Over The Holidays

Ah Christmas, jolliness, lights, and joy – right? But what if you’re not feeling like that during the holidays? It’s worth remembering that for a load of reasons this time of year can be tough for people. They may be living with depression, dealing with grief, not be able to celebrate or could be dealing with a mental health condition.

So here’s a few things to remember to look after your own mental health.

You’re allowed to take a break when you need one

The world might seem like it’s go, go, go over the break but that doesn’t mean you have to. Even if it’s a bath at night or having a cup of tea and 5 minutes to yourself – having a little me time is ok and should be encouraged!

Remember that your social media feeds aren’t always real life

Last New Years Eve I was really ill with a chest infection and while everyone else way partying I was in my PJs and asleep while Ali worked. Christmas is full of decorations, parties and Best 9’s most people aren’t sharing their hardest parts, the days where they cried, their break outs and break ups!

If you have toxic family members in your life you don’t have to spend it with them

I know a lot of people who have tense and sometimes unhealthy relationships with their family but still drag themselves to spend time with them because ‘Christmas is for family’. If it’s detrimental for your physical or mental health then you don’t need to go. If you can’t get out of it try to limit your time where possible – also bathrooms are great places to take a minute to yourself!

Know it’s ok to be sad or tired

This Christmas is going to be a tough one for me and I know there will be times when I’ll be sad. It’s my first Christmas in 12 years without my dog. I will have also worked 7 days straight before so I might not be as festive as I normally am but I’m working on not feeling guilty about it.

Only drink alcohol if you want to!

There’s a lot of pressure to drink around this time, you don’t want to? Then don’t! Also remember no one turns down a designated driver!

Know it’s okay if you need to just get through it

Take it one day at a time.

If anyone comments on your weight eat them

Yep, I know it’s an old joke but I hope it gave you a laugh.

Do you have anything you would add? Let me know below.

Talking About Periods And Mental Health

In the words of Lily Allen – ‘Periods, we all get periods. Every month, yo, that’s what the theory is. It’s human nature, another cycle’ yep she cleared it up nicely. The majority of uterus owners have to deal with these regular little rage monsters.

Recently, I’ve been listening to Hormonal by Eleanor Morgan where she talks about her experiences and looks at the wider cultural issue. It’s something I’ve struggled with in the last 12 years. I know I’m not the only one that struggles with their mental health when on their period. I am teary, anxious and stressed. I feel incredibly low and struggle with my self worth.

What about contraception? People ask well. For me, it does precisely nothing to help my anxiety and depression on my period and while I feel weak to let people know I’m feeling down because of my period (thanks to the patriarchy for that!) it’s completely true.

The thing is, why don’t we talk more about our mental health on our periods? This is something that impacts a lot of the the population and it is valid. If it were another medical condition we could be more mindful something that causes depression and mood swings alongside medical symptoms?

I know that for at least a week a month I don’t feel like myself. I feel like something within me takes over, I question everything, my confidence deflates. All because of a natural process which happens to make my mental illness worse.

I guess I’m writing to say that we are silenced and made to think that it’s embarrassing and that it only happens to us – which is not true! I’m yet to meet a woman who isn’t negatively impacted by their hormones. We’re not weak, we’re not overreacting, we are most importantly not alone.

Let me know about your experiences below!

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.

Book Review: Eat, Drink, Run How I Got Fit Without Going Too Mad – Bryony Gordon

Bryony Gordon was not a runner. A loafer, a dawdler, a drinker, a smoker, yes. A runner, no. In April 2017, less than a year after she had weighed herself at over 16 stone but stepped off the scales and started training anyway, Bryony Gordon ran all 26 and 3/4 miles of the London Marathon.

If you’re friends with me on Goodreads you’ll know that I’ve adored every book I have read by Bryony Gordon – she’s funny, intelligent and just gets it. Although, this is the one I took longest to pick up. It was about running, something I can’t stand at all – would I really enjoy it? Read on friend, but I think you’ll work out pretty early on what the answer is.

One of the things I like most about Bryony is that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She knows how to laugh at herself and it’s a relief, you feel like you can laugh along too. Calling Prince Harry Hazza? Classic Bryony. Signing up the London Marathon without knowing how long it was? I laughed a lot while reading this and I think most people will.

This is more than a story of just running a marathon, it’s about battling your mental health, finding comfort in others and not giving up. Bryony started something called Mental Health Mates (more about it here) where a bunch of ‘mad’ people could have a get together and walk which is a bloody brilliant idea.

Again, Bryony covers another section of her life and health with unflinching honesty. She talks about the toll that writing Mad Girl had on her mental health and how walking and running gave her a little bit of sanity. Also, if you’re a fan of her other books, there are plenty of Harry’s brilliant reactions to Bryony’s shenanigans too.

If you’re worried this will be a prechy and self righteous book about the power of exercise, don’t be. Yes, Bryony found a love for running but she doesn’t try and force it on the reader at all, she simply writes about the joy and the many challenges she faced.

I found this to be funny, relatable and because of that I gave it 5 stars. Another excellent and honest book by Bryony – she truly is a wonderful human and I can’t wait to see what she gets up to next. Also, I listened to this as an audiobook and can highly recommend!

When There’s ‘Nothing’ To Be Depressed About

I realise that I haven’t been talking as much about mental health awareness recently. It’s still something I’m passionate about but for the past few months I’ve struggled with my own health, meaning the last thing I wanted to do was write about it. In fact whenever I tried I just couldn’t get the words on the page.

It would be easier if depression only came when something bad happened. That might not sound right but I believe that. You see if depression follows something terrible, people can understand it. When there’s a reason, people are kinder, mostly because they can at least have empathy for someone. They can imagine themselves in your situation.

What about when everything is…good, or even just fine. When life is going swimmingly and there’s no reason for you to be depressed, to feel hopeless. From the outside looking in people would want your life. I’ve found myself there time and time again. Days or even weeks where I feel so low and there’s no reason – and I’m not alone.

These periods of deep sadness, emptiness and loneliness are the descriptions of depression. It’s the difference between feeling sad and having a diagnosable condition. Even with that in mind, some people don’t get it. I think we’ve all been guilty of having the thought of what do they have to be depressed about? Usually talking about a celebrity or successful person.

Here’s the thing, depression doesn’t exclude anyone. It doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank, where you live, who you are – it is an illness. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, it’s a deficiency in the body, but so often that is forgotten.

I beat myself up so much when everything is going ‘right’ but I’m in the depths of depression. I know there will be at least one person that is reading this who can agree and maybe we all need to be that little bit kinder to each other. Maybe, we need to let people feel what they need to feel, what their body is making them feel. That’s not to say we can’t help and we can’t try to make ourselves better but knowing our feelings are valid.

What do you think? Let me know below.

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!

Book Review: The Year I Didn’t Eat – Samuel Pollen

14-year-old Max has a fight on his hands. Living with Anorexia is tough enough without having to be at school and trying to keep it secret from your closest friends. As Max writes to ‘Ana’ and tries to navigate his illness he has to deal with the new girl at school who won’t stop staring, family drama and seeing his therapist. Can he beat this?

I was asked if I would like to receive a copy of this novel and I was immediately intrigued. There are very few stories of teenage boys going through an eating disorder, so of course, I wanted to read, I’m incredibly glad I did.

Starting and ending on Christmas day, the novel chronicles a year in Max’s life, alongside writing a diary to his disorder – aptly named Ana. This was a particular highlight for me, the writing was emotional but not sad – I actually laughed a fair bit reading this. Pollen isn’t trying to make Max a sympathy figure. The combination of the diary entries and showing some of the obsessive thoughts was incredibly well done –  I could see similarities between Max’s and my own thoughts from our respective mental illnesses.

It is mentioned a few times within the novel the disconnect that Max feels from what is stereotypically viewed as what a with Anorexia looks like – a teenage girl. By confronting this head-on, Pollen shows insight into something incredibly important – anyone can get a mental illness. The fact that Max is a teenage boy, known for being quite geeky with a loving family and great friends and still has these problems reinforces that.

This shows a new level of representation that is rarely seen, in fact, I don’t believe I have ever read a novel featuring a guy with an eating disorder – which is absurd! I’m hopeful that this will start more conversations. The fact that Pollen has drawn on his own experiences makes this even more realistic.

The novel shows not only the impact that eating disorders have on the person with the illness but also the pressure it can put on families. We meet Max’s family and often feel for them as much as him. That said, despite the hardships faced, Max’s relationship with his older brother Robin was probably my favourite part. They truly seem to care for each other and Robin’s encouragement of Geocaching really seems to be a turning point.

Of course, this is a tough read and it does give descriptions of disordered eating and calories – if these are tough for you to read it might be worth picking this up at a later point.

Is it any surprise that I gave this 5 stars?  This is a novel that needed to be written. Showing that eating disorders can affect anyone and that, by talking about it, we have more of a chance of helping those going through it. I absolutely adored this novel – it will truly make its mark. I truly feel that this will make people feel less alone.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Conker communications for the chance to read this in exchange for an open and honest review.