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.

Being Kind To Myself During Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

At the start of the week I wrote my post to announce that it was Mental Health Awareness Week and my intention to publish a post every day…you might have noticed that it didn’t happen.

I spoke about the theme being kind to yourself and to others. In the end it was something that I needed to do for myself – which also meant not posting online. I was struck by a particularly nasty migraine earlier in the week and felt pretty rough physically and mentally for the rest of it.

One evening I was trying to write a post on ways to be kind to yourself and it just wasn’t working. Ali pointed out that I wasn’t being kind to myself – that quality was more important than quantity. I agreed and said I would take the time and see what happened. Today is the first time I’ve felt up to writing a new blog.

I had to remind myself that while I love writing the blog and interacting with people, if I’m not up to it nothing bad is going to happen. If I take time off, no one will hate me. It’s also part of the work I’ve been doing within therapy sessions – to be more compassionate to myself and mostly give myself a break.

Writing this is partially because I wanted to say what happened and to show that you need to practice what you preach.

Be kind to yourself.

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.

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Seven - Little Wins

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Seven – Little Wins

Yesterday I fell asleep at 8.30pm, hence there lack of blog and I think I needed it. While I have been going to bed earlier I’ve felt absolutely exhausted and I think that’s to do with my mental health.

A lot of people are struggling mentally right now and it makes total sense as to why. Even people who don’t live with mental health difficulties are finding it tough right now, which is completely valid. That said, I’m fine to admit that I am mentally struggling, as I said before a lot of my mechanisms aren’t available right now.

It’s because of this that I’m focusing on the small wins every day. Today I’ve managed to get up, get showered, get dressed, eat fairly regularly and work. It might not sound like much but having some kind of motivation was great.

Getting big wins can feel pretty impossible for most of us right now. So by focusing on something as small as getting showered and dressed in the morning, getting a little work done or something that we enjoy should be enough.

I set out the 4 things that I want to do every day and I’m trying to stick to them as best I can it gives me something to aim for that doesn’t take much out of me. At the end of the say I’m still living with a chronic health condition and a mental illness. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not superhuman, that I have to do what I have to do.

What are your little wins?

How To Look After Your Mental Health When The World Isn't Helping

How To Look After Your Mental Health When The World Isn’t Helping

Watching the news can stress anyone out and when you’re already got a battle in your own head sometimes it can feel like too much – trust me I’ve been there.

When I was in my late teens I would wake up in the morning and over my cup of tea I’d scroll through the BBC News app to see what had happened overnight (so, painfully British I know). It was a simpler time where the news didn’t make me want to cry. I digress, kind of.

From around 2016 I couldn’t do it anymore because it was making me incredibly miserable, I’ll leave you to work out why. In the past 4 years, I haven’t seen much improvement BUT I have come up with ways to help when the world really, really isn’t.

Don’t be afraid to take time out.

I want to know what’s going on in the world, of course I do, but if I’m not feeling great I don’t mind not reading or watching the news. If I do want to know I will make it short.

Surround yourself with the good in your life and the world

I’ll seek out good news, see friends and family that make me feel happy or fall into a good book where I can get away from the real world. Trust me, it works wonders.

Be considerate of who you’re following and how they make you feel

I’m a big believer in filling my feed with positivity and people I find interesting or can look up to. I’m not switching off from reality but things I can control I will, including my Twitter and Instagram.

Find comedy about the situation – or let someone else do it for you

In the UK I love The Last Leg and Have I Got News For You. I also watch a LOT of the late-night hosts in the UK via YouTube, I love the Jimmy’s and my fave Stephen Colbert to see the news in an amusing but still intelligent way.

Talk about how you feel

I can guarantee that other people will feel the same; overwhelmed and more than likely fed up.

Remember, it may look bleak but it won’t always be

It’s called a news cycle for a reason, we’re going to get through it.

Book Review: It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue And Other Lies – Edited By Scarlett Curtis

It’s OK if everything might feel a bit overwhelming.
It’s OK to talk about it.
It’s OK to not want to talk about it.
It’s OK to find it funny.
It’s OK to be human.”

Back with another book of tackling taboos Scarlett Curtis is talking about mental health and she has even more people coming to write this time.

I pre-ordered this as soon as I found out about it because I absolutely adored the first book Scarlett put together Feminists Don’t Wear Pink And Other Lies , it was a real eye opener and one of my favourites about Feminism. And while this collection is bigger, I can understand why – the topic is something that impacts everyone whether it’s you or someone close to you.

With names such as Emilia Clarke, Adam Kay, Matt Haig, Bryony Gordon, Emma Thompson and Naomi Campbell lending their personal stories and essays to the collection it was going to be interesting. We see these people on the TV, online, out in the world doing great things but knowing that even those who are great have struggled or continue to make people feel less alone.

This is definitely one to pick up and read as much as you can because there are some really heavy subjects in here, obviously, and I definitely think that you need to consider how you’re feeling before you read it. That said, there really is something for everyone in here, no matter what you’ve been through or felt.

About half way through the book I found myself struggling to differentiate between the stories so I switched to the audiobook and found it so much better. A mix of voice actors and those who could read their own stories were recorded. Personally, that made it for me and, stangely, made it more real.

I gave this 4.5 stars. This is the kind of book that we need more of in the world so we know that people are not alone and keep the conversation around mental health going. I think this will be impactful, partly because Scarlett has managed to get well known names that people look up to.

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!