Blog, Sharing, Uncategorized

COVID-19 is causing me the worst mood swings!

Well, I live alone. Thankfully with two cats. Thankful because if I felt truly alone, I can see how my mental health could be quite different right now.

Some days are good, feeling positive and happy and focusing on the things that I can get done and things that I can plan towards for the next few months. I know there is much I want to change in my life and this does seem a good opportunity to focus on those. I am getting decorating done, organising belongings, having a lot of time for me. Thinking time, relaxing time.

On the flip side, I can have days when I am completely defeated. I want to just sob in my bed and not leave the front door. I don’t have a garden, and so I don’t have the option to laze around in the sun, in privacy. The angle of my house means that I get minimal sunlight in it too, which does not include my bedroom or the lounge, unfortunately. I feel that affects my mood.

I feel for those who are lonely, those without pets or house mates. Those who’s mental health was not great before lockdown. They will undoubtedly be struggling at the moment. I hope they do get some help through charities or the NHS or family / friends who live locally. It’s a sobering and sickening thought that many will lose their lives from their own inflictions during these strange times.

I can’t imagine how things are in the hospitals. The psychological effect of this on health workers must be so immense. I hope that there is support given to them, with no cap. They are going to need to be supported from now until well into the future. It’s just not natural to see that many people die. Today on the news they confirmed that 1 in 2 cases in intensive care do not survive the coronavirus..

The general public do not see this every day scene at hospitals or care homes. I think this ignorance will be one reason that many people are flouting the rules of staying at their own homes and socially distancing themselves. They are blissfully ignorant. This is by no means an excuse of course, and it makes me furious to think they are putting my family and friends at risk by doing whatever they please. When people like me who are totally alone are playing by the rules, and then those living with their family and have company each day are going out of their way to see others, my blood boils.

I shall continue to make the most of the days that are good, and on the crap days I will remind myself that tomorrow may be better.

I send love to all of you continuing to do your part at this difficult time. I send love to those who have lost a loved one to COVID-19.

Fingers crossed when this virus goes, it does not surface again! And may we never have to live through these circumstances again.

 

Reflection, Sharing, Uncategorized

Podcasts, careers & skin picking

I must say, podcasts have changed my life. Specifically women such as Elizabeth Day with How To Fail, Fearne Cotton with Happy Place and Bryony Gordon with Mad World. When I was still living in London I listened to Maya Jama’s podcast, When Life Gives You Melons, which was amazing but unfortunately there haven’t been any new episodes since September 2018.

There is something very reassuring and comforting that there are others who can connect with you on a certain level. Even more so that this is possible with strangers. I love the fact that they are women who are supporting others whilst learning to make their own way through life. I love that this material is available for normal people like us to listen to. I love that their experiences are shared, just the same as their guests.

I’ve just been for a long walk and listened to the latest Happy Place episode, which has Fearne Cotton ‘interviewing’ Elizabeth Day. A truly wonderful episode. It’s left me feeling inspired yet again to work out some form of plan for my life or just work out the direction I would like it to go in so that I can form an idea of what to do next (first).

Since moving in with my boyfriend (long story there as well, probably will be something I write about in a coming post), I have had some more time to be able to sit. Time to identify things and reflect. Time to actually see how I am feeling. Having time to just do nothing is definitely a welcome change, although it’s a lot to get used to. I don’t feel bored by sitting on my own and thinking. I feel like there is absolutely not enough time in the world for it. No wonder so many of us dream about winning the jackpot on the lottery – if we had time to sit and think, ponder, dream, evaluate… and not have to work to have money… we could do so much for ourselves and others.

The absolute need here is definitely to do a job that you love. One that doesn’t feel a chore to do, and you can earn a sense of achievement from doing it.

How do so many of us get stuck in this trap of working to just earn some money to live? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why would we not strive harder to do a job we love and which brings us daily satisfaction? Is this me being lazy? Can’t be. It’s just making certain decisions. I work incredibly hard at my job, it’s not the easy way out. It’s just not the dream. I spend too much time and brain power at work; it stops me working on alternative things later on, the subjects I would love to focus on more and perhaps start a new career in.

The next thing I need to do is start to do things when I’m alone with no plans. Skin picking is still a problem which manifests itself in nail biting and picking at my face, but does involve picking my legs and bikini line, breasts and upper arms.  If I used this time to do more constructive things, it would (obviously) end up being rewarding when I get things done. Skin picking reduced a lot over the last few months, although I’d say in the last couple of weeks it’s reared it’s ugly head more often, and for longer stints.

Hopefully starting up on this blog again will help me with getting my ducks in a row. Find out what I need to focus my time on more, and help me figure out a plan. There is a certain feeling of needing to work towards something that my aunt Paula would be proud of. She’s made such a huge impact on my life, in positive ways, and since she changed my life so much I definitely want to bear her in mind when making my next steps.

Blog, Body Dysmorphia Disorder, OCD, Reflection, Sharing

How did I not know?!

Dermatillomania … Have you ever heard of it? I hadn’t until last night! 

Well I have been suffering with this for 16 years, getting progressively worse over time. And I had absolutely no idea that it was a ‘thing’. And right now I can’t actually believe it. 

Last night I was reading about OCD and ways that people with body dymorphia disorder pick at their skin, because I’ve always done this and never spoken to anybody about it. In more extreme cases it is about harming yourself as well as trying to rid your skin of imperfections. And this part definitely resonates with me. 

Numerous times I’ve thought about how it possibly could be named self harm because of the damage I’ve done and continue to inflict upon myself, but because it’s not the mainstream image of self harm (excuse my ignorance here, the only self harm I’ve ever known about are ways such as cutting skin on wrists and legs etc with blades and sharper objects) I’ve told myself to stop being dramatic. In turn that’s stopped me getting help. 

I just didn’t know. 

There is also the huge deal of actually asking for help. The thought of having to show my affected areas to people fills me with so much dread. From going swimming where I don’t know anyone, the gym and only having my shorter pants clean, to going abroad and having to wear shorter clothes and possibly even swimwear. Going for smear tests is a huge thing every time it’s due (I have to go every year too because of abnormal cells being found in my first test) and the doctors for general tests. Never mind getting naked in front of my partner and being totally visible.

Every single relationship I have ever had (and still have) in my life have all been affected by this problem. It’s literally ruled the way I live for over half of my life. And now I need help.

Blog, Reflection, Sharing

New Years Epiphany

This next year, alcohol consumption is going to be limited per month to 8 drinks or something. Maybe even less. I can’t deal with feeling so rubbish all of the time, or the hangover stopping me from doing things I want/need to do. The tablets I take all say to avoid alcohol where possible and I haven’t been doing it. I don’t want that to hinder my recovery.

2017 has been a difficult year.

I bought my house in January for my Dad to live in, because he can’t get a mortgage. He’s still not moved in because the house hasn’t been finished. The most frustrating thing in my life is that it’s not finished and I’ve been paying the mortgage and bills for the house for one whole year now. Next month I will take a few days off work and have a solid week at the house and finish it. My dad can get the same week off and together we can get it sorted.

My Nan died in March after a sudden deterioration in her health, and that shook the family heavily. My Nan and Grandad are the head of our family and definitely are the centre of everything, especially for my mum and dad, sisters, brother and I. Still I struggle to process the news and it makes me feel awful that my grieving for her still hasn’t happened.

On the 2nd July our family found out that my brother was expecting a baby boy.  The first grandchild of the family. The pregnancy had been kept from us (as far as I’m aware) because of family issues on his girlfriend’s side and partially because they had only just become an item and so were nervous about us not loving the news. Of course they were wrong! It turns out they had their first scan the day after my Nan’s funeral. My poor brother, having that the day before such a special experience.

On 7th July my aunt passed away. Two deaths in the second family, a mother and daughter. My Grandad was broken and my mum found it so hard. For the last few weeks of her life, my aunt had been in hospital – her cancer had spread and she wasn’t in a good way. At the time I didn’t know the extent of it, but it turns out the disease was not only in her spine, but her pelvis, kidneys, hips, lungs, heart, neck and brain. News that I couldn’t process. Again, news that I still haven’t managed to deal with. I helped care for my aunt for the last 2 years of her life and in that time she became part of my life in a big way. The gap she left is like a hole in the head.

There have been ups and downs in my relationship. Mostly up, I’m happy to report. My depression has definitely impacted the relationship and so getting around that and trying to get better for the sake of us is very important to me.

Having gone though so much this year and living so far from my family has highlighted how much I need them in my life. Perhaps in the next two years it’s going to mean a move back up north somewhere. When it comes to owning a house and having more money to enjoy life, it certainly makes sense.

Counselling is going well and although I have a long way to go, it’s definitely been a leaving curve.  I have thought more about events in my life that have affected me, and also about how I feel.

The road to recovery is still stretched out long before me, but I know that I’ll tread that path this year, getting closer each week to the finishing line.

Blog, Sharing

When it all gets a bit much

Reflecting on my life is becoming part of my every day life. It’s becoming second nature, thinking about how I actually feel about things and how different actions and events shape my life.

This morning I went to counselling with the feeling that every decision I’ve made in my life has been wrong. That everything I have now isn’t correct, and if only I could reverse my life 18 years, I might be able to save it. My career would be different, I’d react differently to situations and shape the person I am into something quite unrecognisable. Now I’m this far into my life, changing it all would impact many lives and be extremely difficult. Am I too late?

The truth of the matter is that I am 27. Surely that’s young enough to do anything?

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My counsellor spoke to me about how I’m feeling about work, and listened to how deflated I am feeling. Working so hard every day to make sure you do everything absolutely to the best of your ability, to feel like there is no acknowledgement. Rewards are out of the question… I’d like to at least feel the management of the business actually realise who you are and the value you bring to their company. She understood this, and then asked about the positives, and what I can focus on as the good in a bad situation. I ended up leaving the session feeling like there were many options for me going forward, and that this job may not be my dream but that it’s just how life works. In odd time and in odd order. No matter the order of things happening though, it’s important to remember you’ll still get to the end goal.

This morning I signed up for Spotify. There’s a deal on at the moment which is just £0.99 for 3 months, and then full price after that. It seemed to good to be true – I am missing music so much right now. It’s always been a large part of my life but in recent times my head has been silent – muted of music, but loud with the scream of my thoughts. I’ve discovered the playlists on Spotify and my god, they are genius. Right now whilst writing this I have The Stress Buster on, and it is beautiful. Definitely worth a go.

Time to lay, listen, breathe and appreciate.

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Blog, Sharing

A Quick One

Trying to make this blog run in any order or make total sense, I’m afraid, is currently impossible. I find my mind flitting from one thing to the next, totally uncontrollably. Bear with me!

I find my counselling sessions are just as frustrating. Things are taken from my shoulders be being shared with my counsellor, but often I start on one subject and then it seems to seamlessly change to another 6 subjects, without fully exploring the first thing. If this sounds familiar, then you’re not alone!

My mum described this to me last week, and ever since, I’ve felt better about it:

The issues you have and are sharing with your counsellor is like a knotted ball of string (or fairy lights – lord knows how annoying that is to untangle!). You untangle one knot, and then you’ll find you can untangle another knot at another end of the string. They are not near each other and it’s annoying that you are trying to make the end straight and work along in order. But you can’t.

Each knot you untangle is a tiny bit of straight string. They are all over the place but nevertheless, the bits of straight are becoming larger. Eventually they will meet.

The counselling sessions work in a similar way. It won’t all make sense immediately but eventually it will (hopefully!) fall into place and it’ll make sense.

Do you ever feel like you’re going through the motions of a life but not feeling it?

I am definitely at the stage in my life where I have to change it up.

My counsellor asked me today what me being ‘happy’ looked like. I explained.

Should I be worried that the happy me was slim, well dressed and happy at work but there was no mention of family or friends? At the moment I worry about the meaning of everything I have and haven’t said…

My counsellor then asked me when I was last really happy.

I said I don’t know.

I’ve had happy times in my life and had happy things happen, but I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been 100% happy. All through my life I’ve been horrifically self conscious for many reasons and had drama going on with family which is upsetting at the best of times.

I can’t believe I’ve never been totally content and happy. Although I can’t say I’ve ever been in bliss. How have I not realised this before?!

Blog, Sharing

The moment of realisation.

The moment your brain actually decides to evaluate all of your symptoms and realise that 2 + 2 = depression is a glorious moment. Not only do you realise that no, you didn’t actually turn into a mad man, but you are also able to be cured and not end up in a mental hospital.

For a long while I was suffering with a long list of physical and emotional symptoms and it was getting me seriously down in the dumps. I’m not usually ill in general and for all of my ailments to point to no cure was so frustrating and also worrying. So (eventually) I wrote lists.

The first list was showing all of the things that were on my mind long term, or that were affecting me (mainly making me nervous, stressed or anxious).

  • Loss of Nan
  • Worry for my Grandad now alone
  • Loss of my aunt
  • Worry for my Grandad, Mum and all of that side of the family for the losses of Nan and aunt
  • Fertility worries
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome problems
  • Trying to lose weight
  • Can’t sleep
  • Trying to help cousin with new business
  • Guilt and sadness for another aunt on the same side of the family who’d been recently hospitalised
  • Mum is exhausted and I’m extremely worried she wouldn’t be ok
  • Dad works too much and is too tired and very sad.
  • Work stresses – ridiculous work load, pressure to study, pressure to progress, client visits and events, not any/much support. Work approx 10 hours overtime a week for which I don’t get any overtime pay. Scared of having claims made against me for mistakes or not actioning something that a client has sent, if I’ve missed it.
  • Friends putting pressure on me to meet up and spend money.
  • Flat – just moved out and have loads less money than before
  • Just bought a house – contractors, money, bills, labour that I have to do
  • Living in my overdraft
  • No money to actually enjoy myself.

The second list was a list of every physical symptom I was feeling.

  • Headaches
  • Grinding teeth day and night
  • Bad dreams – loss, death, rejection
  • Exhaustion
  • Dizziness
  • Talking – forgetting words, slurring, mind going blank mid sentence.
  • Sensitive (emotionally)
  • Chest pain – sharp stabbing pain sometimes and makes it painful to breathe
  • The feeling that my head will implode
  • Everything in my head is moving too fast for me to process
  • Sex drive very low
  • Reluctance to get out of bed
  • Just want to be alone, asleep, unconscious
  • Always panicking about dying
  • Ulcers in my mouth sometimes
  • Dippy belly a lot of the time or totally constipated
  • Biting my nails
  • Not worth making an effort with appearance
  • Extremely distracted
  • Clumsy / accident prone
  • Often sweaty even when cold
  • Anxiety

Both lists were pretty long to be honest!

Realising what was wrong and getting the help was like getting to the petrol station with an empty tank. Like I’d been running on empty for so long, hoping to survive, and then finally getting to a pit stop with help at hand.

Listen to your body! It tells you when things are wrong and it’s us that choose to ignore these signs!

I can already say that counselling is absolutely changing my life. I can also say that going on antidepressants was the best thing I could have done too. I was diagnosed with depression in March but thought I’d get through it, and have only just started on Sertraline. I wish I’d started them in April!

If you’re going through hard times, talk to someone trusted about it. Go and see your doctor. Write down how you’re feeling. Get help. Turn it around 🙂

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Blog, Sharing, Uncategorized

Life Lost

In July, 3 days after I turned 27, my aunt died. Aged only 58.

I’d been helping her with bits and bobs through the last 2 years of her time struggling with terminal cancer; attending hospital appointments and treatment as well as staying over at hers just to keep her company.

Right now I wish I’d done so much more.

Before being diagnosed with terminal secondary breast cancer, I didn’t really know my aunt at all. I’d not spent time with her (other than when I’ve been a young child and can’t remember it) and had never visited her house. Now living in London, the opportunity presented itself for me to volunteer as a carer of some sort, which I did.

Not being the easiest of people to read, it was taught trying to get to know my aunt. Where other family members would be loving and openly giving as many hugs and kisses as possible, she was very to the point and methodical. Everything she did was for a specific reason and the way she did things was decided by her previous trial and errors, so if you tried to do anything your own way she was quick to question your motivations for deciding on that specific action. I often felt awkward and unsettled by the fact I couldn’t openly be totally ‘me’, always watching my grammar and pronunciation as well as always double checking her opinion on how I was stacking the dishwasher or making her bed.

It was my aunt who taught me how to do ‘hospital corners’. I remember her being pretty shocked that I hadn’t a clue what she was talking about until she showed me. That is one lesson I will never forget.

Over the course of months and months it turned out that she actually enjoyed my company. Although she never said those words and definitely didn’t laugh at my (obviously) hilarious jokes, she was amused by what came out of my large gob, always challenged my thoughts (in a good way) and always always had time for me. It became a companionship of necessity but I loved knowing that I was keeping her company when perhaps nobody else would have been there.

At this point it’s maybe worth mentioning that my aunt had been single for approximately the last 20 years and so was single, also had no children, lived in north London when most of the wider family lived 200 miles north, and (as far as we know) had many friends, but only a small handful that saw her often. Although they were there when she was sick, they obviously had their own lives and families and so not only did they not have all the time to spend with her but also my aunt didn’t want to feel like she was imposing on them.

I wish she hadn’t felt like she was imposing.

My company was not requested enough, considering how much I could have been there. I didn’t want to push myself on her but reminded her constantly that I’d be there in a heartbeat if she needed me. Or just wanted me to be there. The thought of anybody being lonely is horrific, especially knowing she was suffering physically. Never mind emotionally. How on earth do you go through that without having someone right there with you?!

Bereavement hasn’t yet begun for my aunt or the void she left in my life, but I think about her often. I saved an orchid from her house after she passed which I’m trying my best to care for, and that reminds me of how she loved her plants and growing beautiful flowers, inside her home and in the garden.

Diamond-Feather-Inclusions

Hopefully this blog will act as my therapy in talking about my aunt, and hopefully I am able to talk about all of the things I remember her for and love about her. Nobody will ever replace her, and nobody will come close. She was absolutely one in a million – a clever, independent, focussed, caring and beautiful human being.

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Blog, Sharing, Travel

The road continues 

Today has definitely been a good day.

But don’t you often feel like disappearing for a while?

I seriously feel like if I was to board a plane tomorrow with no plans except travelling to beautiful destinations, not worrying about my income or financial responsibilities, I’d be better in a month. Or less (hello there confidence).

Where would you go?


I think my destinations would be either Thailand and Malaysia or South America, and I guess the fun part is the fact that I wouldn’t really be planning it, I’d just hop on the cheapest flight and leader around the world for a few months.
My happy place when I am thinking of calmer times is being in Thailand with two friends where I was blown away by the scenery and generosity of the locals. I often day dream about the beaches and calm water, and of snorkelling in the sea amongst hundreds of fish, all different colours, sizes and patterns.

For now it’s time for my first Pilates class, so wish me luck! 😬

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