Apologies for the absence, been busy dealing with the harder parts of my life. However, on the upside it’s given me a chance to make some positive changes.
Firstly, being the absolute idiot that I am, I’ve decided to become one of those vegans for a bit, see what the Craic is. I don’t miss meat, milk or fish. But my god I miss cheese. Cheese gives me life. Not having my life makes real life sad.
Secondly, I deleted Facebook and Twitter off my phone. It’s been revelatory. I’ve been more productive, looking at things in a more positive way. Social media can be incredibly toxic and poor for mental health, so making the right choices and changes would obviously help me out. Gives me a chance to focus on the people I have and need in my life rather than unobtainable body goals, what people might be doing that I am not, and ultimately giving me less chance to think about those who mean little too me.
Thirdly, before bed, I turn off my phone. Read, tryna meditate, relax, think about things I have done instead of not done, tell those that are close to me I value them. It works both ways. Please if you have any more advice to try and keep a more positive mindset, to help me relax, let me know. Also, I’d love to hear more stories of your journey with mental health. They were really well received last time and would love to dedicate more time too it again. Much love.
I cannot stress enough the importance of this person’s story. PTSD effects so many more people than just soldiers, and this awful, debilitating occurrence needs so much more awareness.
This person is exceedingly brave, so please respect the anonymity.
‘I am sure that many of you have seen the 22 push ups in 22 days to raise money and awareness of soldiers who suffer from PTSD. Every day I got a glimpse of someone exercising to spread the message. However it is ignored that PTSD effects all different kinds of people from all different walks of life, not just members of the armed forces. PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was diagnosed with this in 2015 after being raped the day after my birthday and since then my life has never been the same. For the first three months after the assault I felt numb. Getting out of bed everyday was a challenge and I didn’t always succeed in this easy task. I remember days where I would lay in bed feeling empty and broken. Ultimately I didn’t care if I died but I didn’t have the energy or drive to go and kill myself. I wished that my rapist had done that for me. On the third month is when everything changed. I was experiencing vivid flashbacks and at times I was convinced I could smell him. I avoided men at all costs, I couldn’t walk down the street without thinking I was in danger. The nightmares were crippling, I would wake up with the thought of him touching me and at times I avoided sleep altogether just to escape from the nightmares. This is when I was diagnosed with PTSD. I was offered two different kinds of treatment: CBT or EMDR. I think many people have heard of CBT but for those who haven’t it stands from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and it is there to help you deal with overwhelming problems by breaking them down and then changing the negative thoughts. EMDR however isn’t spoken about much. It stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and this was the option I went for. I can’t explain exactly how it works but I remember being told I would feel exhausted after and that was 100% correct. My therapist sat opposite me and waved her hand from side to side and as my eyes followed her waving hand I had to think about the assault. Then she would stop and I had to say the thoughts that were coming into my head. Sometimes they were graphic. Sometimes I would speak about how desperate I was to tell my mum. But it was a guarantee that I would always end up crying hysterically. After trying this for 3 weeks and feeling like utter shit it was decided that it wasn’t working for me. So I started to self-medicate. On month four I started to self-harm. I never understood before why people did it but now I know. For me I would cut myself because I felt in control. I was the one hurting myself and no one else. I would go to bed and reach under my mattress and just slowly cut myself and watch the blood drip down. However in time I wasn’t the one in control. I thought I would be able to stop whenever I wanted but that wasn’t the case. I was also drinking heavily. I was known to like a drink or five on a Saturday night and would always be the first to get the vodka shots in. But this was different. I was going to bed drinking and would drink till I blacked out some nights. I just wanted to escape from the hell I was living in. I remember one night being out and drinking a mix of anything I could get my hands on and being kicked out. This resulted in the lowest point up till now. I walked with the group I was with to the river and ended up taking cocaine. I was extremely confused and the next thing I remember was waking up the next day. I stumbled out of my bed still with my shoes on from the night before and tried to drink a glass of water. I then laid on my sofa and all I wanted to do was die. I felt extremely suicidal and couldn’t understand what was happening to my life. The problem is I didn’t care about myself. I could be as reckless as I wanted because I didn’t care if I was alive or dead. When I went to therapy the next time I didn’t say a word about what was happening but I knew I wasn’t getting better. We then decided to try CBT. I recorded myself saying exactly what happened and every day I had to listen to it. Then we broke it down into sections and discussed that. This was helping but I was expecting to instantly feel back to my old self but this wasn’t the case. I was in therapy for seven months but due to the NHS I was told that was it. Although I wasn’t better and I clearly needed more help I had to stop going. I couldn’t get my head around this. I burst into tears and I was convinced I couldn’t cope. Words can’t begin to explain what it’s like to be in therapy every week through the hardest part of your life and feeling like you can open up to someone you trust to that disappearing. My therapist went on and on about taking anti-depressants from our first session but I refused. I really believed I was stronger and like many people I didn’t understand how they worked. After two months of not going to therapy I decided I needed more help and for the first time I went to the doctor. I was put on the lowest dose of Citalopram and had to go back every month. It was upped to the second highest dose over a period of four months and after the side effects they settled. Being raped was the most traumatic moment of my life and in that short time of the assault it changed everything. No one can ever prepare you for what happens after. I am now on month sixteen and feeling like a completely different person. I am still taking the pills and PTSD is still a huge part of my life. I break down sometimes and my mood can change by the smallest trigger. But I am feeling better about my future. I can go months without cutting now. I have a new job and a new boyfriend who has taught me so much about life and I am looking forward to my future with him. I am no longer terrified of men but sometimes I do get scared. The flash backs are still there and sometimes I am convinced I can still smell him. PTSD has a magical way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it. I have learnt that I have to live with PTSD for now but it will have to make room for the bigger and better things in my life. But after being exposed to the world of mental health the biggest thing I have learnt is how uneducated we all are. I never imagined my life being like this, but here I am. If you have stayed with me while reading this then thank you. It’s safe to say life is never as easy as we would first imagine.’
A short break, but now a truly inspiring story of an experience which I find shocking. I really cannot stress how sad it makes me that an institution such as a SCHOOL would be so out of touch with their students.
‘I first became aware of my mental health when I was 14. It was around this time that I had a friendship group full of people suffering with some kind of mental illness and I was trying my hardest to support them all. I then realised that I was gay and these two factors combined led me into the ‘world’ of mental illness as I felt my well-being fall and my mental state deteriorate. It started with self-harm, the only way I could see to express the sadness I felt, to overcome the sheer hatred of myself and my being. I hated that I was gay, and equally I hated the reaction I was getting from the people I thought would support me through this big realisation. My parents told me it was a phase and something they ‘may never be ok with’, my peers in school told me I was a ‘faggot’ and my teachers blindly ignored the obvious pain I was suffering. Several times during school I was taken to speak to the head of year about self-harm and was referred to counselling that was never followed up. The teachers I confided in would reply with ‘well what do expect if you walk around holding another girls hand’ when I told them I’d had derogatory graffiti written about me in the girls changing rooms. At least six teachers knew what was going on and the situation I was in; none of them took me seriously or tried to help. Homophobia still exists and we have to keep fighting to end it and promote equality for all. P.S the older you get the more accepting your peers will be, hang in there.’
I have had some very brave, insightful people come to me with their stories.
I am going to kick off with this compelling anonymous one, a short introduction into GAD and what may help you, too.
‘I was officially diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder over the summer, so not that long ago really, yet I would say I’ve had this disorder my whole life and most prominently when I was 18 and moved to university. In my two years of university leading up to this summer I’m starting to lose count of how many panic attacks I’ve had, how many times I’ve lied about having work to do when I’ve been asked to hang out or go clubbing because I’ve been too anxious to get out of bed. What led me to finally plucking up the courage to go to the doctors was a panic attack I had whilst I was drunk. If you’ve ever had a panic attack sober you’ll know how horrible they are; when you’re drunk, it’s another story. On the NHS website there’s a tool in which you answer a series of questions and it tells you your score for GAD and depression. My scores weren’t great to say the least. My doctor diagnosed me with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and mild depression. After my appointment and prescribed me a beta blocker called Propranolol to help calm my anxiety, my doctor has since also prescribed me with an antidepressant called Citalopram to help with my depression and Anxiety. She also referred me to an online therapy service called IESO. From there I met my therapist and continued to have 2 months of weekly online therapy to go through my issues and essentially overcome them. I’m not going to lie and say I’m cured of anxiety and depression. I will say that I understand mental illness and I’m helping myself reduce and overcome anxiety. Since starting therapy and taking medication I’m no longer irritated by everything, tired all the time, emotional over the smallest things, I no longer spend whole days in bed and worry about things that needn’t worry about. I still have anxiety and I do still suffer with panic attacks but it’s something I’m working to change and I know won’t be an issue I have to deal with in the future. To overcome this, I have cut back on alcohol consumption. The odd glass here and there is fine, but after a night out anxiety and alcohol mix together to make a nasty cocktail of emotions. Less alcohol means less anxiety.’
Why start a blog, eh?
Why write jumbled thoughts and muddled opinions in via the imperfect medium of language on the internet for all to see?
I’ll tell you. I can’t fucking sleep. I’m currently sat in my room classically overthinking every single niche philosophy that was ever hypothesised.
Where are we going? Why are we here? What is our purpose?
Currently i’m going to drink this wonderfully cheap potato based drink for the purposes of falling asleep shortly after this is published.
For those that know me, you know the ins and outs of my head. For those that don’t, check out SANE (the logo is the featured image), who I have raised money for and will continue to do so.
I have far, far more positives in my life than negatives. The best people, relationship and such. But every time I close my eyes and mentally pace around the room inside my head, It’s empty, but full. It’s broken but it works. It has holes in, but it floats.
I am seeking the *FACTS* about certain aspects of my illness, for the better or worse. I wish to talk about how i feel about safe spaces and trigger words. I want to talk about suicide, self harm and the like; why it occurs, what can be done to help those who suffer from these thoughts, and chart their journeys.
I wish to talk to you if you have or know anyone who has experiences with these issues or has opinions on the matters. An interview perhaps. To shed light on the facts as they are.