Thursday, 13 December 2018

A Year Of Blogging

A Whole Year of Blogging

It’s been a year since I went to A&E for feeling extremely suicidal and had also self harmed. It’s been a year since I’ve chose to fight for recovery and a year since I decided to start a blog. I feel like I’ve achieved so much but at the same time so little. I’ve just been diagnosed with Folate deficiency again which is what I had a year ago so I feel like I’m back to square one with feeling extremely tired all the time and sleeping for hours on end. 

Within the year of blogging I’ve spoke to some lovely people who also have mental illnesses. I appreciate those people a lot. I’ve also attended some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). Soon I’m going to be attending an assessment for DBT/MBT (dialectical behavioural therapy or mentalization based therapy). I’m not sure which is going to be best for me yet but I am looking forward to gaining more skills.

This year I have seen so much of the mental health team and I am now under a new mental health team that is designed for longer term support. I’ve been under this team since August after my previous mental health team decided I would benefit from longer term support and I am really happy to have been put under the new mental health team as I am finding it a lot more beneficial.

I do feel a lot better compare to last year when I was in A&E, in fact it’s been 50 days since I last self harmed, although I still have the anaemia like last year I do feel a lot more positive about getting things done. I start a new job next week and I’m super excited to be earning money again and to be back in the career setting that I love. I’m hoping eventually I’ll be able to go back to the NHS but for now I’m happy with the job I’ve managed to obtain.

This year has definitely made me a lot more confident in myself and asking for the help that I need. It’s also made me realise how lucky I am to have such supportive people around me and I’m forever grateful for them in my life.

I’m really looking forward to starting my new therapy though as I feel it’s going to help me so much especially with the emotional dysregulation side of things.

Thanks for reading

Hannah x

Monday, 19 November 2018

A Mental Health Update

My Little Update

Recently my mental health has been reasonably stable and I’ve been learning to manage things differently. I’ve been attending my pre-pre therapy appointments just before the referral process of going on to do DBT therapy. I’ve been opening up a lot about personal life to my CPN and it has been helping me a lot, I hadn’t really spoke about somethings in my life expect for those who know my in complete detail. It’s really helped me to realise a lot of my problems are external to me and things that are out of my control, I’ve also learnt that I am still struggling with sleeping at regular times. 

I’ve been offered a job 2 weeks ago, I’m hoping to get my start date this week although I am a little worried they’ll do the same as a previous job and take into account my previous job sicknesses due to choosing recovery from physical and mental health. Last year and the start of this year have been a lot to take in. I started off this year with folic acid deficiency, borderline underactive thyroid and high white blood count, as well as taking a complete dip in my mood I was at an all low. I’ve managed to stabilise my physical health as much as possible now despite now getting a diagnosis of gallstones but I can’t do much about that until I see the surgeon to see what the next step is. As for my mental health although it’s been really tough and I do still need to work on feeling a little better, I am in a lot more stable place. I’ve been self harm free for almost a month now and it’s starting to make me realise there are so many more healthier ways to resolve my thoughts and feelings. It definitely is tough but it is so worth it knowing I won’t have the regret feeling of self harm. 

I’m currently waiting to see the psychiatric for the second time to discuss if medication is a good idea again or not. Recently I’ve been so undecided whether I want medication or not because I feel a lot better in myself but I don’t feel completely better I still feel like I lack motivation and just can’t seem to find it within myself to get back to doing things I once enjoyed. It’s something I need to discuss further with them as one hour wasn’t enough to make a decision. 

I’m still unsure about blogging as I feel there is way too much competition in the blogging community now whereas before everyone used to be supportive, it’s very much everyone is against each other to be the best blogger and I just hate the vibe. If I do blog it’s going to just be an update to share how therapy is going or when I start my job or if anything exciting happens in life. 

Also want to say thank you to anyone who does still read my blog, you’re amazing and thank you for supporting me. 

Hannah x

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Why I Haven’t Been Blogging

Reasons behind why I haven't blogged...

I haven't blogged for over 3 weeks now, I haven't felt like it really and there are 2 main reasons why I haven't. 

The first reason to me not blogging is because I am focusing a lot more on looking after myself mentally and it is taking me a lot of my time to do so. I also have felt lost with my mental health as I thought I had a diagnosis of BPD (borderline personality disorder) which I have found out I don't. I feel a fraud because I don't have a single diagnosis of mental health, I just have traits of multiple mental health conditions. I feel like making up my own diagnosis, for example listing all my traits and calling it something unique. I feel unable to blog about my mental health as much because of not having a single diagnosis. I also have been doing a lot of prep ready to attend therapy, I have a book especially for DBT (dialectal behaviour therapy) which has been helping me a lot now. I am still struggling but as bad as I was when I first originally started my blog.

The second reason I haven't been blogging is because I feel like there has been no support on my blog and not much support from social media. I feel like a forgotten blogging and with that I feel like a failed blogger. I know I should just blog for fun and because I like it but when I used to get so much appreciation and support on my blog to literally half the amount it really is upsetting to see. I am trying my best to blog but the last few posts seem to just be getting less and less support so I feel like I am invisible. 

I definitely don't want to stop blogging and I do enjoy blogging! I am so glad I picked it up when I decided to look for something new to aid my recovery as it really has helped me to find some amazing support out there which I didn't know even existed. I would love to start positing more blog posts which aid my self care and a few travel and beauty posts. I've always blogging mental health but I am starting to think about this as an idea as I do use a lot of bath and beauty products. 

Thanks for reading, it means a lot 

Hannah x

Friday, 12 October 2018

Mental Health and Work

Mental Health and Finding Work

For the past 5 months I have been looking for work, with that I have been struggling to find work. I’ve actually lost count at the amount of jobs I’ve applied for.

I’ve been to so many interviews in that time as well, I never ended up hearing back from half of them. Which I find really rude that they just don’t get back.

I did actually start a job but unfortunately it didn’t work out for me, the environment made me extremely uncomfortable and stressed. This lead me to leave the same day I started. Some jobs just aren’t great for mental health.

I then went for an interview/asssessment day at my dream job, it was about 5 hours long. I got the job they offered me it and I signed the contract and everything. After a month of waiting to start, suddenly I was declined a job because of previous time off for mental health. I’m 99% sure this is discrimination but I have no idea how to go about it so I’m just letting them win this.

Since this has happened I’ve lost a lot of confidence to work, I feel like I will be continuously hit the same dead end. I feel I will experience this discrimination all over again. I was supposed to go for an interview at my previous job but they said that I had HR issues which I never, it really annoyed me but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

I am really nervous about going for jobs again now, I have so much built up stress and anxiety. I’ve had interviews but some I’ve not managed to get myself to because I’ve just been way too anxious and worked myself up.

The fact I am 20 years old and feel like I’ve been forced into not being able to work again really upsets me. I can’t afford not to work I need a job. I literally have no clue what I am going to do anymore. I have started working with a vocational worker though so I’m hoping that will help me.

People with mental illnesses still have a life, they still need to feed themselves and pay bills. We are still human, we still have feelings and emotions. We deserve to work just as much as someone who hasn’t got a mental illlness. Everyone has mental health and everyone has physical health. We all deserve equal opportunities and not to be judged on our past.

Thanks for reading.

Hannah x

Monday, 1 October 2018

Mental Health Crisis

Mental Health Crisis

TW- Detachment/Suicidal thoughts (first paragraph)

I am currently in the middle of a mental health crisis. I don’t even know how to cope right now   This has been going on for a couple days now, I feel so lost. I’ve completely detached myself now, I’m in a complete dissociative state. I don’t even know how to cope I’m completely out of it. I want it all to end,  I want to disappear.

I have been going through a crisis for a while mainly due to stress of no money and no job. I am really in need of getting a job as soon as possible to feel stable. I was recently supposed to start my dream job and since they have seen my reference about having time off for mental health they have decided to take back my offer. This has really upset me and caused me a lot of stress due to needing money and mainly a routine and sleep pattern.

Unfortunately this all happened Friday afternoon, not leaving me anytime to get any more job interviews. This is why I ended up feeling extremely distressed and out of control all weekend, having no clue about what to do with myself. It was extremely difficult for me to relax all weekend.

Finally it was Monday, I finally felt a little more back in control as I had access to finding jobs and being able to ring up to book interviews. Which I have finally got an interview for one job which is actually my old job. I am looking forward to this as the only reason I left last time was because of the shift patterns.

I am finally looking up after over 48 hours in a crisis. I feel able to get on and find myself a job. Hopefully soon I will be earning money.

Hannah x

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Mental Health Update

I thought today I would type up an update about my mental health and how I have been getting on since coming off antidepressants and attending my new appointments.

It’s been about 3 months since I first started weaning off my antidepressants and at first it was really difficult, the brain zaps were horrible. I was suffering from antidepressant withdrawal syndrome (an actual thing). It was really tough but after a month or so it became easier. I was supposed to take mirtazapine just after I started coming off Duloxetine but it was the worst tablet I’ve ever taken, I was a complete zombie. I’d say I’m now 2 months without antidepressants and I feel a lot better in myself in some ways but overall I don’t really notice much change, I believe this is because antidepressants aren’t designed to treat BPD so it just didn’t help me.

I’ve bwen attending my recovery team appointments for my new mental health team, they’re secondary care. I’ve only had two appointments so far but at first I wasn’t too sure how I felt about it, I just felt like I was back to square one again not sure how to recover. My second appointment we spoke about making a crisis plan, something I’ve done before but this time a lot more in depth one. We also spoke about my sleep pattern, she’s hopefully going to get one of the doctors to try me on some sleep tablets as required to help me get some decent sleep. Recently I’ve been going without sleep a lot, the worst being 30 hours awake. I’m hoping they’ll help me when I’m really struggling but hopefully not make me too drowsy when I wake up.

I’m stressed out quite a bit at the moment because I still haven’t got a start date for my job. I’m really struggling money wise as well, Job seekers doesn’t really cut all my bills and it sucks. I can’t wait to start working again, my mental health team are getting me vocational help to make sure this time I get the correct support to stay in work despite my mental health.

Some of you may already know as well that I’ve set up a YouTube account. The reason behind this is to build my confidence back up, I had it knocked a lot during school and college and never really built it back up since. This is kind of my chance to try and change that back! Here’s the link if you want to check it out and support me!

I think this just about covers my update really. I’m looking forward to more appointments with my recovery team, it seems I will be staying of medication. Although I am beginning to hallucinate so I am a little worried. Hopefully the next time I post I’ll have started work or at least got a start date!

Hannah x

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

De-stress Kit by Spiffy

De-stress Kit Review

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Recently I purchased a de-stress kit from Spiffy, I was really interested in trying it as it was something I thought I’d benefit from hugely as I do tend to not let myself distress greatly. I came across Spiffy on Facebook at first I wasn’t too sure about paying for it as it is £24.99 and although you get 10% when you first sign up I was still a bit unsure whether it would be worth the money.

I was kindly gifted it by my mum to try and she knows I stress out about life very easily so she was a fabulous mum and decided to buy me it.

I believe it came 3 days after ordering 2nd class which I was pretty amazed about it arriving so quickly but I was so excited to open it up and see how great the products were!

The de-stress kit comes with; a mindfulness book (the little book of mindfulness), de-stress aromatherapy balm, calm aromatherapy dough by MohDoh, a tea bag by Positivitea, a bath melt by Wild Olive, a heated eye mask by and a what am I worried about notepad by Spiffy.

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First impressions: I absolutely adored the box it came in, it was so cute and positive. Although I was a bit confused how to open it but I did! As you can see the box is very colourful and positive looking which is something I really loved. 

I was super excited about using these products so I first of used the balm which you just rub into your temples, wrists and neck. It smelled really relaxing and is great if you can just have a few seconds to close your eyes and take in the smell. It really helped me to relax.

I then decided to use the MohDoh after actually having a really bad trigger and feeling really di-stressed so perfect timing really! This is going to be one of my go to products from now on when feeling di-stressed, not only does it smell absolutely beautiful it also helped me to feel grounded and completely back around from feeling dissociated!                

I decided to have a relaxing evening Monday night and used the warming eye mask and the bath melt. The eye mask was lovely and didn't really have a smell, it says on the packet it lasts up to 15 minutes however, mine lasted a lot longer and it was so nice on my eyes although at times did feel a bit drying but it really helped rejuvenate my eyes. The bath melt although it wasn't massive it was a very powerful smell of lavender, which luckily I love the smell of. It really helped me relax and I actually went to sleep about an hour after my bath which is very unlike me, I normally spend all night awake.

I have also had a read of the little book of mindfulness but I am yet to practice any as it is something I struggle with but at the same time is something I want to get into! I read a small amount and it seemed really helpful and might even be beneficial when I go to work and on my break. I am also yet to use the tea bag but it smells lovely and I am sure that it will be very relaxing. The what am I worried about notepad is going to be some serious help to me, as someone who worries a lot and normally unnecessarily about things out of my control, I cannot wait to use it properly.

Overall I love the di-stress kit its really helped me to find some ways to help me take the edge of things. I definitely would recommend it and even if you aren't sure there are loads and loads of things on Spiffy's  website which are helpful for mental health, so I would really recommend checking them out! Also Spiffy have a free E-course - 7 Days to a Happier Life.

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Hannah x

Monday, 10 September 2018

A Letter to My Future Children

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Letter to my Future Children

This post is going to be a letter I wrote to my future children. Also a letter I wish I had as a teenager.

I started this letter in 2016;

Not everybody who says they love you means it, meaning not everyone is going to be around forever. Make the most of the time you get with everyone you encounter. Friends who argue are friends who genuinely care about you, just remember not to let them walk all over you and use you.

Don’t ever feel like you are not good enough because you will always be good enough for me. Life is never easy but it will be worth it, even when it no longer seems it, I promise it will.

School is hard especially if you’ve got my genes (sorry) I know some days you won’t want to go to school but I promise I’ll be here to keep you organised and to pass those horrible exams. School years aren’t exactly easy if you’re dealing with fall outs, arguments, heartbreaks and bullies or whatever else it may be but don’t let it affect your attendance of lessons, don’t repeat my mistakes of skipping lessons and having to learn from the mistakes even years later. Also not everyone will stay friends once you leave school, it doesn’t matter how many friends you have as long as they’re true friends. Also it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what career you want, sometimes people don’t really ever know until they’re there doing it.

2017 was my next entry;

I just got my C in GCSE English, 3 years after leaving secondary school. That is proof of never to give up on your dreams.

I’m trying so hard to feel positive and everything is finally starting to make sense but who knows. I guess try and be prepared although this this isn’t always the case you can’t be prepared for everything and sometimes it’s okay to cry and take a step back because not everything will work out the way we picture it in our head. It’s okay to be wrong it’s okay to be scared and it’s okay to ask for help. Don’t keep your thoughts bottled up, lesson I learnt the hard way but I understand it’s not always easy.


Life can change so quickly, sometimes nothing makes sense and sometimes the entire world can seem like a complete joke. I guess that’s just how life is sometimes is but it changes it always does. Nothing is permanent despite it feeling that way sometimes. Just do you and that’s all I’ll ever ask.

Thank you for reading my post.

Hannah x

Monday, 3 September 2018

The Start of Real Recovery Begins

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Start of Recovery

As this title suggests real recovery is finally beginning for me!

I got my appointment through the other day, I’ve finally been referred to the recovery team (secondary care). I’m super excited to start therapy and new beginnings.

I’ve come off antidepressants and I’m slowly feeling better. The withdrawal symptoms are slowly fading out, I was extremely agitated to begin with and lots of brain zaps now it’s not so much. This is the first time in 6 years I’ve not been on antidepressants so it’s a super scary journey for me.

I’ve also got a new job which I’m super excited to start, I’m going to be doing my dream job which is working as a care assistant working in a mental health hospital. The start of something amazing. I cannot wait!

I am honestly in such a better place these last couple of days, I just feel so much relief from getting a job! I haven’t really blogged much as I only really blog when I feel able to write good content. I don’t like to force my blog posts, which is why I never say how many tines I post a week or a month. It’s always going to depend on how I’m feeling.

I’m just so happy I finally feel like real recovery is beginning, I also accept that a long the way that relapses will happen as that is just life, it’s not perfect.

Thank you to everyone who continues to read my blog posts.

Hannah x

Sunday, 19 August 2018

The Reason Behind My Poor Mental Health Recently

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My Poor Mental Health

My mental health has been awful recently, I’ve taken a complete turn and feel absolutely awful. In fact part of me doesn’t even want to blog anymore, I feel so unimportant to the world. I’ve been struggling really bad with medication withdrawal from taking duloxetine.

I started a job Monday for it to last 5 hours and then having my break in my car and having a complete breakdown about how unhappy I was with working there. I drove off and left and didn’t return. I could tell that place was going to be hell for my mental health.

I started mirtazapine, massive mistake. Worst 24 hours of my life after taking one small tablet, what a massive affect it had on me. I slept for about 16 of those hours and spent at least 4 hues eating, high carbs and sugary food to keep me awake. Unfortunately that wasn’t the affect it had. It was like I was a zombie in all honesty. So no more of them tablets for me!

I decided to speak to the crisis team Thursday night ( Friday morning ) I explained how much it distressed my at how sleepy I was on just one tablet of mirtazapine. We spoke for half an hour and I actually felt a lot better about everything. So lucky to have had someone nice speak to me, sometimes the crisis team can be very hit and miss.

Friday I spoke to the mental health team, they’ve cleared up all my confusion about what is going on with therapy and everything else. I’ve been referred to the recovery team which is secondary care. I’m hoping it’s going to be a good thing as it’ll mean I’ll have longer term support. As for the mirtazapine they’re going to let me know what to do. Although they said it’s most likely they’ll increase it as the higher the dose the less sedative it makes you.

I’ve got an interview for a job soon and I’m super excited, just hope I get it!

I tried the 30mg of mirtazapine although not sedative, I was still extremely dazed and agitated it made me extremely tearful. I’ve decided to give up with mirtazapine it clearly is going to make me worse.

Hannah x

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

How Mental Health Affects Everyone Differently

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This Blog Post is going to be mainly guest posts about how mental health affects them. This post is to raise awareness about how mental health affects everyone differently.

I am going to start with how mental health affects me but want to keep it short as I have a few guest posts for this! I describe my mental health as a roller-coaster in the dark, never sure what's coming next. My diagnosis is BPD (Borderline personality disorder) and I have already done a blog post on how this affects me. Some days can be great will hardly even realise I am mentally ill and other days are completely exhausting and I can hardly even recognise myself. I have very irrational thoughts and also find it hard to sleep. My emotions are always very intense and in some ways a positive thing it is also a very negative thing which means a lot of my relationships and friendships are very up and down.

My First Guest Post Is 
Lucy explaining how BPD Affects her

Sometimes I’m alive. I exist and I breathe and go about my daily life just like everybody else. I’m “normal”, whatever that is. I can go to work and do everything that I need to do. I feel empowered and I exude confidence. I laugh and it’s genuine, full-hearted, deep-bellied laughter until such point that my lungs give out and I’m choking. I’m happy, but even so, constantly on edge that I know it won’t last.

Because it doesn’t.

I get anxious. Paranoid. I talk to myself. Voices shout at me, telling me that everything I know is wrong. I tremble viciously, I pick any ridge of skin that I can find and I stumble over every single word that comes out of my mouth. Every time my fiancĂ©’s phone vibrates, I just know that it’s the new girl he is speaking to because he wants out but is too scared to tell me. Nothing is wrong but nothing is right and my brain fills up with this thick, muggy fog that refuses to broken through until it’s ready to clear.
Then there’s the mania.

High. People just think I’m hyperactive – they’ll join in as if it’s some game, laughing when I laugh; laughing at the self-deprecating jokes because how else do you react? They pass it off as me being happy because there’s no need to worry that this girl is smiling so obviously she’s just on cloud nine and deliriously happy! I become obsessive and impulsive. Imagine having a budget plan, making sure you have money aside for every bill that you have but you saw a really cute dress the other day, and if you don’t buy it now (even though the money technically doesn’t exist) then it will obviously sell out within ten minutes.

Low. My fiancĂ© picks up on it straight away and then it makes me anxious that he doesn’t want to be with me anymore because he’s sick of having to manage my mood when I can’t. I get depressed, dangerously and stupidly depressed to the point that even driving to work becomes scary because there’s theoretically nothing to stop me from driving head-first into a wall. I sit quietly no matter where I am and it feels like a literal dark cloud is looming over me, where no matter how much I try to shine through, I’m stuck in the shade until this mental storm passes.

Even on the days that I’m “fine”, there’ll be a passing reminder – this is who you are, you’re stuck like this. A fleeting memory where the mental health specialist told you there is no cure for this disorder, that you just have to simply have to learn to live with it.

I am not my BPD, but my BPD is me.


My Second Guest Post Is 
Rosie  Explaining how Eating Disorder and Bipolar affects her

How Bipolar and an Eating Disorder affect my life
So here we are, sitting in work, it’s 4pm and you’ve just realised that you haven’t had lunch again. Damn it!

Many people think that once you’ve had help for an eating disorder then you’re done, everything’s fine. Well I can tell you that it’s not, ok fine maybe sometimes it’s fine but sometimes its really not. I’d happily say that I’m recovered but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have issues remaining. I still struggle to remember to eat sometimes, eating out at restaurants isn’t always easy and then there’s the anxiety that crops up every now and then. So how does my eating disorder still affect me?

My hair is still falling out in clumps. ED’s really affect your hair, this is how I actually started my blog. I’ve tried almost every product under the sun to rid myself of my bold patches and I STILL have a few left.

My heart rate whilst working out is unhealthy. ED’s affect your heart in so many different ways but this is the most important because the damage you’ve done can’t be repaired. I have to always keep track of my heart rate whilst working out otherwise I simply faint – no one wants that embarrassment in the gym
Anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve developed a few unhealthy habits of having a water bottle with me at all times. I can’t go anywhere without one, why? Because my eating disorder was always about control I had to come up with another way of controlling something and that was having water with me at all times. I’m weird I know, but hey I’d rather carry a water bottle than have countless panic attacks.
Another thing that affects my life now is Bipolar. Oh, bipolar my love and hate, where would I be without you. Bipolar probably is the biggest affect on my life because it affects everything I do.
I no longer drink! For someone who was a big party person this is a big thing for me because it’s caused me to completely change my lifestyle and I’ve had to revaluate many friendships. Sometimes the only thing you have in common with someone is which wine you both drink.
Bipolar is the main cause for my creative side. When I’m manic, if you follow me you’ll notice I post three posts a week and this is because my mind is buzzing with ideas and plans.
However, with mania comes the depression episodes. This affects my job, my home life and friendships. I completely shut off and lose interest in everything I’m doing. I like to call it the tiger. When you wake up it feels like a massive paw is laying over you are stopping you from doing anything. I won’t go into the detail because it gets pretty dark, but you get my drift.
Although both are a massive part of my life, I manage to live a pretty normal life. Just because you have an illness doesn’t mean it owns you. I’m Rosie, I have Bipolar and an Eating Disorder. I also have brown eyes and blonde hair. Please don’t define yourself by a part of you that doesn’t own your life. Live it. Don’t define.

My Third Guest Post Is
Katrina explaining how depression, anxiety and possible OCD affects her generally

Hi, I'm Katrina, I'm from Wales (UK) and I'm 19 years old, I will be 20 next month.
I have been suffering with depression, anxiety and possibly OCD since I was 12 years old. I was getting bullied in secondary school and everything just got too much for me. I felt like I had no one to talk to about my depression, since my mum suffers too and just tells me to "get on with it" since she does. My mental health constantly gets belittled. Since I felt like no one understood me, I took a lot of time off school throughout education. When I was 14, I spent a whole month off school because I just felt drained. I felt empty and constantly exhausted. As well as this, I quickly fell behind and then achieved just average GCSE grades later on in school.

I've recently completed 2 years at sixth form and a year at college, however I am dropping out due to my depression and suicidal thoughts taking their toll on me. During May when I sat 2 exams in college this year, I felt more depressed and suicidal than I had ever done previously during any exam season. I struggled to get out of bed, I wasn't eating full meals and I found myself sleeping a lot. I was in such a bad place, I wanted to get myself sectioned just to escape the stress and the thoughts going on in my head.

This September, I should hopefully be finally getting help for my mental health. It's taken me a long time to feel able to speak to a doctor about how I feel, since I am scared that it'll get disregarded but it's a risk I need to take. My depression is preventing me from applying for jobs which I severely need to do since I am terrified of committing to something so huge whilst feeling this mentally unwell. I'm seeing everyone my age doing well in university etc, and I'm just sat at home feeling worthless. This needs to change. 

My 4th Guest Post Is
Rebekah  talking how eating disorder affects her


I first started to struggle with disordered eating behaviours when I was about 16. From a young age I can remember experiencing a permanent sense of dissatisfaction with my body, however I competed in swimming and triathlon for ten years and therefore my focus was always on becoming fitter and stronger to achieve better results; never was weight discussed. When I expressed my thoughts to my parents that I felt, for example, insecure about the size of my legs, they reassured me that I was slim (which in reality I probably was) and when I was younger I believed them.

In the summer of 2014, on holiday in France with my family, I noticed for the first time that I could feel my thighs touching as I walked. Indeed, my GCSE exams earlier in the year had resulted in me giving up sport to focus on revision, and being ill during and after my exams had prevented me from returning to regular exercise like I had done for the many previous years. However, whilst I maybe gained a little weight (I couldn’t say for certain as I had no obsession with my weight at the time and only knew very roughly what it was), I did not suddenly become overweight or undergo a drastic change – it was way more in my mind.

At this time there were lots of other stressful situations occurring in my life – both my mum and brother had had to take extended periods of time away from work and school due to illness, and my dad was waiting for a back operation. Therefore, my declining mental state (I had also been struggling with low mood and exam stress for several months by this point) was not really the priority. In no way do I want to criticise my parents for this – I don’t ever remember feeling overlooked or forgotten about – but the whole situation was a potential trigger for my decline into Anorexia over the following year.

Over the next academic year, whilst studying my AS levels, I was on a mission to lose weight. I’m not entirely sure why, but I feel now that it stemmed from various things including a long history of low self-esteem, a desire to fit in, yet also be noticed, and generally wanting to feel better about myself. Things started slowly, with me just trying to eat more ‘healthily’ but over time I gradually became more entrenched in disordered behaviours such as counting and tracking calories, exercising obsessively and cutting out food groups. By the following summer I had lost a noticeable amount of weight and was awaiting a CAMHS referral (though this had actually originally occurred due to the development of other mental health difficulties) and my initial assessment in September 2015 led to a referral to the Specialist Eating Disorder Team for two weeks later, where I started on a long journey of treatment and recovery.

Effects of my Eating Disorder

By this time, my eating disorder was affecting me both physically and mentally. Physically, despite only just crossing the official guidelines into the underweight BMI category, my body was struggling. I had a concerningly low heart rate which put me at high risk of a heart attack. Naturally, due to lack of nourishment, I was constantly weak and tired, struggling to keep up with some of my friends when walking between lessons at school; I had lost my periods and my fingernails were blue due to lack of circulation. Yet I was by no means reducing my exercise and mentally this was a big struggle, especially due to being part of a very active family where exercise was encouraged and to exercise hard every day was normal (my brother competes internationally in cycling and my parents still compete in various sports themselves)!

Mentally, I was equally exhausted as I was physically. Food, exercise, calories, and similarly related subjects took up the vast majority of my concentration and thoughts, leaving little room for other things such as school work or socialising. At sixth form I would just sit in lessons and stare blankly at the wall, or break down in tears. With my friends I tried to still be my normal energetic, happy self, however I didn’t do a very good job. Even though I only told a couple of close friends what was really going on, they all knew something was not right. At home, I would go up to bed as soon as I walked in the front door in order to rest after school and before exercising that evening. Ultimately, I was miserable, despite it still seeming to some people that I had it all. My love of food had turned into a fear and it was affecting those around me as well as myself.

Three years has passed since this time; three years that have been long and difficult but also in many ways liberating. Many people, including my close family, now view me as having ‘recovered’ from my eating disorder. Indeed, I am no longer receiving any psychological support, I have maintained my weight for over a year now, and I can seemingly eat pretty much anything I like without a problem. However, some of the same struggles remain under the surface, for example I generally stick to the same ‘safe’ foods, and still have feelings of guilt when I eat something I consider to be ‘unhealthy’ (I use apostrophes as despite my own feelings in regards to myself, I also believe that no food is unhealthy when eaten in moderation and that there is so much more to food than its nutritional composition). Although I no longer actively count my daily calorie consumption, I can get upset when such information is included on restaurant menus for example, or when it is discussed by those around me. And despite knowing deep down that my body is not overweight (I am 5’9 and wear a size 10-12) and that I am stronger, fitter, and more energised than I was before, I do still often wish I was thinner and experience a very high level of dissatisfaction with my body.

Thank you for reading all about how mental health affects everybody differently.

Hannah x

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The Reality Of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

<img src="image.png" alt="">Reality of OCD 

This is my first guest post and my first guest is Jazz talking about the reality of OCD!

Hi! My name is Jazz from, where I write about all things mental health - and I was diagnosed with OCD this year. 
Right now, three-quarters of a million, around 741,504, people are thought to be living with life-impacting obsessive-compulsive disorder. I am one of them. But, not only does it affect all of us, it also has a huge impact upon our friends and family too. 
Receiving a diagnosis is based on the severity in which it affects your life. I was told for years by mental health professionals that I had “traits of OCD”, but it was only when these had begun to affect my everyday life… the amount of social events I’d go to, how often I spoke to my friends and family, my university work, how often I left the house, most importantly the amount of sleep I was getting… did I officially get diagnosed. One thing that I have learned through being diagnosed, is that this illness is extremely misunderstood. OCD, to me, is attached to a stigma and it is affected by gross misunderstanding – which makes it difficult to discuss and gain access to resources. So, let’s talk about what it’s really like
So that we’re all on the same page… obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder which is characterised by experiencing unwanted and unpleasant thoughts, images, urges, fears, beliefs – which enter your mind making you feel anxious, disgusted or unease. These are known as obsessions. To make these temporarily better, compulsive behaviours(compulsions) are carried out – like repeatedly checking or repeating actions, thoughts or behaviours. Eventually, you start to associate one with the other, and it becomes ritualistic. Another common trait is experiencing intrusive thoughts – repetitive and unwanted thoughts creating anxiety and fear – these usually have a dark nature. OCD to me, is constantly seeking reassurance; mainly by repeating the same questions. It often can comorbidly (alongside/ in addition to) exist with other psychiatric disorders, like depression and mood disorders. 
Speaking from my own experience, it can be extremely distressing. It interferes with EVERY aspect of your life, it leaves no stone unturned in trying to ruin your life, or at least make you think that it is. But, finding the right treatment can help to keep things under control. I personally found the right balance within talking and taking an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) called Fluoxetine. This disorder can become all-consuming, even disabling sometimes. Some days, I have done little else but spent time fixated upon my obsessions and trying to make myself feel better. That’s when I learnt that some days its okay if all you did was survive. 
I very rarely tell anyone flat out that I have been diagnosed with OCD, not because there is anything to be embarrassed by, but rather there are so many misconceptions which exist – I assume people won’t understand what it truly means. People can often think that it means washing your hands a lot, or that you like things to be neat and tidy. Whilst there is some truth in these, it is so much more than that. Often the manifestation of OCD is not obvious, you might not even notice. They can be simple, like having to check things repeatedly, the inability to break a routine, constantly completing tasks one after the other to avoid having to stop, feeling like you’re going a billion miles an hour (I once made all of my flatmates a cup of tea, drank mine, took their glasses away, washed them all up within the space of 10 minutes – I felt like it had been forever, everyone stared at me like I was mad), hoarding, counting in patterns, being anxious when things aren’t in order or not facing the right way, rough or torn skin from washing or picking at it, having the shakes, not wanting to touch certain things or people…
It can disrupt your life – having to repeat so many compulsions can consume your time. Avoiding certain situations which trigger you, can too. It can be hard to concentrate. The worst thing for me, is that I am constantly, constantly, constantly thinking about EVERYTHING – and every consequence which goes along with that too. It’s exhausting. Even when I sleep, I don’t feel like I’m resting because I will just have to get up the next day and obsess.Most nights my dreams are about my worries too. I think about my own life, everyone I knows, even people I don’t know. You name it, I think about it – a lot. Therefore, people still do not feel comfortable talking about their experiences – meaning that fuller understandings and acceptance cannot be achieved. In fact, most of my family members do not know that I have been diagnosed, because they refuse to talk about it. 
Some days, my head doesn’t feel so loud, and things are manageable. I feel like a completely different person to the one I was the day before. Other days, they are impossible to live with. I have learned now, that stress makes things worse – like I cannot see things clearly. It can make you feel isolated – and it can make it hard to be around other people. If things seem easier when you’re alone, you end up spending more of your time that way, and that’s not healthy. It can seriously impact upon your relationships – doubts and anxieties can put a strain on any relationship or friendship. When we ask for help, we don’t ask lightly. For every time I have asked someone for help, there are a hundred times I have stopped myself. It feels like you have two brains, a rational one and an irrational one – and they’re constantly fighting. We know that our thoughts are often irrational, but we’re not sure how to stop. 
Having OCD doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t make me less of a person either. Just because you cannot see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. It is not fun. It is not strange. It is not stupid. It is real. Just because our tools to manage our symptoms may be working, doesn’t mean that we have it all figured out. Medication can help the management for some individuals, but they are not supposed to be a magic cure. People can still struggle both on and off medication. 
Just because you think that you might have OCD, it doesn’t mean that you do. It is such an overused line. Go to the doctors, speak to your mental health professional, don’t just tell me. I would love to talk to you and help, if you’re asking the people who can really help too. Please educate yourself on the symptoms and the diagnostic process. Being OCD isn’t an adjective.
You can refer yourself directly to a talking therapy, speak to your GP, or make an appointment with your mental health professional. People are often so reluctant to seek help because they are ashamed or embarrassed – but it is a health condition, like any other. It is not your fault that you have it. It is unlikely to get better without proper treatment and support. 
So, you’re wondering how you can help your loved one? 
It can be hard, really hard, knowing how to support someone you care about. You might even struggle to understand their experiences if they do talk. But honestly, your support and understanding, whatever you can offer, will really make a big difference. The best thing you can offer, is to acknowledge and encourage them to share their experiences. Help them to vocalise. A problem shared is a problem halved after all. Be patient – their fears are real to them, even if they seem silly to you. Try not to judge – make it clear that you love and support them, regardless. 
My not-so-top-tips to coping with OCD…
1. Achieving a diagnosis from a psychiatrist is an important first step. 
2. Educate yourself on the disorder. Learn as much as you can. This is a part of your life, knowledge is power. 
3. Gain self-acceptance of this illness. It is a disorder, not a decision. 
4. Adapt your lifestyle to control and manage your symptoms, against the obsessions – not in the aid of them. 
5. Be active in your treatment. This is your life after all, don’t take a back seat in the decisions made for you. 
6. You’re still you, even with an OCD diagnosis. 
7. If you feel better, it doesn’t mean you can stop your medication. Almost all patients need maintenance treatment to prevent relapses, just like diabetics and heart disease patients. People can often misunderstand the reduction of symptoms as an improvement in the condition. If the tablets are improving and stabilising thoughts, they are doing their job. It shows you needed them, keep with it!
8. Talking therapies do work – cognitive behavioural therapy has shown to be as effective as medications. Sometimes it just helps to share. You are not whining. It is a powerful tool, just like other treatment options for other diseases. Most of what I know about my disorder and how to manage it came from therapy, I used it to collect my own tools to take care of myself. It is an ongoing process of wanting to be stable that keeps you there. 
Take care,
Jazz x

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