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.

@lleldr

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



Background


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

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

Hi! My name is Jazz from anotherbipolarblogger.wordpress.com, 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

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Managing Intense / Distressing Thoughts

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Managing Thoughts

I’ve recently been trying to engage myself in ways to help manage my intense and distressing thoughts and feelings. I am going to be attending therapy eventually but the wait list is about 6 months and if you’re like me then that’s too long to wait whilst dealing with such thoughts and feelings.

So as I’ve said on Twitter I am going to write a post on how to cope / manage these thoughts and feelings. I’m still completely new to these techniques myself but I thought I just need to share these to hopefully help others with these feelings and thoughts.

I would definitely recommend getting a notepad or using a word document etc. As these are great methods to use and always come back to especially if you’re close to crisis point it might really help support you reading back over notes you’ve wrote when stable.

First of all, write your distressing thought down. Although some may be able to follow these steps in their head I however have found it easier to write down. Then write your feelings down, sometimes there may not be a thought or a feeling but start with the step that is needed during the time. You can also think of reoccurring thoughts and feelings you get and write them down if you would like to practice this method. Are there any solid facts that support your thoughts / feelings? Are there facts that support the opposite of your thoughts?

The method is to question your thoughts and feelings and personably my favourites question is this one; would the people around me agree with the facts that I see? The reason why this is my favourite question to the method is because a lot of my thoughts and feelings are very much things I’ve triggered myself into believing by looking for small signs that it might be true. This question will hopefully help my step back and think rationally about my thoughts.

That leads me to accepting thoughts and emotions. Although at times it can be hard especially if you’re a BPD like me it’s about acceptance, accepting that it’s okay to have those feelings and checking the facts about a situation as to wether your thought it true. Sometimes this can be really hard and I am not a therapist I’m not going to say yes it’ll work all the time because it probably won’t.  However it is about giving it a go and challenging these thoughts and feelings.

This is why self care is also so important, when you feel at crisis point try and take a step back. Use your 5 senses to relax, smell your favourite candle, go for a walk, call a friend and have a rant, take a bath.

This post uses methods from Debbie Corso and Kathryn C. Holt - Stronger Than BPD, DBT activities.

Hannah x

Friday, 3 August 2018

Medication Review

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Today I had my medication review, this is the first one since being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I’ve literally been dreading it as I didn’t have a clue what would be said or what medication I might be trying next if anything.

I will be starting Mirtazapine in a couple of weeks and I’m not going to lie I am dreading it. I never thought I’d be taking this medication. It scares me so much as I really don’t need to gain weight, I’m currently overweight as it is so the idea of being on a tablet specifically for weight gain terrifies me. I am partially excited to see if it helps me sleep but then I’m also worried it’s going to make me too drowsy.

I am hoping to speak to my GP about being prescribed a tablet to help with weightloss along side so it will hopefully cancel out any weight gain. I already go to the gym and eat less but with the start of Mirtazapine I know it will make weightloss even harder for me.

I’m hoping I won’t have to take it long as I’ll be starting to therapy. Although I was hoping I’d of started on a mood stabiliser instead of another antidepressant but I didn’t feel able to give my opinion on what medication might be better for me. Got my fingers crossed that mitrazapine doesn’t make me gain a ridiculous amount of weight.

Hannah x

Self Care

Self Care Self care is so important yet can be so neglected at times as it is hard to recognise your own self neglect. I am writi...