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

8 comments:

  1. Wow! It's amazing reading how incredible and strong all of the ladies you've featured are! It's so important to remember how long mental health recovery takes, and I always say that it takes longer to mentally recover than it does physically.
    I had a breakdown towards the end of my masters, started working obsessively and convinced myself that I needed to be working out 3-4 hours a day (which just feels ridiculous now writing it down!) I used to visit two different gyms, so no one noticed how long I was working out for each day. I stopped eating because I managed to convince myself I didn't have time to eat... and I just drove myself to my lowest point.
    I recovered pretty quickly, but only recently mentally recovered! People don't realise just how long it takes... and that's just my one small episode, so I can only imagine how tough it must be for all of you guys living with long-term disorders! It's fascinating reading posts like this and I think they're super important in terms of raising awareness for mental health, so thanks for sharing Hannah! Have a lovely day! <3 xx

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    1. That’s amazing that you’ve managed to recover! It is a long journey to recovery but we will all get there one day!!! Thank you so much <3 xx

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    2. This is such a raw post ❤️ as a blogger, I've been trying to write more honestly about mental illness and this is a really good example of what I want to achieve.

      Jemina || www.jeminamarina.co.uk

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    3. I’m glad it’s inspired you!

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  2. I really related to Rebekah's story about her eating disorder - I've been 'recovered' for almost five years now, at least physically. Mentally is another thing, which I don't think gets recognised as much, especially when the person suffering is weight restored.

    Thank you so much for sharing this - to all of you. It's so important to highlight that mental illness does impact people in different ways. ��

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    Replies
    1. I always wondered about if it was fully recovered, I’m so sorry it’s still lingering over you! But thank you so much for your comment!

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  3. This is truly amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your stories! It will really help a lot of people x

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