Deers and Dying Plants

NHS windowsills are uninspiring

When your therapist asks you if you are having dark thoughts you realise that you mustn’t look particularly great. I’d been staring into space for a while not listening to the words coming out of her mouth. All I could think about was why had they bothered to put a plant in the room if it was just going to be left for dead on the windowsill.

The room has no positive energy so I think the plant has probably given up on life. Every week when I stare at it, it seems to have died inside a bit more. I don’t blame it, having to sit there and absorb everyone’s problems.

I day dream quite a lot in my sessions. When I zone back in and get asked what I was thinking about, I don’t mention the plant.

A bit of light reading in the waiting room. At least it’s a change from OK magazine…

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I’m experiencing an assault course with my emotions.

Everyone’s mood goes up and down throughout the day, whether a number comes up on your phone that you don’t want to answer or your lunch gets squished in your bag and now you have warm, flat cheese sandwiches. It’s normal for moods to change throughout the day…

…but my moods do this thing where everything is heightened and I can’t control how I feel and behave. I react badly to changes which then sets me off on a downward spiral for the rest of the day, where I’m either so anxious and worried or I just want to hide away and burrito wrap myself in a blanket, maybe not over something as drastic as a squished cheese sandwich but you get the idea!

I describe living with BPD like having Bipolar but on speed. Although, I’m now being told to keep a mood diary so my emotions can be monitored as apparently ‘a diagnosis can change.’ At this point, whether it’s BPD or Bipolar, I don’t really care. I just want to get back into having a routine and getting on with my life very soon!

I am trying as much as I can. I go to meditation, the gym (occasionally), I go for walks and I try and get creative with crafts. It’s a bit of light relief from my mind for a couple of hours as I have to concentrate on not burning myself with a glue gun or tripping over my own trainer at the gym (yes, this has happened).

I’ve had some good experiences over the past week though. I had a special moment with a deer at Plessey Woods and I’ve finally opened my own Etsy page to sell my craft stuff.

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I have a bit of anxiety around selling my stuff as I never believe it’s good enough to sell.

I wish the stuff that I enjoy doing and am reasonably good at would pay the bills, but it doesn’t!

I am struggling to see anything past the next day at the minute as it’s a bit overwhelming, but I will get there!

I want to dump my anxiety via text

It’s not working out.

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My head is currently spinning so I feel like I need to write something to try and ground myself. I was fine this morning and then *BAM*. It hit me early afternoon. It’s always one thought that then makes my head spiral out of control.

Anxiety and I have had a complex relationship for years. It never leaves my side and keeps bickering away in my head, like a tired whinging child.

It feels like that noise the computer used to make when it dialled up an internet connection. I have one million intrusive thoughts but at the same time I cannot think and it’s really noisy and muffled in my head.

I think the worst part of it is the feeling of dissociation. I know I’m here sitting at my keyboard writing but my head feels like it’s in a fish bowl. I feel like crying as it’s so debhilitating but I know I just have to ride this out until I calm down again and my anxiety decides it needs a break.

I wish I could dump my anxiety, preferably by text as that’s all it deserves, or by just ghosting it. The more I try and stop it, the worse it gets.

I know I’ll never fully ‘get over’ anxiety – it’s like we’ve got a blood pact or something, but I want to be able to turn the volume down on it for a while.

Anxiety, if you’re listening – you’re dumped!!

 

What to write, or what not to write…

…that is the question.

 

So, I haven’t really written anything since March. Two months and I have no excuse.

I can’t really think of a topic for this one so I’m just going to write and then see what happens…

It’s been a mixed bag of feelings since I last wrote a blog post. May pretty much marks one year since my mental health started to dip again. One year and I’ve barely began any psych treatment.

There’s been some real sh**ty times during the past few months but I’m still here which I guess is something. There’s been some nice times though and I have the support of friends and a lovely new community of like-minded people at meditation to bring me back to Earth.

I’ve been regularly going to meditation sessions which is helping with my anxiety and I now have a bit of a morning routine. I’ve also started to add gym visits into the mix. The gym gives me major anxiety and I normally spend a good 15 minutes telling myself to breathe in my car before I go in – but, I get in there eventually.

I’m busy creating a collection of sea glass jewellery so I can open an Etsy store and hopefully make some money! I’m also going to try my hand at wood burning art! (I’m a bit of a klutz so I’m a bit nervous about this!)

I love being creative. It’s my saviour at the minute. I’ve kind of fallen out of love with singing right now which upsets me but I’m really excited to be creating some new craft ideas over the next few weeks to keep my mind occupied.

Having time on my hands means my mind often goes into overdrive and my anxiety gatecrashes. The majority of my scary thoughts are around the future. I’ve never been able to plan ahead for anything in my life and I just see a big black void in my mind when I try and think about what I’d like to achieve and what my purpose on this planet is.

I also obsessively worry about everything 24/7 which absolutely sucks. It’s like a hamster wheel in my brain, a whirlwind of negative thoughts constantly bopping about. It’s exhausting.

So yeah, crafting helps banish these emotions for a bit.

This sounds a bit negative but I do have something to keep myself motivated and active! Myself and friend Amy are taking part in a 12 hour dawn till dusk hike in Scotland for the charity Mind this October (I wasn’t well enough to do the running I planned for Mind so looking forward to this challenge). Amy works in mental health and it’s also a very personal cause for myself – I’ve had support from Mind’s services and I want to give something back whilst raising awareness.

I’m seeing this hike as an aim to overcome my mental mountain as well as a physical one!

We will be posting training updates and videos soon and it would be lovely if you could sponsor us!

This post has turned into a bit of a brain dump but at least I’ve updated the blog!

 

 

 

 

Meditation, meds and making friends

Meeting people going through similar situations has helped

 

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It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post and I’ve had a bit of a crappy week so thought I’d write something positive to remember the progress I’ve made – even if it’s just been little steps.

Throughout March I’ve been attending Cloud Nine’s meditation sessions (and eating a lot of homemade cake in their cafe!) as part of a trial to see if it can help with my mental health conditions. With me being off work I thought ‘F it!’ I’ve got nothing to loose. Let’s give this meditation malarky a go.

I had always been a bit of a sceptic when it came to meditation, believing my issues and symptoms were too deep routed to fix by simply breathing and ‘imagining things in your head.’

My opinion on this has changed after just four weeks.

If you haven’t given meditation a go -DO IT!

Even just for breathing and relaxing your muscles which sounds like common sense but it’s amazing how we forget how to breathe properly! It’s a life skill you need to learn, trust me.

I’ve been going about three mornings a week. They have a lovely meditation room with sofas and beanbags and it smells amazing!

I know meditation won’t cure me but it gives me some respite from my emotions for that 45 minute session where I feel completely relaxed.

I think the whole Cloud Nine experience has helped me alongside their meditation sessions. Rachel and Susan are lovely and totally put everyone at ease. No-one is judged, you are listened too and are not pressurised to share anything about yourself if you don’t want to. The whole place is so calming and I feel really safe there. I’ve made some great friends over coffee after the meditation sessions, people who are going through similar experiences as myself which has been really comforting and reassuring.

One morning after a meditation session, I overheard two people talking about booking in their next Reiki sessions. I peered over my book and latte glass and eavesdropped for a while. What is ‘reekee?’ I couldn’t even pronounce it. Having no idea what it was and what I was getting myself in to, I booked my own session in with Rachel.

The treatment room I was taken into was so relaxing, with stars projected onto the ceiling and a lovely light that looks like a cloud. I lay on the massage bed and was told to close my eyes. I could smell lovely essential oils and as Rachel worked her energy magic on my forehead and down to my feet I could feel a difference and my tension definitely started to lift. It’s so relaxing!

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I was really nervous for my first session and I have this weird habit of laughing when I’m anxious so I was biting my lip through most of it. Turns out I had nothing to be anxious about and because of this, my second session was even more relaxing.

It’s true the way they describe it – it’s like when your phone needs charging up – our energy needs this too.

As well as meditation, I’ve been referred to a Mind Well-being group where people with mental health conditions can learn skills to deal with emotional resilience etc. I barely uttered two words during my first week but I’ve started to get to know the people in the group now after 2 weeks. I’m the youngest by quite a bit but its good to share experiences with different people.

For my first 2 weeks we’ve been doing crafts which I’ve loved. We have been making shoebox sanctuaries, featuring things that make us feel safe. I made a room to look like my bedroom. I’m particularly proud of the little shelf I’ve made!

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I’ve also taken up painting again after 7 years! It was easier than I thought to get back in to. Painting is one of the only things where I can completely switch off. I loose the sense of time and everything. It’s like magic and I’d forgotten how much I loved it.

This is my work in progress of a cute doggy…

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I had an appointment this week with my psychiatrist which resulted in me now taking the maximum dosage of my meds (spaced out ttm) and being left really confused about my treatment. I’m not slating the NHS as a whole, it does fantastic work and I’m grateful, but the lack of treatment I’ve received has been terrible. I am just constantly told to wait and the waiting is just making me feel worse!

Hopefully I’ll hear soon…

 

 

 

Me, myself and meditation

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Learning to love mornings again…well…for three days a week

Seeing as I’m waiting an absolute AGE for my NHS appointments, I thought it was time (should’ve started waaaay earlier) for me to try and find things to help myself.

I’m not feeling great at the minute. I’m not sleeping much and I’m just feeling really alone in dealing with how I’m feeling.

I noticed on Facebook that a local wellbeing community cafe on my estate, Cloud 9 Wellbeing, was looking for people to take part in a meditation trial throughout the month of March where you attend three classes every week and write before and after testimonials.

I’ve been a bit of a skeptic in the past when it’s come to meditation. I’m not getting the violins out but I almost felt like my problems were too deep rooted for meditation/mindfulness to have any affect on me. So this trial was the perfect opportunity for it to prove me wrong.

I’ve heard fantastic things about Cloud 9 and a few years ago, I bought my himalayan salt lamp from them which I love, so I sent a private message to them last weekend explaining why I thought meditation could help me. A few days later I got invited to take part!

I’ve been twice already this week and I’m really enjoying it. If I’m honest, meditation is really difficult and I know it takes a while to get in to but so far I’m definitely feeling calmer after the classes and I’m starting to chat to the other class attendees in the cafe after a class which is really nice.

The meditation room is amazing. Before the class even starts the aroma of incense and the calming music in the cafe (which sells lush cake btw) puts me totally at ease. The owners, Rachel and Susan are so lovely and are great listeners.

Below is the start of my meditation journal that I will share at the end of March. I’ve had a great experience so far so I’m looking forward to seeing how my meditation journey develops.

Pre-meditation – 5th March, evening

So tomorrow morning I am taking part in my first meditation class and I’ve got to admit, I’m feeling pretty anxious about it. To be honest I’ve always been a bit sceptical about meditation and believe that my problems and worries are too deeply routed to be helped by techniques like mindfulness and meditation.

I’ve suffered from anxiety since being a child and as I got older, I also developed depression which has recently been diagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder.

My anxiety and mood swings are really bad at the minute and I’m also off work on long term sick leave whilst I wait for help from my community mental health team.

I am at my wits end and I just can’t ever relax, even now writing this I can feel my heartbeat in my chest and have that horrible nervous sensation. My jaw is clenched with anxiety to the point where I needed a jaw splint and botox in my jaw muscles from clenching my teeth all the time.

At the minute I’m feeling like this 24/7 and I am getting sick of it. I’ve developed unhealthy coping techniques and it’s taking over my life. I can’t imagine ever feeling relaxed.

I take medication for my anxiety but it is having little effect.

I have tried meditation apps but being in a familiar space with my headphones in doesn’t help and I can’t switch off.

I’m really hoping by being in a relaxing meditation space and with the lovely people at Cloud 9, I can start to learn new and healthy ways on how to stop my thoughts controlling my life for a while, even if it’s just for half an hour, through being mindful.

Wish me lots of luck and relaxation!

 

Post-meditation – 6th March

This morning I had my first ever meditation session by the lovely Susan at Cloud 9. I was a bit nervous and self conscious at first but it didn’t take me as long as I thought to start relaxing.

The meditation room is amazing and so comfortable. Susan made me feel totally at ease and it was nice to meet two other people there for their first time too.

We closed our eyes and we were talked through breathing and relaxing each muscle in our bodies whilst calming music was playing. I didn’t realise how much tension I could even feel in my eyes!

Although I didn’t manage to switch off my anxious thoughts completely, I definitely feel a bit more relaxed. This is normal though, it can take a while to learn the techniques to allow your mind to focus.

It was so nice to have that time to relax in a new space and not at home where you can be interrupted.

The cafe at Cloud 9 do some lovely herbal teas so it was great to end a session of meditation with a tea and chat with other people from the session.

 

Meditation – 7th March

I’m loving going to Cloud 9 in the mornings at the moment. I woke up this morning feeling quite anxious as I had a sickness review at work today. As soon as I walked in to the cozy cafe I instantly felt more relaxed…and that is before the meditation! The music and the smells of incense are so comforting and you know it’s a safe space.

I’m starting to chat to the regulars and others who go to the meditation sessions which is great too as it makes me feel less self conscious during the meditation class.

Today’s morning class was taken by the lovely Rachel and she started with a relaxation exercise where we relaxed each part of our body. We then had to picture and focus on elements like the moon, sun, colours and stars. When I opened my eyes, the ceiling of the meditation room glows with artificial star light which is so soothing. I chose to sit in a beanbag this morning and I could’ve stayed there all day…bliss. (interesting fact – it is extremely unglamorous trying to get up from sitting in a beanbag)

I felt so calm at the end of the session and noticed that my thoughts seemed to switch off more easily than yesterday…I must be starting to get the hang of it!

Thursday is coffee and cake for £5 so I obviously stayed for cake. I love sitting in the cafe area. The staff are lovely and it’s such a great place to chill after the class.

 

 

 

 

Fuming more than an angry emoji

But I’ve put some pretty flowers on my bike…

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I haven’t written a post for a while because I honestly haven’t been in the mood. I’ve had a few weeks of just thinking that no one will care what I’m writing about but that’s not why I’m doing this, so here I am again with another post.

I’m a bit pissed off at the minute to put it mildly. Since my diagnosis last month, I’ve just been treading water. I’ve bought a few self help books and I’ve been reading about other people’s experiences but it’s not really cutting it.

Since my initial assessment I have heard nothing from my local Community Mental Health Team. I’ve rang three times over the past week with the promise that someone will get back to me about where I am on the waiting list / next steps. They still haven’t rang me.

To be honest, this is making me feel worse as I feel completely ignored and failed by the service. I know there’s a strain on mental health services but come on, they can at least return a phone call, or three…

It’s no surprise there is a mental health crisis right now when no one can get any help.
I want to get back to work eventually. At the minute I just feel like I’m in groundhog day the film, just waiting everyday to hear what’s going to happen.

I’m still seeing my lovely friends but during the week it gets quite lonely and I miss the routine of work even though I know I’m not well enough to go back yet until I get specialised help. I’m on a hamster wheel (I can’t run like a hamster though – I lasted two minutes during a morning of inspiration when I decided to go running)

Before my referral to secondary care, I was on the waiting list for Talking Therapies. I’ve been on that waiting list since May 2018 which is totally unacceptable. So I have now gone 9 months without any support from the NHS other than medication. No wonder people get worse.

I know from speaking to some of my friends who have waited for similar support that they have had to wait one whole year for treatment and have been ignored by the service during a crisis.

I have contacted my local MP this week who responded to me straight away. I’ve signed a patient consent form so that he can contact the NHS on my behalf so I’m hoping this will be a big help for me.

There really needs to be some drastic changes with current mental health services, especially within the North East. It’s a massive problem that needs addressing.

When I get myself into recovery (eventually!) I’m thinking of becoming some kind of mental health advocate to really push for better care as it’s something I’m now really passionate about.

I’m sorry about the rant! It has been good getting it out of my system.

I’ll write something more positive next time 🙂

 

 

I wish crochet was cardio

It’s a shame you can’t crochet and exercise at the same time

So, I’ve joined my local gym again to give myself a push to do some exercise. I’ve been about 4 times this week so it’s progress. If I said I was enjoying it I’d be lying but it’s important I get healthy.

My medication makes me sweat more (ew I know) so I look like a sweaty unfit mess after about 5 minutes on the cross trainer. I also managed to spray a guy’s crotch with the machine sanitiser so that was fun…

I’m pleased I’ve managed to go. It wasn’t easy at all. I sat in my car for ages before plucking up the courage to go in. I just feel like everyone stares at me, even though most are far too vain to be looking at anyone else except themselves in the mirrors.

I’ve struggled a bit more to get out and about this week which has frustrated me. A disaster metro ride turned in to me dissociating and then leaving the metro shaking. A nice lady talked to me until I calmed down. When things like this happen, it makes me scared to go out as I don’t get any warning it’s going to happen.

Anyway, on a more positive note, I’ve done some crochet this week using some lovely hand dyed wool. wrapping it into balls was a nightmare but worth it. The scarf I’m making at the minute is all done in the same stitch so it’s very therapeutic to do when I’m feeling anxious or worked up.

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I had a book cull of my book shelf this week when I had a spout of motivation and managed to make £60 on music magpie which I was chuffed about.

I didn’t visit the alpacas like I said I would so that is my next challenge!

Watch this space for pics.

 

Plants, positivity and progress

(Does reactivating my gym membership count as progress?)

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It’s been a week since the dreaded D-day. To be completely honest, I’m not really feeling much better about it all even though I know it’s progress. I know I’ll get help soon but at the minute it kind of feels like I’ve received a diagnosis and then been left to deal with it sinking in. My friends have all been great though.

I’m trying to look at BPD as just a title, it’s not a stamp I have to put on my forehead, it’s just some symptoms I will have to learn to deal with…easier said than done thinking like this but it’s what I need to keep telling myself so I don’t let it consume who I am.

I need to treat this limbo time between appointments as an opportunity to help myself. It’s challenging as my mood changes so dramatically that I go from being motivated one minute to wondering why I even bother the next. I hate being off work as it can feel quite lonely but I know I need to get better.

It’s been a mixed week of crap days and productive days. I had a fab day last Thursday at a free bracelet making workshop. It was great just zoning out and concentrating on the beads and what colours I was going to use. I made it with real gem stones and I love it! Everyone at the class was lovely and welcoming.

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I’ve met some friends for coffee, gone for a few walks and managed to finally finish a book I’d been reading. I’ve also just renewed my gym membership as I get 1 month free then 3 months for £10 so I haven’t really got an excuse now!!

Instead of buying books, I have been going to my local library to save money. I’m starting to feel like Matilda as I get books recommended to me when I go in now. I’d encourage everyone to support their local libraries. They have a fantastic range of books, including new releases and you can request that they order in a book that you want to read if they don’t have it. There’s also the added bonus that if the book is naff, you haven’t spent any money on it.

The new obsession in my life is my collection of cacti and succulents. I started out with one but it looked lonely so it’s got some more spiky friends now. There’s something about them that just makes me feel a bit calmer having them in my room. I know that sounds weird but hey ho. I also like looking after them even though I’m sure the more you neglect them the happier they are…maybe they are antisocial. Anyway, there’s been a load of research into how plants are good for mental health and for the air in your home so it’s a good enough excuse to buy some.

I’ve just found out that a local garden centre has ALPACAS!! So I’m planning to visit them next week and get some cute photos.

I’ll keep plodding…

 

 

D day – in this case, diagnosis day

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I am nervous about writing this blog post and I’m not sure if it is the right thing to post but if I want to be open and eventually help other people then I think it’s a positive thing for me to do. I’m not doing this for sympathy but purely for people to understand that a diagnosis does not mean you are ‘crazy’, it just means you need a bit of extra help.

Today was a mega difficult day for me and my mental health journey, but an important one. I have waited a long time to finally start getting the help that I need and it has taken a long time for me to listen to people, be open, honest and to not be ashamed of how I feel because you can’t help it – It’s like having a physical illness.

I had my initial assessment with my local Community Mental Health Team. I was so nervous beforehand (I threw up my breakfast – tmi I know) – I had been bricking it for weeks as I’ve known that it’s what I’ve needed. I’ve had a lot of great counselling over the years but my recent Psychologist really supported me in getting some long-term help for my more complex problems by writing to my doctor.

My GP had sent the mental health team a really detailed referral beforehand which was great as they already knew how I was feeling when I got there and I just had to fill in the gaps and answer a few more questions. I cried the whole way through it but the Community Psychiatric Nurse was so lovely and explained that it’s not just me who feels the way I do which made me feel slightly better! When you have any mental illness you feel completely alone when in actual fact, loads of people are going through the same thing.

After speaking to me for a good hour and a half, the nurse diagnosed me with EUPD – Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder  (I absolutely HATE this term and much prefer the other name that is used for it and is most commonly known as Borderline Personality Disorder) and anxiety.  This does not mean there are 6 personalities hiding inside of me. It just means I fit a series of personality traits that they classify under this type of diagnosis.

A Psychiatrist also chatted to me and changed my current meds dosage for my anxiety.

I had a feeling I might have something like this but it was still a shock but also a relief. It means I can finally understand why I feel the way that I do. I know it’s a positive step even though I’m still finding it all so hard to process.

This is probably the only blog post that will be this personal. I want to focus now on the ‘getting better’ side of things as that is more important than dwelling on what is wrong. I just didn’t want people to think it’s all unicorns and rainbows. I know there’s going to be some really crap days ahead that will really challenge me. It’s going to be a long journey but I need to be able to help myself.

Today has also made me realise that I have some fantastic friends who are so supportive. My phone was full of messages when I got out of my appointment which put a smile on my face 🙂

Onwards and upwards!

 

Painting, pancakes and winter walks

Distraction is definitely the key. I was out of the house all day, walking, chatting, eating and painting with one of my friends. Definitely kept my brain off thinking about my mood.

I know it helped because I’m home now and the negative feelings are coming back…so I’m starting to write.

It was a chilly Saturday but nice and fresh for a good long walk, but first, a stop for some breakfast at one of my favourite local cafes, Cullercoats Coffee. They make the most amazing eggy bread! Not great for healthy eating but tasty!

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Me and my friend then had a lovely brisk walk through Tynemouth into North Shields to go to this great place called Pots and Pancakes. It’s a place where you can paint clay items and eat pancakes. Why wouldn’t you want to go?

I painted a cactus mug for when I go back to work to use for my bucket load of coffee I drink everyday. When it goes in the kiln and gets glazed the colour will be much darker…

We spent four hours painting. It was really therapeutic and all I could think about for those hours was painting. It totally clears your mind. My coffee even went cold as I forgot about it and that isn’t like me!

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…and of course…we had to have pancakes to get the full experience…I went with chocolate orange flavour.

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I’m so tired now. It’s always really daunting going out for a full day as I never know what mood I’m going to be in. I have had a few not so good days so I’m happy I got out. Hopefully it means I will have a decent night of sleep from all of the coastal fresh air!