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!

Well this is daunting…

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Okay…so I have decided to revamp what was my book blog and transform this site in to a kind of ‘wellness journey’ (or if you can think of a less cheesy way of describing what I mean, do let me know).

As many of my close friends know, mental health is currently playing a big role in my life right now whether I want it to or not.

This blog isn’t about me going into detail about what’s wrong or how I’m feeling, it’s going to be focussing on the positives – what I’m trying to do to help myself. When I look back over the coming months and year, I hope it will help others too.

So far, I haven’t really made a huge effort to take part in activities that will help me, other than a few walks and some crafting. Thanks to the gentle kick up the backside from certain individuals (you know who you are!) to try more things, I have decided to document everything that I do whether I end up liking it or absolutely hating it.

I’m not talking about anything extreme like bungee jumping or walking on fire (although if you think that’ll help you by all means try it) I just mean random things like writing classes or running – yuk.

I tend to forget the nice stuff I’ve done and naturally focus on how rubbish I’m feeling so I’m hoping that by documenting everything, I can remember the good things. I know it won’t be a miracle cure but if it can give me one or two sparkly moments that will do me for now.

P.S. If I end up not posting in a while, please nag me!