Mental Health

“You can do anything you set your mind to”

When I was a little girl, growing up I was lucky enough to have parents who told me that I could do anything I set my mind to.

At 5, this was a fairy (I was in love with Tinkerbell from Peter Pan.) At 7, this was a ballet dancer. These small, probably unrealistic dreams (I’m not magic and I’m way too clumsy to be good at ballet) were not met, but at that age it doesn’t matter. It’s good to dream! 

Teenage years hit and the eye rolls begin. When my parents tell me their mantra, I’d just shrug it off and say “you have to say that, you’re my parents.” I didn’t see how lucky I was to be supported. At 14, I set my mind to be a veterinarian. I was a clever girl and well on track to get A’s. If other circumstances hadn’t hit at aged 16/17/18 then who knows…. I might have done it! 

This (as I saw it then) massive failure academically showed I couldn’t do anything I set my mind to. I felt stupid, never wanted to try because all my effort in the past got me nowhere. This negative thinking infected all parts of me. “I’m not good enough” was my core belief. This backed up by negative situations (which people usually focus on over positive) and constant rheumatism formed a foothold for my depression to get the better of me. Only when I decided enough was enough and that I wanted more for my life, I could start to fix this. Asking and accepting help from people isn’t weakness. Even though my parents aren’t always believing and supporting, I have lots of people around me to love.  I’d never had met these people, nor the man I love if I’d have followed my initially intended path. Make yourself FOCUS ON POSITIVITY. Fixing yourself isn’t easy, but now when I want to lay in bed all day and cry I just find a new job to do. I Can do anything I set my mind to. I’ve taught myself to knit, embroidery, sew, how to replace a laptop screen, how to cook and I’m currently learning how to blog. I’m learning Spanish and exercising, getting a pet and trying to encourage myself to socialise. I’m coming to the end of my long road of recovery. If these this are still scary to you, you’re not alone… trust me! Baby steps will get you up the mountain just as well as any large stride.

You can do anything you set you mind to. You’re stronger than you think. 🌼

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The ramblings of an anxious rambler #3 Step 1: talking to a doctor

If you’ve identified you have a mental illness then it can be quite daunting to go and speak to someone official. But rest assured that your imagined version of the situation if far worse than it actually will be. (The issue with anxiety if you may not believe me saying that!) You don’t have to go into details with your GP, just talk symptoms (for example over/under eating and sleeping can be part of depression) and they’ll assign you to a counsellor. Even if you’re deemed “not suitable” to be covered by the NHS , there are paid counselling sessions you can get. Don’t take this judgement as a “your problems aren’t bad enough” it’s a silly system with unfortunately not enough money for everyone. Maybe there are just other ways you can get help. There’s often free counselling available at your school or university or even at your job.

Your first counselling session will often be an overview of symptoms for your mental health to be assessed officially. You don’t have to go into much detail here, it’s more of a plan to assign you to an appropriate counsellor or therapist. Counselling is to talk through your problems and help you get your thoughts straight. Therapy is more of a treatment of behaviours which are either caused or worsened by mental health. (For example CBT or EMDR.) You just have to find the right one for you. It may be weird to start with, talking to a stranger. But your stories won’t leave the room (unless they’re dangerous to yourself/others). There’s no point just waiting for your problems to go away, they won’t. You can take a friend or family member if you’re nervous but you may be asked if you want them to leave for 5mins if you want to say anything private.

Be proactive, sort the issues before they get worse…instead of reactive after they’re already out of control. 

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The ramblings of an anxious typer #2: Self Harm.

“Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body. It’s usually a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress.” -NHS website

In this day and age many people resort to self harm as a way of escaping or expressing negative emotions. The more it is publicised, the more people think about doing it. On the other hand, the more people that do it, the greater need for publicising. 

I began selfharming during an abusive relationship. The other party knew about it and almost encouraged it, using it as another way to control me. 

It is nothing to be ashamed of. I don’t hide my scars anymore. They are part of me, like battle scars. I am a survivor. If you’re not at that stage yet, it doesn’t matter! You can still be brave without showing them. Tattoos or clothes can cover them. There are also lots of dermatology treatments through the NHS which can decrease their appearance.

When my mother discovered them she was horrified, she shouted at me and told me not to be so stupid. (She was scared and I since realise it was out of love, even though shouting at the time was the wrong route as it stopped me opening up to her.) She took me to a doctor after a few times and the doctor asked me if I wanted to do something about it. She said if I chose to get help, it would affect my university place and job prospects as people will always see me as a self harmer. She said they would know. THIS IS FALSE. Universities don’t get access to medical records. Getting help doesn’t damage your future, it improves it.

My dad reacted worse, he held an implement I used against his arm and said I was crazy. He said do I want him to do the same as I’m driving him that way. 

If you, or someone you know is self harming then you should get help (with their permission.) Be honest with yourself and others. It is an addiction and will only get worse as the release from each account deplenishes. You can replace it by:

  • drawing on your arm with a red felt tip
  • Wearing an elastic band on your wrist and pinging it everything you need to release negative emotions
  • Crying! πŸ’§ It’s not weak to cry. (Regardless of gender!!!)
  • Ripping paper or scribbling lines across it.
  • Screaming in to or punching a pillow
  • Writing your feelings down
  • Exercise 
  • Talking through your feelings with a trusted party

Eventually finding a different outlet will replace the self harm. Activities you love that will take your mind off it will help.

Lots of universities and schools are getting better at treating mental health. They often have a confidential line you can call at any hour for a chat. Use these resources.

It will take a long time to recover, sometimes (like me) you may fall back into old habits. But you will sort this! It’s an addiction like any other so don’t be too harsh on yourself. Try to write down three positives everyday to focus on. If you’re finding yourself struggling, ask for help!

Some helplines from the NHS website:

Samaritans – call 116 123 (open 24 hours a day), email: jo@samaritans.org or visit your local Samaritans branchMind – call 0300 123 3393 or text 86463 (9am-6pm on weekdays)

Harmless – email info@harmless.org.uk

National Self Harm Network forums

YoungMinds Parents Helpline – call 0808 802 5544 (9.30-4pm on weekdays)

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The ramblings of an Anxious Typer #1

Blogging. The new age diary!

I am 21 years old and when I was 15 I was raped. I’m not going for pity or sympathy. I’m not the victim anymore, I’m stronger than that.

 For 6 years now I’ve been struggling with mental health and was diagnosed with anxiety/depression last year. I’m becoming more and more aware of the stigma surrounding this. Being told to “get a grip” or just “be happy” gets a bit tiring after a while. If I’d broken my leg they wouldn’t tell me to walk if off.

I’m writing this blog to share my experiences with others. Hopefully they will be thought provoking and change the future actions of some. I know I’m not alone in this and now you know you’re not either.

I’m not ashamed of my mental health, I don’t hide my scars. I am keeping this blog annomous to protect the people close to me who my feature in the stories….aside from that, it’s really bloody nerve racking writing this on a public space so I’d prefer to keep my name out of it! One step at a time and all that jazz.