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How I am preventing a relapse

This is a new topic for me to write about as I have never been well enough to recognise when I could be slipping. It’s been around 6 months of feeling strong/mentally well. I still get intrusive thoughts, but can handle them/ they no longer affect my life to the extent they once did. They are also less frequent.

Recently, I have noticed they the intrusive thoughts seem to be more intense. My first step to preventing a relapse is recognising why this may be happening. This time it is simple; I have a quite large career change. I am a full time online student student studying for a bachelors degree, as well as working part time as a barista. I recently applied for a job ,not expecting to get anywhere as I had no experience in this field, but relates to my degree. I have been offered the job, 3 full days a week. It will be a lot harder work than being a barista, therefore I am worried it’ll be too much on top of university. I said yes to the offer, as I won’t know unless I try! It will also be a good basis for a future career.(Plus I wouldn’t be a poor student)

I know that stress is a huge factor for my intrusive thoughts occurring, which means I am currently experiences more intense thoughts, leading to bouts of suicidal ideation. Knowing the reason why I feel this way is helpful for me, as it feels more logical.(but thoughts of ending my life are still hard to process)

My second step is doing something special for myself. Which is what stage I am at now. I walked myself to my favourite coffee shop, got myself a cold brew and cake, and am having some me time. Scrolling through blogs on my laptop, a book to read. Just taking some time to relax, and avoid feelings of anxiety about the new job, and thinking I should be studying instead. I can easily become overwhelmed, and want to give up. So this is me taking a step back.

It shocks me how well I am handling everything. I am capable of so much more! It creates stress, but completing something you find hard is so rewarding! I am supposed to be at the hospital having bloods/tests done, I have never done this alone so I am worried! My partner is too busy with his masters, so I’m determined to attempt this challenge alone! If I don’t manage it today, I definitely will tomorrow.

Here’s to being optimistic whilst struggling!

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Feeling suicidal while on the other side of the world

Firstly, I’d just like to put a trigger warning on this post for anyone who is sensitive to the topic of suicide and mental illness. These posts are written in diary form, therefore it is not necessarily factual/helpful to those who may be struggling, please take this into consideration when reading. If anything causes you concern, you are welcome to email me or reach out to a mental health helpline.

I haven’t posted in nearly a month, and that’s because I’ve been enjoying myself travelling in Africa. I may do a separate post of my travels, but if not, it was amazing!

While away, I only felt low one day, which I am impressed with considering the exhaustion of travelling and intense social interaction. On this day, I did not leave the bed all day, which is sad considering I was in Kenya, a beautiful place I was happy to be in. I stayed in, but let everyone I was travelling with carry on, this made me feel less guilty.

It was needed to take a day off, and I’m glad I did. I woke the next day refreshed, and was able to carry on with my travels,which I feared I wouldn’t.

I had never been this far away from my comfortable, I did not want to end my life in this unknown and country so far from home. It was so frightening feeling these intense intrusive thoughts.

Mental illness doesn’t take a holiday too! Haha.

I haven’t gained my blogging passion back, so I’ll leave this post short.

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I miss my therapist?

Firstly, I’d just like to put a trigger warning on this post for anyone who is sensitive to the topic of suicide and mental illness. These posts are written in diary form, therefore it is not necessarily factual/helpful to those who may be struggling, please take this into consideration when reading. If anything causes you concern, you are welcome to email me or reach out to a mental health helpline.

This is an odd thing for me to write about as I never thought I would struggle with this. My mental health is rather hidden in my life, not many people know about it. A few months ago I wrote about my experience with online CBT. I spoke to a licensed therapist 5 days a week, for nearly 30 weeks. I struggled to be open at first, but after a few weeks I began to see the benefits and really engaged.

I had CBT for 6 months with the same therapist. The first therapist I saw said my needs were too complex, which put me off seeking help. I did not work with him, but decided to give it one more chance. I then met the therapist I worked with, we connected well and I felt he was a good match for my needs. We intended to do CBT for 12 months together, and then take things from there. After 6 months, he opened his own private practice in the states, so would not be able to work with me anymore.

I was devastated, the 6 months of therapy had really began to help me. I was frightened to suddenly stop, and not progress further. I felt I was leaving therapy with only half of the tools I needed.

I had the option to carry on therapy with another therapist but felt like this would be a step back, especially as it would take me a few months to get comfortable.(Also therapy is very expensive, and as a young adult feel the extra cost wasn’t the right time) I decided to leave all therapy and try to use the skills I had started working through. It has been beneficial, but feel I need to work through a few more things with a professional. I am coping well, and feel now is not the time.

When I am struggling, I often think I would know how to cope with the situation if my therapist didn’t leave me. I yearn for the professional advise that was personalized to me. I balanced my irrational thoughts with the sane thoughts we spoke of, and when I experience intrusive thoughts I miss his rationale. I feel embarrassed that I miss my therapist, its only from a professional relationship. I guess its normal to miss that safety.

Which bring us go now! I am currently medicine and therapy free, and thriving! It’s been 4 months since ‘my therapist left me’ and I have grown so much! I am thankful of the skills I learnt in CBT, but am able to acknowledge there is still more work to be done in the future. I have no immediate plans, but am confident in keeping myself safe. I still experience intrusive thoughts of suicide but can mostly work through them with the help of my partner.

Travelling with mental illness

In my previous post, I wrote how well I am doing currently and I can confirm the same still remains! Yay! But I am feeling a little anxious (Not a daily occurrence for me anymore) as I am travelling to Africa soon. This post doesn’t specify anything in particular, I just would like like to write while these irrational thoughts are with me currently.

Anxiety: Surprisingly I am not anxious about the actual travelling. The airport crowds, long flights, running for trains, not sleeping  in my bed for a few weeks, not knowing where I am etc, are not things I actually struggle with. I actually enjoy long journeys; means more reading time! The main things I am anxious about are physical illness,  not in myself but in the  people I am travelling with.(they are all very healthy, been travelling before and have never had such experience) It’s not logical for me, but I am increasingly paranoid someone is going to have a life threatening illness while we are in a foreign country. I don’t want to write it, but I am fearful I will come back without one of my friends.. Very irrational but oh so frightening! (May be a part of OCD). I think it is partially heightened this time as Africa is known for lots of diseases, and I haven’t personally travelled outside of Europe. We have had all our necessary immunisations. For me, it’s a matter of being distracted from these irrational thoughts!

Suicidal ideation: This is something I have struggled with for a  long time, it’s not chronic/all the time, it only happens sporadically but is usually very intense and overwhelming, especially as I don’t normally feel low before the intrusive thoughts happen. They haven’t been often recently, so I hope they don’t occur while I am away! I am travelling with my partner, so feel confident I will be able to handle them if they do occur. (suicidal ideation is the main reason I haven’t been able to travel independently)

This might not be my last post before I leave the country, but if it is, I shall update when I am back! I hope the start of the new year is treating you well! It is for me!

Have I recovered?

I’ve been a bit quiet recently, and it’s not due to being in a bad place. It’s actually the opposite! I want to carry on writing posts about mental health but find it difficult to write unless I am going through it. I want my blog to remain authentic. Therefore, there may not be as many mental health related posts as previous, but I’m sure there will be some soon. I’m not going to rush myself, and am going to write as and when it comes to me.

In the meantime, I’m going to make this post a mini update. My next post will be book related. I am going travelling at the end of the month, so have a lot to keep me busy! I need to plan what books I want to read on the journey! Any suggestions?

I had an incident a few days ago,  not self harm related! But it means I can’t work for the next couple of weeks. I am using this time to get ahead at university! I am currently thoroughly enjoying my degree, and it’s shown in my grades! I hope this year is the same!

Mental health is at an all time best, and has been for around 4 months now! I’m honestly amazed at my progress! This will be my year of growth! I’m optimistic about the future, this is extremely rare for me!

 

What I aim to achieve this year (2019)

Happy new year! I’m not usually one for new year resolutions, but this year I have a list of things I would like to achieve. Comment below what you want to achieve!

  • Fly international for the first time
  • Worry less! (I feel this will be the hardest one)
  • Complete 2 modules of my degree!
  • Blog a few times each month (Only things that I am happy with)
  • Read 50 books (I have read 100 for the past 5 years but feel this will be a busy year)
  • Look after my physical health; Eat nutrient dense foods as well as yummy snacks! Only exercise for health and not because I have to.
  • Keep my possessions to a reasonable minimalist
  • Travel to places I haven’t been before. (I already have one booked!)
  • Read all the books on my current TBR (There isn’t many so I feel I could achieve this)
  • Make a friend. (I struggled a lot with loneliness in 2018, and hope to find a genuine connection with someone)
  • Control dermatillomania better. My face is always clear when I don’t obsessively pick my skin and that makes me happy!
  • Begin pen-palling with new people and connecting without the internet
  • Keep a mental health diary. (I want to record how many ‘bad’ days I have in a year)
  • BE HAPPY (so cliche, but I want to carry on trusting my gut and being myself)
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Balancing mental health with university and working

I’m not writing this as a ‘this is what you should do’, its more ‘this is what worked for me, I hope you can take a few tips or just enjoy reading. download

Firstly, I haven’t always been able to balance these 3 aspects of my life. I was very unwell while in high school, therefore did not balance education with mental illness very well. Right now, I feel I have a very good balance of education, working and battling mental health. For those who don’t know, I am a full time online student studying a bachelor’s degree, I also work 2 days a week as a barista.

My main advice, and what I rely heavily upon is organising! This is easy for me, as I love my plans to be organised well in advanced, lists lists lists! I start by writing a huge list of everything that needs to be done within a time phrase (usually I plan a month ahead, so write now I have completed January’s list). Once I have the list, I prioritise all things that have a deadline. I bring the deadline a week forward in my plans (I make myself believe they are genuinely due a week before) so if something does go wrong, I have extra time. Everything that doesn’t have a deadline, just gets put on a ‘to do’ list, this makes no pressure, but ensures I know what needs doing. I find lists powerful, and usually never have anything left on them at the end of the month, but if I did, I would just write it in the next months. Lists are most useful for my degree, as it ensures all the work needed for deadlines is complete. As I don’t plan each day I will complete things on my to do list, it makes working as a barista a lot less stressful for me, as I know I don’t have to rush anything when I get home from a shift. I don’t work set shifts, I just receive a rota every 4 weeks. Being a week ahead at my degree makes me flexible at work, this makes me available to work any days, and able to cover if anyone’s ill.

Secondly, I’ve also learnt to say no. I know working more than 2 days a week would be too overwhelming for me, so I have specified I can only do 2 shifts a week, as work knew this when I started,it has never been a problem. If extra shifts need doing, or covering, I weigh my options and only say yes when I feel like its a good idea. I’m quite a push over, so learning to say no is very hard for me. But it’s important,and I’ve been doing it more often!

As I only work 2 days, and am always at least a week ahead at university, I can ensure I take a mental heath day if needed. If I am really struggling, I have given myself the option to be take a day off, and just focus on myself. Being in control of these 3 large aspects of my life means I always get enough sleep. Not only because I make the time, but because I’m not overly stressed as I know things are in control!

This balance works well for me. I am a very productive person and I thrive of that! I am proud to have created this lifestyle for myself. I thought it was impossible to do a degree without stress, but it’s possible! I am happy where I am in life. I can see a future, and that’s very important for someone who struggles with suicidal ideation. Thank you for reading!