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!

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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!

Temporarily suicidal?

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.

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I haven’t written many posts on mental health recently, as I have been doing really well! Plus couldn’t think of ideas. Today that has changed. Today I thought ending my life was my last option. I haven’t felt this suddenly suicidal in a long time. It scares me most how sudden I can feel this way.

Right now, I can see how illogical my feelings were this morning, and I now just feel low. Low because I felt alone in how I felt, and had no one to support me when I needed them. I don’t find talking over text helpful,it just makes me focus on my phone thus makes me anxious. It makes me feel incredibly guilty and like a burden when I am suicidal, which I guess highlights the fact.

I want to be able to live with a life without these sudden intrusive thoughts to end my life. I can’t imagine that ever happening. I’m afraid of being impulsive. I’m doing so well, why does this have to happen?

Today is my first right off day in a long time, I just laid in bed and cried. (I don’t usually allow myself to get into bed until 7pm to ensure I am productive and its become a good habit.)

I feel low. It’s temporary.

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The Paper Room (a poem I wrote about my brain)

This is hard for me to post,I didn’t plan on ever sharing. I am not a writer, I have never enjoyed writing but one night last year I couldn’t sleep(very rare for me) I wrote this ‘poem’. I’m not sure if I can call it a poem as I don’t know much about writing. I wrote about comparing my intrusive thoughts to pieces of paper, and how my brain processes them as if I were a recycling room. The perfectionist in me wants to this piece, but I’m not going to. Here is a first(a mostly likely the only time I’ll revisit this) draft:

All my happy thoughts and memories are stored neatly in categories in my brain, in a filing system. There is a little wicker basket placed on top of the filing system, full of all the stressful thoughts, that can’t be filed in the system. My brain doesn’t function stress, so the stressful basket of thoughts gets put into the recycling room, with all the other bad thoughts. So there isn’t a wicker basket at all.

Inside the recycling room, the metaphorical fan is left on, all the bad thoughts are flying around the room, in a mess. The days where my brain is stuck in the recycling room, it’s like my brain is full of negative thoughts that repeat repeat repeat as they fly around. There’s no organisation, just messy thoughts. You try and get in control of one thought of paper, when the next flies in front, before you’ve had time to hold onto the first. So you’re still left with racing negative thoughts all day. Being inside the recycling room nothing is achieved, just left down, hopeless and unproductive.

Days when I’m in the filing system are good, it’s in my comfort zone. My thoughts are structured and calm. This sounds perfect. Yet it means I can’t deal with any new things, and the stressful things never get done. Which leaves me being punished for not doing things, like eat and do homework.

I can’t find a way in-between these mind sets. My brain can’t process. I don’t know what to do in this paper room.

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What I accomplished in 2018

2018 has a been a memorable year for me, purely from the progress in battling my mental health. It’s been a super hard,but rewarding year overall! I thought I would make this post to show(and prove to myself) how much I have achieved. I ‘tag’ anyone reading to do this for themselves, I’d love to see what other people feel they have accomplished this year. I think it is a positive form of reflection, especially for me and those who struggle with worthlessness. So is what I am proud:GettyImages-831648638-compressor

  • Starting a degree in Psychology: After taking a 2 year break from education to focus on my mental health, I have started a degree, which I am studying online. I’m a few months in and am really enjoying it. I aim to do a masters, maybe a Phd, so have at least another 3 years of studying left.
  • Results: I got 97% on an assignment for university, which really surprised me as I was worried I didn’t do well. I’ve been at least a week ahead of studying since the beginning, and aim to keep it this way.
  • Completed 3 months of CBT: I finally found the courage to start professionally working on my intrusive thoughts, and I stuck it out. Although it didn’t end well(my therapist left to open his own practise in another state so we had to finish) I still managed 3 months of daily therapy.
  • Became a barista: I left my last job because of mental health again. Recently I got a new part time job to do along side my degree. I’ve been there a month now, and I relatively enjoy it!
  • Combating intrusive thoughts: This is a huge thing for me,I have been consumed by my brain for so long, that it feels amazing to gain some control. I’m not completely better, but recovery is so worth it!
  • Read 100 books: I’ve already completed this with 4 weeks left of the year. 5th year in a row that I’ve read a hundred books a year!
  • Doctors: After struggling with my physical health for two years, I finally managed to force myself to go to the doctors office. (I only started this process a few days ago,it’s very overwhelming and has filled me with anxiety. Will do an update soon)
  • Balance: I have found a comfortable place in life, I feel productive, like I am now on the right track. I adore my living situation, am still with my partner of 5 years, getting a degree, earning on the side, all whilst enjoying things like travelling to other countries and reading.
  • Starting a blog: Lastly, I began this blog 3 months ago. I had wanted to have my own blog for a while but never got round to it. I’ve enjoyed having a platform to talk about books and mental health. Thank you to everyone who has supported me!