Self Gaslighting

Logo courtesy of Ryan- http://www.twitter.com/ryanthebroski

I saw something today about self gaslighting and I realised I’ve never realised how much I do it and how much other people probably do it without realising.

For those who don’t know or aren’t sure, gaslighting is where someone will manipulate you emotionally until you’re questioning your own sanity. Some of the signs of this are questioning your memory or perception of an event, not feeling like the person you used to be, feeling like something is wrong but not being able to place what that something is, making excuses for the person gaslighting you, and questioning your feelings, amongst many other things.

Picture by @mayarichardsun

I guess gaslighting is fairly common and I know I experienced it a lot when I was with my ex. He would constantly make me feel like I was imagining the abuse, make me feel like I’d driven him to it, or point blank deny any knowledge of him having done anything. It led to me not speaking about it to anyone for the longest time because I truly believed I was at fault and that nobody would believe me.

Gaslighting is bad enough when someone else does it to you, but I think doing it to yourself can be just as bad. We’re all being told we should love ourselves and speak to ourselves the same way we’d speak to a friend but it’s something that rarely happens.

Picture by @mayarichardsun

I’m guilty of feeling more than one of these things, especially when I’m thinking about what I went through with my ex. I used to discount it all the time because other people got killed by their partners and I obviously hadn’t been killed so I wasn’t being subjected to “proper” abuse. This led to me feeling like I was being too sensitive whenever I felt upset about it, even though I had, and still have, every right to feel upset.

Even with my mental health, I’m always gaslighting myself without realising. I berate myself for not being “normal” and for being depressed or anxious in the first place because someone somewhere has it worse, so I should be more grateful.

This way of thinking is so ridiculous, especially when you know you would try and stop your loved ones from talking about themselves in that way. It’s definitely easier said than done to speak to yourself the same way you would to a friend and I definitely know this from experience. I’m not completely there yet, but I’m starting to notice when I’m having these thoughts and I’m beginning to start challenging them. I think it’s important to acknowledge whatever you’re thinking, just because you’re acknowledging it, it doesn’t mean that you’re allowing it to have space in your mind all day.

Picture by @mayarichardsun

I definitely need to put more practise into challenging my thoughts and maybe putting a better spin on them. I think some of these phrases might be a good starting point, especially if you’re struggling to come up with something. We all deserve to live our lives without that little voice telling us all the bad things about ourselves that it wants us to believe.

Picture by @mayarichardsun

It may feel weird at first, especially if you’ve had someone make you feel so bad for so long but eventually it becomes second nature to question why you feel bad and to turn it around. I guess it can also feel empowering to know that being gaslit doesn’t have that power over you anymore and you have the freedom to live your life with at least one less thing to stress you out.

As always, I’m happy to help with anything if that’s what you need, just let me know! 💜

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PTSD And New Relationships

Logo courtesy of Ryan – http://www.twitter.com/ryanthebroski

I think we’ve established by now that I suffered pretty badly with PTSD after a bad relationship and how badly it affected my general life. After a conversation I had with my partner a couple of days ago, it got me thinking and I realised I’ve never really spoken about how it’s affected future relationships.

It was actually our five year anniversary on Friday and that’s also got me thinking, I’m not the easiest person to deal with anyway but throw mental health stuff in and I’m nearly impossible to deal with sometimes.

I met my partner at a local gig, I almost didn’t go out because of anxiety but decided I’d go out for once. I wasn’t expecting anything to come of it, but I ended the night randomly meeting him and his friends and going to a club with them after. I think we knew from the moment we met that it wasn’t going to be a one night thing and we actually had our first date the next day. Within a week of us meeting, I got tonsillitis and he looked after me and sent me things to make sure I wouldn’t be bored while I was at home recovering.

On the outside, things looked good. They were good. We spent literally all of our free time together. He bought me gifts because they made him think of me, or it was something I mentioned in conversation that I wanted or was interested in. He went out of his way to make sure I was OK when I was ill.

On the inside, things were much different. Of course I was happy, who wouldn’t be when they’ve found someone and it just feels right? I didn’t know I had PTSD at the time but every time he did something nice for me, the imaginary red flags would pop up. My ex used to buy me stuff so he could hold it over me so clearly this was what was happening now. My partner was doing nice things for me, not because he wanted me to be ok, but because he wanted to use it against me later. He was lending me money for my antibiotics and painkillers because I had no money and it would be the start of him controlling me financially.

It was all so ridiculous and I knew it was. I managed to dismiss it because I knew in my heart and in my head that this was a completely different scenario. I know that while I was ill, my ex would have left me to fend for myself. Got no money for medication? Tough shit. Need to rest to get better? No chance, he’d have finished it with me if I hadn’t cleaned the whole house. Can’t talk? Oh well, I’d still have to struggle to speak to the out of hours doctors because he wouldn’t have taken over.

There was probably more ways that I would have been treated differently, but I knew my mind was talking shit. I wasn’t being treated in that way at all and it was completely new to me. I was so overwhelmed by the care and kindness shown to me and while my PTSD told me he was being too nice and I should watch out, I decided that maybe I deserved someone who was “too nice”.

Those first few weeks were a constant struggle in my mind. I’d managed to be convinced (by my PTSD) that after a month or so, it’d all be over, whether I’d done anything or not. There was no reasoning behind it, other than my ex repeatedly telling me that no one else would ever want me and I had no one else in my life because I’m bad and push them all away. Deep down, I knew I wasn’t pushing my partner away. I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible and was ready to meet his son. I fully believe that if neither of us were invested in this relationship, that I wouldn’t have met his son, I feel like that’s a big relationship milestone.

The month passed, I met his son and things were still great, which was more than enough proof that my mind was talking absolute shit. We talked about meeting each other’s mums and my siblings. I told him about my Hide & Seek Champion dad and how it had truly affected me. We went on regular dates and continued spending all of our free time together. But my PTSD was still determined to try and sabotage it.

Every time we had the slightest disagreement (which is never that often), it wasn’t even an argument or raised voices, I’d end up convinced that that was it for me, and I’d be walking home if I was staying at his or in the car. It started off with me just being slightly upset but as time went on and we got further into the relationship, I would become inconsolable. It didn’t matter how much I tried to reason with myself, with actual evidence, I fully believed the way I’d been treated in the past would be how I’d be treated now.

Other than that, things had settled down and I was happy. I knew for sure that I was with someone who just wants the best for me and to see me happy and would do anything to make that happen. I went on with my life, the only things that really affected me were very minor disagreements and occasional nightmares and that was pretty much it.

I remember the first few times I had nightmares, I felt awful. It was kind of a given that reliving it would make me feel bad anyway, but I initially felt I couldn’t tell my partner because I was worried he’d think that I’d been thinking about my ex and that was why I’d been having dreams with him in. This couldn’t be further from the truth, I hadn’t been thinking about him and my partner would have known that. When I did eventually tell him, he was really understanding and would wake me up whenever he heard me crying in my sleep. There were some nights where I’d be lashing out in my sleep, obviously due to the nightmares and instead of getting mad, he would give me the time and space to speak about it when I felt ready.

I got diagnosed with PTSD in 2016 or 2017, I think. Suddenly everything made sense, why I thought and behaved the way I did sometimes. I’d started going for therapy and gave it up for reasons I’ve written about here. Although I didn’t realise at the time, I was in denial about my diagnosis, partly due to lack of education about it and partly due to not wanting another thing to add to my mental health problems.

My PTSD started to get worse because I hadn’t got the help I needed and as a result, I didn’t know how to deal with it. The nightmares began to get more frequent, I’d be inconsolable when my partner was snappy due to lack of sleep or just having a bad day. I remember one night when we were at mine and someone was shining a laser pointer into my room, it was probably kids messing about but I was convinced it was my ex and my partner had to calm me down. It was a horrible time for me and it can’t have been easy for him either.

Last year, I decided enough was enough and self referred for therapy. I thought things would get better but they only got worse. One day that sticks in my mind was just after I’d done my referral. My partner had recently opened up about some personal stuff and had people messaging him as a result. For some reason, this apparently meant that he was cheating on me, according to my PTSD anyway. I knew this wasn’t true because I know that he would never do that to me and I don’t know how many times I told myself this. We’d gone out for the day and mentally, I was all over the place. I’m not the greatest person to be around when my mental health goes downhill, I’m easily upset, if someone tries to give advice, it’s a massive criticism on who I am as a person, it feels like everyone is on the attack and I definitely felt it that day.

I felt pretty bad anyway but the unwanted thoughts made me feel even worse. I remember crying at different points in the day because we were just having one of those snappy days, there was nothing in it, it happens to all of us. I remember sitting on the beach and thinking that if I just walked into the sea and didn’t turn back, eventually everything would end and I wouldn’t have to deal with all the demons in my mind and neither would anyone else. What was supposed to be a nice day out turned into something that I look back on with sadness because I’d been fighting my mind all day and it was exhausting.

This picture had been taken on that day, I’d cried most of my makeup off. It didn’t dawn on me until a few weeks ago that this was an obviously fake smile.

I didn’t really speak about how I was truly feeling that day because I knew that what my mind was telling me wasn’t true and I didn’t want to cause any unnecessary drama. I still believe that this was the best way to go about it because I feel that saying something at the time would have definitely made it worse. I’m just lucky that I found someone so understanding because based on how I was that day, anyone else would have probably left me.

As time has gone on, things have got better. My mind doesn’t scream at me with imaginary red flags anymore and now I’ve completed therapy, things are easier. I’ve always been happy in our relationship and that won’t change, but I think that if I hadn’t had PTSD, things would have been much better in my mind without constant unreasonsble doubt being thrown at me by my own mind. I knew I was ready to settle down with someone but I just wasn’t aware how difficult my past would make it for me sometimes. I’m glad I’ve stuck at it and talked about it though because if I hadn’t, I would have missed out on something amazing.

Things do get better and there’s always happiness at the end of a shitty situation. It took me the longest time to find mine and a lot of work to keep it. There’s always going to be tough moments within that happiness, it happens, but even just having a friend or someone else to talk to can make it that bit more bearable. As always, I’m happy to talk if anyone needs it, just let me know 💜

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Things I’ve Learnt During Lockdown

Logo courtesy of Ryan – http://www.twitter.com/ryanthebroski

I don’t need to say much about being in lockdown, we all know it’s happened and people have dealt with it differently. I’ve been working through it and quiet nights at work and being stuck at home on my days off has given me a lot of time to think and to learn some stuff that I probably never would have, which, if you haven’t gathered from the title, is what today’s post is about.

It’s OK to feel anxious/depressed etc – A couple of years ago, I would have been beating myself up for feeling as anxious as I have. The thing is, it’s not surprising if your mental health has declined during lockdown. We’re all social people, some more than others, and it’s not good for your mental health to be stuck indoors and not speak to anyone. I’m lucky because I live with friends, but it was hard not seeing my partner, my sister and my friends from gigs and wrestling shows. Video calls are a fairly good substitute but I’d generally find myself feeling sad at the end of them because I just wanted to be with these people in person. It’s also especially difficult if your mental health thrives on having a routine and knowing what’s happening. To have that suddenly taken away from you with no clue as to when you’ll get it back is definitely a cause for anxiety to flare up. Not only that, knowing that a potentially deadly virus is going around and not knowing anything about it is pretty worrying, especially if you have underlying health conditions. This is the main reason I’ve gone back on medication, which leads to my next point.

It’s ok to get help – I’ve been convinced for the past few years now that I wouldn’t need to go back on medication because I’d learnt to handle my mental health effectively and could get through most things. However, this is something that has presented a whole set of different problems and worries that no one could have prepared for. We all need a little help sometimes, we can’t do everything on our own. It doesn’t necessarily have to be medication, it could just be talking to someone or writing out your feelings, whatever works for you.

I’m fine as I am – I have naturally curly hair and I’ve spent most of my life hating it, it goes frizzy, it looks messy and it’s unmanageable. I’ve been straightening my hair on a regular basis since I was 16 and I dread to think how damaged it got. During lockdown, I decided to get some products to hopefully help my hair look better curly and I’ve started to embrace my curls. Getting ready to go out doesn’t take as long and people have complimented me and said curly hair suits me. I’m fairly sure that if we hadn’t gone into lockdown and I’d still been regularly seeing people, I’d still be straightening my hair all the time.

It’s a good time to pick up new hobbies/get into neglected hobbies – When I was maybe 17 or 18, I used to do cross stitching all the time but that stopped for the longest time when I left home. I bought a kit in 2013 with the hope that I’d get back into it and then left it half done for 7 years. Since lockdown has begun, I’ve got back into cross stitching and finished half done projects and done a few new ones. I’ve also got my colouring books and pens out and just generally been creative over lockdown. I know lots of people have been doing fitness videos at home and baking and for the most part, it looks pretty fun. I think it’s important for your mental health to try and keep your mind occupied, especially when it’s so easy for it to go downhill during times like this.

It’s ok to do nothing – In the same way that keeping occupied is good for your mental health, so is taking a day out to do nothing. I always felt it was a waste of my time and that I could be doing something productive with my time instead of chilling out all day in bed playing xbox and watching Netflix. As important as it is to keep your mind occupied, sometimes you need to give yourself and your mind some rest and have a day where you don’t do anything too mentally or physically taxing. It’s difficult to do when you spend all your time doing stuff and seeing people and I think that people really underestimate how important doing nothing can sometimes be.

Your emotions are valid – I think, as a society, we’re led to believe that being sad or angry or feeling any other negative emotion is bad and something that shouldn’t be done. However, keeping those emotions in can actually do more harm than good. It’s ok to be angry because you don’t know what’s happening and other people don’t seem to be taking it as seriously as you are, it’s ok to be sad because you miss seeing loved ones and living the life you’re used to, it’s ok to be worried about yourself and loved ones. I think if we talk about the negative emotions that we feel, it’ll soon come as easily as talking about our positive emotions and it’ll also be easier to access any help that’s needed.

It’s ok not to be good at stuff – So far during lockdown, I’ve managed to burn a cake, overcook chocolate brownies, burn some cookies, mess up songs on guitar countless times and made so many stupid mistakes while doing cross stitching. You don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it. Sure, you might have made something that’s turned out inedible or have to go back and start something again lots of times but as long as you’re having fun and getting some satisfaction out of it, that’s all that matters.

We all cope differently – Throughout lockdown, some of us have been doing a lot of online shopping, myself included. Others have been getting stuff done around the house. Some people have been non stop baking. Whatever works for you is fine, there’s no right or wrong way for coping with this.

It’s ok if things aren’t normal – I know a lot of people have struggled with having next to no normality in their lives, whether that’s related to work, sleep, home life or whatever else. These aren’t normal times at the moment and everything has changed unexpectedly. For me, my sleeping pattern has really been affected, I’ve either been sleeping too much or not enough, I’ve woken up in the early hours of the morning or late afternoon. It’s ok for things in your life not to feel normal at the moment because things aren’t normal.

I’m really interested to know what other people have learnt during lockdown. It’s a different experience for everyone and I’d love to know what sort of things you’ve taken away from it. Let me know in the comments and make sure you stay safe out there! 💜

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The Great Depression Of 2016

Logo courtesy of Ryan – http://www.twitter.com/ryanthebroski

Before I get into this, I just want to apologise for not posting lately. I have no sleeping pattern at the moment so I’m just tired all the time and sleeping whenever, hopefully now my hours are back to normal at work, I can begin fixing it.

I often refer to the Great Depression of 2016 but I’ve never really gone into detail about it, so here goes!

I’m not even entirely sure what started it off, I know I started the year in a good way, I was with my partner, I met his mum, I was enjoying work, I’d made some friends, life was good. However, that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t possibly have been depressed because depression doesn’t care about how your life is and how good you have it.

I know one of the main things that exacerbated my depression was lack of money. I was paying back a debt that my ex had caused and it wasn’t a small amount of money either. I’d also got behind on my rent, which was completely my fault. I’m lucky in that my landlady is pretty understanding when it comes to rent and money issues, I was so far behind with my rent that she would have been well within her rights to evict me, but she agreed a payment plan with me so I could pay it back and get back on top of it again.

I was basically paying double rent, which left me short on money for other things. I live in private rented accommodation so the rent isn’t necessarily as cheap as it might be in a council house, but it’s somewhere to live and it’s right in town so I’m happy with it. I get paid on a weekly basis, which probably made the money situation at the time seem worse than it was, £120 for the month for bills etc sounds better than £30 a week. There were some weeks where I would pay my rent and part of what I owed and have £30 left for bills and food, which is almost impossible for anyone to live on.

I remember having to ask my partner on pretty much a weekly basis to lend me money for food and bills, or for things he wanted to do together like going to gigs or wrestling shows. He was always happy to lend me the money because he knew he would get it back, but it used to get to me because while I was trying to get out of debt, I was getting into more debt just so I could afford to eat and pay my bills. I felt bad going to gigs and wrestling shows, I guess I was worried people would think I was lying about having no money, which was ridiculous really.

Worrying about what other people thought also caused my anxiety to spiral, so that was also fun. I remember one particular gig that I went to with my partner, we’d gone to see Preoccupations and I’d been looking forward to it for ages. I’ve never been good in crowds anyway, but this was something else. I stood at the back and told my partner if he wanted to go closer to the front, it was cool, I never want him to miss out on fun because of me.

My anxiety got so bad that I had to leave the room and sit in the foyer bit for most of the gig. It sucked because I’d been excited for it for so long but I just didn’t have the mental energy for it. A friend came and spoke to us in between the support bands and I know I was a bit off and not very talkative that day and felt so bad afterwards that I had to apologise when I saw him at another gig a few days later.

It got to a point where I felt like people were mad that I was unable to pay bills. Instead of not letting it occupy my mind, I thought about it over and over. I eventually came to the conclusion that if I couldn’t even afford to live, what was the point? Although I occasionally have to borrow money from my partner for gig tickets or other fun things, I’ve always tried to be independent since leaving supported accommodation, and I’ve always been proud that I managed to work towards being independent. Here I was now, completely dependent on my partner for money so I could eat and pay bills and feeling bad for it because he had his own things to pay for and I couldn’t pay him back right away. I don’t know how much I ended up owing him in the end, but I know it took me a while to pay off and he was really good about it, I’m forever grateful that he helped me out so I could afford the basics.

I was on Sertraline at the beginning of all this and probably had been for a while. It was working pretty well and I’d been feeling pretty good before all the money stuff. I ended up not having the money to pay for my prescription one month so I decided I’d get it next week when I had money. Next week came and it kept coming and I could never afford to pay for it. Instead of asking my partner to lend me more money for it, I decided I didn’t want to ask him because my anxious mind told me he’d be mad about lending me more money.

There’s a reason why doctors say not to come off antidepressants suddenly and that you should come off them gradually. I always thought it was a bit of an overreaction and I was about to find out that it wasn’t.

I would wake up every morning in tears, before I even had time to form any thoughts. I wouldn’t know why I was crying and couldn’t think of any real reason. If I was with my partner, I’d try and cry quietly so I wouldn’t wake him up but it’s impossible to cry quietly. It was really difficult when he was asking what was wrong and I couldn’t even tell him because I didn’t know myself. I frequently had thoughts of suicide and although I didn’t have a plan as such, I knew ways in which I could do it, which I think was the scariest part as the ways I’d chosen (if I was to do it) were easily accessible. It was tough, feeling like I wanted to die, but also not wanting to die. I’ve had that internal conflict before but it wasn’t ever that often and now I was having it every day.

I’ve always told myself that tomorrow is another day when my mental health isn’t so good. Tomorrow was always another day but tomorrow was also as shit as the day before it and the day before that. I decided it had gone on too long and tomorrow was never going to get any better so I should just accept it. At that point, I’d worked hard enough that I never admitted defeat when it came to my mental health but I was pretty much ready to at this point.

I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone how I was really feeling because I was worried it would go one of two ways, people would worry about me, which I didn’t want, or they would think I was overreacting, which I also didn’t want. I kept it to myself, which was the worst thing I could have done. I didn’t tell anyone other than my partner that I wasn’t feeling great. I would turn up to work or go and see friends and be fun me and everything would be great for a few hours, but then I’d come home and sit in my room by myself crying.

It felt like such a lonely time when it didn’t need to be. I managed to convince myself that my partner was secretly mad about lending me money and me being so depressed and anxious all the time. I was waiting for him to leave me because I was such a burden on him, financially and mentally, and no one needs that in their life. I was convinced that my life wasn’t worth anything because I couldn’t even afford to keep myself alive. I thought that people thought I was a liar because I was still going out and doing fun things. I remember going to a wrestling show and having photos with one of the wrestlers and not even posting about it on social media like I usually would because I was so sure I’d get a load of shit for it that I just couldn’t deal with at the time.

My partner did everything he could to cheer me up. One thing I remember is when he took me to the arcade to try and cheer me up, I hadn’t even said anything but he just knew. We went to the arcade and had some food and he paid for it and didn’t expect anything in return. I didn’t feel like I deserved such a lovely gesture because I was so sure that I was a bad person, but I’m so grateful that he did it, it was what I needed at the time even though I didn’t know it.

I don’t know how long I felt the way I did, it could have been weeks or months but I know it felt like forever. I just kept waiting for tomorrow to get better and kept hanging on to the tiny bit of hope that I somehow had left. There were some days where I’d be literally trying to get through the next minute because I couldn’t see any further than that. I won’t lie and say it was easy because other than the therapy I’ve recently had, it’s been the most mentally draining thing I’ve ever been through. I’m not sure how or when it happened but one day I woke up and I felt different. I hadn’t genuinely laughed for what felt like so long but that day, I genuinely laughed and I can’t even describe how good it felt. I just know that that was the point where I started to believe that things could be better.

I don’t know how long any of this went on for but it was enough to define 2016 for me. I don’t remember much of what happened that year, there’s a couple of things I remember vividly but other than that, the rest of the year is a blur of me crying and being anxious for no real reason. I’m so glad that I stuck around for the rest of the year and got to spend another new year with my partner and to have the experiences that I’ve had in the past few years.

My only regret is that I didn’t talk to anybody at the time. Looking back with a clear mind, I’m sure people would have understood and done what they could to help. I didn’t realise at the time but it was a massive learning curve for me and it’s because of that, that I found the Great Depression of 2016: The Sequel much easier to deal with. I’m currently waiting for the Great Depression of 2016: The Trilogy but it’s not something I focus on too much. I know it’s inevitable and I know that I have the knowledge and experience to know how to deal with it and not let it get as bad as it did a few years ago.

Depression can feel like a never ending struggle sometimes and it’s bloody difficult. However, it’s during those times that you see that people really care about you and just want the best for you. I know it sounds like a cliché but things really do get better, it might take a few weeks or a few months but one day, you’ll genuinely laugh or have a good thought and maybe it’ll give you the same hope I had that things are getting better. As ever, if you need someone to talk to, let me know and I’ll help the best that I can.

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Things Depression Made Me Cry Over – A List

Logo courtesy of Ryan- twitter.com/ryanthebroski

Things have been pretty heavy lately, including my most recent posts so I thought I’d keep this one lighthearted.

One of the things that comes with my depression is crying over the most stupid things that I wouldn’t usually cry over, so here’s a list of some of the dumb shit that I’ve cried over when my depression has been bad. I realise how stupid most of these things are and I can laugh about it now but at the time, they were things that tipped me over the edge.

  • I spilled some of my coffee. I didn’t even spill that much but apparently, it was worth getting upset about.
  • I saw a picture of a happy sloth on Facebook. Yeah, I don’t know either.
  • I got a pair of socks out that had cacti on them instead of a pair of socks that had alpacas on them, then realised the alpaca socks were in the wash. I don’t know, I thought the alpaca socks might cheer me up?
  • The ending of Kindergarten Cop. It wasn’t even a sad ending.
  • I dropped something. I’m clumsy and I’m constantly dropping things so I don’t even know with this one.
  • Someone was nice to me. You’d think that would make me feel a bit happier but ok…
  • I knocked over a pile of CDs. Again, I’m clumsy, this is a common occurrence but I don’t usually cry over it.
  • I managed to spill the contents of my bin onto the floor when trying to empty it. I mean, it’s annoying but is it really worth crying over?
  • I caught my knee/foot on the furniture. It didn’t even hurt and definitely didn’t warrant me crying.
  • Someone asked me if I was ok. Not even because they thought I looked like I wasn’t, it was just in general conversation. I was not ok, apparently.
  • Someone shouted at me on the phone at work. I’ve got more of a thick skin since being in this job but not on that particular day!
  • I saw a picture of a cute dog. Again, I don’t know because dogs always cheer me up.

This list probably isn’t even all of it, but these are things I could remember off the top of my head. I’d love to hear yours if you have any, it’s nice to know you’re not alone!

While it’s fun to look back on and laugh at these now, I feel I should point out that any mental illness is a serious subject and I’m not in any way making fun of that at all. I know that dealing with mental illness can be a struggle, for me, occasionally joking about mine makes the struggle more bearable.

PTSD Awareness Month

Logo courtesy of Ryan- twitter.com/ryanthebroski

June is PTSD Awareness Month (something I always forget about because I have a brain like a sieve). I’ve mentioned my PTSD and what caused it before but never actually fully told the story of how my diagnosis came about and everything that happened afterwards. As always, this is my own personal experience of it and isn’t representative of what anyone else might experience. That being said, if you notice anything sounds similar to anything you’re experiencing, I’d definitely recommend going to see a doctor when you feel ready to.

I hope you’re comfortable and have a nice cup of tea or whatever because this is long.

I don’t feel I need to go into it too much as I’ve written about it before but being in an abusive relationship was what caused my PTSD. I’d been with my ex for about six years on and off and as with most abusive relationships, it got worse as time went on.

I’d moved into a women’s refuge after we’d split up. I spent the first week in my room by myself and only left when I had to. I didn’t speak to anyone except to say hello. During that week, I began to have nightmares about my ex where I’d wake up screaming. It was really affecting my sleep and my mental state, I’d wake up at about half four every morning after these nightmares, crying and wondering to myself if I should just go back because maybe that would make the nightmares stop and maybe I’d be able to sleep again. Obviously, that wouldn’t have been wise, so I made a list of reasons I shouldn’t go back, which was stuck onto my mirror for months, then I went to see a doctor to see if there was anything I could do. Nothing had been diagnosed, but I got given some sleeping tablets and they really helped.

I didn’t have any nightmares for a while after that, but that wasn’t the end of it. I remember being in town with a friend and seeing someone that for a second, I thought was my ex. I can’t even describe the fear I felt, it was like nothing I’d felt before. I managed to calm down pretty quickly once I realised it wasn’t him but I was still pretty shaken up.

Things went on as normal for a while (as normal as they can in that living situation) and I hadn’t had many thoughts about my ex or reminders of what had happened. I was looking for somewhere to live and I’d started doing a couple of voluntary jobs. I helped out at the play sessions in the refuge as one of the workers had noticed how good I was with the children and how quickly they made a connection with me. I also started volunteering at a coffee morning type thing at the local church, and helping out at the refuge had given me the confidence to start volunteering at the nursery that was held in the same church.

After a few weeks, the nursery leader asked me if I’d be interested in doing an NVQ in childcare. The nursery were going to fund it for me and also give me a placement there so everything was covered. It was the perfect opportunity as I’d been wanting to gain qualifications so I could work with children in more than a voluntary capacity.

I can’t remember exactly what day it was, but I know that I was in town with a friend and her children and I know that it was raining. We’d stopped in McDonalds to get something to eat and stay dry until the rain stopped. I sat and watched my friend’s stuff while she went to order our food. I think my phone battery had gone so I was people watching.

I was looking up and down the queue of people and suddenly noticed a friend of my ex’s. It was so out of the blue and I remembered all the conversations they’d had that my ex had told me about, where this friend had allegedly said they’d beat the shit out of anyone that was causing problems for him. Obviously, I was a problem for him because I’d told the truth about what had happened to anyone who’d asked and god forbid anyone see him as less than perfect. I really wanted to leave but couldn’t because I didn’t want to leave my friend’s things unattended.

I decided not to say anything because I didn’t want to cause a whole thing and worry anyone and tried to eat my food. I don’t think I even ate all of it, I kept thinking over and over that I had to get out and that’s what I did. I thought my friend had heard me when I said I’d seen my ex’s friend but she hadn’t. I stood outside and had a cigarette and tried to calm myself down but it just wasn’t happening. Eventually, she finished her food and came out and asked what had happened. I broke down explaining to her and we went straight home.

Earlier that day, I’d gone to get some photos developed but I had to go back in 24 hours to collect them. I never did go because I was too scared to go out in case it had got back to my ex that I’d been seen. It probably hadn’t but PTSD doesn’t go by logic or reasoning. I spent the next two days in my room again being too scared to even sit in the garden. Even if he knew what town I was living in, he wouldn’t have been able to find the property I was in because it was obviously kept a secret and only the people who needed to know knew where it was but again, PTSD doesn’t go by logic or reasoning.

I decided to ask the staff if there was any way that I could transfer to a different refuge as I was too worried about being seen again. They sorted it pretty much straightaway, no questions asked. I got offered a choice of three different refuges and chose one that was relatively close to home. There were some concerns for my safety but I wanted to be close to my family and I knew that no one I knew ever went there to go shopping or for a night out. They got it sorted and in two days, I was all packed and moved into a different refuge.

My time there went fairly well, I didn’t have any worries about my ex or being found. I had the occasional nightmare about what had happened with some sleep paralysis thrown in, which was pretty scary. My experience of it will probably differ from other people, but I’d have these dreams where my ex was coming after me trying to kill me. I’d be awake and I could hear and feel myself trying to scream but nothing was coming out. I couldn’t move either so I was trapped in this dream until my mind decided to catch up and wake up. It was terrifying so I went to the doctor and got prescribed sleeping tablets with no actual diagnosis again.

Eventually I moved out of the refuge and into a shared house. I was there for about a year and that came with an entirely different set of problems, which I may go into another time, so maybe that’s why my PTSD wasn’t affecting me as much as it previously had. I still had nightmares but they weren’t as bad or as frequent.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it started getting worse but it was a gradual thing. I noticed it got worse after meeting my partner, I don’t know if it was my mind going into overdrive because my last relationship was obviously not great and I’d not really done anything to fix it because I thought it was normal and I was just overreacting. I kept quiet about it for all that time because I thought people would be as dismissive about it as I was being.

I remember when we had our first disagreement. We were driving home from a meal out and I can’t even remember what it was about, so it can’t have been overly important. I got so upset that he had to stop the car somewhere and I told him why I was so upset. I didn’t go into full detail and probably blamed it on something similar that had happened. It was still early in the relationship and no one wants to hear stories about the ex when you’ve just started dating.

I’d also started having nightmares and losing sleep again so I went to my doctor. I thought I’d be prescribed sleeping tablets again but he referred me to Talking Therapies. I had my first two initial appointments to see what I needed help with and what they could do to help. I did the usual PHQ-9 and GAD-7 questionnaires for depression and anxiety, which I remember scoring quite highly on. I’d spoken about the nightmares I was having and some other things and they got me to do a questionnaire for PTSD. As I was answering the questions, I felt like I was overreacting, which isn’t unusual for me. It turned out that I actually had PTSD, which explained everything I’d been feeling and the nightmares.

I think I was in denial about it for a while so I didn’t tell too many people. I remember being sat with my housemate the night I’d been diagnosed and having a phone call from my partner saying his car had broken down while he was at work and could I keep him company. We talk about everything and I don’t even remember speaking to him about it that night and we were sat in the car together for a while.

To be honest, I put the whole thing to the back of my mind, I didn’t have PTSD, I was overreacting, everyone has nightmares, I was just a sensitive person, I get upset easily. I used pretty much any reasoning for the way I felt and what had happened, as long as it didn’t involve PTSD. I tried counselling, which as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, didn’t help at all. Instead of feeling validated, it just confirmed to me what I’d always thought, I was being too sensitive and overreacting.

I’d vowed to myself that I wasn’t going to seek help for it again and I’d just get through it by myself. If I could learn to just about manage my depression and anxiety, I could learn to manage this. What actually followed was years of me having nightmares, being unable to get back to sleep because I was convinced my ex was outside my bedroom door and if he wasn’t outside my room, he was definitely outside the house. Any time my partner and I had the slightest disagreement, which isn’t often and never even an actual argument, I’d be inconsolable because I was convinced that I’d fucked it all up. I’d be deciding to myself whether I should walk home or wait until the buses were running because why should I get a lift home when my partner had just ended things with me. There was one night where I’d apparently upset someone (I still don’t know who because I never looked out the window to see who was outside shouting at me), but I was convinced that my ex had found me and had sent people round. I had a panic attack for the first time in ages and it was fucking awful. Any time I heard male voices shouting outside, I’d try and make sure I couldn’t be seen in my room because I was convinced my ex had found me. I tried to avoid any places I knew he’d be, and any mention of those places would get me into a state of panic. I remember one time when I was trying to decide with my partner where to go for the day and he’d suggested somewhere close to where my ex was living and he just knew from my reaction that it probably wasn’t a great idea.

I make it a point to myself not to hate people or express hate towards others because it’s a wasted emotion and not nice for yourself or that person, but I hated my ex every single time something happened that would trigger my PTSD, especially the nightmares. I lived in constant fear for so long that it became exhausting. I tried everything I possibly could to fix it, apart from getting help.

Last year was when I came to terms with my PTSD and finally admitted to myself that I had a problem. I spent a long time arguing with myself about getting some help because it was getting to be too much and was starting to make me feel suicidal. I decided that I’d try and get some help again and self referred for Talking Therapies. I knew there would be a long wait to speak to someone, and that was one of the things I used as a reason for not getting help, but I was scared of what could have happened if I hadn’t got help.

I had my initial assessment over the phone and reliving and speaking about what had happened was mentally draining. I’d spoken to people about what had happened with my ex before but I’d say it so casually so that people wouldn’t think it had had any effect on me. I told her things that I hadn’t even told my partner, probably because I’d forgotten about it until then, I only remembered yesterday that he used to take the house phone to work with him, probably so that I couldn’t call anybody.

I was put on a waiting list and it was a nine month wait. I was slightly disappointed that I’d have to wait so long but I was expecting it so it didn’t come as too much of a shock. In the meantime, I had to do the questionnaires again and I remember scoring higher on the PTSD one than I had the very first time I’d done it. Things definitely got worse during that time, I’d have such bad anxiety to a point where I’d go to a gig and miss half of it because I had to sit outside and calm myself down. I had a phone call about five months later from the Talking Therapies people, who had offered me an earlier start date. They said it would be by video call and it was entirely up to me if I wanted to do it. I had my reservations but I decided to do it because I couldn’t wait any longer.

I’m so glad that I took that opportunity, it was the best thing I could have ever done. They gave me someone who had experience of working with PTSD and also both sides of domestic abuse, which was perfect for me. We got on really well and I felt comfortable talking to her really quickly. She helped me to realise that I wasn’t to blame for anything that had happened and that what I was feeling was valid and more common than I thought. Reliving the worst of what happened with my ex and then having to listen to it every day was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’ve deleted it off my phone now because it’s in the past and I don’t really feel anything about it now, it became like I was listening to something mundane, which was exactly what had to happen. It’s so nice to be able to listen to some of my favourite albums and songs again and not be in constant fear. I still have moments when the fear creeps in and I’ve been practising telling myself that I’m not scared anymore and nothing will happen. I’m forever thankful to my therapist for all the help she gave me to be able to live my life properly again and (hopefully) overcome PTSD.

It’s crazy to think that this time last year, I was so fearful and constantly on edge over what was pretty much nothing. I don’t think it’ll ever fully go away but now I have ways of dealing with it that I didn’t have before and a sense of empowerment to live a better life than I have for the past seven or eight years.

As ever, if you have any questions or want to discuss anything, feel free to let me know. I’m always happy to try and help in any way that I can.

Black Lives Matter 🤎

Logo courtesy of Ryan- twitter.com/ryanthebroski

This was and always will be a blog to talk about mental health, but given recent events, I feel that although I have a small platform, I still have a platform and I should use it to educate and inspire others to help.

I’m not entirely sure how to word any of this, I obviously want to treat the issue with as much sensitivity as I can and not intentionally cause any offence.

I’ll start off by saying that initially, I didn’t think that it was my fight to take part in, I guess I felt like it wasn’t my place to take part in something that didn’t directly affect me and I knew nothing about.

Obviously, that’s since changed. It might not be my own personal fight, but it’s a fight that we all need to take part in. I’ve seen the phrase “to be silent is to be complicit” in the last couple of days and it really resonated with me and made me understand that we can and should fight with people of colour who are fighting to have the same rights and be equal to us.

My mum always brought me and my brother and sister up not to be racist. We were taught that some people have different colour skin to us but that doesn’t make us any better than them, they’re normal people just like us.

I remember as a teenager, I had a best friend who went to the same church as me. We got on really well and I looked forward to seeing her every Sunday. It never even registered that she was black, she was just Emma* (*name changed for privacy reasons) and she was my best friend. At that age, I wasn’t really as aware of racism as I am now, but I don’t doubt that she was more than likely subjected to it, especially since we lived somewhere that wasn’t known for being diverse and having a population of mainly older people who weren’t so tolerant.

I have a friend now who has had to leave their home with their family temporarily in the past because they were getting so much harassment and having hate crimes done to them by their neighbours. They’re some of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. Unfortunately, their neighbours don’t see that, they only see that they’re black so they shouldn’t be allowed to live in peace.

When I lived at home, our neighbours over the road never professed any affiliation to any political party. They moved in when I was probably in my early to mid teens and I left home when I was 19. In those years, we never knew what party they voted for until my mum’s partner at the time moved in. They suddenly decided they should tell everyone they were voting for UKIP by sticking posters in their windows. I wonder if they would have done that if he was white?

Over the past few days, I’ve seen some horrific and terrifying videos. I’m sure we’ve all seen the one about George Floyd, and if you haven’t seen it, I’m sure you’ve heard about it. Seeing that level of violence and outright racism made me feel sick. I knew it had happened in the past, but seeing it on a screen in front of me was different.

I’ve seen videos from the protests that have disgusted and horrified me. All these people want is to be treated equal to us but even that’s seen as a crime. We all have a responsibility to fight with and for these people.

The first thing I’d suggest is to educate yourself. I’m sure we know the basics about slavery, Rosa Parks etc, but there’s so much more than that. I spent some time today reading about the Black Power movement and managed to catch a radio show about the 1968 Olympics. Apart from being interesting, it’s useful to know the history so you have a better understanding of what you’re fighting for.

Make your voice heard. Sign some petitions. There’s so many out there and they literally take seconds to sign. Send emails to the relevant people and tell them you want an end to police brutality and the blatant racism that black people encounter.

Make a donation if you’re financially able to. Again, this literally takes seconds and there’s so many causes to donate to that will benefit black people and the work being done to ensure they get to have the same quality of life as white people do. If you’re not able to donate, there are currently some streams with content from black creators running on YouTube, where 100% of the revenue from the ads goes towards helping the protestors and the black community.

It’s not just the big things though, there’s also the little things that we probably don’t even realise we do, I’ve been guilty of some of them myself. Stop using the colour of someone’s skin as an identifier during conversation. I’ve never in my life heard anybody say “I saw a white man get on the bus today” but I couldn’t even tell you how many times someone has said to me that they’ve seen or interacted with “a black man” like it’s some kind of novelty.

Stop using stereotypes. I know that most of the time, it’s a subconscious thing that we learn, but it can be unlearned. I saw a video today about Black History Month, which spoke about the stereotypes that black people face, amongst other things and it really struck a chord with me. We do all these things without even thinking, just out of habit without even realising that it’s slightly racist.

Call people out! I’ve been guilty of not saying anything in the past when I’ve heard racist comments. I’ve also fallen out with friends because they made racist comments and I wouldn’t stand for it. No one wants to lose friends but I personally think it’s better to stick to your principles, whether that means losing friends or not. I feel like we’re coming to a point now where people are less tolerant to racism and that can only be a good thing.

I’ve tried to write as sensitively as I can and from my own understanding about this topic. I don’t know all the right words to use and I’d just like to apologise if any offence has been caused at all, it wasn’t intentional. I’m always happy to learn from my mistakes so please let me know if there’s anything I need to amend.

I’ve posted some links below with information for where to donate, some YouTube streams, where to find petitions etc. Feel free to do whatever you’re able to, let’s stand together and beat racism!

A list of ways to help: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#

Places to donate to: https://mobile.twitter.com/NinjaPotts/status/1267761900865159168

YouTube BLM stream (make sure you don’t skip any of the ads): https://youtu.be/bCgLa25fDHM

Email link for the Minneapolis PD (all you need to do is put your name and location on there and send it): https://t.co/2WBWxAQnu2?amp=1

Justice for George Floyd petition: http://chng.it/GJ6y6pTpGg

This page has so many petitions to sign, it’s probably easier to post it here: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#petitions

Photo courtesy of http://www.blacklivesmatter.com

Social Media and Mental Health

Logo courtesy of Ryan- twitter.com/ryanthebroski

Like a lot of people (probably), Myspace was my first experience with social media. I loved it and I look back on it with fondness. I loved being able to have my own customisable profile, speaking to my friends, making new friends, and discovering new music. I spent a lot of time on there, it was, for the most part, a positive place to spend my time. People were generally nice, there was barely any drama and I don’t recall it ever giving me any bad feelings.

Obviously, Facebook then came about and overtook Myspace. At first, it was nice to catch up with people I went to school with, and to also make new friends. It was fairly simple back then and I initially enjoyed it.

Nowadays, social media has changed and not necessarily for the better. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good for keeping in contact with friends and family and discovering new music and films, or whatever else you’re into. However, I’ve found that on more than one occasion, it’s heightened my anxiety and depression to a point where I’ve dreaded opening up my social media apps.

It’s so easy to go onto social media and make out to people that you’re living your best life and never have any problems. It’s also very easy to see these posts and compare yourself and your life to those people, and as a result, that can negatively affect your mental health. It doesn’t happen so much now because I know things aren’t always what they seem but I would regularly feel down because I’d see all these people going on nice holidays and buying expensive things, or see them living their perfect lives with their families and I’d get myself into a spiral of wondering why my life can’t be the same and wishing things could be different.

I now know that for every post that someone makes saying their life is great, they’re probably battling some kind of problem that they don’t want people to know about in case they get judged for it, or they don’t want to be seen as someone who struggles with things.

I often tell myself that it’s just the internet and not real life but I’ve had to temporarily take myself off social media numerous times because it’s affected my mental health for various reasons. I know it’s a bad place for me to be when my mental health isn’t so great. Replying to messages and comments on things feels overwhelming, I start comparing myself to others, which doesn’t help, and I just feel a general sense of dread. I’ve even gone so far as to deactivate my Facebook account and delete the app off my phone, as well as Twitter and Instagram, just while I get myself together and get in a good headspace again.

I miss the days when it could be used to keep in contact with people and find new things to enjoy, nowadays, you can do so much on social media and I feel like much of it causes unnecessary drama. Of course, it’s good to speak about the things you care about, but online, people live behind anonymity and will happily get into a full on argument and get personal with people they don’t even know because they know there’ll be next to no repercussions. It’s alright to disagree with someone’s views, but I doubt in real life, you’d go up to someone speaking those views and start saying awful things to them just because you happen to disagree.

Another thing that troubles me, which is related to my last point is how easy it is to subject someone to bullying. I got bullied pretty badly in secondary school, and while it continued outside of school, I knew that I would be safe at home and nothing could happen to me inside the house. I have no doubt at all that if I were a teenager in secondary school now, I would have been subjected to cyber bullying. It really saddens me that kids are coming home from school, after being bullied all day, to come home and be subjected to more. It doesn’t just happen to school kids, it can happen to anyone. It doesn’t even have to be from someone you know, there’s undoubtedly been more than one case of people jumping on a bandwagon and piling on someone. Some people are able to get through it because they feel able to speak to someone and get support, but there’s others who are pushed to suicide because they can’t take it anymore and see no escape from it. It’s sad when your daily life is so affected by social media that you don’t even feel like you want to be alive anymore.

I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means, we’ve all probably said something on social media without thinking. I know I have, and I feel really bad for it. We all need to do better and I’ve promised myself this week to do better following the death of Hana Kimura.

I’ve recently started trying to limit how much time I spend on social media by setting timers on my phone. It’s very easy to get sucked into it and spend hours on there without realising. I don’t know how many times I’ve picked up my phone to do something, ended up on social media instead, and haven’t even done the thing by the time I’ve put my phone back down.

While social media has it’s bad points, it also can be used for good. I’ve made so many new friends through random adds and online fan groups for bands, I’ve found jobs through it, I’ve discovered new music, and been able to share my thoughts and get help if my mental health has been bad. I think it’s just all about knowing what you want from it and being aware of the effect it can have on yourself and other people.

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc from Pexels

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

Logo courtesy of Ryan- twitter.com/ryanthebroski

We’re coming to the end of Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is kindness.

It goes without saying that any form of kindness is going to have an impact on mental health, whether that’s your own or someone else’s. I often think back to acts of kindness that have been shown to me and they always make me smile, it’s good to think back to a time when someone showed that they cared about you and your happiness.

The main one that sticks out for me is when I had to transfer to a different women’s refuge a few days before my 26th birthday. I didn’t know anybody and didn’t have any money because of moving so I hadn’t made any plans and had resigned myself to spending the day in the house doing nothing.

The other women who lived in the refuge surprised me with a cake and card on the morning of my birthday, which really meant a lot as I wasn’t expecting them to do anything. Then my sister messaged me to see if I wanted to do something with her for the day, I didn’t have any money to get the train there and back so one of the other women in the refuge gave me the money as a birthday gift so I could spend the day with my sister.

Nobody is ever having a good time if they have to go into a refuge so it was really touching that other people who were going through a bad time would take the time to make sure that I had at least one good day. My sister is one of the most selfless people I know and I’m always in awe at how kind she is to others and how she always looks out for everyone. No one had to do that for me, but they did, it was such a small gesture but it meant the world and still does. I still get a bit emotional thinking about it because it was one of the worst times of my life and other people did everything they could to make sure I had a nice birthday.

I always make a conscious effort to be kind to people, I think having my own mental health issues has made me more understanding of the fact that people can be feeling awful and be hiding it. I know from personal experience that one kind comment or gesture can be enough to turn someone’s day around, so I try and find a way to compliment someone or show my appreciation for them. If I like someone’s shoes or their hair or whatever, I try and make sure to tell them. I really encourage everyone else to do the same, it feels awkward at first, but the more you get used to it, the better you feel about it. There’s nothing like seeing someone’s face light up because you’ve noticed them and shown some form of appreciation!

We’re all obviously going through a bad time at the moment and I think that kindness is more important now than ever. I can’t really do anything practical to help because having decent lungs isn’t my forte and I have to limit going out, so I’ve been trying to make an effort to check up on people and just to speak to people. Sometimes it’s hard because introversion, but I try and push through it because I don’t know if people are feeling worse than me and hiding it. I’ve seen so many stories recently of people going out of their way to show acts of kindness and it really makes my heart happy to see it. Being on the receiving end of them is really nice too, it’s a good feeling to know that someone genuinely wants to know how you are and wants to help if needed.

This morning, my partner and I had a letter come in the post with a picture to colour in to relieve stress and a little handmade drink token from one of our friends, I’ll be forever grateful for it. I think it’s really lovely that they’re spreading joy during this time and bringing a smile to people’s faces and I love it! This is just one act of kindness that’s been shown but there’s countless others, I’d be here all day if I listed all the things people did for me during this time. I appreciate everything that everyone has done for me, it’s definitely kept my spirits up!

Not just this week, but every week, please be kind. You never know what someone else may be going through and your one act of kindness may just make somebody’s day or even save their life. It doesn’t have to be grand gestures, it could be a kind word or an offer to help someone who’s struggling. It’ll not only help their mental health, but also yours, and who doesn’t want to help their own mental health?

As always, if you ever want someone to talk to, feel free to contact me, I’m always happy to help! 💜

Returning To Medication

Logo courtesy of Ryan- twitter.com/ryanthebroski

I’ve had problems sleeping since I was about 17, so I’m used to not sleeping well. Since this whole coronavirus/lockdown thing has begun, I’ve been getting less and less sleep, to a point where I’ve only been getting a couple of hours sleep a night and then catching up on the rest when I get a chance.

The lack of sleep fuels my anxiety, which in turn causes me to sleep less. It’s a vicious circle and I’m not a fan. Generally speaking, it usually doesn’t take me long to fall asleep but I’ll wake up during the night, sometimes a lot of times. I also don’t get to bed until about 4am if I’m not at work, doing night shifts has changed my sleeping pattern. I’ve been trying to get to bed earlier but I’m still awake until about 4 or 5 because anxiety.

Over the past two or three weeks, I’ve been arguing with myself about seeing a doctor and trying to fix it. I didn’t feel like my anxiety and lack of sleep was serious enough, and people have obviously got more serious things going on. On the other hand, while it’s not serious right now, the lack of sleep could lead to my mental health getting worse, which would end up being serious.

I knew that my two options would be to try and get referred to Talking Therapies again or to go on some form of medication. The more I thought about it, the more I knew that a referral to Talking Therapies would take a while and this whole thing would probably be over before I got a chance to speak to someone.

I feel like it’s worth noting that I didn’t speak to anyone about making this decision and I made it entirely on my own. I know that people have their own opinions on medication and talking therapy and I didn’t want the opinions of others to have an effect on my decision, if that makes sense.

I finally got the courage to speak to a doctor last week and I talked through what I was feeling and why. I made it a point to say that I can generally manage my mental health ok but I was finding it difficult this time. I know why it’s difficult for me and I’ll probably go into it in another post.

He asked me what route I wanted to take so I told him my thought process and that I felt my only option was to go back on medication. He gave me a choice of what I wanted to take between Mirtazapine and Sertraline, I’ve been on both before as mentioned here so I felt I could make an informed decision.

I chose to go onto Mirtazapine, mainly for the sedative aspect of it, but also because it can help with anxiety. I felt it would be easier to take something for both problems rather than just for the one and have to deal with the other on my own.

Reading the leaflet and side effects in medication always heightens my anxiety so I’ve looked over it quickly as I felt like reading the whole list of side effects would be counterproductive. I’ve been looking up anything new that I’ve noticed, I can’t say that it’s put my mind at rest because I’ve not been worried when noticing new things, I’ve been more curious than anything.

I’m still waiting for them to kick in and have an effect but I’ve noticed I have a constantly dry mouth since starting them. I’ve been drinking a bit more water to try and get rid of it but it hasn’t really been effective in making it go away. I’ve also been having really strange vivid dreams. I can never remember what happens in them, but I know they’re nothing bad, just more annoying than anything. I’ve actually had dreams where I’ve been in the dream telling myself to wake up so whatever is being annoying will end, it’s certainly been interesting.

At the beginning, I was really disappointed with myself for going back on medication as I’ve recently prided myself on being able to manage my mental health on my own with distraction techniques and letting myself feel whatever I’m feeling. I felt like it was a massive step back because I haven’t been on any medication for my mental health for a few years and I felt like all my achievements in terms of mental health were for nothing.

I’ve since come round to the fact that it’s ok to go back on medication, we all need a little help sometimes and this isn’t a permanent thing. I agreed with my doctor that I’d be on Mirtazapine until this whole thing is over as lockdown/coronavirus is the main contributor to the anxiety and lack of sleep. I’m ok with this, I’m just glad I have something to help me get through it and to mentally be the best that I can be. Obviously when it’s time to come off them, I’ll do it gradually under advice from my doctor, I don’t want a repeat of The Great Depression of 2016.

If you’re feeling like your mental health is taking a beating for any reason, please know that it’s ok to get help, whether it’s talking to someone or taking medication. The important thing is that it needs to be something you feel will work for you. Medication isn’t for everyone and I know that there’s a misconception that it will change you and make you into a different person. I’ve definitely had that said to me before, I wouldn’t say it changes you, I think it’s more that it improves what happens in your mind so you can mentally be a better version of yourself.

As ever, feel free to let me know if you want to talk or discuss anything, I’m always happy to help as much as I can!