Weight Loss and Mental Health

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

Back in November, I started my weight loss journey because I was worried about the implications it would have on my health and I didn’t want to die young because of it.

I’ve lost 3 stone so far and I feel great for it. I look better, I can walk miles now without my knees and back hurting, and I’ve gone down a clothes size already, which is great.

I didn’t even think about the effect it would have on me mentally and how my mindset has changed but losing weight and eating healthy has really helped.

I know that my worth isn’t defined by my weight and it took me a long time to learn that, I feel more confident now that I’ve lost weight. I’m not where I want to be by any means and it took me a long time to get to this point, but seeing my weight loss when I look in the mirror, other people noticing my weight loss, and being able to buy clothes a size down has really boosted my confidence and I feel good about myself for the first time in years.

I’m also really loving being able to walk without being in pain now. Before I started losing weight, it was putting so much pressure on my knees and back that even just walking round the supermarket would ruin me and I’d be in agony. Now that I don’t have to deal with that so much, I actually look forward to going out for walks, even if it’s just walking to work. I love having that time for myself and just listening to music while I walk and getting my thoughts together. It really makes me feel good to get out and get some fresh air, and to track my exercise when I get home.

I also find it a bit easier to make healthier choices as well. I think because mentally, I’m feeling a bit better now that I’m eating healthy, I don’t want to binge eat so much. There’s been plenty of opportunities where I could have done it how I used to, and just eat loads of chocolate and whatever other unhealthy things I could get my hands on, but now, if I do binge eat, it’s fruit and other healthy things. I know binge eating isn’t great and it’s probably something I could do with addressing, but for now, I’m doing well just not keeping any food in the house that would contribute to me binging and putting on weight.

My mindset has definitely changed as well and I think that’s as a result of my losing weight and feeling better. In the past, if I’d had a bad day or overate or whatever, I’d just give up entirely. Now if that happens, I just put it down to it being a bad day and I get back on it the next day. If I bought something in my usual size and it was too small, I would beat myself up about it for being too fat. I recently bought a pair of jeans and went up a size because I knew that my actual size would probably be too uncomfortable. They were still too small and instead of getting upset about it, I put it down to possibly the sizing and the fit of the jeans and then went and bought a couple of sizes up, without feeling bad about it. If I looked in the mirror and saw how I looked pre weight loss, that would be the image that stuck with me and I would give up. Now when I look in the mirror and see my start weight, I look at my comparison photos, I look at my weight tracking, and I put it down to a bad self image day. I’m not sure how or when these changes came about but I’m really glad that they did because it’s helped me immensely.

I had an incident a couple of months back where somebody had wrecked my scales to a point where they were a whole stone out and so I was actually a whole stone heavier than I thought. To say I was devastated would be an understatement, I thought I’d been doing so well and I was really proud of myself. Instead of dwelling on it and giving up like I would have done in the past, I let myself have the rest of the day to be sad about it, and then I got back on it the next day. I think that’s been my biggest setback so far, and I’m glad I had the resilience to get through it. I don’t know if I would have done in the past when even the smallest thing would have made me quit, so I guess that’s kind of a testament to how much my mindset and mentality towards my weight loss has changed.

I’ve still got a long way to go and it’s easy to focus on how much I’ve got left to lose and get discouraged. I try not to think about it too much because it’s still too big a target to think about in one go so I try and think about how far I’ve already come, and how well I’m doing. Setting smaller targets along the way definitely helps make it more manageable. My next goal is to go down another size and to lose another stone. It’ll take a while but I don’t mind, weight loss isn’t a race or a competition and I’m doing this for myself and my own benefit (although I guess having me around would be a benefit for others!)

I’d be lying if I said weight loss is easy or fun. I try and make it fun by trying new foods and recipes all the time and listening to music when I’m going out for walks. I’m not overly sure on how I can make it easier for myself other than to keep the mindset I already have, which seems to be working so far. I’m just grateful that I haven’t left it too late to reverse any damage and that I have the support of other people whether I’m doing well or need a bit of motivation.

It feels weird having people say they’re proud of me and to come to me for advice about losing weight, I still get a bit of Imposter Symdrome sometimes, but I suppose that’s to be expected after spending so long not eating healthy or trying to lose weight. I’m always happy to give that bit of motivation or help to anyone who needs it, so if you’re struggling yourself and need anything, please don’t hesitate to let me know and I’ll do what I can!

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Motivation, Such An Aggravation

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

Hello, it’s been a while! I hope you’re all doing good!

I wish I had an actual decent reason for not having written anything for so long, but the truth is I got really unmotivated for whatever reason, got my motivation back and started a post, WordPress broke, and then my motivation went again and as the time went on, I kind of just forgot about my blog until my partner mentioned it tonight.

I guess this leads on nicely for something to write about, which funnily enough, is lack of motivation.

I’ve always called myself a lazy person for not getting things done, for not walking somewhere that’s within walking distance, for not cooking myself dinner and ordering takeaway instead, and many other things. It’s only lately that I’ve figured out that it’s not actually laziness and is probably more attributed to lack of motivation.

It really bugs me because I love cooking, I love having a tidy living space, I love going out for walks and having that time for myself to listen to music and get my thoughts together without being disturbed. There did used to be a point where I would just get up, have a coffee or whatever, and then get on with the day but I guess over the past couple of years, my level of motivation is just gone.

I know I’m not the only one with this problem, I’m sure there’s loads of people that will make plans to get housework done, or go out for a walk, or whatever they want to get done and then next thing, it’s too late to actually get anything done. It’s really easy to think of yourself as being lazy when you’ve spent the whole day in bed or on the sofa or whatever and not done anything but sometimes all we need is a day where nothing gets done and we just spend the day relaxing without putting pressure on ourselves to be on the go doing things.

I find that when I do get things done, it really takes it out of me, which is really irritating. I make all these grand plans to get stuff done on my days off and make a start, then halfway through my motivation disappears and I have to try and get it back. I miss the days when I could just clean the whole house in a few hours, or spend ages cooking something and still have energy afterwards. I don’t know if it has anything to do with working night shifts and my body clock being out of sync, or if it’s just a mental block. I can literally spend weeks motivating myself to tidy my room, while it gets messier and messier and I get more stressed over it.

I’m not entirely sure how to get past this and I really wish I could. I could get so much done if I had the right level of motivation and didn’t feel like I was forcing myself to do something. Usually, I won’t let myself do something fun until I’ve done what it is I need to do. Generally it works, but no one is there to monitor what I’m doing (not that I would want that) so there’s no one to say anything if I just do the fun thing anyway. I guess a bit more self discipline would be helpful in this scenario, which is something that I definitely need to practise!

I’ve also recently tried thinking about how Future Me would feel about having to do whatever it is at a later date and that generally works. When I finish work at midnight and come home, I’ve recently started making a start on tidying my room so that I don’t have to do too much the next day and it doesn’t feel so overwhelming and I know that I’m always glad I’ve done that by the time the next day comes.

I’m still struggling with lack of motivation now and that’s fine. I either force myself to do what needs doing, or I just wait until I’m so stressed out about it that I just do it so I’m not stressed anymore.

I’m going to try and make an effort to post more often again, I forgot how therapeutic it is to write my thoughts out, whether someone else reads it or not. Thank you to those who have read and followed this blog during my (unintentional) time away, it really means a lot to know that people still want to read what I have to say and I hope that I’m able to help in some way or that anything I’ve written resonates.

I’ll be busy gathering up some ideas for stuff to write about but if you have any ideas or there’s something you’d like to see me write about, please let me know, I’d love to hear your suggestions and see what I can do! 💜

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Hindsight is 20/20

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

We’re at the end of another year, and I think we can all agree it’s been a difficult year for all of us for various reasons.

It’s very easy for me to look back on the year and be sad about it, I missed out on gigs and wrestling shows, I didn’t see my sister as regularly as I usually do, I didn’t see my partner for months, and I had a bereavement a couple of months ago, which hit pretty hard.

Although the year has had its challenges, it’s also been very rewarding for me, with lots of achievements and good times to look back on.

I completed therapy for PTSD early on in the year, which is my biggest achievement and the thing I’m most proud of to date. I haven’t had any nightmares or flashbacks for nearly a year now and I’m not sneaking around my room for no reason because I’m convinced that my ex has driven to the supermarket opposite my house (as far as I know he doesn’t even drive) and is watching me.

Going through therapy was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and it would have been so easy for me to decline the calls on the weeks that I knew would be particularly difficult, especially the week where I had to talk in detail about the worst thing that happened and then listen back to it for a whole week. There were so many times that I just wanted to quit but I made myself keep going with the promise that feeling awful for a few weeks would be better than feeling awful for the rest of my life. I couldn’t have done it without my partner and one of the online communities I’m a part of and I’m forever grateful for all their help and support during that time.

I started this blog just over a year ago and was initially just going to write a post or two and delete the whole thing because I didn’t think anyone would read it or care what I have to say. I’ve now reached over 100 followers, and while followers isn’t everything, as someone who doesn’t feel listened to a lot of the time, it blows my mind that so many people have been inspired to talk about their mental health and seek help because of something I’ve written. I’ve loved being able to give people advice and speak about my experiences and I truly believe that the more we speak about mental health conditions and how they affect us, the easier it’ll get to seek help and reduce the stigma surrounding it. I used to be really ashamed that I had depression, amongst other things, but that only led me into a spiral of self harm and multiple suicide attempts, which ultimately were more unhelpful than I thought they would be at the time.

I recently wrote about my emotional eating and I feel like I’m finally getting it under control. In all honesty, I haven’t had too many stressful or upsetting days lately, but the ones I have had have been so difficult without reaching for food to make me feel better. I’ve been eating healthier and been able to exercise more now, a month ago, I couldn’t even walk round the supermarket for a few minutes without my back being in agony and now I’m going for 3 mile walks three times a week, which is a massive improvement and something I’m super proud of. I’ve lost a stone so far and although I’ve still got a way to go, I’m doing well and I’m really impressed with the way I’ve stuck to it and found ways to make it fun.

I’ve also been lucky enough to be able to celebrate important dates during the period when lockdown was lifted. Although my partner and I couldn’t go away like we wanted to for our anniversary, we still managed to go to our favourite place for the day and have a nice meal out and spend some time together. I also had my birthday, my partner’s birthday, and his son’s birthday during this time and I’m just glad I got to spend that time with them. Although I haven’t been able to see family and friends as much as I’ve wanted to, I’ve still been able to spend time with my favourite people and enjoyed every second. One thing this year has brought me is more appreciation for the time I get to spend with people. It sucks not being able to see everyone but it’s good to know that people are only a message or phone call away.

I went back on medication during lockdown, which was something I didn’t see happening at all. I’m really proud of myself for making that decision and especially deciding by myself that that was the best course of action. I’m always second doubting myself and I’m not confident in many of the decisions that I make so to do this and for it to be working so well is a big achievement for me. I feel tired all the time now and feel like I could sleep forever, but for me, it’s far better than lying awake at night worrying about corona and everything else related to it.

I got back into cross stitching during lockdown, it’s something I’ve been doing on and off since I was in school but I’ve really got into it this time and created so many projects, some I’ve created within an app, and others with some patterns and kits that I’ve bought. I’ve made gifts for people and they’ve really loved them, which is a massive confidence boost. I don’t think I’m that good at many things so I’m glad I’ve found something I’m good at and can keep me occupied for hours, which in turn, stops me eating out of boredom.

Although 2020 hasn’t been great, I’ve been making a real effort to concentrate on the good things that have happened and everything I’ve achieved. I won’t forget what’s happened this year, I don’t think anyone will, but I personally don’t want 2020 to be the year of COVID‐19 and nothing else.

I’d love to get the things I’ve missed back next year, I’m sure we all do, and I hope that I can go to gigs and wrestling and see and hug all my friends again. I’m not a person that makes new years resolutions because I think that if you want to make a change, you can do it any time and don’t need a specific day to do it, so I’m just going to continue eating healthy and lose weight and try and better myself even more next year.

I hope you all have a wonderful 2021 and can find some positives in the massive shitshow that was 2020. Things can only get better from here and they will eventually, we just all need to continue being kind to each other and build others up when they need it ❤

Thank you for all your support over the past year, whether it’s been reading whatever I have to say, interacting with my posts, or lifting my mood when I need it. I appreciate it more than you know and I’m looking forward to doing more writing next year. Stay safe and have a wonderful time! ❤

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Emotional Eating

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

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, mainly due to lack of motivation, which is another post for another day. I hope you’ve all been doing ok during all this craziness and life is treating you as well as it can.

I’m just going to go straight into this because I feel like it’s a kind of difficult thing for me to write about.

I’ve been an emotional eater for as long as I can remember and it’s only in the past couple of months that I’ve come to accept and face up to it. Emotional eating is pretty much in the name, but it’s where you turn to food when you’re feeling sad or stressed or bored, or anything else that doesn’t make you feel so great.

I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember, if I was sad, I’d eat a tub of Ben & Jerrys, if I was bored, I’d have a few snacks. Food became kind of a crutch for me without me even realising and I’ve now got the extra weight to show for it.

It became very easy for me to reach for food when I wasn’t feeling great. Self harm used to be my thing when I didn’t feel good but I guess it’s true that you swap one addiction for another and I guess I became addicted to food in a way. I knew that I was eating stupid amounts of food and eating way more than I should have but I couldn’t stop myself. It got to a point where I wasn’t even enjoying what I was eating, it was just an automatic reaction, and I’d always feel bad when I’d finished.

I feel like emotional eating can be so insidious, for example, one chocolate bar would be enough at the beginning but as time goes on, it’s not enough. All the extra junk food and sugar obviously leads to weight gain, which again, is gradual. I’ve put on so much weight in the past few years and was shocked when I weighed myself a few days ago. It wasn’t as much as I was expecting but it was still enough to make me feel mad and a bit upset with myself.

I’ve started trying to lose weight now and eat healthier, a few things have led to this decision. I had comments made recently about my weight and they weren’t very kind. I’ve always joked about my weight and I’ve been comfortable with my weight to some degree. I stopped caring about people using my weight as an insult because it’s not even an insult, it’s facts. These comments were snide and disingenuous and it actually really upset me although I never really showed it.

I was speaking to my mum about things and she was saying she doesn’t want me to end up like her, with awful joint problems and unable to do a lot of things. I’ve seen the effect that having bad joints has had on my mum as it started while I was living at home, so I have some idea of how it is and what my future will look like.

I also watched a documentary the other night about somebody called Sharon Mevsimler, who was also an emotional eater and ended up being 45 stone, bedridden and with some awful health problems. It was scary to watch knowing that that could be me if I carried on the way that I was.

I’ve also just really been worrying about the potential health problems associated with my weight. Heart problems seem to be a thing in my family and my mum has a form of arthritis that is hereditary (from what I understand). I’ve been worrying recently about having a heart attack and dying young and I feel like that’s not something I should be worrying about at 33.

On the back of all this, I signed up to a weight loss programme a few nights ago, which has worked for me in the past. I know it well and did really well on it before. I’ve really been enjoying eating fruit and salads again, I forget how much I enjoy all the different flavours and how good healthy food makes me feel when I’m filling my body with sugar and all kinds of other crap food. I’ve been cooking healthy dinners and trying new recipes, which is fun because I really love cooking and how all the ingredients come together to make something nice. I make a loose meal plan every day, especially for work when I’d usually eat the most crap.

I can’t say I feel any better with my joints and things yet because it’s only been a few days but mentally, I’m starting to feel a difference. I don’t think I’ll ever totally love myself, but I’m starting to feel a bit better about myself now that I’m putting healthy stuff in.

Eating healthily isn’t the only thing that’s going to help, it’s a start but the emotional eater in me will probably still try to come out when I’m not feeling so good. I’ve been researching and reading up on ways to stop myself reaching for food when my depression/anxiety is bad because that’s always been the thing that’s failed me when I’ve tried to lose weight before. I guess I’m lucky in that I have my cross stitching and various other craft projects on the go and I can play guitar if I’m home for distractions when I feel that way.

It’s all basic things that I should know and I can apply it when I’m feeling anxious or depressed, but I never thought to do it when I got the urge to eat my feelings. It’s something that will take some work, as it always does when trying to shift your mentality but I’ll get there like I have in the past.

I know it’ll take a while and a lot of setting of small goals but I’m super excited to lose weight and get back to having a normal life (or as normal as I can), with minimal pain and more energy to do things.

So yeah, I’m an emotional eater and recently accepted this. Being an emotional eater isn’t my identity, the same as having all my mental health conditions isn’t my identity. It’s just a part of me that needs working on and improving.

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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 💜

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

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! 💜

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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.

Photo by NEOSiAM 2020 from Pexels

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.