Interview No 3

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted another interview so I thought it was about time I did. This time, I spoke to my sister, Kirsty, who is 28 and a retail manager.

What mental health problems do you deal with and how do they affect you?
Primarily anxiety, with the odd bout of depression. The way my anxiety mainly affects me, is overthinking everything. I can have a perfectly normal interaction with someone but then worry for ages afterwards, for example, did I come off okay or was I awkward and do they now hate me? The other main effect of my anxiety is feeling very panicky if I feel overwhelmed, for example, feeling crowded.

How and when did you notice something wasn’t right?
The really honest answer is when I was around 13, I lost interest in things I was usually enthusiastic about, and I stopped feeling a lot of the things I would feel before. For example, it was difficult to get excited about things I normally would. I talked to our mum about it at the time and she said it sounded as if I were depressed, and I remember thinking that she was overreacting because in my mind, it wasn’t an option, I guess?
With regards to anxiety, I’ve always known that I’ve been more prone to worrying, so it’s actually been when I’ve looked back as an adult, I realise I normalised a lot of behaviour. But then again, at that time, worrying and overthinking was pretty much all I knew, and I think I just assumed that everybody is like that, some just hide it better.

Is there anything that helps you? How does it help?
Writing has always been a huge help, because it’s an outlet. At times where I felt I couldn’t talk to anyone, I could write a story that would help me get my feelings out, and I’d feel better afterwards.
Going to the gym has been so valuable for me as well, as has going to wrestling shows. They’ve increased my confidence which definitely helps with the anxiety. I feel more able to deal with the situations, and the feelings.
And of course, having people I 100% trust and know I can talk to, judgement-free, helps a great deal too.

Were there any misconceptions you had about mental illness?
I’m not sure how much sense this will make, but for the longest time I was kind of in denial about my mental health, because I used to tell myself my problems weren’t bad enough to warrant depression or anxiety. I used to think you had to have ‘real problems’ (whatever that means) to have a mental illness like depression, and I’d often tell myself I was overreacting, or I’d feel like I had no right to be depressed because there are people worse off than me. It took me quite a long time to change that mindset, and come to terms with my mental health.

Is there anything you’ve learnt about mental health issues that you wouldn’t have known otherwise?
Mental illness doesn’t necessarily happen because of some major life event. Sometimes mental health issues do just happen, like any illness, I guess.

Have you had any experiences with talking therapy/medication etc? Has it changed your perception of them? Were they as helpful as you expected?
I’ve never gone down the medication route, I think I’ve just wanted to find other ways to manage it. That’s absolutely not any kind of dig at anyone who does use medication, it’s just my personal preference. I understand everyone’s different, and what works for me might not work for other people, and vice versa.
I have tried counselling a few times, and I only had one good experience, which isn’t enough to make me want to try again. The worst one was when I was around 16 or 17, and I’d been on a waiting list for about six months. I finally got my appointment, and I felt so positive about it. I wanted to finally get somewhere with counselling, and I admitted that I felt suicidal, which is something I hadn’t told anybody because I didn’t feel I could. I was hoping to get some help dealing with that, but I got a really judgemental reaction instead, so I lied at my next session and said I was feeling better so I didn’t have to go back.

Is there anything that you feel could be done to improve the help people receive for mental health problems?
There definitely needs to be an improvement in terms of resource. Simply, the supply isn’t meeting the demand. A lot of people are put off asking for help because the expectation is to be met with a massive waiting list.

I know you’re a wrestling fan and regularly go to shows with your wrestle squads. How long have you been going and how does it help?
So, I started going to shows at the end of 2017. It’s a bit of a weird one because sometimes I can feel anxious at shows, if there’s a big crowd, or if I’m not so familiar with the venue, but at the same time, going to shows has helped me manage my anxiety. I can just let myself go, and get lost in the excitement of the matches, and the stories. It definitely is my happy place. Plus, getting to meet the wrestlers and gradually build a rapport with them has helped bring me out of my shell.

I know when we were growing up, we didn’t really talk about our feelings a lot (apart from when we were annoying each other!). I know that I still find it hard to talk about my feelings, do you have the same thing?
Sometimes I still find it hard to talk about my feelings. For the longest time I used to try and shut that part of my brain off, so for a while I was rather emotionally constipated. I always find it easier to talk about my feelings via text, whether that’s writing them down or sending a message to someone. I think it’s because that way, you have more time to think about what you’re saying and make sure you get yourself across in the way you are wanting to.

Obviously, we’re pretty close and there aren’t really any other family members I’d go to with mental health stuff. Do you sometimes find it more helpful to speak to family or someone else that’s known you a long time?
Sometimes. I think it depends on what’s bothering me. There are some cases where it’s easier to talk to you because you know a lot of the context, so I don’t have to explain every single aspect. But sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone who’s a bit more removed from it all, if that makes sense.

I know you’ve been going to the gym for a while. How much of a positive effect has it had on your mental health?
So, the biggest reason I actually signed up to the gym was that I hoped it would help my mental health. And the effect it’s had, has been bigger than I thought it would. Cardio still isn’t my best friend right now, but I always feel great after a decent cardio session, because of the endorphins, and because it always feels great to do something you maybe thought you couldn’t do. Also, working with weights has been a huge confidence boost. I never used to be physically strong, and noticing my progression, as well as the physical changes, has really changed the way I look at myself.

Is there any advice that you’d like to pass on to anyone reading this?
Don’t let yourself – or other people – invalidate your feelings. Stupid as it may sound, it took me so long to learn this and ultimately face my mental health, and there’s a lot I could have avoided if I’d done that sooner.

I’m always looking for more people to speak to, so if you’d like to be involved, please leave a comment or email ✨

Friday Feeling (Late again, sorry!) – 07.12.19 ✨

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Again, I’m really sorry this is late again! It’s kind of becoming my thing, I’m trying not to stress too much about it because I know that if it was anyone else, I’d be more understanding with them than I am with myself.

The past week hasn’t been too bad. I’ve been mainly working and sleeping and it’s been a relatively stress free week. I’m not sure what happened on Thursday, but I had real issues waking up and slept literally all day before I had work in the evening.

I had my first counselling session yesterday, and the day leading up to it was a ride. I’d done a night shift the night before and didn’t get to sleep for a while after I got home, then got woken up after about 3 or 4 hours by noise outside. Tiredness makes me more emotional than usual, I’m a cryer anyway, but I reach a whole new level when I’m tired!

My session wasn’t until late afternoon so I had all day to work myself up into an anxious mess. I ended up calling my partner in tears absolutely freaking out and telling him I couldn’t do it, I was too scared, I wasn’t ready, and I didn’t want to talk about what had happened in the past anymore. He calmed me down, which was really good of him, he always does. I’d texted a friend as well because she asked me when it was and gave me some really good advice and offered me to spend some time with her before, which was really nice, I know she didn’t have to do that and it was really good to know that other people care and remembered.

I’d actually got the time of the session wrong and had a brief moment of relief when the call didn’t come because I really didn’t want to bring up the past and trigger my PTSD, followed by a brief moment of anxiety that I’d been forgotten about until I checked what time the appointment actually was.

The lady I spoke to was really friendly and told me that I don’t have to speak about anything I don’t want to, when the time does come to speak about what happened, it’ll be planned so I have time to prepare and that I don’t have to speak about anything right now because she wants me to build a level of trust with her. She’s had loads of experience in PTSD, which is so reassuring and really gives me hope that it’ll work this time. I’ve got my next appointment next week and currently, I feel way more calm than I did in the weeks leading up to yesterday.

I’ve only had about 3 or 4 hours sleep again because my PTSD was triggered by the counselling (which I was expecting), so I’ve been up pretty much all night being anxious about going back to sleep after waking up, and then crying because there was a point where I was back in the room with my ex, even though I was safe and nothing at all would have happened.

Today, I’m off to London with my partner to see IDLES for my late birthday present. It couldn’t have come at a better time after yesterday and tears may be shed! I’ve been looking forward to this for months, they’re my favourite band in the world and they’ve done so much for me and my mental health. I really should give a shout out to the AF Gang too, they’re the best group of people I’ve ever met and I’m really excited to see some of them tonight and just be surrounded with joy and love and forget my troubles for a few hours.

As always, I’m anxious about the Tube. I’m not sure if knowing what to expect makes me feel any better about it, I’ll be alright once I’m on there, it’s just the getting there and making sure I have the right one that gets me every time.

Over the past week, I’ve really had to keep my anxiety in check because of this whole counselling thing and it’s been so difficult. I decided I wasn’t going to count down the days to it and that I would go through the week like it wasn’t going to be happening. I know I was a mess yesterday, but I also know that if this was last year, I would have spent the whole week being an anxious mess. I’m constantly amazed at how far I’ve come with dealing with my depression and anxiety without even realising it, it’s only when I look back that I notice, and I’m really proud of myself for doing so well.

Next week, I’m going for a Christmas curry with my partner and some friends, it’s something we do every year and I always really enjoy it, it’s always good to catch up with friends and have some nice food. Hopefully I’ll get some decent sleep that morning because I’ll have done a night shift, falling asleep in your food is not a good look (and is also something I would probably do)!

Over the next week, I think I’m going to write down a list of things I want to talk about and cover with the counsellor so I don’t miss anything out. I don’t know about anyone else but I find I always forget what I want to say in the moment and always remember when it’s too late. I’m sure as it gets closer to the time, my anxiety will be sky high again so I’ll be trying to keep that in check too, though I’m hoping that maybe doing this list will alleviate some of that anxiety.

I hope you all have a lovely week, as always, feel free to leave a comment with how your week has been and your plans for the next week ✨

So it begins…

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I start my CBT tomorrow afternoon. I’ve made no secret of the fact I’m freaking out about the whole thing but now it’s real and definitely happening, everything within me is screaming at me not to do it.

The only thing I can think of to make me do it is to imagine that that big voice screaming is my ex, and that he’s scared of being exposed for what he really is. Ever since we split up and he told me he would ruin my life, I’ve been determined to prove him wrong and be happy and make a good life for myself and CBT is a big part of that.

I’m going to push on through it, get rid of the demons of my past relationship, and hopefully learn some ways of dealing with all the flashbacks and nightmares so I don’t lose sleep and lose whole days crying over stupid stuff.

I’m going to see my favourite band in London the day after for my late birthday present so I’m using that as my motivation to get through the day tomorrow and get through this first appointment. I know I can do it, I’ve been through big, scary things before, this just seems bigger and scarier than all the other things but I’ve got this!

What is Depression?

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Depression is sleeping too much so you don’t have to deal with the emotional numbness.

Depression isn’t sleeping enough because your mind is racing with all sorts of awful thoughts.

Depression is being convinced that your loved ones don’t really care about you and are just pretending to care out of obligation.

Depression is knowing that you have important things to do and places to go and not being able to face it.

Depression is keeping everything inside because that little voice has convinced you that you’re a burden on everyone, and besides, they wouldn’t get it anyway.

Depression is withdrawing from everyone and everything so that you don’t bring the mood down.

Depression is feeling hopeless about your past, present, and future.

Depression is so insidious, you don’t even realise it’s happening until it’s got its grip on you.

Depression is wanting to do things to make you feel better, then feeling worse after doing them because the joy has been sucked out of you.

Depression is lying in bed all day, not doing anything because you don’t have the mental energy, and feeling useless and like a failure because of it.

Depression is snapping at your loved ones for nothing, knowing you’re doing it, being unable to stop, and feeling like the worst person for it.

Depression is that little voice in your head that tells you everyone would be better off without you and that death is the only way to escape everything.

Depression is staring at the same four walls for hours, not even thinking or feeling anything.

Depression is having to wear a mask so you can go about your daily life without arousing suspicion or worrying anyone.

Depression is crying before going out because putting on the mask feels like too much.

Depression is worrying about having children because what if it’s hereditary?

Depression is knowing deep down, that things will get better, because they always do, but never believing it.

Depression is not telling people because you’re afraid of being judged.

Depression is self harming to try and make the mental pain bearable.

Depression is eating too much or eating nothing at all.

Depression is piles of dirty dishes and messy rooms.

Depression is something I deal with, but it does not define me and it will never beat me!

Friday Feeling (Late again!) ✨ – 30.11.19

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Firstly, I’m so sorry that this is late again! I was out for the day yesterday and then completely forgot about this by the time I got home.

The past week has been pretty good, I’ve felt alright mentally and the week has been relatively stress free. I’ve been super tired this week but that’s because I’ve not been getting to bed until 5am, night shifts have really messed up my sleeping pattern this week.

I went to Gloucester with my partner yesterday to get his son for the weekend, which was nice. I managed to pick up some nice birthday things for my housemate as well, I love buying gifts for people, it’s so nice to see people happy when you do something nice for them and show them you care.

Other than that, I’ve been working, sleeping, and learning new things on guitar. I’m not as far as I’d like to be with guitar, but that’s entirely up to me. I guess when you can do something, it’s very easy to get comfortable with it, to a point where challenging yourself seems a bit of a chore.

I had a text a couple of days ago from the counselling people wanting to check my availability for my first appointment. I’ve filled out and sent back the form they sent, now I’ve just got to wait for them to get back to me. I’m still freaking out a bit but I’m just trying to keep it to the back of my mind now until the time comes to really worry about it. I’m trying to keep positive but I guess we’ll see what happens when it comes to it.

I’m also feeling slightly anxious this week as I’m going to be seeing Idles in London this time next week. I was initially nervous about being in a venue that’s 10,000 capacity, going on the Tube, and having enough money but the attack on London Bridge yesterday has got me worried now as well. I know it’s an irrational worry and that this type of thing rarely happens, all I can do is rationalise it with myself in my mind and try and concentrate on the fun evening I’m going to have with my partner, our friends, and all the other Idles fans.

I’m off to a gig tonight with my partner and his son, which is exciting, I’m looking forward to going out and doing something fun. I feel really tired today but I’m fighting through it and hopefully I’ll sleep at a decent time.

I’m not sure if there’ll be a post next Friday as I’m doing my usual night shift the night before, and then I’ve got to make sure I’ve got all my things ready and packed for the weekend. I’ll do one if I can, I’m hoping to get the time to do it.

Over the next week, I’m going to try and keep my anxiety under control and concentrate on the good things I’ve got going on in life and have planned.

I hope you have a lovely weekend, let me know in the comments how your week has been and what you have planned for the coming week!

Encompassing Anxiety

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I mentioned in my last post how my counselling was being moved forward and my mind has been an anxious, depressed mess ever since. I’ve been listening to Preoccupations’ self titled album today and this song always perfectly encapsulates how I feel when my anxiety is bad.

While I’m looking forward to being able to live my life properly for the first time in years, the thought of talking about everything that happened and bringing everything to the surface has triggered my PTSD to the point where I’ve had a whole weekend of it, there’s been lots of tears, lots of doubt, lots of feeling bad, and lots of anxiety.

I’d love to be able to be the person who can brush it off when my partner is tired and snappy, and not cry and get scared over stupid things. I know he would never intentionally hurt me and he definitely isn’t my ex but my mind will take me back into the room with my ex and it’s fucking scary when my mind clouds over like that and all I can feel is the same fear and upset that I felt about 8 years ago.

I’m really anxious knowing that it’ll get worse before it gets better, I’m anxious that my feelings and reactions to things will be difficult to deal with for me and my partner, and I’m anxious about meeting someone new and not knowing what they’re like and having to build up a level of trust so I can talk about what happened. I’m anxious that it won’t work and things will still be as bad as they are now.

I currently feel like no one else gets what I’m going through with PTSD or what I’ve been through, and I know that likely isn’t true but that belief stops me from speaking to anyone about it. I know keeping it all inside is so unhelpful but I never know how to broach the subject with anyone so it’ll be interesting to speak to someone about it and I guess see what comes out.

While I’m anxious and not feeling overly great about it, I’m hopeful that it’ll do something to help and I can learn to cope with all the things that come with PTSD and not live in fear anymore. I’m really excited to lead a somewhat normal life and visit family and not be limited in where I go out for the day. I’ve already brought up with my partner going to the town where my ex lives when I feel ready, but it’s something I’ll speak with the counsellor about as I don’t want to do anything that will set my recovery back.

I have hope that this will get better and I’m going to try and hold onto that when things get bad. I’ve got through so much in my life and I can get through this and anything else life throws at me!

Friday Feeling ✨ – 22.11.19

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Firstly, I feel like I should apologise for missing last week. Life and lack of motivation has got in the way of me blogging over the past couple of weeks but I’m slowly trying to get back into it.

This past week has been a bit of an odd one. I’ve been feeling weird mentally and unable to put my finger on what it is exactly, I don’t feel anxious or depressed or anything like that, it’s really difficult to explain.

I did have some good news (if you can call it that) about my foot which has been a massive relief. I’m really glad that my persistence has paid off and I’ve now got a diagnosis and can start to do things to make it better and get it stronger. It’ll take some time but I’ll get there.

Other than that, I’ve mainly been working and sleeping, nothing new really. I spent today with a couple of friends watching the final of Drag Race UK and although I’m still mad about the result, it was really lovely to spend time with people who are so genuine and who I get on really well with, another plus is that their cats are now becoming my friends, which is pretty cool.

I had a date night tonight with my partner too, we went out for some food and it was really nice to spend some time together doing something fun and just be with each other. I always feel incredibly lucky to have someone who wants to go for date nights, after things that have happened in the past, the littlest things are still so overwhelming (in a nice way) and I love it.

I had a phone call today regarding CBT, I’ve been on the waiting list for about 6 months now, with 3 months to go. They offered to move it forward as they’ve teamed up with someone else and can now accommodate more people. The only thing with it is they come to your house for the sessions, but at this point, I don’t care where they are, I just want to see someone and get this done so I can get on with my life without being in constant fear. I’m freaking out a bit because I’ll be doing the exact thing that sets off the nightmares and flashbacks but I know this is something I have to do.

I think this week will be the week where I have to try and make sure I talk myself out of anything my anxiety tries to tell me. It’s something I’ve been practising over the past year or so and it’s very slowly becoming second nature, but I think the time leading up to my CBT will be the real test of whether I can do it or not.

Over the next week, I’ve got a friend’s birthday drinks to go to tomorrow and I’m going to start saving for when I go to London for my late birthday present.

I hope you all have a lovely week, let me know what you’ve been up to and what you have planned! ✨