Lengthy chatty phone calls, meeting new people, freshly brewed tea, making plans, hushed tones echoing through the library, making progress, job opportunities, feeling confident
Bright bunches of flowers, unfurling petals, the rustle of leaves, raindrops on the window pane, dew-speckled grass, the early morning sun
Guinea pig hiccups, working in the summer sun, passersby saying hello, sunglasses and lipstick, shorts and skirts and linen shirts, making plans, dandelion seeds floating away on the breeze
the sun shining on my face, the bright bluebells in the garden, the sun shining through the trees, the veins on a leaf, distant laughter, delicate daisy petals, cats when they stretch and lounge in the sun, cherry blossom confetti,the sizzle in the pan, the first sip of wine.
Hello! I hope you’re doing okay. I thought I’d give you a little mental health update, which will be really useful for me to refer back to.
Things are starting to feel a bit better this end, and I’m hoping I’ll see even more progress. I’m crying a lot less – which is a great start – and I’m not as anxious when things don’t quite go to plan. I’m trying to handle things more calmly and think things through rationally, and this has been almost impossible at times, so things are definitely becoming more manageable.
I thought I’d had a blip, and at my last doctor’s appointment we discussed possibly upping my meds, but I’m getting back on track and powering through. I recently started seeing a mentor at university to keep my on track of work. One of my problems is I have very little faith in my work and abilities, so having someone to check in with every week is extremely helpful. It’s great to talk to someone who is completely impartial and she’s really kind and supportive.
I’m also heading back for another lot of counselling next week. I haven’t had a course of counselling for about nine months now, and I used to find it really useful. To make things more enjoyable I made the day all about me; I’d head into town, get some lunch, and sit in the sunshine whilst I waited for my appointment. I’m looking at these new sessions in the same way: they’re for me, and I’m going to get the most out of them. I’m hoping for good things.
I think I’m struggling with accepting the uncertainty of what’s to come, and that’s perhaps why I’ve been having really anxious days. I really like to know where I’m headed, and where I’m going in life, and at the minute I’m in an odd place where I need to look forward, but concentrate on the present. I suppose I need to learn that things will happen, but they’ll happen at their own pace. I’m in the middle of degree applications, job hunting and exploring all my options, and it’s all a little bit scary. I’m worried about coping with pain/fatigue, but I’m so desperate to prove myself.
I know I’ll work something out, but it’s hard not to worry about these things.
I know this is a really rambling post, but I’ll keep you updated on my counselling. Wish me luck!
Hope you’re having a great evening,
Ps hello from Smudge; she’s been keeping me company.
Hello! Here’s another Kardomah 94 review; I know, I just can’t get enough of the place! If you’ve been reading over the past few weeks you’ll know I was asked by the lovely Hannah if I fancied checking out some live shows at Kardomah 94, which is a restaurant and venue space right in the centre of Hull. The first – Backstage in Biscuit Land – was a magical, eye-opening journey into the world of Jess Thom who lives life with Tourettes syndrome. The second – Giggles: Greater Good Project – is a combination of mental health awareness and a heavy dose of comedy to delight and educate in equal measure.
We arrived at Kardomah 94 hungry and ready to try some of the tasty-sounding pizzas. When we saw Backstage in Biscuit Land we caught a glimpse of the pizzas – huge, stone baked ones, covered crust to crust in an array of toppings – and we couldn’t wait to try one for ourselves.
We started the night the proper way, with a bottle of refreshing Brooklyn Lager. The atmosphere once again didn’t disappoint; each of the tables was studded with softly glowing candles, a delightful array of art hung up on the restaurant walls, and a soft hubbub and clatter of crockery from the open kitchen. What more could you want?
Kardomah 94’s menu has a selection of pizzas with something for everyone, and various snacks and nibbles available for those who are fancying something a little different. Their specials board sported homemade favourites like spicy chilli con carne, and I’m positive even the fussiest of eaters would find something they’d love. I’d been running around doing various errands during the day, and a pizza with a beer seemed like a heavenly combination to me.
I went for the aptly named Sir Albert Gelder pizza; a stone baked, thin base topped with crisp pancetta, blue cheese and a honey drizzle. Drew went for the Hullawaiin (because he’s one of those people that thinks pineapple on a pizza is a good idea…it’s not my cup of tea, but it did look great.) Again, this was generously topped, and wonderfully crisp, and both went down a treat with a beer.
What I really love about Kardomah 94 is its setting; overlooking the historic guild hall on the edge of Hull’s historic Old Town, it is truly a hidden gem. Kardomah 94 hold various events every month – some in association with the University of Hull – and it’s the perfect place to come to eat, drink and learn a thing or two.
It’s bound to be a hit during Hull’s City of Culture Year in 2017!
After our dinner and drinks, it was time for the event itself. Mental health – and mental illness – are very close to my heart. I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression for a while, and know people close to me who have really suffered in the past. Events like these are essential to spread awareness. I think we’ve come incredibly far from our draconian views on mental health, and though this should be celebrated, we should always strive for more. I’ve been on the receiving end of comments – even from people who know me – which illustrate a complete lack of understanding. I’ve been told to snap out of it; to stop crying. To stop worrying because there’s nothing to worry about. To cheer up; to buck my ideas up. That – though I may not believe it – other people have it worse.
If only it were that easy.
I don’t talk about what triggered my mental health problems on here, but it wasn’t easy, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. The amalgamation of certain things in my life – including the traumatic event, living with chronic pain and a brain injury plus everyday stresses – are a difficult and turbulent mix. Telling me the above things is no use. It doesn’t help. If anything you’re just making the situation worse by adding a healthy dose of guilt and self-loathing into the mix.
You are talking to someone who can cry for hours at a time, or – on very bad days – won’t leave the safety of my bed. Telling someone with a mental health problem that they are better off than somebody else completely undermines the difficulties they are having. It is not useful.
It probably is true. But it does not solve the issue. It does not stop.
The Giggles event was founded to raise awareness of mental health. I’m becoming more confident talking about my difficulties, but some people aren’t so keen on sharing. Mental illness still conjures up images of strait jackets and ‘mad-woman-in-the-attic’ imagery, but is many as 1 in 4 people will have a mental health problem in any year. That’s a huge number. And yet – for many – it is still incredibly difficult to talk about. I’ve been met with resistance when I want to talk about my problems. I’ve been warned that people may prejudge me because of my mental health problems, and that I should stay quiet.
I don’t want to. I shouldn’t have to, because my mental health problems are just another facet of my experiences, just like having cerebral palsy, or the fact that I’m a fiend for chocolate and gin. Events like these are exactly what we need, and so many of us need to know that it’s okay to speak up.
The venue space was again rustic and cosy, and as we sat down in our seats we knew we’d be in for a great night.
Gary – the compere and founder of the event – opened the show, and had us all warmed up for one of the more ‘serious’ parts of the show. Fay came on and openly discussed her experiences of living with borderline personality disorder, or BPD. She explained the ‘black and whiteness’ of the disorder; the perpetual conflicting emotions she has over seemingly everyday events. She was eloquent and open, determined and steely with a refreshing outlook on her own experiences. As she noted, many people have heard of depression and anxiety, but it is these mental health problems – the ones that are most misconstrued and misunderstood -that become truly difficult for people to talk about. It was incredibly wonderful of Fay to come and share her story with us, as though these things need to be discussed they aren’t necessarily easy to share. I think I speak on behalf of the audience when I say I was incredibly touched to have a brief insight into her world.
Next up we saw a myriad of comedians, some of which have had their own mental health problems in the past. These comedians spoke frankly about their experiences, but left us laughing. We also participated in a raffle, and all of the proceeds went to Mind, who do a fabulous job providing services to people with mental health problems when they need them.
It is a scary time for people who rely on mental health services to get by. This year will see yet more cuts to mental health services across the country, and as someone who has had to access such services multiple times it’s really worrying to think that these vital services may be taken away. These services are there for me when I’m at my worst, and allow me to discuss my darkest thoughts when I fear no one else will listen.
Although we had a laugh and a giggle at the event, mental health problems are no joke.
At their most devastating, mental health problems can be life-threatening, and I will always support events like this. Now more than ever we must try to find a way to overcome the issues we face; and supporting local services is one step forward. Hull and East Yorkshire Mind strive to do everything they can for people in the local area, and with our help they can continue to implement support and strategies to help those who need it most.
Thanks so much to Kardomah 94 and the Giggles: Greater Good project for having me; I can’t wait to see when you’re next hosting an event.
What do you think of events like these? Would you be interested in attending something similar?
I hope your day is going well!
Snuggling up under the duvet, the smell of coffee in the morning, waking up early and having sun shine through the window, making new friends, getting things done, leisurely walks, helpful nurses at my hospital appointments, squeaking guinea pigs first thing in the morning, cooking, feeling positive
I’m unsure whether I’ve had a mental health blip. I don’t know.
I wish I did know.
Yesterday was strange. I had a meeting with a disability officer and I ended up crying in front of her. I suppose the tears were a result of relief and sadness. I explained everything that was bothering me – preparing for the future, dealing with constant pain, worries about not completing my dissertation to a high standard – and I then felt really stupid for letting everything get to me. Hopefully I’m getting help with the pain management as she’s referring me to a course that’ll help me to deal with all the stress that chronic pain brings. I’ll just have to wait for that.
I spent the rest of the day with that familiar anxiety swirling round right in the pit of my stomach, but I persevered. I got on with stuff. I did everything I was supposed to. In the evening went out for a drink and a catch up, and left feeling happy – completely at ease – and everything was lovely. But today I’ve woken up feeling dreadful.
I have already cried. I have a seminar to attend this evening.
Whenever I go for my medication review I always forget these things. I tell my doctor that I’m doing fine – which is mostly true – but often forget to mention these crippling episodes of anxiety. My dreams are so vivid at the minute that I wake up genuinely convinced they were part of my waking life. I’ve never had dreams so lifelike before.
I’m just really confused. I’m dreading today; it’s awful outside and I’ll be coming home in the dark. I’m already wanting to get back into bed but I have reading to do and work to finish.
Even if I did get back into bed I’d feel too anxious to sleep or relax. I’m feeling a strange mixture of confused and ridiculous.
I hope it passes.
Hello there. I hope you’re having a wonderful day. It’s been fairly productive today which is really good for me; I’ve managed to get some work done, gone food shopping and done general errands, but as a result I’m now slumped on the sofa desperate for bed. It sounds like I’m being a little dramatic, but doing the ‘everyday-stuff’ – you know, the boring Adult stuff – can often be the hardest for me.
I can cope with my university work; I do a research degree at my own pace. I can cope with my occasional volunteering and of course I love writing this. But it’s the everyday things, the essential things that are becoming more and more difficult to keep on top of. Washing clothes, hoovering up, cleaning the bathroom, cleaning the kitchen, preparing and eating meals…these just take me ages and completely wear me out.
By the time I do all these things, my university work and social activities, I’m pretty much exhausted.
When I was younger I suppose I didn’t realise just how much I relied on my mum and family to do things. Loading the washing machine for example leaves me in agony. I struggle to use both hands, so even just washing pots and pans and hand drying them is a gargantuan effort. Hanging up clothes to dry and then folding them away when you have half a body that doesn’t cooperate as you wish is physically draining.
And don’t even get me started on how I feel emotionally about all this. I can guarantee it wouldn’t make for cheery reading.
When I started university I realised that living independently is difficult. There’s lots of little things that need to be done during the day and when you don’t feel up to it – because of pain, or tiredness, or low mood – it’s all too easy to leave. And thus you enter a vicious cycle of accumulating mess/paperwork/laundry and no one wants that.
I started seeing an occupational therapist for the first time ever this year. I don’t know why, but despite my cerebral palsy diagnosis I’ve never seen one (and the repercussions of that belong in a different post entirely!). Seeing occupational therapists has genuinely changed my life. I never realised I was entitled to living aids. I never understood why I found everything so hard, but it was all explained to me. Seeing occupational therapists has been genuinely fantastic. Initially it was extremely daunting having someone come round to tell me that I needed extra help and things to help me around the house, and I found this hard to admit.
Someone once told me that getting help was giving in, and that’s always stuck with me.
Only recently have I come to realise that getting help is far from giving in; they enable me to live more independently. Using aids – a seat in the shower, a rail on my bed, a perch stool for cooking – lets me do the everyday things when I’m too exhausted to stand up or when I’m in severe pain. I can cook knowing I can sit down. I can grab a rail and get out of bed even when my body is resisting. It’s amazing.
The occupational therapist who visited my flat gave me a catalogue full of helpful living aids and I’ve been flicking through it circling the amazing things available. There’s chopping boards with spikes on so you don’t have to hold food whilst chopping it, and ‘easy reachers’ that mean I can pick stuff up without bending over and being in unnecessary pain. I’m realising I’m finally ready to accept this; I’m finally ready to accept that by getting these things to make life easier I’ll be living my life to the full.
It is not weak to accept help.
I don’t want to limit myself and my choices in life. I want what everybody wants; I want to happy. I am taking the steps towards acceptance.
I am learning to thrive, and I will get there.
I hope you’re having a fantastic evening,