Inadequate

I am struggling recently.

At the minute, I literally see no redeeming features in myself. I feel ugly. My acne is coming back. I hate the way my crooked spine looks in the mirror. I hate the way I get frustrated with the pain and cry. I hate the way I’m taking tablets to ease the pain and hate the way they don’t always work.

I hate the fact I cannot control my body, no matter how hard I try. I wake up in pain, and o fall asleep with pain.

I hate that my automatic response is to push everything I love away. I hate that I can’t concentrate on anything for more than five minutes at a time.
I hate that I’m at multiple hospitals and doctors appointments every week.
I have no faith in my academic abilities, or my social relationships, or any other extra curricular thing I attempt to do.

I hate that when I’m happy – or when there is a glimmer of happiness – that these thoughts come rushing back.

The ones that tell me I do not deserve happiness. I do not deserve success. I do not deserve love.

The ones that tell me, over and over, that I deserve this pain I’m in. I deserve this pain because I’m such an awful person.

I am just so fed up. I keep going round in circles and I can’t keep doing it. I can’t. This is all too much.

I just want to be far away from all this madness. Somewhere free of responsibility, free of doctors prescribing new medication or performing new treatments or trying their best to fix me.

I am just overwhelmed by how inadequate I feel.

I just want it to stop.

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Happiness is…

Hot cups of coffee, guinea pig cuddles, the light of the moon shining through the window, getting lost in a good book, hot showers, sleeping in, relief from pain, finished work, colouring (and avoiding going over the lines) , good friends, big smiles, realising that things will fall into place.

Have a great weekend,
Heather x

Med Chat

Hi there. Hope your Sunday is going well wherever you are. Today Drew and I are having our own little Christmas, complete with Christmas sweaters , ginger bread houses, crackers and all the trimmings. You’ll just have to wait for all the details I’m afraid, but I have high hopes!

If you’ve been reading you might be aware that I’ve been using medication to keep the symptoms of my depression/anxiety under control. I started on fluoxetine which worked well to suppress symptoms, but unfortunately I had disturbing intrusive thoughts so my doctor and I decided to try something different called Sertraline. I’ve been taking it for about eight days now, and so far I feel okay; still having wobbles, but able to do the things I need to without panicking/crying all the time.

Medication for mental illness can be a controversial issue.

There are people who don’t believe in using medication, people who think of it as the ‘easy option’, people who couldn’t praise it highly enough, and there are people who don’t even think mental illness is necessarily a valid illness that CAN be treated with medication.

Like most young people, I’ve always been wary of medication.

From a young age I’ve been prescribed various medications to control pain in my spine, and some of these meds are strong and come with warnings and side effects. It has taken me a long time to accept having to use them. They are not the easy option: they aren’t necessarily good for you, they carry warnings of addiction, sleepiness, euphoria…the list goes on.

I didn’t want to ever become dependent on painkillers – and I still do my best to cope without them – but I don’t want to be made to feel bad for choosing to use them on bad days.

Pain, depression and anxiety can have a seriously negative impact on quality of life. Each of them usually accompany the other; the parts of the brain that deal with each are similar if not the same.

When I’m in pain, I’m depressed. When I’m depressed, I’m in pain.

Pain makes me sluggish, tired and lethargic. Pain makes me feel guilty because I can’t do ‘normal’ things. Pain makes me feel bad because I can’t pluck up the physical strength to tidy the house or cook or wash my clothes on bad days.

Depression, anxiety and chronic pain are a toxic mix.

Before I started medication for my mental illness I was an absolute mess. I could barely leave my room; the thought of having to see my housemates filled me with horror. It was nothing they had done; it’s just the anxiety/depression would convince me they hated me and that they didn’t want to see me, or hear me, or generally be around me.

You see, depression and anxiety can whisper nasty little lies in your ear. They make you feel worthless. Empty. Alone.

I’d do anything to avoid bumping into my housemates. I’d listen carefully to make sure I didn’t bump into them in the corridor. I showered when everyone had gone to bed. I couldn’t go shopping without Drew. I couldn’t cook, and didn’t always eat. When I made it into uni (with Drew walking me in) I panicked and wound up hysterically crying and having to leave, because the thought of being surrounded by people filled me with terror.

I was not the person I am now.

I didn’t want to stop to talk to people. I wanted to hide away from everything: so I did. The majority of my days were spent in floods of tears under the duvet.

It was a terrible time.

These episodes very rarely happen since I’ve been on medication. I have off days – of course – but I can definitely function. I CAN do the majority of things I need to do.

Shaming people who take medication to control their mental illnesses is not helping anyone.

I don’t believe any one has the authority to tell me when/why I shouldn’t take my medication. You might not agree with it, but it’s not your choice. It’s mine.

Medication has allowed me to feel (at the very least) a little bit like myself again.
I’m happy most days. I laugh. I smile. I tell rubbish jokes and I love doing my makeup and cooking and eating. I love watching documentaries and playing on my ds and reading books and discovering new things. 

Depression made me forget my love for these things.

I am no longer empty. I feel like a person; I have emotions – positive, happy ones – and at the height of my depression/anxiety I was a horrible mixture of sadness, emptiness, guilt and panic. Happiness was a distant memory, and I was unable to feel it.

You might not understand why I take medication to control my illnesses. You might not agree with it. You might even claim they’re just a placebo.

But if they help me, why question them?

You don’t necessarily know what goes on in my head, or what has happened in my life. It can be a dark, miserable place. And as long as medication keeps me feeling okay and allows me to live life, I’m going to take it.

All I’m asking is that people be a little bit more considerate. Don’t judge what you don’t understand.

I know this has been a little heavy, but it’s been weighing on my mind.

Have a great day wherever you are; chirpier posts will be up soon, I’m sure!
Heather x

Today has been great…

…although it didn’t necessarily start off that way. This morning I was sore and cranky but I took some painkillers and made it into uni (after some cuddles with guinea pigs of course). Here’s one with smudge which is super cute, if I do say so myself .

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Smudge saying hello

Emma has been here since yesterday which is super lovely. It’s great to have a catch-up with my best friend, especially when ice cream is involved. She accompanied me to my pain management so we went for hot waffles afterwards which were as good as they look. And yes, they are m&ms on the top…and cream….and chocolate sauce. And I had two scoops of gelato; banana and nutella. I know, I really do have a big sweet tooth!

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If you’re ever over this way, be sure to visit caffe gelato. It’s a popular haunt for families and students alike, and when I was battling my way through final year it became a fabulous incentive: unhealthy perhaps but delicious all the same.

Emma is a really creative and crafty person, and she crocheted me a purse which is amazing!! I love anything handmade; it’s so thoughtful, and no-one else will have the same thing.

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It was nice to have pain management today because I’ve really been missing it and feeling it, too. I had an orthopedic appointment last week which is useful because they’re going to review my spine, which I think is needed. It will mean having a full spine mri but hopefully all will be well and I won’t have any more problems with the vertebrae in my spine to deal with. Fingers crossed!

Things are looking up, and this week I feel on top of all my work and errands which makes a change.
Although admittedly, I still feel like being an adult is hard, and I still think I’m about 6.

Shame I turned 22 the other day!

Anyway, I better get going. We’re going to chill out tonight with some films and snacks.
It’s so lovely to have a little bit of a break in my schedule.

Has your Monday been going okay?

Let me know, and keep your eyes peeled for my Wren Kitchens post…it’s going to be a good one!

Heather X

Ps here’s a cute pic of Patch…I know. I’m officially a crazy guinea pig person.

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Happiness is…

  1. wrapping up warm in the crisp, cold weather, 2. frothy coffee the first thing in the morning, 3. meeting new people and putting names to faces, 4. sharing tapas and laughter and drinks with Drew, 5. that bubbly, lovely feeling you get when sipping on cava, 6. cosying up under blankets and watching rubbish tv, 7. knowing your best friend is coming to visit, 8. feeling Happy and not Sad, 9. feeling like I’m getting somewhere with hospital appointments, 10. slowly starting to feel at peace with taking meds and everything else.

I know it’s all going to be okay.

Heather x

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Al Porto*

Hello there. Sorry It’s been quiet this way; so many deadlines are approaching at once and I’m getting into a bit of a flap over them. I’m sure they’ll get done but I’m a chronic worrier so I’m always doubting myself!

In light of this (and in light of all the dreadful things that are happening around the world at the minute, I thought i’d bring a little bit of festive cheer to you all.

Just over a week ago I was invited to Al Porto restaurant in Hull to sample their 2015 Christmas menu. I knew it would be a treat, and we weren’t disappointed!

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I was joined by Kathryn , Chelsea and Steph for an intimate, cosy Christmas meal for four and a glass of prosecco was just the thing we needed to kick-start the celebrations.

Christmas crackers

We even had crackers which was a real treat!

The menu was long so it was more of a tapas-style affair; I think I could have eaten much if we hadn’t shared plates!

Soup

First up was the chestnut soup. I don’t know about you but chestnuts always remind me of Christmas. I have fond memories of wandering around Christmas markets with a bag of piping-hot roasted chestnuts to nibble on and to keep my hands warm! I’ve never had them in soup but it was absolutely wonderful; it was like bowl of Christmas, and I couldn’t stop eating it! Definitely one of my favourite things on the menu, I must say. I’m already planning to order it when I go back!

smoked salmon

Up next we had the smoked salmon roulade. Admittedly, smoked salmon isn’t always something I enjoy but I was pleasantly surprised and actually really liked it. The filling was creamy yet fresh, which cut through the richness of the smoked salmon beautifully. If you’re a smoked salmon fan you’re bound to love this.

mlanzane parmigianaNext up; a delicious vegetarian option. Above is Melanzare Parmigiana, which is aubergine layered with tomato and cheese. I knew i’d like this because my mum often makes this and it is seriously delicious. If you’re into punchy tomato sauces, you’re in for a treat here. I’d even bet that people who don’t like aubergine  could have a go with this; really wonderful and filling.

guinea fowl

Next, it’s onto the mains. This was my favourite dish of the whole night; it was the roasted guinea fowl with rosemary, red wine and mixed wild mushroom.

guinea fowl

This was spectacular; it really was. The guinea fowl was cooked to perfection. It was tender, juicy and perfectly accompanied by the red wine jus. Simply roasted potatoes and vegetables freshened everything up, and the wild mushrooms were a luxurious touch. I couldn’t stop eating and I’m definitely having this when I go back. Believe me; you will not be disappointed! It was the ultimate in winter comfort food.

turkey

Next, a traditional Christmas dish enjoyed by almost everyone; the classic roast turkey dinner. This was a little bit special though, and was stuffed with chestnuts and topped with rich cranberry jus. Admittedly we don’t usually go for turkey at Christmas because I find it can dry out, but once again this was moist, succulent and delicious. The crispy skin on the outside was the perfect finishing touch, all served with seasonal roast veg. What’s not to love?!

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One for the red-meat lovers: beef wellington with mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables and that delicious red wine jus that’s so moreish and rich. What a treat! Beef wellington is something i’d never make at home; it seems far too time confusing and when dealing with such expensive ingredients I’d worry about messing up. Al Porto hhave nothing to worry about as their chefs are clearly fabulous; tender beef, crisp puff pasty, smooth potatoes…what a fantastic way to bring in the festive season!

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One for the fish-lovers; pan-fried halibut on a radicchio risotto with a pesto drizzle and prawn. I’m a huge fish fan (although smoked is something I’m not always a fan of) so this was beautiful! Halibut is a delicious fish and I don’t get to eat much of it so I loved trying it here! It was everything a good piece of fish should be: crisp on the outside and moist on the inside, sitting on top of a very moreish risotto freshened up  by a good helping of pesto. How divine is that?! Another favourite meal of the night.

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Above you see the veggie equivalent to the beef wellington; a Chestnut, spinach and blue cheese encroute. I’m definitely not one of these people that thinks a meal without meat isn’t a meal; one of my best friends is a vegetarian and I’d like to think I know a little bit about veggie cuisine. I don;t eat meat everyday  of the week and sometimes i just completely fall out with it and won’t eat it for a few weeks, and I know Vegetarian food is just as exciting and wonderful. If you’re feeling going meat-free for a change this would be just the thing. Crisp, flaky puff pastry, Christmassy chestnuts, creamy blue and earthy spinach; delicious.

dessert

Luckily we had just about enough room for dessert, and were treated to homemade chocolate roulade, tiramisu, and minced pie gelato (not pictured). The roulade is a real chocoholic’s delight; filled with a rich, creamy chocolatey ganache that just melts in the mouth. The tiramisu was creamy yet light; which is wonderful considering that we had filled up on some really indulgent food! The mince pie gelato was also amazing; it is everything good about a mince pie with the added creaminess of authentic Italian gelato. Just fabulous! I am a real chocolate-lover so i’m eyeing up the roulade for next time…my mouth is watering just thinking about it all!

All in all it was an absolutely fantastic experience. Al Porto is definitely not to be missed; it’s a gem in the hustle and bustle of Hull, and is just the perfect place to take some time out to relax and enjoy the festive season with family and friends. Their Christmas menu is £24.95 during the day and £28.95 during the evening for a three-course meal. I really do recommend it.

A big thank you to Al Porto in Hull for having us, and for Lisa arranging the event. It was truly wonderful. Don’t forget to check out Al Porto’s website here.

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I hope you’re having a good weekend. Stay safe wherever you are.

Heather x

*cost of meal and drinks provided by Al Porto. As always, my posts are honest and this does not in any way influence my review.

I am feeling…

A little bit intimidated. Is this what your 20s are about? Do you just float around waiting for an opportunity to pass you by, praying one does and moaning when it actually happens? Are your 20s meant to be about panic and uncertainty and unadulterated fear???

Today all I can think about is what i’m going to do after study is over.

Okay so…what am I actually going to do?! What can I do that will make me feel okay and not in too much pain? How am I going to survive and all that jazz? I’m struggling to cope as it is. Being an adult is ridiculous.

I don’t even know what I need to do to get a job. I don’t even know what I want to do. (No. That’s a lie. I do want to win the lottery and pay for people to take me to hospital appointments and surround myself with fluffy cute animals and buy myself a house and put most of the remainder in the bank and live off the interest. That isn’t too much to ask, is it?? Surely not…)

Is it just me who is this confused? Will this pass? Will someone fix my body so I stop feeling scared about what’s going to happen to it? I do not want to adult today. It is not happening.