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Anxiety Depression Mental Illness Studying at University with Disabilities

Learning

It may be a cliché, but it’s true: you do learn something new everyday. With every new day I’m learning more and more about myself. I’m learning that thought things may be difficult, I can find a way to work through them. I am learning that I am resilient if I give myself the right conditions. I am learning to try and accept the things I cannot change; I’m not being pessimistic, but realistic. I am giving myself time, and this is something I’ve always struggled with.

Part of my problem living with both my physical conditions and my mental illnesses is I don’t cut myself any slack. Though I know I’m technically ill – and that I can’t necessarily help it – I’m always beating myself up about things. I’m always wishing that I could do more, that I should push myself  and just deal with the consequences later. I know this isn’t productive as it’s a really destructive habit but it’s hard to accept that sometimes you need to do things a little differently to get by.

But, I think things are starting to change ever so slowly.

Yesterday was one of ‘those’ days. The night before I barely slept (perhaps slept for four hours in total) and my anxiety was running wild. I kept convincing myself that the shadows on the wall were people/scary things (yes, I know it’s totally irrational) and the usual narrative of ‘nobody likes you, you’ll get nowhere, you’re worth nothing, everything is terrible and you deserve it’ was circling around my head. It  was just a terrible, teary, ridiculous night. And as is usual after a night like that these feelings continued into the morning. I woke up feeling pretty low, but this sadness descended into complete emptiness and before I knew it I was crying uncontrollably on the floor.

I know. It really was quite a scene.

I was due in a seminar in the morning and the thought of missing it made me feel horrendous. Yet I knew I was no use to anyone unless they wanted to witness someone crying for the whole three hours of course. Drew – being the lovely person he is – tried to calm me down and convinced me to stay at home. I felt so incredibly guilty about it, but for the first time, I didn’t really put up a fight. I knew I couldn’t go in – there was no point lying about it – and suddenly I realised it will all be okay.

It is all okay.

As I suspected, the department were completely and utterly lovely about it all. They’ve offered help and support to help me through the remainder of my MRes course and no, despite what my anxious-brain thinks, no one hates me. No one has bad feelings towards me. They understand and are there to help.

And sure enough, after my day off yesterday filled with guinea pig cuddles and animal crossing and cups of tea in bed, I am feeling a lot better today.

Living with mental illness is a constant battle with yourself. it’s a constant struggle with your emotions. It’s knowing you’re not well but desperately trying to fight it. It is a constant, uphill battle.

But I can work through this. And I will.

Today is a more positive day. I cleaned out the guinea pigs and fed them tomatoes and carrots and gave them cuddles. I’ve even washed up some crockery and tried to tidy up the living room which is something I couldn’t face yesterday. I’ve had a frothy coffee (my Tassimo coffee in the mornings is such a treat) and I’m planning to bake some banana muffins.

Today can be a good day if just cut yourself some slack. You’re human; you are no superhero (although of course you are always magical and wonderful).

I hope you’re having a happy Tuesday whatever you’re doing. If my banana muffins prove successful, I’ll try and get a recipe up for you all. Cross your fingers for me!

Take care of yourself,

Heather x

Categories
Anxiety Depression Mental Illness

It has been quiet…

…over this way and for that I apologise. It hasn’t been the easiest of weeks, and I’ve had a little bit of a blip in terms of anxiety and depression. This morning I didn’t even want to leave the house. I can’t work out whether it was too noisy or I’d overfaced myself with tasks (I’ve given myself a lot to do recently) but I hate having these little blips. I constantly forget I still HAVE anxiety and depression. I seem to think it should be completely gone and I should be over it and I should get on with my life but then it hits me and I feel like I’m back to square one. I’m exhausted (I think it’s related to the anxiety/depression) but I keep having to schedule naps in and I’m still tired afterwards. It sucks.

I guess I should give myself a break but I can’t help but think I should be getting on with my life now. Making myself feel bad isn’t helping, and I know that, but I feel like I’m stuck in a rut and I’m finding it difficult to get out.

Next week is my induction week for my MRes course I’m starting this month. I’m excited, but feeling very apprehensive as I have so many hospital appointments on the horizon and I don’t want my health to get in the way of my degree. I feel like I’ve had enough with that last year, and I’m currently on weekly appointments for pain, will be having mri scans, occupational therapy, physio and a meeting with an orthopaedic surgeon and orthotist. It’s getting to be a little intense, and it probably isn’t helping my anxiety.

Sometimes I’d just love to have a magic wand come and wave everything away; wave this constant pain away, wave the irrational thoughts away, the sadness and the guilt and the self-loathing away, the sleepless nights, the appointments…I guess all it boils down to is that I’m just not feeling my best currently. I’m hoping things will improve soon and that I’ll be able to stick to some sort of blogging routine. There’s so much I want to share with you all.

As always, thanks for reading, I’m sorry this hasn’t been the most cheery of posts.

I do hope you’re having a good Wednesday whatever you’re up to, and I hope to return soon with soon with something a little happier.

Heather x

tiredness associated with pain away, wave the Bad Thoughts aware, the irrational

Categories
Hull Bloggers Informative posts Mental Illness

New Starts

Hello, lovely reader. Sorry it has been a little quite over here, but I’m finally feeling ready to get blogging again. My summer job really took it out of me physically and I had to get emergency appointments for uncontrollable pain and a couple of days off which made me feel completely awful. However, I’m currently relaxing under a fluffy blanket and feel like I have the strength needed to write a little informative post. After what has been a challenging year, I’m beginning to think that this month has been a turning point, particularly with regards  my mental health. I’m sat in my flat (I only just moved into it a few days ago) surrounded by lovely, wonderful things,and everything feels so bright and colourful and fresh. I am on the ground floor which makes painful days so much easier and there’s a big garden i can look at through the living room window. There are a couple of cats that hang around in the garden, and right at the very end is a genuine ww2 air raid shelter, which is quite amazing. Drew is moving in fairly soon and I’m really looking forward to living together. It all feels very grown up but I’m really excited as we get on so well.  I have wonderful friends I’m looking forward to seeing soon at university and I can’t wait to start my postgraduate course. Finally things are just blissfully falling into place and I’ve been going to bed with a big smile on my face almost every night and I can’t remember the last time ice felt this good! My pain is still very much present but I’m in a good place mentally and feel that I can deal with it; I’m just feeling so positive. I’m really, REALLY glad that I made the decision to take medication for my anxiety/depression. It’s truly changed my life and I’m so grateful to get what feels like a second chance.

Yesterday I went to the Hull Bloggers summer meet, which was a truly wonderful day, filled with chat, nibbles, interesting brands and many goodies! Expect a post explaining the day soon with reviews of wonderful goodies to follow! I’m in a Good Place right now, and I’m sure it’ll only improve after my pain management appointment tomorrow

Im sending love and positive vibes; I hope youve had a wonderful Monday 🙂

Heather x

Categories
My Life

Happiness is…

1) holding hands, 2)reading in the dark, 3)being tucked up in a warm bed, 4) mini caterpillar cakes, 5) the sun shining through the window in the morning, 6) the frothy top of a steamy hot coffee, 7) baby animals, 8) seeing good friends, 9) planning wonderful days out, 10) realising things are all going to be okay in the end.

Categories
My Life

it is time

it is time to stop torturing myself with poisonous thoughts

it is time to stop crying over things I can’t change

it is time I did things for myself

it is time to stop worrying about other people all the time

it is time to start being a little bit selfish

it is time to take control of all this

it is time to get back to being me

Categories
My Life

Anxiety: Taking Baby Steps

Hello! I hope Monday got off to a great start for you. It’s been a fairly busy few days, and I thought it’d be quite nice to incorporate these journalistic posts into my blogging routine. Blogging after all is extremely cathartic for me, and sometimes it’s great to change things up a bit. What I haven’t really been so open about on here is my recent struggles with anxiety, but if you follow me on twitter I’m sure you’ve been able to follow various updates (that are admittedly fairly angry and annoying) about my general health and emotional wellbeing.  I can’t say I’ve ever been a laid-back person. I’m the kind of person who worries about how they’re going to answer a question in a seminar, or if I’ve somehow come across rudely, or whether or not I’ll be able to head into uni without panicking about it first. When I was younger I’d worry so much I’d work myself into a fit of tears, crying in bed as my stomach twisted and turned, my pillow damp with tears. Of course, I can’t really say why I worried like this. All I know is that I did, and it was very real. There was no stopping my worrying. My mum would constantly tell me I was making myself sick with worry (which was often the case), I’d catastrophize every situation, and I’d get that same stomach-churning, knotting sensation deep in my tummy. I remember many a night, prior to associated board vocal exams finding myself in a state of panic; ‘What if I forget the words? What If I can’t sight-read the piece? What if I sound absolutely awful?’ Although I passed these exams very well, the panic never ceased. The same occurred for every music concert, every question answered in class, and every time I over thought an embarrassing situation. It’s not an easy way to be, but I didn’t know how to be any different. I couldn’t stop it, no matter how hard I tried. Even as a tiny child, I remember the panic  that ensued when I even so much as thought about being in trouble. It frightened me.

This anxiety has never ceased, but it has definitely developed into a different beast. Since being diagnosed with Scheuermann’s, I’ve noticed the relationship between my pain levels and my anxiety (and vice-versa). Some days when I am having a particularly difficult pain day, I get what I can only describe as a ‘feeling of doom’ inside my stomach, like something unbearably bad is about to happen. This is the same for the painful symptoms associated with my hemiplegia. When both my back and hemiplegia are very painful, it’s an absolute recipe for disaster. I’m sure it’s a feeling some of you are more than familiar with.

In April last year  my anxiety really spiraled out of control. I was definitely at my worst: something extremely traumatic had occurred at home, and I was one to help pick up the pieces. I don’t want to go into things, it’s very painful and extremely upsetting, but it’s something I had no control over which only made things worse. Things got so bad I couldn’t leave the house, especially when on my own. If I managed to get into uni, usually with my boyfriend accompanying me, I’d panic as soon as I realised I’d have to sit in a room with people, so I had to go back home. I’d continually cry. It was like the tears wouldn’t stop rolling down my cheeks, no matter how hard I tried. My heart was beating out of my chest, I couldn’t eat, and I felt so nauseous I didn’t feel like eating even if I tried. I felt so alone, in unbearable amounts of pain, and unable to obtain help because I felt terrified every time I left the safety net of my bedroom. I couldn’t even talk to my housemates. It was a really, really bad time.

Over summer the situation that was the main contributing factor to my anxiety stopped being as much of a problem. I was still anxious about everything, but not in the ‘housebound way’ I had been previously. Things looked better for me. I no longer felt like despairing. Things weren’t completely fine, but I felt better. Unfortunately I’ve had  a slight relapse; the original situation that caused such heartache last year hasn’t gone away, and I’m not sure it ever will. This is the most painful part, because I feel like the same thing is going to happen again if I don’t take preventative measures. I have however managed to ask for help. People tell me this is a huge step, so I only hope they’re right. I’m going to see someone Friday  (I did originally have an appointment last week that was cancelled at very short notice, which is never a good thing) but I’m hoping something useful will come out of it.

It’s easy to feel you’re completely alone when going through anxiety and other related conditions. I know now that I should have sought help a long time before now, but I’ve set the ball rolling and that’s the important thing. There are the resources out there, it’s just a matter of seeking them out. Surround yourself with people you can trust, with people who will help you through this  difficult time. I’m reluctant to take medication if I can absolutely help it. This is not because I think medication is a bad thing; I know it’s a lifeline for some people and that’s fantastic, but for personal reasons I’d like to see if I can manage my anxiety in a different way. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

Just don’t give up. You will find a way.

Heather