Categories
Anxiety Depression General health and well-being Mental Health Problems Mental Illness Studying at University with Disabilities

Mental health, mentors and meds

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,
Heather x

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Smudge the guinea pig

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Ps hello from Smudge; she’s been keeping me company.

Categories
Money and Finances Student Life

Money Matters: Things I’ve Learnt

Hello there! Today is a happier post (which I’m sure you’re pleased to read) and it’s something I’ve been meaning to write up for a while. If you’ve been reading you’ll know I’m a postgraduate student, and have been at university for the past few years. Learning how to manage your finances is a really big part of learning to become independent, and I was fortunate enough to learn a few hand money-related hints from my dad.

I am by no means an expert, but maybe these hints can provide some inspiration and – hopefully – leave you with a little more money in your pocket!

Saving

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My dad instilled me with the desire to save as much money as I can. I remember counting hundreds of copper coins and placing them into plastic, crinkly money bags, ready to deposit into my savings account. I used to love watching the money accumulate in my pass book, and though this was petty change, it most certainly added up.

Saving as much money as I can means I always have a bit of money to use in emergencies, or for unexpected expenses. Of course, it isn’t always possible to save lots of money in one go, but saving small amounts will soon add up.

If you have money you’re in no hurry to use, an ISA is a fabulous way to save and add a little interest. I’ve always had an ISA, and it’s lovely to know it’s there. You can’t access an ISA once you’ve deposited money into it, and as such it can sometimes be years before the ISA matures, so it can be a long-term commitment. However, it is a great little way of saving money especially if you’re in no rush to access it.

Budgeting

Having budgets for essential items is key to getting the most out of my money. I have £50 a week set aside for food, travel, prescriptions and essential toiletries and household items. £50 seems like a fairly large sum initially, but I remember how surprised I was in first year when I realised it can disappear extremely quickly! Food shopping can be tricky; there’s so many offers and discounts, and these aren’t necessarily essential or of genuine value. I soon learnt that I needed a list when going shopping to prevent me from picking up anything that took my fancy without buying what I actually needed!

These days I love to shop online, and I still use a list. It’s also easier to see how much you’re spending as the total cost of the items are calculated instantly. Some online shopping providers also allow you to reorder the same order, so if you’re shopping for all the essentials you know what you will be getting every time.

Trying none-branded items is also a really good money saving tip. Most of the time I can barely tell the difference, and yet none-branded items are sometimes incredibly cheap compared to their branded counterparts.

Ditch the Plastic

Using a debit card is ridiculously easy to do without thinking of what you’re spending, and although I tried to keep an eye on I was spending, it somehow didn’t quite sink in because I couldn’t see the money actively disappear. I soon started withdrawing my weekly budget in cash; it’s amazing how aware you become of your money when it’s a tangible object! By withdrawing my weekly budget it helps me to keep an eye on my spends. It’s far too easy to overspend when using my debit card, and withdrawing my money allows me to save all the coppers and petty change in my piggy bank.

If you’re keen on saving for the future – it’s never too early – why not check out Personal Capital’s Retirement Planner? I’m not quite preparing for retirement yet (there’s a lot to get through first!) but I do love keeping an eye on my finances; you never know what will happen in the future, and being money-savvy and financially prepared can only be a good thing!

Online banking is an easy way to keep tabs on your account transactions on the go, and it’s really important to ensure you are aware of your savings. It’s all too easy to spend without keeping an eye on things, but I’ve found regular checking of my account helps me to understand my spending habits. I try and devote a little time every week to work out what I’ve spent and where I’ve spent it, and if I’ve spent more than I’d hoped, I try to spend less the following week to make up for it.

Planners devoted to financial planning can be really useful, and some organisers allow you to add sections to help with finance. I live out of my Filofax, and these additions to diaries and organisers are a great way to keep tabs on everything.

Cook from Scratch

It can be difficult to cook from scratch – especially if you have other commitments – but cooking from scratch is another great way of saving pennies. Bread making for example is incredibly easy, and flour is very cheap, and making bread from scratch is incredibly satisfying. Soups are another easy and cheap food to make at home. Takeaways and ready meals are convenient but are far less healthy, so I try to keep these as a treat. Cooking is easy once you learn how, and I love knowing exactly what is going into my food.

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I also love to bake my own cakes, and again these can be a lot cheaper than shop-bought bakery items. If you shop carefully you can soon see the pennies adding up!

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Quality Over Quantity

I’m like most people, and I love updating my wardrobe every now and then. However, if I’m not careful I soon find I end up spending money on items I don’t necessarily need just because they’re in the sale or discounted in price. Instead of buying clothes for the sake of it, I make sure I really need the items before spending money on them. I’m also really keen on spending my money on quality items that I know will last. They might be more expensive upfront, but they’re more likely to stand the test of time. This is especially true of T-shirts in my experience, and I always prefer to spend my money on fewer higher quality items.

I hope this post has given you a little money saving inspiration! As I say, I’m no expert, but these tips have helped me through my student days!

Hope you’ve had a great Wednesday!
Heather X

Categories
Anxiety Depression Mental Illness My Life

Getting through

I’m so tantalisingly close to finishing my work for my final undergraduate year. I’m so close but I just feel so defeated. I have lost faith in my abilities to construct a good piece of work. I have lost faith in my body because even when I try to push through – to try and push past the pain – the pain still exists. It hangs around, it takes hostage of my body, and does everything in its power to screw things up.
It’s taking all of my mental strength to keep this up.
Today I’m feeling depressed for the first time since my meds started working. Not like the hot, burning anxiety that is always somewhere in the background despite my meds, but that sinking, I-Have-Nothing-Good-To-Contribute-To-Anything/I’m-Shit-Compared-To-Everyone-Else feeling. It’s a swelling numbness that flows through my veins, it is slowly disabling me and I don’t know how to alleviate it.
My dissertation is in tomorrow. I still have to tidy it up and format it. I’m so, so incredibly worried that it’s just a whole pile of shit and not worth anything at all. It’s embarrassing me.
I’m embarrassing me.

I’m hoping I can compose myself soon. It’s going to be a long, long night.

Heather x

Categories
My Life

Old blogs, bullying & rediscoveries

Hi! I thought I’d post a quick link to an old blog of mine. I used to blog over at htlcy.wordpress.com, also known as Ramblings of a Teenage Tea Drinker. This blog is a few years old, and due to a variety of reasons I stopped using it a long time ago. I have wanted to blog about my experiences of my first year at university, but I know I already did this on my previous blog, so I’m going to link it here instead. The bullying blog is a couple of years old now (wow, how time flies!) but it’s still something I’ve had to live with during my time at university. Unfortunately the perpetrators are still rather awful (glares on campus, general rudeness and arrogance…you get the picture) but the post got a response from readers because unfortunately, bullying at university is not the rarity it should be. Feel free to have a look and let me know what you think!

https://htlcy.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/im-off-on-my-jollies/

Heather

Categories
Informative posts Studying at University with Disabilities

A Quick Update

As I write this it’s nearly 23.45 on a Sunday night, and whilst I’m having a break from essay writing I’d thought I’d provide a brief update. The past few weeks have been really, really hectic. I’m in my final year of undergraduate study at university, and though I do not think the work has necessarily become harder, I feel that there’s far more of it, resulting in later nights and earlier mornings. By the end of the next week I’ll have written close to 12,000 words, so I can’t wait to have a little break before resuming semester two. Studying with a chronic, long-term condition can be really very stressful, so I can’t wait to have a breather, take some analgesia and hopefully feel like myself again.

There’s LOADS of things I’d like to share on here, too. I’ve been lucky enough to have some great products that have really helped during this time. My dad knows how painful I find essay writing, and so he was kind enough to buy me a RelaxWell Dreamland throw which has become a new favourite of mine! I’ll let you know how I’ve been getting on with it.

I’ve also been slowly (yet surely) ploughing through my box of DeGusta goodies, and I’ll be able to update you on my progress with it. Food is definitely something I look forward to during an intensive assessment period, so it’s always wonderful to have a break, eat some really delicious food, and then have the energy to resume working. It almost makes the work bearable!

It is with regret I must finish this post and resume reading. I hope to update you all really soon, and look after yourselves until then.

Best wishes,

Heather