Categories
Anxiety Depression General health and well-being Mental Illness recovery

Happiness is…

The blossom on the trees, bright sunny days, the jolt of caffeine in my morning coffee, the smell of baking bread, laughing with my mum, the smell of well-loved books, the scrawl of bright blue ink from my pen, the crinkle of a packet.

Categories
General health and well-being

Health Update

Hello there.

It’s been so hectic. I knew doing a masters degree would be a step up, but at the minute I am swamped with work! I’ve also been having regular hospital appointments and so I haven’t been able to devote as much time to my little blog as I’d like. There’s lots of lovely posts in the pipeline; reviews, foodie posts and all that good stuff, and hopefully I’ll get back into the swing of things soon.

I got a spine mri back and luckily my discs look okay! I do have significant lordosis (inward curve) in my neck and lower back due to the big kyphosis (outward curve) in the middle of my spine, but other stuff is okay. My sacrum is apparently tilted and often locks when it shouldn’t, so that explains the pain there. I’ll be getting facet joint injections between vertebrae to help with the pressure pain, and honestly I’m really excited to see if they work.

I also had a blood test recently because I sleep constantly. We don’t know whether this is med related or pain related (fyi chronic pain isn’t just painful, it’s thoroughly exhausting) but we thought we would double check stuff.
I also went to see the immunologist as I had a severe reaction a few months ago; I have the weirdest allergy I’ve ever heard of! I have exercise induced wheat allergy. So basically I can’t eat wheat then exercise. And that even includes walking! I have to really learn to carry my epi pen with me at all times.

Apart from that, I’m feeling good. I’m getting uni work done and I’m feeling quite positive about things. There’s a few fabulous posts in the pipeline, I promise!

Hope you have had a fantastic weekend ūüėä
Heather X

Categories
General health and well-being

Ultradex Fresh Breath Oral Spray*

Hello there. Here’s a little bit of a different post for you today.

I was recently sent an Ultradex oral spray to review, and as I’m into health-related products I thought this would be great to have up on my blog.

I’m a huge fan of chewing gum and will often chew it about twice a day. I’m very picky when it comes to oral hygiene: I cannot bear to go without brushing my teeth at least twice a day, even if I’m so ill I can’t move!  I like having minty-fresh breath as – let’s face it – it’s just more pleasant for everyone.

The Ultradex mouth spray I received comes in a handy 9ml spray bottle which is perfect for throwing in a handbag or pocket when on the move. The product is developed by dental professionals and claims to ‘instantly eliminate odour-causing compounds, fight plaque and gum problems and be anti bacterial’. This is ideal to replace products such a chewing gum, and is much better for your dental health.

I have been using this spray when I feel my mouth could do with a freshen up, and I have to say I’m really impressed. Chewing gum – though enjoyable – can often lose it’s taste soon after chewing, and once disposed of the minty-freshness radically dissipates. Ultradex’s oral spray doesn’t do this; the quick burst of mint is enough to keep your breath smelling fresh for hours.

It doesn’t just mask odours, but actively eliminates them, making the product ideal for use before interviews and meetings to ensure fresh breath confidence.

It is also free from alcohol, but powerful enough so that one spray is all that’s needed to leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

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Ultradex actually has a complete oral care range, and I’d love to try it out. Why not check out their website?

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Many thanks to Ultradex; I’m sure this will become a handbag staple!

Hope you’re having a great Thursday whatever you are up to!
Heather x

Categories
Anxiety Depression Mental Illness My Life

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

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