The Woefully Wild

An honest blog sharing the ups and downs of my personal mental health journey

Thursday, 10 September 2020

World Suicide Prevention Day

TRIGGER WARNING: the words, references and opinions stated in this post could be triggering for those suffering with depression/having suicidal thoughts. 

If you feel this way, please consider not reading this post for now and more importantly try and seek help and get yourself to a safe space

If you feel you can't talk to a friend or family member, call your local Mental Health Crisis Team, your GP for an emergency appointment, Samaritans: 116 123 or of course 111/999. 

If you're a friend or family member and you're concerned that someone may be thinking of suicide or harming themselves, you can also call Samaritans for help and advice, but most importantly get to them asap and ring any of the numbers above depending on how you judge the situation.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day

Maybe it sounds pretty self explanatory: look after yourself, look out for others. 

Trouble is, the 'looking after yourself' part is the hardest thing to do if you're suffering from depression. 

The 'look out for others' part is hard if you don't know how someone is really feeling or what signs to look out for.

What people need to remember, especially those that have the pleasure of never experiencing depression, is when you feel at your lowest you actually aren't feeling anything. 

You're feeling absolutely nothing, and that's why the option of suicide can feel the most reasonable. Because really, who wants to feel literally nothing at all?

Below are things that I have both had said to me and have overheard being said to other people far too many times. So, before anyone says the following:

"Commiting suicide is selfish"

"Commiting suicide is the easy way out"

"You need to 'man up' and get over it"

"How could you do that to me/us?"

"Think of what you're leaving behind"

"Just snap out of it"

"I'd be so mad/upset if you did that"

Take a big, motherfucking step back and realise how stupid, harmful and triggering those comments are, and how they're NOT helping in the slightest. 

"Commiting suicide is selfish": No, it's NOT selfish. When you're in that mindset it feels the most selfless thing to do, because you don't want to make other people suffer with you. It's the most tragic thing to do, and we need to help prevent it by understanding and educating ourselves rather than thinking that telling someone that it's selfish is going to stop them from doing it or help in any way whatsoever. You're the one being selfish if you're not choosing to understand the situation.

"Commiting suicide is the easy way out": if you genuinely believe killing yourself is classed as easy then you're a fucking moron.

"You need to 'man up' and get over it": no you don't, you need help. If you're not in the right mindset or don't have the ability to ask for help, it's our job as bystanders to recognise those warning signs and get the correct help. Never just assume someone will or can get over it.

"How could you do that to me/us": this isn't about YOU. Get your head out of your ass and realise how offensive that is. Help them.

"Think of what you're leaving behind": as mentioned, they're most likely not thinking of anything other than a way out. This is not helpful right now. Don't say it.

"Just snap out of it": honestly, fuck off with that one entirely. 

"I'd be so mad/upset if you did that": again, this is not about YOU. By saying this you're the one that's coming across as selfish. It may be coming from a good place, but think of a better way of saying it or don't say it at all.

"I can't deal with your problems": ...I don't even know what to say for this one.

Whether or not the people who said these things realised how damaging they were/thought would actually help, I have no idea.

I've tried to take my own life. I was clearly shit at it, luckily. It's not fun, let me tell you that. I don't want anyone to feel the way I felt when that was happening to me. I don't want anyone saying the shit above to anyone, ever. 

If you know someone that is depressed and has actually mentioned thoughts of suicide, or more worryingly has attempted to take their life before, saying any of the comments above or anything of the sort is going to push someone further and could actually trigger them to do it sooner. 

Instead of empathising and supporting, you're basically telling them having those thoughts are ridiculous and you don't understand them. If you don't feel understood by anyone, what's the point?

If you want to help people, if you want to help your friends/family that are potentially suffering, then it's up to you to look out for the warning signs and educate yourself on them, because I can almost guarantee the person whose suffering is not in the mindset to be doing that themselves. 

On a daily basis people take their lives because they can't see a way out and don't know how/where to reach out for help. 

We need to do our bit to help prevent our loved ones from reaching this point by recognising when someone seems a bit 'off' or 'different'. 

However, at the same time, we cannot punish ourselves if it seems our attempt at help isn't getting anywhere. 

Be patient with people that are suffering - they aren't thinking the way they normally think or feeling the way they normally feel, we all just have to do our best to understand this and have a bit of patience. It doesn't get resolved or go away overnight. 

Below are a few extremely worrying and shocking suicide statistics:

"The ONS said men accounted for about three-quarters of suicide deaths registered in 2019, 4,303 compared with 1,388 women" -

"The suicide rate for men in England and Wales in 2019 was the highest for two decades" -

"In the UK, the highest suicide rate is among men aged 45-49" -

There were 177 suicides among 15- to 19-year-olds in 2017, compared with 110 in 2010" -

"Despite having a low number of deaths overall, rates among the under 25s have generally increased in recent years, particularly 10 to 24-year-old females where the rate has increased significantly since 2012" -

"Bipolar increases an individual’s risk of suicide by up to 20 times" -

On the website they have listed some warning signs of suicide to look out for:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill yourself (a fairly obvious sign to be looking out for...)

  • Looking for a way to kill yourself

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose

  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain

  • Talking about being a burden to others

  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

  • Acting anxious, agitated or reckless

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated

  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

  • Displaying extreme mood swings

I personally think these warning signs are really accurate and are a good starting point for what we should all be looking out for - for ourselves and for others.

Something I want to add is if you or someone you know are taking antidepressants do not assume they will magically feel better or that it's a quick, instant fix or a one fits all remedy. 

Funnily enough, I am not a doctor. This is my own personal experience with antidepressants, however it is also common knowledge that these can be potential side effects and it's what the GP will tell you in advance to taking them. Look on the NHS website too. 

A potential side effect of antidepressants (especially in around the first 3-4 weeks of taking them) is depression and suicidal thoughts. Sounds silly doesn't it, when that's the reason you're taking them in the first place. Keep an eye on yourself and anyone you know that may be taking them when they are already vulnerable and see your GP straight away if you don't feel right. They take time to work, unfortunately you won't feel better after a week, so don't expect yourself or other people to.

You may be on the wrong antidepressants in the first place - just because your GP has prescribed them to you doesn't mean they will work for you or are the correct ones to be taking. I've gone through god knows how many different medications because they either weren't suitable or made me feel worse.

VERY importantly, do not stop taking them suddenly, even if they aren't working or you're having bad side effects. Stopping taking antidepressants suddenly can be extremely dangerous and make you feel a lot worse. Get the GP appointment, tell them what's going on then wean yourself off them in whatever way they tell you is best. 

On the flip side, don't just carry on taking them because you feel a bit scared to go back and tell them (this is understandable, but you're not helping yourself) or you just assume they will work eventually, or even if you just can't be assed.

If they aren't helping - tell them. GPs will prescribe antidepressants based off the symptoms you are describing and choose an antidepressant that sounds suitable for what you've described (usually this will straight away be an SSRI antidepressant, which are the most common and usually the main ones that help the majority) trouble is, there are hundreds to choose from. Just because they have given you a common one does not mean it will necessarily help you. 

If you don't feel better after a few weeks then go and ask them again - you're not wasting their time by doing this, you're saving yours. 

I'm aware I'm starting to sound like a know-it-all and I really don't know-it-all (obviously) but again, this is from personal experience and what I have actually been told/seen first hand myself. 

Just make sure you say something if they aren't working for you. You're only harming yourself if you don't do this. 

I've gone off on one as usual, but I think it's important today and every day to make ourselves aware of the triggers, warning signs and severity of depression, suicide and suicidal thoughts.

It's still (terribly and fucking annoyingly) an extremely taboo subject, I've probably never written the word 'suicide' as much as I have in this post and it's actually starting to feel uncomfortable.

But guess what, feeling uncomfortable isn't going to make the problem go away or hide the fact that it's happening to people around the world every. single. day. 

Let's look out for each other and help prevent this from happening. 

Because we can, we just need to make more of an effort. 



Friday, 24 July 2020

If I Do Say So Myself, This Is Worth Reading.

The Kanye West situation has been extremely triggering for me. I think it's fairly obvious I was going to write something about it, so in the words of Kenan & Kel, "aaahhh, here it goes".

Before it's potentially mentioned, this is nothing to do with his politics. I literally do not give a shit about his politics. This post is not about that. If you have a political opinion I'd prefer you write it on someone else's, maybe someone that's actually talking about politics.

This is purely about mental health, the depiction of his mental health in the media and the struggle of actually living with bipolar disorder, written by someone that (have I mentioned?!) actually has it.

I think this gives me a fairly good right to speak about the subject for the millionth time.

A lot of people are either completely ignoring his illness or treating him as an absolute 'psychopath' because of some of his actions. Or somehow even both. 

I get it, you don't understand it. So it's easy to judge and say horrible things about people when you've never been through it, have never known anyone with it or just aren't bothered about it whatsoever. 

Well, chances are, within all of our lifetimes you will either have it and be misdiagnosed, have it and are eventually diagnosed, have it and never realise, have a friend that has it or has a family member that has it. 

Whether or not the person experiencing this struggle actually talks about it is literally because of the way they'll be perceived, and the reason they're scared is because you're the ones making them feel that way - whether you know it or not. 

"1 in every 100 people will be diagnosed with it at some point in their life. Bipolar disorder can occur at any age, although it often develops between the ages of 15 and 19 and rarely develops after 40".

I first experienced severe depression at 11 years old. I was diagnosed at 26. I'm shit at maths but even I just worked out that means it took 15 whole years for me to get a diagnosis for something I've struggled with since childhood.

I'm really sick of trying to educate ignorant people on such a serious illness. 

It's a catch 22 - all I want to do is speak about it and educate people so that one day, hopefully, maybe, a lot more of the world also feel confident and comfortable enough to speak about it and don't have to hide in fear, lose friends, feel completely alone, feel completely helpless or end up in hospital. All of which have happened to me.

However, if I keep banging on about it people will start to switch off and stop caring because it's all I ever seem to speak about, right? But if I don't speak about it, other people may do the same, so how are people going to understand? If other people stop speaking, then I stop speaking, then more people stop speaking - then it's back to the very beginning. 

Also, for those that choose to ignore people with this illness - most of all end friendships and neglect people because of it (because it's so called 'easier' to do that) - you're actually almost worse than the people holding these strongly negative opinions of it. Because by staying silent and not trying you're a huge part of the problem. 

"Bipolar is one of the UK’s most common long-term conditions with almost as many people living with bipolar as cancer, it is more than twice as common as dementia, epilepsy, autism, rheumatoid arthritis, and learning disabilities".

If Kanye West had cancer rather than bipolar I think we would be in a veeeeeeerrrryyy different situation, wouldn't we?

"Bipolar increases an individual’s risk of suicide by up to 20 times".

If people aren't surrounded with the correct help and support they're far more likely to commit suicide. So as human beings, friends and family, we actually have the ability to potentially help people out of suicide and suicidal thoughts. Why wouldn't we want to do that?! If you are continuing to stigmitise, ignore and misunderstand mental illness you're practically contributing to people wanting to die - that's uncomfortable to hear, isn't it?

"90% of people with bipolar had told their employer about their condition but 24% of them regretted making that decision".

I told my last employer on the day I started that I had been diagnosed with bipolar and he asked what it was and what it means because he'd never been faced with that situation before. He/the rest of my team never bothered to find out or even Google it to get a better idea. They changed my job role completely and unexpectedly after I had a week off because I was feeling down, which I was completely open and honest about (which takes a bloody lot). They changed my job. People are off with flu for a week. Do they get their jobs changed when returning to work? Nope. Did they change my job because I have bipolar and they discriminated against me? Yup. 

No wonder people aren't honest about taking a day off for the sake of your mental wellbeing.

"3 million people in the UK have bipolar disorder".

As mentioned, very high chances are that's someone you know and someone that will never speak about it the way I try to.

There are 3 types of bipolar disorder - Bipolar I, Bipolar II and Cyclothymia. 

Bipolar I (Kanye West) mood scale ranges from: 
  • Mania with Psychosis
  • Mania
  • Hypomania
  • Elation
  • Balanced Mood
  • Dysthymia (persistent depression) 
  • Mild Depression 
  • Moderate Depression 
  • Severe Depression 
  • Severe Depression with Psychosis. 

That's 11 moods. ELEVEN. How do you reckon you'd feel suffering from potentially 11 moods throughout not only the span of your lifetime but potentially in the space of 1 or 2 years, on repeat. Pretty fucking knackered, fed up, livid and confused, I'd imagine. 

For any of those interested, I am diagnosed with Bipolar II. This means I have moods spanning from:
  • Hypomania
  • Elation
  • Balanced Mood
  • Dysthymia (persistent depression) 
  • Mild Depression
  • Moderate Depression 
  • Severe Depression
(So yes, I can still be 'normal' and in a balanced mood for long periods of time regardless of this. An interesting and what should be a fairly obvious fact is we're not just either high as shit or low as fuck and that's the end of it).

These moods can vary from person to person and from different time scales. I typically have months of depression, followed directly by elation and/or hypomania which can last anything from a few weeks to a few months. I also suffer from mixed episodes of both elated mood and depression. So yeah, that sounds pretty weird and shitty doesn't it?

Two of the main bipolar triggers are PTSD and stress. If I have high stress levels I can spiral extremely quickly, which then results in a hypomanic episode directly afterwards.

Cyclothymia ranges from Hypomania - Dysthymia and cycles far more quickly but at a lower frequency than Bipolar I and Bipolar II. 

These symptoms/descriptions of elated and manic/hypomanic moods on the Bipolar UK website may help understanding too:

Mania - total loss of judgement, exorbitant spending, religious delusions and hallucinations, lost touch with reality, incoherent, no sleep, paranoid and vindictive, reckless behaviour - again, Kanye West.

Hypomania - inflated self-esteem, rapid thoughts and speech, counterproductive simultaneous tasks. Very productive, everything to excess, charming (lol) and talkative (bigger lol) - me.

If people are interested to know a few more famous people ala Kanye West that have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder:
  • Carrie Fisher 
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones
  • David Harbour
  • Demi Lovato 
  • Stephen Fry
  • Frank Sinatra 
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Mariah Carey 
  • Russell Brand
  • Sting
  • Tom Fletcher 
  • Mel Gibson
  • Kurt Cobain
  • Sinead O'Connor
  • Lily Allen
  • Chris Brown
  • Britney Spears
  • Sia
  • Amy Winehouse
  • Pete Wentz
  • Dave Chappelle
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme
  • David Walliams 
  • Ruby Wax
  • Brian Wilson 
  • Nina Simone
  • Vincent van Gogh
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Winston Churchill 
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Sylvia Plath
...the list goes ooooooon and on and on.

I really hope this helps raise some awareness, some understanding and importantly that people start taking this illness more seriously. 

I will continue to bang on about this until something is done. I will continue to speak about this to help other people. I will continue to educate myself about this not only for myself but for the millions of other people in the world that have it and will never feel comfortable talking about it. 

I don't understand why you aren't doing the same.


Monday, 20 July 2020

If You Watch Too Much TV Your Eyes Will Go Square

I seem to have gained this fairly irritating ability to preempt when a storyline in TV and film is going to result in someone having a mental illness, which ultimately is only used to add 'entertainment' and 'shock value' to the plot.  

This has been an issue from the beginning of time, but I guess I've started noticing it more because it's now more relevant to me - almost everything I'm referring to in this post is the way people with bipolar are portrayed in particular. 

In this day and age, in a time when we're (slowly) making positive strides to understand and accept mental illness, why is it apparently okay to write a character into a storyline that is portrayed as being literally fucking insane?

It's seemingly pretty obvious that the vast majority of people writing these characters into stories have zero understanding, experience or exposure to anyone going through a struggle whatsoever, most of all themselves.

So, who better to create a character battling with their mental health for all to see? Someone who has absolutely shit all clue what it's like to have it, that's who.

I've noticed a lot of things are written almost like someone has gone to Google, bashed their head against the keyboard, gone to page 180 of the search, copy and pasted something into their script like, "I think we've bloody nailed it here". No, you've not even used blu tack on this one pal.

I want to try and make a careful comparison to how a lot of other long term illnesses are portrayed differently on screen, but it's difficult to make one when I've not been through those experiences myself. I don't want to use a specific example, but let's just say a lot of other stories with characters suffering from long term or serious illness are usually shown as impassioned, treated sensitively and the audience feels empathy and sympathy for the character.

I really don't think this is the case with depiction of mental health whatsoever, at least not with anything I've watched involving it.

In particular, if a character in a storyline has bipolar, they're portrayed as frantic, irrational, unstable, unsafe, villainous, homewrecking, a sociopath, and almost every time there's a lot of emphasis on them stopping taking their medication - which further adds emphasis that the character is ignorant, stupid and out of control. Because apparently by not taking their medication, they're purposely choosing to go 'off the rails'. 

Ultimately, it's made to seem it's their fault they're acting that way. 

As soon as someone is perceived as not being arsed or not taking their medication just for (apparently) the hell of it, there's absolutely no empathy or sympathy for that character because they've now been made to look selfish and irresponsible by doing it.

Well, that's really just not how it works. 

 people with bipolar (and let's face it, a lot of people on medication regardless of what you're taking it for) stop taking their medication because it's either not suitable for their symptoms, they haven't been prescribed it correctly or because they are in a better/elated mood they feel like they don't need to take it. Now, this last one can be part and parcel of the illness itself - when you're feeling in a manic or hypomanic episode and you feel good, you often don't compute that you're feeling that way because of the illness. 

So, linking that to being prescribed something that's not suitable, you're going to think it's okay to stop taking it because you feel good. Get it? Maybe not...but it's worth trying to explain it anyway.

If written into a storyline was: 'Sandra was devastated a few days ago because she burnt her toast and was late leaving for work. She went outside for a little breather to calm down and fell over a gnome. Whilst facing the ground she found a 4 leaf clover and 2 magpies flew by. She then drove to work and there was no traffic whatsoever, so she actually got there right on time. Sandra also got a promotion that day. On the way home she saved a stranded puppy and lived happily ever after. Nice one, Sandra'. 

I'd imagine that probably leaves the audience feeling quite happy and rooting for Sandra.

Here's another storyline: 'Sandra, who has bipolar, one day flipped her lid because she burnt her toast due to the fact she stopped taking her medication that day and she didn't realise the toaster was on full whack. But actually the silly bitch wasn't even using the toaster after all, she was off her nut and thought the oven was actually the toaster because she's delusional, harharhar. She wasn't late for work because she can't hold down a job because she's useless. She then went completely berzerk, smashed a couple of Derek's garden gnomes out back, then shaved off all her hair circa Britney 2007. She then continued to have a breakdown and went on a killing spree, then she killed herself. Sandra is crazy. Everyone stay away from Sandra'.

The second storyline would be far more shocking (on second thoughts I should probably start writing movies myself...) but as we should be able to see by now, Sandra's second portrayal is exaggerated, factually incorrect, ridiculously stupid and actually just really fucking offensive. 

Basically, it would be really nice for people to stop depicting mental illness as weak, stupid, scary, selfish and intimidating for thousands, nae millions, of viewers to watch. 

The only thing this incorrect portrayal is doing is further encouraging people to completely and utterly misunderstand mental illness and make the stigma 10x worse because supposedly it's entertaining. 

Why not start writing realistic, positive and educational mental health storylines instead. If you're a good enough script writer you should be able to make that impactful and positive anyway, right? 

I watched a film a while ago and within 2 whole minutes you discover a character in the storyline has bipolar and kills herself AND her Mum at the same time. Within 2 minutes of the film. Then, to add insult to injury, it's basically irrelevant to the rest of the film and I believe not actually mentioned again. Not only is that pretty upsetting and offensive, it's also just lazy and pathetic 
story writing. I did actually watch the whole film was the weirdest thing I've ever seen so lay off that one. 

Since then I've seen 3 or 4 films that end up with a character either killing someone, killing themself, or both.

I read a book once about a man struggling with his mental health who has just got out of hospital. The book itself does not mention what diagnosis he has or the specifics of what happened while in hospital. It's actually a really subtly humorous and uplifting book and doesn't necessarily use his mental health negatively at all. 

The film adaptation the first 5 minutes the audience are told he has bipolar. It's not even in the original story. Why?!

This also happens in true life documentaries too, however they are usually slightly more tactile with how it's portrayed. They do like to leave the person killing themselves towards the end though for a good shocker, because that always seems to be what happens. 

To turn this on it's head slightly, another example from a particular true crime documentary I watched, is someone with bipolar had been arrested for murder and given a shorter sentence or was not convicted correctly at all (I can't remember which, it was shit).

I'm not going to go into this much because it's extremely controversial whether this should or shouldn't happen, but what I will say is by doing this they're fighting to excuse or justify a man killing another man...just because he has bipolar. Maybe his mental state did have some sort of effect on why he did what he did, but the evidence shows that he actually just really hated this guy and that's obviously more likely to be the reason he killed him (not like that's an excuse, of course).

As far as I'm aware I've never killed someone and believe it or not I don't plan on doing it either. 

You'll notice I haven't named the movies and documentaries above because I don't want to promote something that makes mental illness even more stigmatised and unacceptable than it already is.

I urge anyone that actually wants a realistic portrayal of mental illness to listen to mental health podcasts such as: Happy Place, The Mental Illness Happy Hour, WTF With Marc Maron, The Hilarious World of Depression, Unlocking Us with Brene Brown.

Books that are written by real people that are going through/have been through real life struggles: An Unquiet Mind, First We Make the Beast Beautiful, Reasons to Stay Alive, The Psychopath Test, We're All Mad Here, The Recovery Letters, Notes On a Nervous Planet etc, etc, etc.

But, most importantly, actually have a bloody conversation with a person who is suffering (there's literally no excuse to not be doing this anyway).


Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Werkin' Fo Tips...To Cure My Crippling Anxiety.

In our current state of affairs, it seems I am suddenly trying to do far more things than I'd normally do.

I started doing cross stitch. I got less than half way through the letter 'B' and sacked it off.

I bought all the ingredients to make a (very specific) cake and just left them on my kitchen worktop for about 2 weeks. There could potentially be worms living in there now. Or maybe in a drastic turn of events the worms have made the cake for me.  
I even started doing yoga, for fuck sake.

All striving, no arriving. Or in other words, I've got a lot of ideas that I'm doing shit all with.

What I've managed to do is convince myself that because we now have a lot of time on our (washed) hands, I should be making the most of every single second of every single day.

Which is an absolutely great concept...if you're some kind of sane superhuman and not an unhinged, pizza eating peasant that does nothing but watch 'Ru Paul's Drag Race' all day, like moi.

Making the most of every day is the dream, but it's not really reality. Even the healthiest, most hardworking and determined person is at some point gunna forget to wash their pants and be pissed off because it's ruined their very strict daily schedule. Also then tomorrow is ruined because they'll be pantless.

Don't tell me you've never had to go pantless.

How I'm feeling at the moment, as I'm sure a lot of people are, is if I don't achieve as much as possible in a day then I'm a failure. If I don't leave the house for my one allowance of daily exercise/walk to the shop to get more gin, well then I've failed.

The reason I feel like this is because our choice has been taken away from us. We don't have the choice, the freedom, to go out/socialise with people/pretend to exercise anymore and so if we don't utilise that time then it's a waste, a failure.

Which I do slightly agree with. I suppose we should be making the most we can out of this weird, impossible situation we're currently in.

But woah, holds up them there'ses is horses there now, cowboi. So the saying goes.

If you're suffering from anxiety during this difficult time, well then that makes matters a whooooooooole lot worse.

Why lockdown makes anxiety so bad is that it gives you more time to be trapped in your own head and less time to have the freedom of potentially, some days, wanting to actually leave the house.

It's wanting something you can't have. But with anxiety, it's more like wanting something you don't actually want to have....yes, I'm aware that probably doesn't make any sense to an un-anxious brain.
I've been suffering from quite severe anxiety for almost a year now. It's not the first time I've experienced it, it's just the longest time I've experienced it. 

For those of you who may have just started to experience anxiety, situational or otherwise, then welcome to the club, my friends. I'm sorry you're here.

For the lucky people that haven't experienced it before at all, I'll give you a brief synopsis of my personal experiences below:

Step 1)
 My head feels like it's going to explode and my body feels like a noodle. 

Step 2) Most days, if not every day, the thought of leaving the house makes me feel and/or be sick due to either paranoia, self consciousness and/or the thought of any social interaction whatsoever.

When I do manage to leave the house, I start sweating like Mr. Motivator (if you don't know who this is, shame on you) the only differences are I have no motivation, I'm not wearing lycra and it's not the 90s. So basically...I'm just sweating.

Step 3) Insomnia, shout out to all my other insomniacs, isn't our life hilariously shit.

Step 4) My body frequently physically reacts from my anxiety. This includes muscle spasms/seizing up, I've had my jaw clenched for what feels like eternity, and sometimes I get temporary loss of vision. Which is obviously always fun.

(There's also another bazillion different physical reactions you can potentially have, nearly all of which aren't actually obviously linked to anxiety at all, which is half the problem).

Step 5) The weirdest and scariest one is derealisation. (I've already written about this before, you can read it here).

If you can't be arsed to read the post I did about it before (don't blame you) a quick low down is as follows:

Derealisation makes you feel like you're dreaming when you're awake. Not like in a cool little floaty way, in like a scary am I asleep/will I wake up/is the world even real kinda way. I genuinely have to pinch myself to check I haven't passed out or wet myself occasionally. 

Side note: there's also 'depersonalisation', which I luckily haven't experienced. I believe it feels like a disconnection between your body and your mind, making you feel like you're watching someone else rather than yourself. Y'know, that completely normal kinda thing. I suppose it could potentially be like watching a really tragic TV show that you're starring in. I've just come up with a great film concept. I'm going to call it, 'The Truman Show'.

Step 6) Last, but by all means not least, classic ole' panic attacks. When someone tells you they feel like they're dying when they're having a panic attack, they aren't actually exaggerating.  I haven't died so, maybe don't take that as gospel, but the first one I had was the worst thing ever. And they don't usually get nicer either.

The rest I'm sure you can find on the World Wide Web these days. However, I would advise heavily against Googling symptoms of anything...literally anything. We all know when we do it automatically says we're basically going to spontaneously combust.

N.B. I went against everything I said and Google'd 'spontaneous combustion' and the Wikipedia photo is just a pair of shoes with smoke coming out of them. I'm sorry to those of you that have been affected by spontaneous combustion, but it's fucking hilarious. 

Anyway, when you have anxiety it's just even more of a bad idea to Google symptoms, so go to websites like Mind or CALM that actually help you realise you're not as weird as you think, but more importantly not as alone as you think.

There is no cure for anxiety. Anxiety is part of being a human, it's just that some humans may already possess/have learnt the complex art of telling anxiety to fuck off, and others may not have learnt that quite yet.

I'm speaking about this all fairly in jest/somewhat negatively as I normally like to do, but it is important to try and fill your new found time with something to occupy yourself with. Whether it's pre-existing or brand new hobbies/interests/whatever. I'm sure you're bored of how cliche that is to hear, I know I am.

The difference is learning not to beat yourself up if you can't be arsed or don't want to do something. If you feel like it, just try different things occasionally and see what suits you best.

One thing that's helping me at the moment is having some sort of routine. I once read if you do only one thing a day, make your bed. At the same time, every single morning. It sounds stupid and simple, because it is, but my bed is loving it's life right now. I've been making the hell out of it. It's also helped set up more of a routine for the rest of the day.

I hate to admit this because I spend so much time complaining how it never works, but practicing meditation and yoga is actually doing something for me at the moment. Heaven forbid. I don't quite know what that something is yet, but it's something. And no, I will never use the term 'yogi'...ever.

Has it made my anxiety ease off yet? Nope. Has it made me less impatient yet? Nope. Have I turned into Russell Brand yet? I really hope not. Is it preoccupying me during a time of extra stress and uncertainty? Yes.

That'll be it then. If it's making some sort of difference, in some sort of way, it's worth trying to stick it out.

This has been a long one, but lastly (and I've mentioned this quite a lot recently) please check in with anyone you know that is living on their own and may be struggling right now. Especially if they have pre-existing mental health conditions.

It's very easy to be preoccupied with your own troubles, everyone should be checking in with everyone anyway, but from experience living alone in this strange time is really quite horrible.

Oh yeah so, my tips for dealing with anxiety in a nutshell:

  • Try and do something.
  • Don't punish yourself if you can't be bothered or in my case, you're just shit at it.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Wash other people's hands if you really have to.
  • Don't try and become Russell Brand, there's no need.
  • Don't read the Daily Mail.
  • Don't forget that just because Piers Morgan has made a lot of valid points recently doesn't mean he's not going to instantly return back to being an absolute tool kit when this is all over.

Stay safe, wash your bits, be kind, check in with people, see you on the other side.


Friday, 7 February 2020

Time To Talk Day

I've been seriously crap at posting recently and deleted my last post by accident because I'm a moron. I'm clearly not big fat blogger enough to know how to un-delete(?) something so that's gone forever now, bye. 

I've got quite a lot in the mind tank that I want to write about but I've been massively unproductive writing wise because all of my time is currently taken up by looking for a new job. 

I'm studying to be a Counsellor at the end of the month.  This is something extremely close to my heart and I've realised this is what I want to do with my life - a huge change from the career I was building before. 

Speaking of counselling, this brings me on quite nicely to what my post is actually about. 

February 6th has been branded 'Time To Talk Day', the aim to encourage people to speak up about mental health and reach out to someone you know that might be struggling. 

Days like this are great for raising awareness of mental health and reminding us that we need to banish the stigma and actually recognise when someone we know (or very importantly, ourselves) aren't quite feeling right. 

This should be something we keep in mind every day.

I've always been very open about feeling shit. But I'm only open about feeling shit when I'm not feeling shit anymore. The way I'm (trying) to explain this is important - I know first hand that when you're deeply depressed the last thing you want to do is talk about it. You don't really want to talk about anything. 

Looking back to my last period of depression I would just get angry and upset if someone tried to talk to me about it. The reason I did this is because explaining it (especially to someone that hasn't gone through it) is genuinely exhausting. "Cheer up, it'll be okay" blah blah blah, no please just fuck off. I can't cheer up and it won't be okay* so I'm sorry, but I can't be assed to explain it to you right now.

This sounds harsh, and is really, but if you're on the receiving end of a conversation like this please know it's not meant rudely or ungratefully, it's probably the illness talking. Be patient and try to empathise with what the other person may be feeling, even if you don't completely understand it yourself. 

Empathy is literally THE most important thing in the world. If you don't have empathy, you don't have much at all. 

Anyway. Yes. I've always been very open about feeling shit, but this is a rarity. Unfortunately (but understandably) there aren't enough people who feel comfortable speaking up about depression or knowing what to say to someone who's depressed. 

Being able to speak openly about depression isn't something that comes naturally to me. It's scary and uncomfortable and I spend basically all my time worried what other people think about me. "OOoOoh she must be well crazy. Last time I saw her she was well miserable and weird" etc, etc. Yeah, probably. 

But the truth is, if people don't speak up about it, it will continue to be a ridiculously taboo subject and will continue to make people feel uncomfortable to even mention it. You don't need to shout from the rooftops that you're down and don't know what to do with yourself, you don't have to talk about it if you're having a particularly rough day and you want everyone and everything to piss off (story of my life), you don't have to moan about it publicly on a shitty blog, but please see the importance of recognising when you or someone else is in a black hole and needs to get out. 

Unless you talk, how will you get help? How will you help other people? And how will we get other people to understand what it feels like?

Telling someone that you genuinely want to die (horrible, right?) is hardly the nicest or easiest or most normal thing to open up about, but 9/10 times the person you're telling will do everything in their power to help/get help for you. And that is why talking about it is important.

If you need help, please don't be ashamed to ask for it. Remember, this happens to 1 in 4 of us - that's bloody huge. 

Before I go, to anyone in Bristol that reads this for some strange reason, there is a 'Talk Club' once a week at both Bristol Beer Factory in Bedmo and in Horfield. This club is specifically aimed at men who may be struggling with their mental health and want to maintain good mental health through the simple act of listening and being listened to. It's really surprising how much talking can actually help and this group is a great way to do it. 

The 'Talk Club Bristol' Facebook group has around 200 members so go and get involved. 

Take care of yourselves, pals. And if you don't feel like talking about it today, try again tomorrow.

*it WILL be okay, but I know being told that constantly is annoying as hell.


Monday, 19 August 2019

No Thank You, Sir

I'm personally really shit at saying no to things. 

Normally it's for fear of missing out, but it's often because I don't want to offend people by saying "nah thanks". A lot of the time it's also just easier to say yes to things. 

Here's a perfectly reasonable and relatable example for you:

I've probably visited Co-Op at least 80 more times than I've wanted to in my life because I've said yes to someone that's asked me to go with them. 80 times might be a slight exaggeration, but not trip to Co-Op feels like you've been in there for years. So actually, who even knows how many times I've been there? It's dire, overpriced and I lost my debit card down a crack there once (which, might I add, seems to have happened to a few people I know, so I wouldn't be surprised if it's actually some sort of Co-Op scheme they've come up with to make you stay in there forever and ever until you die). But anyway, the woman just went, "oh no, that's a shame". Yes it is a shame isn't it Susan, you bellend, because I can't pay for anything in other shops now can I?! How awfully convenient. Let's just say it's not my favourite place to frequent. 

Alas, I won't say no to a Co-Op trip just in case the person I'm going with has a loyalty card or their Mum works there and me saying no really offends them. So I'll go reluctantly and no doubt lose something else down the bloody crack. My dignity, probably (if I have any left after walking through the doors that is...or if I had any in the first place).

Anyway, I digress. My reason for writing this post is slightly larger than just complaining about shops I don't want to go to. It's the importance of occasionally saying no to things not only that I don't want to do, but also sometimes the things I actually do want to do.

We all know the new and positive experiences that can come from saying yes to things, but saying yes all the time can actually be pretty detrimental to our mental health. 

Saying yes for 'fear of missing out' can have a huge knock-on affect to your wellbeing - the amount of times I've said yes to something when I've not been feeling great, done it, and then (un)surprisingly felt a million times worse afterwards is past countable now. 

Realistically, the brief sadness and disappointment of missing out on something fun with your friends is never as bad as the feeling you have when you've gone out, had a few too many million ciders and then the next day, week, month afterwards feel weirdly guilty and horrible about the fact that you've done it when you probably shouldn't then you do it all over again to get over feeling like that. And again, and again, until you just make yourself feel really quite shite all round. 

The truth is, the only person that's putting the pressure on to do things I don't necessarily need/want to do is myself. The only person that's worried about missing out on the fun is me - the fun that is had all the time, the fun that will continue to happen with or without me being there, the fun that most of the time I'm actually there experiencing anyway - so surely saying no now and again isn't the end of the world? There's (quite literally) always next time.

Another thing I think is important to touch on is having realistic expectations of saying no to something. From experience (without sounding like an AA meeting) if I'm really trying to say no to something and then fail at the first hurdle it makes me feel like a terrible, useless piece of crap. Cutting yourself off from something completely and then punishing yourself if you've 'caved in' and done it anyway is only harming yourself more. 

This may or may not be the best way of going about things, it actually seems a bit contradictory in a way, but personally if I'm trying to say no to something I won't cut myself off from it completely. That way I won't punish myself as much if I 'fail', I'll just try again next time. 

These are my personal little examples of this: 

'Dry January' (I've never got past 7th January, so next year maybe I'll get to 8th January) and cheese. Maaaaan I can't express the feelings I have towards cheese. 

When I lived with my parents we probably had about 12 different types of cheese in our fridge. When I stopped living with my parents (like the complete and utter grown up I am) I swore to myself I'd never buy cheese for just myself because I would actually become cheese and ultimately get real chubby and sad and poor. I managed this for a while, then one day I got a bit down and craved cheese and basically bought a whole delis worth (no, not from Co-Op) and relapsed and hated myself and had dreams of being eaten by a brie. 
Nowadays I just keep a bit of cheddar in the fridge for when I want it and try not to think about it so much.

We're only human beings, we can't go cold turkey on things all the time. Or cold cheese, whatever. 
Cut yourself some slack...OR SOME CHEESE, WHATEVER. 



Thursday, 2 May 2019


Something I'm apparently struggling with recently is allowing myself to feel okay with the 'inbetween' stages that are sandwiched in the middle of feeling like absolute shite and feeling absolutely shite-ing fantastic.

The other day I genuinely felt the happiest I'd felt in ages but my brain started going into freak-out mode and I assumed it was a telling sign of a manic episode. I instantly started worrying and trying to calm myself down (but mainly I was worrying about how people were perceiving me, which in hindsight is just ridiculous as I was surrounded by my friends having a great time).

In actual fact I wasn't starting to have a manic episode, it was just a lovely, normal, appropriate and warranted feeling of happiness because I was having a good day. I literally started questioning how I was feeling because...I was having a good day.

As a result of my worrying so much I managed to get into a pit of anxiousness which then made me start to have a not so great time. I basically self-sabotaged my own night.

So, this brings me on to the fact that I've sadly realised - self-sabotage is reeeeeally common. Too common.

Why do people seem to be punishing themselves or questioning their happiness when it's completely normal?! I'm sure there's many different reasons, but I'm pretty certain a lot of it stems from past situations where (for some absurd reason) someone else has implied you're not good enough.

It's not just our own happiness that seems annoyingly easy to self-sabotage, its our success, our confidence, our ability to achieve things that are totally achievable regardless how long it may take (and its okay if it takes the rest of your bloody life if it needs to, who cares?!) Well...we care, because most likely self-sabotage will set in the moment you realise it'll take longer than expected to achieve said achievement. Classic.

I'm speaking from experience because I've personally self-sabotaged in every situation above.

Success: I'm 27 - I didn't know what I wanted to do career wise until I fell into working in TV a couple of years ago. I didn't go to university, I assumed I wasn't good enough, so after school I was in huge limbo and had zero confidence and zero clue what I was supposed to be doing.

I've already successfully self-sabotaged by even writing that sentence, and 9/10 times this is my response to anyone that asks what I do for a living. I assume they're going to think I'm shit before even telling them what I do.

I didn't 'fall' into working in TV, I found something I enjoyed and worked really bloody hard for it, it just took me a bit longer than 'the norm', whatever the hell that is. For god sake, the idea you have to go to university to get a decent job that you actually enjoy and that pays well just isn't true in the slightest. You can do extremely well regardless of going to university or not, anyone that tells you otherwise is an utter moron.

Confidence: I have a skin condition called Keratosis Pilaris Rogue (sounds well exotic) which I've had forever, I just didn't know it had a name until recently. It makes my skin really red, especially on my face, so I've always worn a lot of makeup to cover it up, because it makes me feel like crap and makes me really self conscious. When I was younger people commented on it, when I got older people commented on it (and still do, occasionally) but now the comments are about the amount of makeup I wear. So, what I've realised I do is mention the amount of makeup I'm wearing before someone else can mention it, so ultimately I'm the one that's making myself feel like shit and commenting on it. That's actually just really stupid. I even tried laser surgery on my face until I realised it was the most painful thing in the world and literally wasn't even 1% worth it. So now I've decided I'll instead just say if the amount of foundation I'm wearing is offending you, kindly go fuck yourself and try not to trip on the 'you're a huge knob-head it's my face and I'll do what I want' step on the way out.

Achievements: For me the biggest thing I'm trying to achieve is realising that having a mental illness is completely okay and is a lifelong journey that's not going to suddenly change or disappear overnight. I'm not going to talk myself down because my brain is a bit different to yours, and I'm not going to try and justify it to other people because of their own ignorance and misunderstanding of it - that's your problem mate, not mine.

I'll leave it on this note, because I've gone off on one again...

You're good enough, don't be your own worst enemy because it's a waste of time and is a huge detriment to your own mental health.

Don't let people make you feel like shit - it's their fault they're a dick, not yours.

Allow yourself to be happy.

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