Loneliness and the importance of human connections.

Having a mental illness can be very lonely, although you know you’re not the only person to suffer, it often feels like you are the only one feeling a certain way. Likelihood is, everyone has felt lonely and isolated at some point in their lives, with or without mental illness. It’s something that we all experience, but with mental illness the frequency is higher and the effects stronger.

I totally understand the need to lock ourselves away when we are in the depths of a depression and I am totally guilty of just shutting the whole world out. I also know that I need human connection to pull me back into focus. I probably wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have the interactions I have with other people. It doesn’t even need to be face to face, all interactions are just as important when you’re struggling. In all honesty, with my anxieties and such, face to face isn’t my ideal scenario. I depend on my online and text connections more often than I do meeting up with an actual person.

It’s so important to establish a network of people who you know you can turn to when you just need someone. I’m not talking about someone to purely offload about how you’re feeling. I mean people you know are there if you just need a good laugh, cry, conversation about the moon or to connect with over some other random topics that just take your mind away from the darkness for a short while. One person that you can just send ‘hey, I could really do with…[insert need]’ and know that they’ll be there for you is all it takes. I am very fortunate that I have a few wonderful humans in my life that mean the world to me and I can always rely on if I need it. These people are lifelines to me, whether they think so or not. I am lucky, and I know many people don’t have that luxury to help them through the darker days and trying times.

If you feel like you really don’t have anyone like that – reach out. I am happy to be at the end of a message if you just need to offload, or talk to someone.

There are also lots of great organisations that could help. I’ve popped a list below. You are never alone and there is always, always, someone to talk to. You’re never wasting people’s time and you are not a burden.

www.samaritans.org
www.mind.org.uk
www.anxietyuk.org.uk
www.together-uk.org
www.mentalhealth.org.uk
www.rethink.org

For under 25’s
https://youngminds.org.uk <this is also great for parents of younger people.
www.themix.org.uk
www.childline.org.uk

For those in later life
http://www.ageuk.org.uk/

For students
www.nightline.ac.uk

For pregnant women and new mothers.
www.tommys.org
https://www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/

For men
www.thecalmzone.net

For service personnel and veterans.
www.helpforheroes.org.uk
www.combatstress.org.uk
Overseas – I don’t really have much knowledge in this area, being from the UK, but I have found a few links that may help you.

USA – https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/
Australia – https://mhaustralia.org/need-help
Canada – http://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/find-help/
New Zealand – https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help
South Africa – http://www.safmh.org.za/index.php/get-help

A huge list of resources for many places in the world.
http://togetherweare-strong.tumblr.com/helpline

 

100 days of Odd Hearts.

Those of you that know me, know that I paint A LOT. I have set myself a challenge to create one mixed media piece a day for 100 days. I will share my progress pictures on my Facebook business page. Which you can find here, if you’re interested.

I’ve completed day one and two already.

I might periodically update here with a photo of all the ones I’ve done so far.

The reasoning behind setting myself a goal like this is to give me a focus, to keep me occupied everyday. To give me a goal to work toward and it will allow me to develop and practice in my skills. I believe it’s important to give yourself short term achievable goals for the benefit of your mental health and your mind. Things often become mundane, the routines get boring and then all of a sudden we’ve switched on autopilot for the every day. We lose ourselves and we aren’t even present in our own lives. This is something for me, that I can share with others too. It’s a double whammy.

Try setting yourself small milestone goals. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Something as simple as cooking a fresh meal EVERY day without taking something from the freezer, or trying a different hairstyle every day for a week. See how you go, reward yourself at the end. Document your progress and record how you feel, what you gain and what you would do differently if you were to do another similar thing.

Sunday, oh Sunday

How wonderfully peaceful you are. No work today, I’ve binge watched a whole season of Project Runway since yesterday and I’m tucked up in bed.
I know I should get up and be productive, but I’m tired. I’m so very tired and for once I don’t have any looming deadlines to meet. A rare day all to myself to sleep, eat and watch whatever I want on TV. 
I might even feel an urge to be creative later, I find that I am motivated more when I don’t have to do something but I feel like I want to do it. I’m happy to get some work done later if the mood strikes but I’m not forcing myself to do anything and that feels fantastic. 
I can’t remember the last day I’ve had like this were I am able to fully enjoy a day off doing nothing with no niggling pressure in the back of my head that it will put me behind schedule. I’m listening to the wind blow and the birdsong and it’s utterly perfect. I know that this is just what I need to recharge my batteries and actually think I might do this every Sunday when I’m not at work. It’s important to look after me in the whirlwind and chaos of living. 

Killing Time Shouldn’t Be Killing You.

So there you have it, my 6 favourite ways to escape my own head

Yes this is quite a dramatic title, but it is fitting for how I’m feeling today.

If I am bored, if I have spare time to fill – that I’m not using to nap! Then I need to be doing something. If I spend too long inside my own head with no distractions I know that it would be detrimental to my mental health.

Yes it’s good to delve in there, have a root around and do some filing in that ol’ brain of yours, but if you haven’t set out with that plan when you start drifting into the unknown depths of your own mind it can get scary and quickly.

It’s always good to have few things that you enjoy, to pick up when you feel yourself wandering in to the darkest depths when you’re not ready for it. Here’s a few things I tend to sway toward.

Number 1 – Reading.

Whether you are a bookworm or not it’s always wise to have a couple of books around to leaf through or get lost in rather than getting lost in your head. I tend to have a variety available from photography filled books that require little reading and not too much focus, to novels and various things in between. Currently I am reading ‘The Sun Is Also A Star’ by Nicola Yoon. You can pick it up on Amazon for a few quid.

Number 2 – Something Creative, I usually paint or bake.

This one isn’t for everyone. Lots of people loathe creativity but I think that’s more out of thinking they’re not in the least bit creative. I disbelieve that, I think everybody is capable of creativity in one way or another. You don’t have to be Van Gogh to create a marvellous painting and sometimes, just throwing paint at a blank canvas is quite the release. Messy play is an age old thing that we often don’t follow on into our adulthood. That, in my opinion, is a great shame.

And if arty stuff isn’t your thing, dig out the recipe books! What’s better than a slice of homemade bread or a piece of cake with a brew and a good book for a little bit of ‘me time’!? Not many things.

Number 3  – Go for a walk.

Surprising one from an agoraphobic, I know. However I have an almost 1 year old puppy, so getting out of the house is a daily battle for me, but I am starting to win it more regularly. It doesn’t have to be a long, scenic route. A simple jaunt to the shops or round the block for 20 minutes with your headphones in is good enough to distract your brain and gets your some little exercise endorphins too.

Number 4 – Music.

I’ve discussed this before. Music is something any one can enjoy when they find the sounds that their souls dance too. Explore some new sounds. Listen to something you wouldn’t normally choose, you might surprise yourself. Learn a new instrument, give your brain a challenge to focus on and yield some new skills. This technically falls into creativity too! Two birds and all that.

Number 5 – Watch a film.

I am a sucker for watching films when I am creeping off into pit of despair that is my noggin’. I usually pick from the same 10 – 15 films. Ranging from The Aristocats to The Shawshank Redemption. Really the choice is yours, maybe you could watch something you’ve never seen or find something old that you’ve not seen in ages and fall in love with it all over again. It’s a great way to lose yourself in the moments of another life story without actually leaving your bed/sofa/house.

Number 6 – Get a Hobby.

I have a few, I appear to be eclectic and chaotic in most aspects of my life. My biggest hobby of the moment is Philately – Stamp collecting. I love seeing the designs from all over the world, wondering about the journey of each stamp, the message it was posted to carry. It’s very easy to get lost in the mystery of the unknown behind a well travelled stamp. I don’t collect for valuable stamps. I like to collect for variety of country and design. It evokes many emotions imagining the story behind each stamp.

So there you have it, my 6 favourite ways to escape my own head. I am aware this list of things are quite common ways to kill time, but that is because they work for so many people. Obviously not everyone will find something here – but there is a nice variety of not too taxing things that give you just a few moments of peace in your loud, overwhelming lives.

 

If in doubt, Bake it out…

Sometimes I need to prove a point to myself that I’m not a complete failure for all the days I don’t achieve what I had initially set out to. To create something I love, and get that little sense of pride back. 

This weekend has been a bit of a shitter. Various things causing a completely unproductive me. I made a conscious effort to make my Sunday afternoon better than the rest of the weekend. 
I had a walk with the dog. We got soaked. Came home had a long, too hot bath, completed an arroword in my book with my mum and finally I created this magnificent beast of a loaf. 

I love to bake. I love the joy of creating. I love the time to focus. When it comes to bread it’s a no brainer for me. I don’t always get it right, but I love to try. I love the process. I love the experiments of flavour, texture and shape. I love kneading. I love the smell. I love that first still slightly warm slice with lashings of butter. I love the knobbly end. Most of all I love the that little sense of achievement when it comes out so utterly beautiful. Not to mention the taste. Nom. 

When will I be famous?

This isn’t a serious question or a fully relevant blog title to be fair, but I am going to talk about music. It’s just the song that happened to be playing when I sat down to write this.

This isn’t a serious question or a  fully relevant blog title to be fair, but I am going to talk about music.  It’s just the song that happened to be playing when I sat down to write this.

Yes, really. I have an 80’s play list on my iTunes and I am less ashamed to admit that, than I was to admit I had a mental illness. Go figure.

Mental illness and music – many people think if I am having a bad day I sit here, wallowing in sadness listening to some melancholy dirge. Not actually the case for most people with mental illness, or anyone really. I have a massive array of music, hugely varied and covering many genres and decades. Some days I listen to Jim Reeves and have a little cry because it reminds me of my granddad, Sometimes I just want background noise, and sometimes I just want to sing along to cheesy 80’s play lists and chair dance my way through an afternoon, okay? Good.

*I just want to tell you how I’m feeling, Gotta make you understand…* Erm, Yes Rick Astley knows where it’s at.

Music and musical preferences are all very personal, much like mental illness. You may like the same genre of music as someone and still have different favourites. I am popped in that little box of ‘people with mental illness’ – like we are all the same, we’re not. I don’t like it, too much of our lives these days is governed by what box we fit in, whether we are this type of person or that type or person. Enough with the boxes. If I happen to like you, if we have a connection then I couldn’t give a toss if you hate 80’s music, if your favourite colour is my least favourite or you’re a vegetarian. That’s your life and your choices, who am I to judge you based on that. If you’re a good person with an open heart and an open mind, then come on over – well maybe not, but let’s hang out.

In our own houses.
By ourselves.
Together.

Music is a great tool for helping with mental illness. It can help focus your mind elsewhere and distract you from the fears and thoughts that are bringing you down. I have a couple of play lists that I find useful. One is more upbeat – things I can sing along or dance to, the other is one I like to just close my eyes and melt into. Find a comfy corner, pop in my headphones and let go. It doesn’t help every time, but it does help and is a useful tool in the arsenal for coping with mental illness. Take some time to make up playlists, pick your favourite songs, or justba bunch of silly ones you know will help make you chuckle and lift the mood a little.