The good, the bad and the ugly..

When you live with a mental illness or two, you find that things ebb and flow. Like the pull of the moon on the ocean. 

 Certain things can lift your mood right up and other things drag it so far down. Many people struggle most with the latter. No one really likes a low mood, whether you’re ‘

depressed’ or not, but some people actually struggle with the lighter side of things.

 You see, having depression does funny things to your brain, you begin to think that you shouldn’t ever be feeling happy if you have depression. When you’re coming out of a low slump and feel that little burst of ‘today isn’t that bad’ it can make you feel like a fraud.

Like your diagnosis, ‘your label’ is the be all and end all of your existence and that you should always fit into that stereotype. 

When people say things like ‘you don’t look depressed’ it could be fatal. That person may already be at the end of their tether. Using all the spare energy they can muster to put on a brave face and go out that day and you’ve just crushed everything with 4 little words. 

If you know someone with depression, or someone opens up about their mental illness, try to think before you make a flippant remark. Try ‘how are you doing?’ Or ‘do you need anything?’ 

Those 4 words can make a difference for the better – this gives you one person that cares. One person that is there for you that day and sometimes that is all it takes to change the mindset of a person. 

Please be nice to people, you don’t know what is going on under the surface, behind that bubbly smile. 
Suicide and suicidal thoughts are very real problems that are not as outwardly shown as other things. The death of person simply because they have a chemical imbalance that tells them death is the better option than tirelessly fighting a losing battle. I don’t think we will ever completely eradicate suicide, but we can certainly make huge progress towards making it less common. 
Right now, I’m doing moderately okay. I’m not jumping for joy but I’m also not planning the route the bridge. 

You know it’s all in your head, right!?

No shit Sherlock. Of course it is, that’s kinda the whole of mental illness. Broken brains, misfiring messages, chemical cock ups. It’s a huge mess of problems in my head. 

So what do you take for it, the anxiety?!

I take nothing, because I haven’t been seen by doctor in person, because I can’t get an appointment at my surgery and ‘going to sit up there and wait’ doesn’t work for someone with agoraphobia and severe anxiety. 

So thanks to the wonderful system of ring at 8am and good luck getting an appointment that we have, I have suffered, mostly in silence for the best part of 4 years. Three of those I rarely left my house – probably 5 or 6 times total. 

I got a dog, I forced myself to get used to my block. I pushed myself to walk the 5 minute route with the dog, and gradually increase it to go a little bit longer. I push myself to reach points further away, with limited success. I can sometimes go to the shop on my own without falling apart, but it takes time to build myself up for it and time for me to recover from it afterwards.

Oh you must not be THAT bad then if you haven’t seen a doctor. You’ve managed this long. 

I’ve SUFFERED this long. Nothing is managed about my mental health. It’s in decline, despite the progress I do make. 

It’s completely draining, it frustrates me and I hate that I am trapped in this vicious circle. I am building up to being able to walk to the doctor surgery and wait it out. Which could take me the rest of my life. I struggle my way through everything. Trying to block out the noise in my head. Often without success. I laugh often on the outside, I put on a show of normality so that people don’t know just what’s all in my head. 

Here’s hoping to see a doctor this year, before I reach that point of no return through lack of services available to the minority of us people that suffer with this crippling anxiety. It’s no surprise to me why people commit suicide, it’s crossed my messed up mind more than once. 

344 days 

That’s how many days in a row I have left my house now! I’m feeling really proud of that, even though I have felt increasingly overwhelmed this past few weeks. 

I have made huge progress in my anxiety/ agoraphobia recovery. I went to the park, with the dog and let him off his lead on my own for the first time. ​He was great and I didn’t feel out of control with my anxiety and manage to keep my cool, despite the weather! Hooray for progress. 

One step at a time. 

I’ve set myself a challenge for May. To walk at least 45,000 steps a week. 

The weather is okayish and I have more confidence walking with the pupdog for longer time periods so I’m hoping that will put me in a good position to hit the target. 

I did have a day on Friday where I barely got out of bed due to a crippling migraine and didn’t actually put my tracker on at all. 

I think I made up for it yesterday though – I went for an evening walk BY MYSELF without the dog for an hour and I didn’t die! I also smashed 20k steps! I’m feeling pretty darn good about that, I’m not gonna lie. This year has been really shitty, so these small victories remind me that I will get there, one day. One step at a time. 

Pupdog turns one! 

Einstein, my lovely yorkie turned one today! This dog has played a huge role in My mental health journey. Before I got him last June I pretty much didn’t leave my house for almost 3 years. Since having him, I’ve had to go outside every single day (sometimes only to the garden for toilet breaks, but it’s still further than I was going!) 

He has been a cause for some stress too, puppies are hard work and he happens to be a bit of a clumsy, mischief machine, but I wouldn’t be without him. He has literally got me out of my house again. I walked to a local shop today – just like that, like a normally functioning human. Not a single worry or creeping in of anxiety. This is so rare for me, but I am getting there. Mostly I have this tiny poo factory to thank for that. 

If you have an opportunity to get a pet for your mental wellbeing I can highly recommend it. Best thing I’ve ever done.

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.

 

Get some exercise…eat properly..ugh 

That fact of the matter is most of us don’t want to hear it. Don’t want to believe it’s true. Though deep down I’m sure the majority know it.

When I am struggling, really low and feel like utter shit, the last thing I want is a salad and walk let me tell you. It’s the kind of advice I hate to hear – not because it’s not good advice for the average person, just because it’s not good advice for someone who is struggling to motivate themselves to put socks on, let alone go outside. That being said – when I get through my funk, I genuinely do try to get out a little bit more and yes I do try to eat with more regularity – though that one I tend to fail with, can’t keep up with that wagon. 

My biggest problem with food and ‘diet’ is erratic eating. I don’t eat for a day, then order pizza, then don’t eat or only eat something ridiculous. Skip breakfast in favour of extra hours in bed and generally eat two meals late in the day and subsequently feel horrible for it. 
Not an ‘eating disorder’ but it’s definitely not a healthy relationship with food for the most part, then it become habitual to eat like that, even when I’m not feeling low. Today marks day one of eating breakfast before 10am on workdays. I’m going to track it all with the My Fitness Pal app on my phone, so it keeps me accountable. Wish me luck! 

As for the exercise…yeah this one is tougher because I know I can do it, I just need to kick that lazy bastard out of my head.

I got myself a treadmill when I was in the depths of my agoraphobia in the hope it would keep me semi active – since I have got pupdog though it quickly became a dumping ground for other people’s stuff. I finally put my foot down this week and have cleared it off and even USED it last night. 

Obviously I’m not Usain Bolt by any stretch but moving more than sitting on my fat ass has gotta count for something right?! Even if it is at a snail’s pace. 

It did come with a little sense of pride in the fact that I actually did it, I bothered to follow through on what I had said and I felt better for it. I plan to use it, along with my daily dog walks, at least 3/4 days a week. I have a walk to the post office once or twice a week too, so hopefully this will all count to keep those little exercise endorphins firing. It’s a start at least. 

Depression, it’s not all doom and gloom. 😉 

Have a good week folks!