5 things depression taught me

*CW: mention of suicidal ideation in lesson 3*

Hi all.

So I am back with another series of lessons, I have previously discussed what I have learned from therapy and mania. Today it’s what I have learned from experiencing recurrent depression and low moods. Please remember these lessons are what I personally have learned, are an individual experience and not representative of other people’s experiences. If you have any questions for me, please ask away!

1. How to rest

This is absolutely the key lesson I have learned and it took a long time to learn. I started experiencing depression at 15 years old, quite severely so, after a few months I was placed on a medication to help ease the symptoms and at the time it didn’t, it would take another 8 years before I found the correct combination for myself. Under mental health teams I was always advised to rest. But it wasn’t until the last 18 months to two years that I really learned my long term ability in resting well in a way that helps me. I originally started out by sleeping all day, as I couldn’t sleep at night. I would binge watch and binge eat to pass time. That became my life at many points.

It’s common knowledge, especially to those who have done CBT, that not doing anything when in low moods can exacerbate the already present depression. In 2018, I knew these unhealthy coping mechanisms had to change. I had to change my own habits. So my idea of what rest meant to me changed. I started getting into routines, I would make my bed, on low days I would have one goal, one activity to accomplish. Resting would be reading a book, or creative writing, not just mindlessly watching films and shows that made me feel worse.

Rest for each individual is as different as people and for me finding a moment of contentment in meditation, reading or other activities that give me time for a state of flow is restful.

2. The joy of DOG days

I can’t remember when I came up with this concept, I believe it was early 2019. I felt I was missing joy in my days and wanted a day dedicated to goodness and joy. And thus, days of goodness were created. At first I would have one day a week for nothing other than activities I enjoyed like reading, yoga and meditating amongst other activities. Nothing that “should” be done was completed, not housework or university work. I felt like I had something to look forward to each week. Whilst I don’t have DOG days as often now, they still remain a part of my wellbeing toolbox and often act as a reset for me. They help clear the fog of my brain.

3. Strength

This lesson is a no-brainer. We never learn the true potential of our strength than in hard times. Or in my case quite often, so low I thought of suicide every second of every day quite actively. I just do not care when depressed, I can grow quite sick of living when low. But I have always, like many others, had people around me who need me to carry on. And so I did, so I do now. I was not at all stable 2 years ago but I had a fierce determination that felt quite unique to me to see this life through. I am glad I found that strength.

4. Curiosity

This was a very subtle quality I learned during therapy and when I was depressed. Curiosity. Curiosity about my brain, my mind, the future, what could be. It kept me going. I guess being a self-proclaimed lifelong learner, the curiosity in growth and knowledge has helped me to keep pushing forwards and learn more and more about myself.

5. To be truly appreciative of the good days

I believe I have mentioned this before. I have always loved my good days, but would take it too far and end up burned out. But gosh, aren’t the good days great? Now more than ever has depression taught me to be grateful when life just doesn’t suck. Thankfully, I am maintaining a positive recovery so the positive days FAR outnumber any negative times. I am eternally grateful for every good day I get to experience.

In the future I will be explaining lessons I have learned from experiencing mood swings and experiencing anger. 

Much love,

L x

Journey to the centre of me..

Hello all.

Today is another personal post of sorts but am excited to discuss a bit more about it after the last few weeks. One of the things I am quite proud of is my self-awareness and knowing who I am, especially since for many years I have experienced identity crises. However, times are changing and I along with it. In recent weeks, I have been in the process of not only changing my relationship with food, but also my spiritual relationship and studying Buddhism.

Relationship with food

I have not had a healthy relationship with it since I was 11. After my panic attacks started I felt like I needed something to control, however, had I known the long-term impact, I would certainly have found a healthy coping mechanism. These days I often binge eat and have lost control. I have tried diets, HIIT workouts and facing my fear of food by trying different things occasionally. This was thinking my weight was causing my unstable habits and a diet to me was a “healthy” way of recovery. It is not. A person whom I look up to suggested Intuitive Eating a while back and just a few weeks ago I started reading the original works by nutrition therapists and registered dieticians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.

I devoured this book within hours, learning of the ten core principles and finding it made so much sense, I was eager to start respecting my body, honouring my hunger and rejecting the diet mentality, along with the other principles. I was quite anxious about how I would cope. I am very much an emotional eater, often eating just because I am bored. But the first few days, I was pleased with being able to truly listen to my body and all of its needs. 

I have not binge eaten in weeks, I think nearly a month. I am slowly learning my hunger and fullness signals too. Understandably, it’s a long process and there’s still more to learn but I am already noticing a change in how I view food, it’s purpose and what I need. 

Buddhism

I understand religion can be a contentious issue, let me start by saying I believe religion and spirituality are a personal choice but thought starting to share my journey may be of interest. Personally, I have always been spiritual, believing in something divine, otherworldly. I have always felt it took a large space in my heart. I have over recent years expanded in to researching and seeking out guidance. Having the country in lockdown gave me time to think and really reflect on my worldview and values.

It sort of hit me that values and actions I have taken in the last few months almost aligned with Buddhism. I have always had a great respect for their teachings, a part of me had long enjoyed Buddhism and in a moment I knew I needed to seek out guidance. I messaged a well-known meditation teacher and Buddhist monk, Gelong Thubten for advice. He directed me to Tergar. 

I am now undertaking the beginning course to deepen my meditation practice which I can already witness is giving me greater clarity of mind and heightened awareness in my day to day life. Those around me have also noticed positive differences. I am also slowly integrating Buddhist teachings and following them as best I can right now. I am so excited for what the future holds in store for me as I learn.

Peace and love to you,

L x

It’s a WRAP!

Hello all, how are we doing?

This week I thought I would I would talk about a useful tool called a WRAP, this is a wellness recovery action plan. There is plenty of information about WRAPs online but I thought it might be useful to add my experience and my voice about WRAPs.

This tool was developed in 1997 as a way of recovery from mental health issues and maintaining recovery. The main concepts built for a WRAP include having personal responsibility to take action, fuel hope to stay well, educate yourself on what you need to do to stay well, self-advocacy to get what you need and support to and from others for a better quality of life.

They are designed to be inclusive for anyone at any time. The WRAP will list what you are like when you are well. It should include what you need to do every day, every other day, every week and every month to keep well, stressors that can impact your well-being as well as early warning signs that you are becoming unwell and what you need to do to regain balance, a crisis plan is usually incorporated also. 

I made one as part of the therapeutic process last year. As My Psychotherapist said, “if you’re not following and looking at your WRAP, you’re not looking after yourself”, she was right on many occasions. When I started to falter I wouldn’t look at the WRAP until I realised I was suffering and then it acts as a measure to take things back to basics and build on from there.

After my experiences over the winter months I decided to complete an extension the WRAP to prepare for the next winter season. I detailed the triggers that made me low and how to overcome them. I also added what I would need to purchase to create a box of soothing and useful and useful items to help me feel prepared. This includes items such as face masks and hot chocolate sachets to vitamins and tissues should I get a cold.

I hope you found this interesting!

Take care,

L x

Dealing with intense emotions

Good morning to you!

How are you faring?

I have talked before about my experiences with EUPD, one of the most well-known symptoms is having intense emotions and mood swings. For example, I have gone from crying to exactly 15 minutes later dancing around the house just because. Oftentimes, I will never react the same way to situation twice, I am capable of many, many intense emotions at the “simplest” of things. This does not in any way make me dangerous as many may think, it is simply more painful for me to experience.

Every emotion has the opportunity to be painful for me, to drain me, to rule my life for whatever period of time. I can be the most empathetic, loving, compassionate, caring person you may ever meet. But when that stops, I usually feel so depressed, like I feel the world’s pain upon my chest and my shoulders, I feel so empty and so hollow that I have no bones keeping me in place, only emotions.

Thankfully, through therapy and the right combination of medication, the darker side of emotions have less of a handle on me but that doesn’t mean I never get like this. It just means I have learned to deal with emotions more healthily. Today I thought I would share with you my process, it is not by any means perfect, I still falter at the hurdle sometimes but I am definitely in a better place. I thought that sharing my process might be of interest, maybe even of use. So let’s get into it!

Acknowledge the emotion

This is arguably one of the hardest things to do. Even though our mind has evolved to create astounding self-awareness in us as humans, it is by no means a perfect solution. But the first step is realising the situation I am in, what I feel, why I am feeling that way and accepting the feeling. This could be as simple as “I feel ____ because ____. I noticed this because of ____ behaviour.” It is a bit like having an intrusive thought (which 100% of humanity experience), I acknowledge it and do what I can to move forward.

Take self out of situation

This may be a little trickier depending upon circumstances but I always find once I have noticed my emotions running high, that I need to find my baseline. I do this first by taking a step back, putting everything on hold and just breathing. I usually tell someone, or they have told me I need to take a step back, it is so useful having a support network to possibly guide me through this process.

Finding the trigger

I may already know what triggered this. I check whether I have eaten, or drank something recently. Did I get enough sleep? Am I giving myself enough time to relax currently? It may sound basic, but things like rest and food are integral to maintaining a happier and more stable me. I myself am very sensitive to this. When I am angry, I usually find 9 times out of 10 that it is because I have missed a meal, or have low sugar levels, or even on the rare occasion I forgot my morning medication. (I am human not perfect)

It could be something or multiple things cause stress to occur when first waking up that has set the tone for later in the day. But it is important to look back to see what caused this.

Take action

From finding out the trigger I need to be able to move forward. Sometimes for me it is a case of just doing something like mindfulness or using distraction techniques to cope. Other times I talk to someone about how I am feeling. So long as no harm comes to anyone or anything, there is no right way to deal with emotions.

There are many ways to take action whether through mindfulness and sitting with emotions or creating something, making lists and plans, organising spaces, exercising, reinforcing boundaries. Self-soothing with things like having a bath, moisturising and changing the bed sheets can really help.

And that is how I deal with emotions these days, I hope it gives you a little insight or might even help you. But like always, if you are concerned about yourself please contact a health professional.

Much happiness to you,

L x

Reflecting and what is to come

Good morning beautiful human beings.

I hope you all had an excellent start to your week yesterday, I certainly did with many small wins. I decided not to post on Sunday as it just did not feel right given everything that has been going on in the world, and rightly so. I spent last week learning, and reflecting, so much so my mental health was put on the back burner until last night.

So yes, I have consumed a lot of content, books, podcasts, articles and videos and did a deep dive into my “all or nothing” mindset, which can be quite debilitating, EUPD can be sneaky that way, I never see her coming. But the obsessive haze has lifted and I now am able to properly take care of myself and those around me again.

I just thought I’d try something new with the blog and let you all know what’s coming up in the next few weeks in terms of content and my proposed plan is as follows:

Sunday 14th June: Children and well-being

Sunday 21st June: How I deal with intense emotions in the moment

Sunday 28th June: Routines: the night

I hope these are of interest to you. Now, I have also been debating whether or not to create vlogs as well as blogs, if that sounds interesting please comment or contact me to let me know

Much love and happiness to you,

L x

Why EUPD can be exhausting

*Content Warning: discussion of suicidal ideation, episodes and delusions*

Happy Sunday beautiful people!

Today’s post is a bit of a more real picture on why EUPD can be so exhausting, I want to share my experience of how this exhaustion impacts me to shed a bit more light on what people with a similar diagnosis can go through. Of course, this is my personal experience and may not be reflective of the EUPD community as a whole and their experiences are just as valid.

I want to talk about this, I need to talk about this because on the outside I may seem like I cope well and am ‘fine’ but underneath everything, there are so many processes happening all the time that eventually, like now, I begin to struggle more and more.

There are a few main reasons as to why I can become mentally depleted that evolves into physical exhaustion or just generally ‘off’ or tired at the end of the day. For me, this involves psychotic episodes, multiple large mood swings in a day, a period of high stress through the day which may or may not end up with my having an episode, experiencing emptiness, loneliness or a strong fear. A thing to remember about me is I do have multiple diagnoses and they more often than not interact with each other making the whole mess worse. I can not under or over-state how difficult it can be.

Starting with episodes. I don’t usually remember my episodes, it is like a white canvas of nothingness covers my brain when I try to remember. But having spoken to family, friends and my partner I have a pretty good idea of what happens. When I was younger, the episodes were usually alcohol-induced, I would become increasingly paranoid and speak at an incomprehensible speed and end up chanting as my mother would describe it. Now these episodes would make me tired the next day but I would recover quite quickly. Naturally, the have evolved since then and it usually now takes me a week to fully recover from an episode. I have often have a delusion of rats in the walls, I am constantly changing mood, like another person, I feel suicidal which I am known to laugh about in these episodes. When I do eventually settle after an hour or so I wake up with dread when I feel that blank in my mind, my body aches like I have been squished in a cupboard for hours. I am then low for days on end until my mind decides it is better and I can carry on with life.

Episodes are usually triggered by what I first discussed, either intense stress, precursored by mood swings as an early warning sign, or experiencing many symptoms all at once (i.e. low mood, paranoia, panic attacks, being angry then happy and empty all at the same time then interchanging.) But having an episode can also cause all of the above to happen, it is not just a vicious cycle, it is an ever-changing puzzle, even after 9 years I am still struggling to match the pieces.

Mood swings are even more complicated, a part of having EUPD means there is no repetition to how I react to situations no matter how positive or negative my mental health may be, no matter the stability. Simply put, for every emotion I feel, and there are many, they each have their own trigger and their own remedy and I am still figuring that out. Some days it feels like I am trying to solve a quantum physics equation in my mind. I am very sensitive to what occurs around me. That is exhausting.

Chronic emptiness is a key symptom with EUPD and for me, I just feel hollow in my bones, some days it is like I have no bones at all. It’s like I’m here, with nothing in me and nothing about me. No purpose, no meaning, not even a drop in the ocean. These are the days where I sigh the most and go through the motions of the day, I may end up feeling ‘alien’ or depressed or end with hypomania, there really is no way to tell. That is tiring.

The unknown is a big deal for me, so I struggle when my moods go all over the place because there are two me’s inside of me. ‘Me’ me and ‘Borderline’ me (BM). Every day I am at war with ‘Borderline’ me. For years I wonder where I started and ended, what actually is me. I am so thankful I now know who I actually am and can identify what BM is. It is a love and loathe relationship, I survived these years with thanks to the irrational overprotection of BM but she caused much damage too. Finding that balance has never been easy, I am getting there, but these things take a lot of time. Again, it can be exhausting.

I usually say to people that I love to learn, knowing there is still so much to know, and EUPD is certainly teaching me much. I wanted to open up a bit more today because I am struggling, I am finding my happy moments to be a bit too fleeting at the moment. Next week I will be giving a little update on life. I hope you found this interesting, if anyone has any questions I am more than happy to answer them 🙂

Please take care of yourselves,

L x

What we all face: the hedonic treadmill

Hello my lovelies! How are we this sunny Tuesday? Today I want to talk about a concept you may have heard of before, the hedonic treadmill, or hedonic adaptation. I find it fascinating and relate to it very much. It was a term coined by Brickman and Campbell (1971) and has become force for change in positive psychology (a field of Psychology that focuses upon happiness and well-being). It is where cognitive processes similar to sensory adaptation occur when faced with emotional events in life; our emotional system adapts to current life circumstances. It is where we react positively or negatively to a situation and then return to a neutrality or a baseline, a set point. It is a concept that presupposes why we are constantly seeking happiness in the next goal or action in order to maintain happiness levels. This notion can be a contentious topic among psychologists as the original theory declared we cannot do much to alter levels of happiness on a long term basis. The whole idea can seem counterintuitive too – would large moments that define our life trajectory change our baseline? Humans are an adaptable species which is why things may feel ‘neutral’ quite a bit, we get used to what we have. But evidence has shown activities such as altruism and self-care can impact short-term happiness which could possibly alter long-term happiness in the bigger picture. Hobbies that bring enjoyment such as art, crafting and reading can bring much happiness. Seligman termed these gratifications, and by consistently engaging we can alter our set points to be more satisfied with life. Diener et Al (2006) feels revisions must be made upon extensive research. The idea surrounding us going back to a neutral may indeed be wrong, they found the majority of people are happy or above neutral most of the time and suggest that there is no singular universal set point. They suggest that many factors including heritability (likelihood of transmission between parent and child) and personality impacts what the set point may be. There may also be multiple set points for an individual depending upon the factor impacting a person’s satisfaction with life. Longitudinal studies over a period of over a decade showed evidence to suggest that our happiness does and can change from previous levels on both a long and short-term basis. While we may have to face negative life circumstances, we will be better equipped when satisfied in other areas of our lives, and while this does take effort, being aware of where we are in our sense of self can help a great deal. For many years I felt my baseline, my set ‘neutral’ was depressed. The rush of retail therapy quickly faded, fun nights out turned me even worse the next day then back to depressed again. I felt I had to be out every weekend chasing the high, constantly achieving high grades at school, college even in the early years of university and nothing could keep me happy. I would return to my baseline. The past two years have changed all of that, I’m much happier in myself and while life events are not impacting my mood the majority of the time compared to mood swings I feel very satisfied with my life. While I have goals to achieve, they are end goals with a purpose such as overcoming phobias. So do what you love, whether that 5 minutes of sitting down with a cup of tea or spending a day painting, make that time! Please contact me and let me know your thoughts or any other topics I should cover! Much love, L x

Looking to the future

Hello my lovelies, how are we all? I hadn’t realised it had been so long since I posted, these days, as many will identify with, have just blurred together. I have been struggling recently, I had an episode earlier this week and I haven’t had one in what feels like a lifetime. But I’m slowly bouncing back, stronger each time. Things are no doubt hard right now, as so many will say it’s starting to become a cliché almost. I am also aware of what toxic positivity can be like. But right now, focusing on the coming months is helping me get through everything. I have so many goals so I just thought I’d share a list of what I’m hoping to achieve over the summer. A few may not seem as exciting to some, but please remember, I love to learn and some of it is needed for future plans.
  1. One of my first goals is to get through the mound of books and philosophy magazines I have collected. Reading is such an underrated hobby sometimes, I feel, and I am excited to get through my pile!
  2. Related to the above, I hope to create my first ever manuscript and book, I have been inspired by my past writings on here that a fair few of you seemed to enjoy and I want to use my experiences to educate but more importantly, empower, others. I doubt it’ll ever be published but to have a resource of my experiences might in turn be therapeutic for me.
  3. My third goal is to research dissertation topics. I have a broad subject in mind that I am so passionate about and want my dissertation to mean something more than just for a grade. I also am not the best at finding literature sometimes so this will be a big help when it comes to starting my final year.
  4. I also want to research and plan out a campaign around suicide, prevention and people speaking from their silence. Suicide is a tricky topic but it’s one thing I’m definitely passionate about improving in society, I will talk more about this project closer to the November/December launch when I have firmer details. I will want to spread the word as much as possible.
  5. Overcome my food phobia. This is probably the most difficult one given I have had it for so long. But I think I’m getting the right resources, I want to be able to have a healthy relationship with food and it’s time I tried to overcome it!
They are my top five goals, and in no way am I doing this to “make the most” of the time we have right now, these have been on my mind a lot and am wanting to do! I thought it would be good to share 😊 so these are my summer goals. At this point in time, I encourage you all to do what you need to in order to get through The Current Situation, be kind and compassionate to yourself. I hope you are all well, much love L x

5 lessons mania taught me

Good morning my lovelies! I hope you are taking good care of yourselves, staying safe and staying home? Let us get straight into the post that was promised, these are five lessons mania has taught me, no doubt there is still more to learn… 1. Anything can be inspiration When in mania, for me, everything is magical. Every single thing I do, think or feel is like seeing colour for the first time; everything is wondrous, fantastic, special. I feel intrinsically inspired, nothing is mundane. Because of this way of viewing things, I have learned that truly anything can cause inspiration at the most unexpected times. I have looked at myself and decided to make different choices, for example. I have found new reasons for living. I now have a larger appreciation for every single thing in life when I am well, not just manic. 2. Time really is relative Personally, when an episode of mania occurs I have what feels like truly limitless energy. I find that there is more time in the day and can get everything done in seconds. I work and work and work and work, yet it is just past midday. I can clean and tidy and read and play, but it is not even tea time. Time seems to go much slower, I get everything I can think of done and more. Unlike when I am well and the days can drag or go by too quickly without me accomplishing much. When I am manic, time is just a social construct I care not to follow. 3. There is light in this world, hard as it may be to see sometimes This is self-explanatory but one that needs to be mentioned as a strong reminder. In this world, in the mainstream media we all consume, all that we see is negative occurrences and things we don’t agree with. It feels like all there is to the world is suffering, hate, I could go on. Having mania allows me to see only the good, or be the good myself. I am still learning how to do this when well and I am getting better as time goes one. (Yes, it can take years, you are basically unlearning what society has conditioned you with.) 4. There is such a thing as too much A reason why an episode of mania can be dangerous for me is that I often don’t realise I am in mania until I am close to coming out of it or am already back to being stable or have crashed into a depressive episode. I am slowly learning to curb riskier behaviours by becoming teetotal, and keeping an eye on my spending. Mania with alcohol makes me love said alcohol and want to party at 9am just because. Mania and money makes we want to endlessly treat myself. I struggle with moderation, in everything, I always have. I restrict/binge food to extreme lengths in certain moods. I either party all the time or not at all, I am currently opting for not at all. I have learned that too much has a lot of risks for me and when I am stable I need to put in safety measures to prepare for any mania that may come my way. Doing too much causes a bigger fall back down to earth in to depression which causes more shock to the system. 5. That everything is temporary This is a very bittersweet lesson. There is both joy and sadness with the realisation of mania being temporary. In mania, nothing seems like quite enough, there is always something that has to be done or bought or said or shown. It is an endless wheel that never stops spinning. So it is quite nice to come back down sometimes to just rest and enjoy being, something I have struggled with since I was young. But that energy is a wonderful energy to have, endless positivity and caring and love. Why wouldn’t we bottle it? Because it is not human. Humans feel every spectrum of emotion and it’s a good thing, every emotion serves a purpose, which I hope to discuss at a later date. There is such a thing as toxic positivity because if we were constantly hyped and happy, we would say no to sadness and basically say to ourselves, we can’t feel. Much love and happiness to you, L x

Burned out and a poem

Good evening my lovelies! How are we all? I am afraid there isn’t much of a post today. You see, this one has burned herself out. It started with poor sleep, then overworking on a university assignment (though of course it never feels like it in the moment!). I have been out of shape and sleeping for half the day for the latter part of this week. I realised the night I overworked on Thursday that I’d soon be feeling the after effects. Lo and behold! Friday morning was not fantastic. I am telling myself, at least it wasn’t a shock to me and at least it didn’t cause a spiral. Though the idea of “at least X” is never helpful. I was planning away another Lessons post since that was well-liked last time, I hope to make a pack of them really. But instead, I leave you with a little poem I like. If you ever feel like you’d like a post of some of my poetry let me know! Susan Coolidge “Every day is a fresh beginning, Listen my soul to the glad refrain. And, spite of old sorrows And older sinning, Troubles forecasted And possible pain, Take heart with the day and begin again” Much love and happiness to you all, L x