Nearing the end of a degree

Dearest lovely readers,

It’s been a while since I spoke about my personal life, and it’s been a while since I last posted. Life is just a whirlwind for me, or is it for you too?

A few weeks ago I submitted my dissertation and first ever research project focusing upon positive psychology. I got my grade back at 82%. I’m so proud of what I have accomplished. Since then I have submitted more assignments with just one left before I get a degree offer at the end of July.

I have been doing this degree since 2016, 5 long years. I think about all that I have gone through, how much has changed. I don’t think I could ever summarise this part of my life, the evolution I have gone through. For someone who thought they’d never accomplish anything, I’m getting there.

Getting a degree means the start of a life, the start of a future I love and can be proud of. It’s the start of independence for me, a sign I’m growing. I know innumerable people graduate every year, but this is something special and unique for me.

Some assignments and material was interesting and easier to get on board with, but I’ve also cried over assignments when drowning mentally and feeling like nothing would change.

There are so many options for a future career for me following getting that piece of fancy paper. I have decided on a few options. But for now, once that assignment is handed in, I will be taking a break.

My mental and physical health is still poor so I want to focus on recovering from my relapse, maybe start a new creative project, read some books. And volunteer. I have started training to be a Crisis Volunteer and hope I can go far in helping others.

Things have been a little tricky, I am always honest when I’m not okay. Some memories have been haunting me each night, things I wish I could forget. But as life goes on, so must we. I’m dealing with it better, I guess practice and exposure increases resilience.

I am starting to find joy in activities again, it’s always a slow process but we get to where we need to be. I also have some exciting trips planned as restrictions ease where I am. In just a few weeks, all being well, I shall be off to London to see my partner, we have some exciting things planned and I could not be more happy at the thought. I’m enjoying reading and finding myself to be okay in my own company again.

I guess, during these times, I want to offer a message of hope. We all have potential in our lives, and hard times come, that’s life’s nature. But we must carry on. Good things will always come back around.

Much love,

L x

An little open letter to 16 year old me

Dearest Me,

You are now freshly turned sixteen years-old and right now, you are exhausted. You are overwhelmed. You are frightened. And looking back it is so easy and visible to understand why.

Sleep is a rarity, food has become the one thing you can control again, you would much rather just leave this plane of existence, you are overwhelmed and lost in emotions, chronic emptiness and baffled by what you experience inside your head. You don’t know why this is happening.

You now spend your lunch in the library alone working on preparing for your exams. You think life just cannot get much worse.

As you grow, life is going to get messier, more complicated, more nuanced. You will struggle, there will be times when it feels as if it could not get any worse, then it does. I will not lie.

You will make questionable choices when it comes to love, you experience the thrills of a partying lifestyle, your social circle grows then shrinks to those who matter most to you, who truly lift you up out of your bad times. You gain your family’s wholehearted support.

As you grow, life is going to become a bit easier though. You get therapy, and meet some wonderful workers who give you hope about the system.

Where am I right now nine years later?

You have found the man you want to spend the rest of your life with, one whom respects you and sets your world on fire, who gives you the healthy relationship you deserve, and understands better than anyone what you go through. You are about to graduate university, which may be a shock given you thought you’d never get there. You have made some wonderful friends too. Your immediate circle is filled with true friendship. You find your faith system.

More importantly, you become happy and satisfied with life, you’ve learned how your illnesses work and what to do in order to quell their flames. We struggle, but we do not struggle alone. That is what matters.

My advice to you: live life, explore what needs exploring, we don’t know what the future holds, we will get to where we need to be when the time comes.

Hold on, dear one, because life is just beginning, and it’s wondrous.

All my love,

L x

Year in review and looking ahead

Hello dear ones, how are we feeling?

I’d like to take a little moment just for you to check how you are feeling, take a deep breath and just settle in for a little read. I’d also like to thank you all, our little community, for all your support this year. I’m so thankful for those of you reading my posts, my thoughts on different topics, it’s been quite the year hasn’t it? Welcome to all the very new people too, you are most welcome here.

This is a bit of a stereotypical post I suppose but I feel like doing it anyway. This year has undoubtedly been hard, at times heart-wrenching, and chaotic, I could easily list and rhyme off countless miseries of the year. But I’m more about hope in this little space. At times it can be more powerful than sadness and fear, which a lot of people can experience at this point. A time when post festive season blues can kick in, or when it can feel daunting that another year is here. People online mocking those thinking 2021 will “magically” be better. But I say, what’s stopping it from being like that?

Now, I’ve pretty much kept you all up to date on what I have been going through but I thought it’d be great to just have a little summary post of things I have enjoyed, little moments, small wins and what I’m so looking forward to now in this new year.

I think one of my all time favourite moments of 2020 was when I was down at my partner’s and we spent a hot, sunny day on the beachfront, sat on a bench and watching innumerous dogs pass by. It was just such a wonderful time, where I felt carefree and I was with my favourite person. We were just sat there for over an hour, and I loved it. Christmas was also so, so wonderful and I got to take plenty of Polaroids to put in a new scrapbook, very retro. Much earlier in the year I got to present and do a bit of motivational speaking for the first time, rather than purely speaking my experiences. It was so much fun!

I am proud of a few accomplishments of 2020 including passing another year of university with flying colours, starting my final year. I have, this festive season, tried two new foods and really enjoyed them. Earlier in 2020 I also found I could watch certain foods cook without being so averse to it. These are huge wins on their own.

I have learned the true value of gratitude and been so appreciative of my aspects of my life. My strength truly has been tested like never before and I’m still coming out winning. As my dissociation got worse, I became so afraid, but with the help of others and through my own self-determination I’m getting back on track. Again, I’m very grateful for this.

So what’s ahead? Well, a lot. This will be the year I finally graduate, I am hoping to do my Master’s Degree if not finding a job in mental health. I will be moving out, across the country. I hope to do more volunteering. I will be continuing this blog. I will get answers about what is causing all my physical pain, I will be trying to get my body stronger. I hope to finally be able to have savings.

It’s definitely sounding like a lot for that. But for now, my goals for the first quarter are to focus on assignments, get a little workout regime sorted and eat a little better, have a small emergency savings fund, focus on deepening my connection to Buddhism and finding a new volunteering placement. Little actions with little steps are the key here. Of course, I will also hopefully create some good content for you here as this section of the internet has been so wonderful for me. I hope that is reciprocated.

I hope you are able to find some wins in 2020, and I hope you all have a magical year ahead filled with such joy, goodness and happiness.

Be gentle with yourself and take care,

L x

25 lessons

Good evening all,

So I love my lessons it seems. Yesterday was a big birthday (for me), I turned 25, I have had 7 additional years I thought I’d never see. Though I’m still young, I have learned a lot already, I’ve seen a lot of life in such a short time. I turned a quarter of a century, in the middle of a pandemic, it was my first sober birthday since 16 and probably my last one in my hometown (for a while at least). Yeah, that’s big for me.

So I thought I’d do a small post, just sharing general life lessons I have learned so far, it’s mainly a reminder to myself, should I ever forget. Something to reflect on as I get older.

1. Life can throw many, many terrible things at you, sometimes all at once (think 2014, L)

2. You don’t have to have everything figured out by age 18.

3. Following on from 2, plans will never go exactly according to your schedule.

4. Everything is impermanent.

5. You will see both the wondrous and awful nature of humans at some point.

6. There are over 7 billion versions of reality and what life should look like on this planet.

7. If you don’t want to experiment or “go wild” because you’re ‘young’, then don’t.

8. Live life according to yourself, and no one else.

9. There are extremes to every view and thought in this world.

10. Always seek help where you need it, in any given situation.

11. You’re going to mess up. That is an inevitable fact. No one leaves their life without making mistakes.

12. Don’t be afraid of having an opinion. It’s how you find your values.

13. Don’t be afraid of conflict. Though do not seek it out.

14. Violence is never the answer.

15. Set goals and dream, but be prepared to be flexible.

16. The future is never guaranteed, but certainly seek it out.

17. Sometimes being curious about the future is enough to find your way there.

18. Everyone has something to contribute.

19. Try your best to be compassionate, understanding and empathetic.

20. Communicate.

21. There is always something fun to do.

22. Don’t procrastinate.

23. Life has its meaning.

24. Everyone has strength.

25. Always, always keep going.

Much merry love,

L x

Reflections on November

Hello all my lovelies,

If you read my posts you know I love a good reflection. So I thought, why not reflect on a tumultuous month such as November?

I will be honest, November is a month I am struggling to remember giving that my mental state is not at a decent capacity. There were definitely some atrocious days but I can’t say it was all entirely bad and these words have such strange meanings, I guess the correct version would be it was a hard-hitting month.

So I have a couple of topics in mind, let’s take it that way. I think rounding up with all the things that cause stress would just make this a very depressing post. While I’m not for toxic positivity I do think I need to be realistic.

So, let’s start with relationships. Relationships are often a foundation of how we cope, they are apart of us. Having at least someone to back us up can make all the difference. I can happily say I have had no problems with support and positive relationships during November. My family may not have understood what I was going through, but they checkeup on me and helped where they could. Whether that’s taking up additional chores from myself or feeding my wonderful guinea pigs: and they gave me respect. My partner was fantastic, he was essentially my sounding board and while I tried to be a good partner to him, he was very respectful when I couldn’t give 110 percent all the time. So no complaints here!

I guess health would be the more contentious issue. I will be straight up honest and say that my GP he was of no use during this time, I understand that there are many stresses going on behind the closed doors (I’ve seen what happens as a GP receptionist). But I have come to find out that when I asked for my antipsychotic back and he made no mention of my circumstances to the psychiatrist it essentially was “can L have her antipsychotic back?”, so I’m glad I took it upon myself to write a letter about my mental capacity when I was more lucid. I would like to let you know that I have since gone it back until my telephone assessment with the mental health team in a couple weeks time. They were shocked at how I have deteriorated and quite unsure as to why my GP did actually take me off it. So I am happy to say I have been sleeping for the first time in many weeks.

With physical health, I’m not further forward until I have MRIs and the next rheumatology appointment but I have since purchased a support to help me sit properly, knee braces and a cane to walk better. They do help so that is also a bonus and I haven’t gotten physically worse which I really count as a win.

University! What a bonus. It’s been a really positive one, because I got back my first assignment results for my final year at 72% and 78% which I am quite happy with. I have feedback that is constructive and can use in the next assignment to hopefully improve upon. My tutor who will be helping me on the research project in particular has been so supportive and understanding which is really just refreshing so I know, should I falter infuture they will be there to ensure that I take care of myself.

November felt truly terrible in the moment but this is why reflection is important. You gauge the true impact of each moment and my reflection has shown me that yes it was awful but I had a pretty successful November, that’s my takeaway and I think it really puts things into perspective.

Wishing you all my love,

L x

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

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

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

I’m back: part 2

When you’re going through hell, keep on going. Winston Churchill
Happy Monday and good morning all! Thanks to recent glorious weather I have just spent a while mopping up mucky paw prints from all over the floors (thank you Raven). I thought I would start off this week with a very apt quote that has stayed with me throughout the years. It serves as a very strong reminder for me that no matter how far I fall, I keep going and keep fighting. It is what feels like a very real and powerful message. Now, the main reason for this post is just to become a bit more open about what has been going on, what I hope to achieve in the coming months and what kind of topics I will be posting about in the future. As I have dedicated this part of the internet a place of positivity for myself, and for you, I will always try to remain hopeful. But there may be times when my honesty is a bit more raw, with those posts I will place a content warning at the beginning. What is currently going on (CW: Mentions diagnoses and current impact e.g. hallucinations) Okay, let’s get the hardest part over first: my health. *Deep breath* I have multiple mental health diagnoses that impact me greatly which I will share more about as time passes. For now I shall just rhyme them off; Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, Recurrent Depressive Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Agoraphobia. I also have a food phobia and disordered eating. Gosh, I will be honest, seeing that written down makes me emotional but it’s what I have been given. Now, my agoraphobia is a result of my breakdown in April 2018, I can barely leave the house and haven’t really been able to unless I am with at least one of 4 trusted people, even then I am really distressed inside. My food phobia has come from 14 years of disordered eating. Very long story short, I completed 10 months of intensive therapy last year using a fair few therapeutic models and approaches, I was seemingly well. I got discharged on 24th October. I was well in November. Then 1st December comes and everything crashes. Week by week my motivation goes, my sleep becomes disturbed, my mood goes all over the place as if I was not on my medication. I tried my best in December to go back to basics like I learned. I created goals and tried exercise. But February has come. My paranoia, deep emptiness, loneliness and hallucinations have returned. There is a whole lot more happening but it can get complicated. Despite it all, I am getting on with life. I have to. I still find enjoyment in some things, I am currently on a self–love journey, I still adore my little guinea pigs, I am doing surprisingly well in university (82% on my latest assignment, very pleased). One thing I firmly believe is that I never give up, despite it all, I keep on going. I listen to my body and try my hardest to take care of myself. It also helps I have the most supportive partner and support network to keep me in check. I do feel that the winds will change. So that is what I am going through. I am okay, and will keep on going! So what do I hope to learn, achieve and do? I will admit since therapy and getting further into psychology with university, I do have a different outlook that I am not too sure how to explain. My self-awareness feels a lot more heightened and I know what my brain is physically doing. So it feels like what is going on is sometimes only happening to half of me and the other half is absolutely fine and separate from it all. Either way, it is a complex situation. I know things will improve because they have before. So I have this knowledge. I have my foundations for self-care and well-being. Where do I go from here? Well, I will work with the services to see if I need further treatment or what can be done. I think it’s time to start and finish some projects I had in mind during a mania phase and put my passion out there, give myself positive things to focus on. I feel like this is where I learn my distress tolerance, and learn how to move forward and get through what I am going through. Keep on going. I think for me to grow I need to do a lot of reflection, see what has been going on and how I can react differently next time, how I can act now and for the future. There is always something to learn. What will be featured on this blog in the future? I am very excited about what I have planned for the future posts here at PP! There are going to be plenty of book reviews as I am really enjoying reading right now. In terms of wellness, I hope to look at goals, a bit more in-depth into routines, other aspects of wellness holistically, I will also be sharing my journey of self-love. Things are going to become a lot more personal and I will be sharing my story of mental illness, how my mental health has impacted me, what has changed over the years and what has not. I want to start a real conversation on everything I have experienced and what has come of it. I hope what I speak about in the future resonates with you, inspires you or even maybe helps you to feel a little less alone. Thank you for standing by me. Much happiness to you, L x