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

Living with others who have mental illness

*CW: mention of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts*

Dearest lovely readers,

Today’s topic was suggested by my own mother and so I hope my experiences may be of use to you today.

As you are aware, I am mentally ill, but I am not the only one who has mental illness in my household. Every other member does too, my mother, my step-father and my young sibling. They each have anxiety and/or depression. As you can imagine, this can be really difficult for everyone involved at times. It certainly has made an impact in recent years.

To be honest, there were points that each day someone fell ‘under the weather’ and then traded someone else the day after. It was just a loop of “who is ill today?”. There have also been longer periods where one of us needed a lot more support for a longer term due to breakdowns or episodes, if you will. The most obvious being myself, I usually have a couple months stability then all of a sudden my mother starts worrying about what I might do in the night.

It is tough, because mental illness isn’t the only thing we as humans have to deal with, life still goes on no matter whether we are struggling or not. It really is a fine balancing act. For me, when someone in this house is struggling, I am instantly in panic mode, constantly asking what I can do to help and thus stress and become unwell more myself. It truly is a very, very fine balancing act. My mother is in a constant state of worry for her children who have been struggling rather chronically, I cannot speak for her experience, but I imagine it does impact her. And it impacts my stepfather.

When I was young and first met my stepdad, things were okay, I was excited. But that quickly spiralled as became unwell, truly unwell, and had delusions that acted against him. He saved my life once when I was about to attempt suicide. He has helped me through so much of my life and I have never known how to thank him.

My mam loves her alone time on a night, a chance for her to rest, but the door is always open at any time of night. When I was a party girl I often had alcohol-induced episodes, I don’t remember the vast majority of them but those I do remember, she would cuddle me, stay in bed with me, made me sure I was safe. And while we have had our disagreements (especially where my alcohol intake was concerned) as any family would, she has been there for me despite her down days.

When I was beginning to falter last year, my young sibling started to struggle more, yet they would come see me, and I would calm them and chat and make sure they were safe, I have even tried to teach them a few coping skills and worked around their needs. I worry about them, but I know they understand that no matter what I may be going through, I am there for them.

See this is the thing, yes we cannot pour from an empty cup, but family are meant to be a support, and our family work like clockwork now. We all understand each other’s needs, if something crops up we rally around and try to help and support in any way we can. Last year was ridiculously difficult, yet out of it came better communication between the family. We connected when there was no where else to go. They say this lockdown has been harder, but we are supporting each other well. We recognise when someone is not on their A-game, we act accordingly. We share more, we are more open.

I am struggling right now, in a depth I cannot recognise, yet I am still trying my very utter best to be present, likewise with the family. Supporting other who are mentally ill in the same household, can seem impossible at times, because we all just want better well-being, we all want to cope and we can pour too much out at times. There is never a perfect recipe for this. But by being aware of what we are capable of each day allows for us to be better for ourselves and for the others. Love truly is a wonderful thing.

All my love,

L x

Taking a break in life

Dearest lovely readers,

Welcome back, I hope you have had a wonderful week. Welcome to the new people joining this week, it is great to have you đź’–

Life is full isn’t it? It can be so hard juggling not only the multiple factors of well-being for yourself, but also for those around you, without adding every other aspect of life like appointments, work, hobbies… I could go on.

I think there is solidarity with all people across the world in sometimes feeling like we need a break from life, to just press pause and take a break, catch ourselves up, regroup, rejuvenate. It’s ridiculously hard trying to do that, we may feel we don’t have the energy, or time, or resources. In some cultures, resting is frowned upon, I would say this includes the UK in some sectors.

We must always be doing something. If we are unemployed, we must be lazy. We need hobbies, and nights out socialising, long hours of work, volunteering, taking care of our families, and I could go on. But I want to start breaking this stereotype of life down.

Being “on” all the time isn’t possible, we aren’t machines, we are human. And humanity needs a rest sometimes. Just to clear our heads maybe, so we would with a meditation or prayer, or a lovely bath. Or we may need something longer term like time off, traveling somewhere, or just resting in bed for a few days.

No one truly knows what we need but ourselves, and maybe someone very close to us within our support network. I’m going to be honest, it’s a reminder I need right now.

I have been so focused on getting ahead with university and my dissertation, finding a new place to volunteer, keeping in very close contact with friends, cutting down cigarettes and pop intake, meditating more, doing hobbies more, trying to walk more, cleaning my room more than I should, battling pain, battling cravings for alcohol, battling incessant paranoia and tearful night times.

While some of this sounds very positive, it’s too much. My head hurts and my heart aches. So I need to take a break. I need to hit pause, reconfigure my priorities and move with a solid plan for myself. This includes possibly being less consistent with our space that we have created. I love what we are doing here, I love our moments to connect. But I am needing to take a huge step back on everything and looking at how to keep myself in a safe place without overdoing everything. So I may post on a different day or not for a week, just for a little while.

However, do message me or comment your preferred days for reading in this space. Because it matters.

If you need a break, I hear you.

All my love,

L x

My social media story

*CW: mention self-harm/suicide*

Dearest lovely readers,

We have, over the years, been inundated about the dangers of social media, others arguing “it’s not so bad”. We have seen the arguments rage on since it’s invention. Let me tell you, a bit of my story – this is not the whole story as one part from my young, naĂŻve is difficult to share.

Like most my age, I started on social media very young, maybe around 11 years old. It was fun. I became bewildered at how easily I could make my own website, how easily I could change things and it started an obsession. As I grew older I was able to talk to my friends any time I wanted, I could share ‘fun things’, I followed “deep” pages sharing in my teenaged angst. I felt understood. I was obsessed with a game call YoVille on Facebook when I was around 13 years old. That game caused some real danger and I learned of the dark side very young, but without the true understanding of how the world works.

Around 15 I was on another site, WeHeartIt, which I liked because no one else I knew was on it, I could find pictures I loved. Unfortunately, safe guards around self-harm and suicide weren’t there and I saw many pictures which affected me.

I grew an affinity to ‘liking’ people’s things as a way of showing affection, or telling people, “yes, this is good content” and I didn’t really even realise it. But by the time I was 18, I started lessening what I reacted to, putting up less and less statuses. But yet, I would endlessly scroll, and scroll, and scroll. This was my life until a few years ago, I learned that I was part of (one of) the big Facebook scandal in which millions of people’s data had been took for the 2016 election. That was when I did my research. Whilst I still kept on scrolling, I started to see through the façade, I started to see more content that was harming my mental health.

I became one of those who would compare themselves, and felt inferior. I then started seeing a lot of media content that would enrage me but had no choice in whether I could see it or not. And so I quit Facebook. But then I still had Instagram. The exact same cycle happened.

I became addicted to seeing these that would embroil me in emotions and I just couldn’t stop.

Overall, yes I enjoyed posting things and connecting with friends to see what they were up to and yes, even getting the few likes I got. But yes, I also felt disheartened when I didn’t get many likes, I felt anger at seeing people’s views that didn’t match my own, I also felt pity for myself seeing how “far ahead” others got in life. Social media made me critical of myself and others. And that just does not par up to who I am. So I quit.

And I feel free, I relinquished those chains.

Ultimately, it is how we use social media that matters and when it starts to feel awful, that is the time to quit.

Much love,

L x

Seeking help in a crisis state

*CW: Discussion on suicide and suicidal thoughts*

Dearest lovely readers,

Things have been hard lately. I have had somewhat of an unstable week where suicidal thoughts and ideation have been prevalent. Now, suicide prevention has always been something important to myself because of my experiences, at the moment I am hoping to campaign in my community on this.

But this week I did something new.

This is difficult to say because suicide has become such a taboo and triggering topic, but how are we meant to reverse and normalised these kinds of conversations if no one feels they can speak out, I suppose it’s my turn.

I went on a very exhausting emotional rollercoaster within the space of an hour I experienced a good 3 emotional phases and this drains me quite a lot so much. It meant I spent nearly the entirety of the next day sleeping because of the exhaustion. My mind became serious but there was a tiny part that told me to hold on. I wanted to drink, I wanted to binge, I wanted to cause self-injury. Instead I turned on my laptop and waited my turn to speak to someone on a web chat crisis helpline.

Whilst I waited to speak with someone I was anxious and nervous with thoughts like ‘was I really so bad that I needed this kind of help?’, ‘Do I really deserve this?’

I then spent the next hour unravelling everything going on in my mind and my heart and by the end of the session I felt a sense of unity within myself, a warmth of an imaginary blanket wrapped around me to keep me safe.

I lasted the night.

I’m so glad that I reached out because these people truly heard me. It showed that kindness is in the world. That it’s ok and acceptable and I didn’t need to struggle alone late at night. The person on the helpline helped guide me to safer feelings and gave me strength. I know I can go back to them should I ever need to and this time more readily.

I have historical experience with suicidal thoughts but I never reached out to these helplines because I didn’t feel I was “ill enough”. I would downplay it to myself. Seeking help from a stranger online can feel so scary but it’s something paramount to be able to deal with your mind. I wish I had done something like this other times so that I was not alone and dealing with the thoughts and feelings that scare me most.

These kinds of charities, such as CALM and their helplines are vital in order to save lives, truly save lives, to show that suicide is not the answer. Their work is vital given hundreds of people give up their lives each week. This kind of conversation needs to be normalised in order to reduce the people we love becoming just another statistic in the eyes of others.

We need to be able to say suicide is not the answer, we need to be able to see people as they are and give them safety, that is paramount. We need to rid of the archaic stigma that suicide is self, that we have to be “ill enough” to seek out support. Let’s start today, because there is hope and light to move forward.

Much love,

L x

If you are feeling suicidal I hear you, please, please contact someone whether your local crisis team, Samaritans on 116 123, contacting Papyrus, texting shout to 85258, or using CALM’s helplines at thecalmzone.net

The power of small: Time to Talk Day

Good morning my lovely readers,

I’d like to take a moment for you to check in with yourselves, how are you doing? For many, January seems to have been a long, hard month, a difficult time for many. I hope you are all well.

Next Thursday is a special day. It is the final Time to Talk Day. For those whom may not know what TTTD is, it is a day ran by Time to Change encouraging everyone to have a conversation with people around mental health in order to end mental health stigma. It is the final one now that Time to Change is ending. The theme is “the power of small”.

I am enjoying this theme because it really does remind me of how powerful “the small” can be. Many are hosting online events or campaigning on social media. As I do not have social media I won’t be partaking on the likes of Instagram or Facebook.

The aim is to remind people that you don’t have to great gestures to make a change in someone’s life, simply asking a friend or a family member how they are doing can be just as powerful. For myself, I am going to be sending an email/letter to my MP in the hopes of being able to raise more awareness in the community and see if anything can be done to help those becoming unwell in my local area.

The power of small is mighty. We don’t have to focus on a specific day, we can live the power of small. Realistically, we all have small actions that set the foundations of our days, which can ultimately transform our life. Small is the foundation. You don’t start your morning without many small actions such as hydrating yourself, getting dressed, when unwell, these “basics” can make all the difference.

Sometimes we have to go back to our foundations as a way of building back up and to foster more positivity within us. Get to where we need to be. Those foundations are small, but they’re strong.

I try to remember that small actions mean a lot, I also try to embed it with kindness. Because if we are kind to one person, or five people, in our lives or strangers, in a week, we might help an awful lot of people that way. We give a sense of meaning and community to us and those around us by showing small acts of kindness, even just by checking in with them.

So I hope you have some lovely conversations this week, and may you have a wonderful week ahead.

All my 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

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

Lessons I have learned from anger

Good day to you lovelies. Are you all settled in?

I thought today would be a good time to finish my lessons learned for now. Today’s topic is, I would say, a bit contentious to those of us with EUPD. Mainstream media would paint us as aggressive, quick to anger, and act on blind rage. Whilst I have had moments where rage and anger take over, this is simply because for myself I do have difficulty in dealing healthily with anger. It is one of the most potent emotions I experience, an ever-consuming fire. But it would always be contained, in the past I did not handle it well at all and it turned into suffering.

I want to preface this by saying I have never acted on my rage and hurt others physically, nor do I condone this in any way.

Like all emotions, anger has its place in our emotional repertoire and experiencing anger in the way I have, and reflecting on this in therapy has taught me a couple of things.

When boundaries have been crossed
Now, we all have boundaries within ourselves that safeguard our well-being, whether we are aware of them or not. Some are instilled in our conditioning as we grow, others we explicitly form ourselves. It is common for anger to rise in me when my own boundaries have been crossed, whether through words or actions. I have learned now more about the boundaries I have, and when I need to put some in place temporarily to protect my well-being and reduce the chances of me having to experience anger. Though I have healthy outlets, it certainly does not lessen the intensity of the experience.

Anger signals when I view, hear or experience things that go against my values/moral compass
Much like boundaries, we all have our own values as humans that guide our morality and ethical compasses. Oftentimes, I have become angry when my values have been crossed, when I witness something that goes against who I am as a human being. For example, injustice, or reports of hatred in the news. There have been times when my anger has gone to extremes, I will not lie. But each time I become angered now, I ask myself why, what is it in particular that has caused this experience, what can I learn from it?

Not to hide emotions
This is a big one. For so many years, I was used to putting on a mask of sanity, if you will, hiding anything and everything for the sake of others. To lessen the stigma and annoyance by other people. Yet in reality, it made things so much worse, not only for myself but to others around me, they would think I was fine and that was not the true picture. In order to properly process my feelings and emotions, they need to be fully experienced, fully shown, appropriately expressed and then dealt with.

What has anger taught you?

Wish you joy and happiness,

L x