Asking for help is a strength…

Thought I would share this talk. I watch this channel quite often. It is creative and inspiring. Many of the speakers deliver their talk from the heart, with honesty and they can get your brain working around different issues. It makes you think differently which is brilliant!

This talk is particularly important to me because of the title….’Asking for help is  a strength, not a weakness’. When we look at others we think they are coping better than us but we really do not know their suffering too do we? Is it only me that needs help? probably not…?What is resilience anyway?

I have struggled recently because my immunity has been low and generally managing my depression is a daily mission! I have made connections with more bloggers and at least being at home, I have still made connections with the outside world.

I got a phone call on Saturday from my friend, who was worried about me as she knew I was ill and noticed I had deactivated my Facebook account. It was nice to hear her voice and actually have a conversation. it was nice to know someone cared about me and actually made the effort to check on me, just like my family do.

I take myself away from social media quite a lot because it is time consuming and I fall into the trap of making comparisons.

I wonder why I cant be a successful as everyone else or why I dont feel as good as others ‘appear’ on their Facebook profiles. I also can get drawn into debate, conflict or politics! I see others sending time with their parents and think why dont I have this opportunity with my mum and I will just spiral downwards.

On a positive I will say I am confident  at asking for help but can imagine the people who don’t ask for help and wonder how hard it must be for them. There is nothing wrong with asking for someone to help you travel if you are scared of travelling or someone to make a phone call for you. Evening cooking a meal or making a decision, some of the tasks others take for granted. I did ask for help this weekend with the school run as I was too sick to get to and from school and with a meeting I have in June so I did well to reach out for help!

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I hope you can take some time to watch the talk…..

 

Pet Therapy!

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I recently finished knitting a blanket for my cat, Shire. She lay on it straight away, showing her appreciation for it and enjoying the warmth and comfort.

I have always found pets improved my mental health. They are non-judgmental and they don’t answer you back! 🙂 Cats love to be independent and have the freedom to come and go as they please. They have given me a lot of comfort over the last 20 years and I think the older I have become, the more I have appreciated them.

Want to volunteer with your pet?

 

You may find this wesbsite interesting to read:

 

http://petsastherapy.org/

 

 

 

 

 

A thought for the day……

Depression makes you appreciate the connections you have with people and keeps you away from others drama and complexities. It forces you to battle some days and hold onto hope. You value your children’s smiles and achievements at school no matter how small. It gives you a greater perspective of life than someone who does not experience depression. It is a unique condition often experienced by highly creative and intelligent people (yes, thats me!)

If you know someone who appreciates the good days more than the bad days, be there for them, even if it is just give a listening ear and a cup of tea for an hour of your time. You dont need to guide the person, just listen and help raise a smile

If you have been feeling low for quite some time, be open and honest with your feelings and learn to love yourself before you give love to others. There is a lot of help out there even if the waiting lists for clinical therapy are long and the system is complex. When you get there, you are on a journey of your own recovery however that may be for you. Society is not easy and comparing our self to others is harmful. Accept where you are in life now with no pressure to be ‘successful’.

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Comparing yourself to others

Do you often feel caught up with what everyone else is doing? Do you look to others for approval?

Social media can be unhealthy sometimes that we look at others photos on a news-feed and it tends to make us fall into the trap of comparing our self to others. When you think about the life course you have taken and see how far you have come with your own life challenges, it makes you feel silly about how you have fallen into the trap of self comparison and neglected your true self.

Feeling that you need to ‘keep up with the jones’s ‘ is emotionally draining and time consuming. Consumerism and the media has a big part to play in that and the constant bombardment of advertising. As you grow older, you realise that the only opinion that matters is the one you have of yourself and no one else matters. It is nice to get a compliment from time to time from someone important in your life but when we are always looking for others to ‘like’ our life on Facebook or a recent selfie, it makes you feel others approval is important and needed to exist and feel ‘happy’. Life was completely different before social media and the mental health of young people may of been healthier.

I have started to feel I am on my own path in life now and I do not need the validation from others to exist and enjoy my life. It has took me a long time to begin to trust people and trust my own instincts. It has been a constant journey and a battle sometimes to connect with my own feelings and feel the need to go with decisions I have made. I am getting there and I am very proud of myself.

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A difficult day….

Through public health awareness and our networks, we hear a lot about cancer, diabetes, strokes and other illnesses but nothing about the link between chronic emotional distress and auto immune disease. I was diagnosed earlier this year with Graves disease, an auto immune disease which I had never knew existed. I have not known anyone with it other myself. I had my 3 month follow-up today with my consultant. I don’t even think UK NHS mental health services have caught up with it the link. I didn’t know about the relationship between childhood trauma and the body’s own immune system attacking itself, until I read a book by Donna Jackson Nakazawa titled ‘Childhood Disrupted – how biography becomes your biology and how you heal.

At my appointment with my consultant, I got a bit flustered as there were two other staff in the same room when I walked in and a lot of the symptoms that I discuss are depressive mood, sleep disturbance, eye problems, skin problems and so on. I think the name ‘Graves disease’ doesn’t sound very sexy either! I wanted to say, ‘Can you both leave the room please,’ but felt a bit nervous to ask.

I am still trying to keep up with everything as in ‘life’ and work out how best to treat my body to the correct foods and fitness that it may need. (she says munching a pizza slice!) I also have to think about my health, long-term and if it can be something that can be treated well with my anti thyroid meds and psychological therapy. I am a great believer in the psychological causation to many illnesses. The sad and equally good thing about it is, I have a curious personality and I do a lot of reading and ask questions about how I can help myself. There is no cure, although my consultant said it can go into remission. There may be things I can do to make my health more manageable. I feel I need to email my consultants secretary and ask for some more help with diet (In my dreams…!) as you don’t get the chance to speak about all your concerns in 20 minutes! That is one area that is quite over looked when you are given drugs, how to heal with food. I could talk about that a lot longer, but I’ll leave it for another time.

I reckon I have had this condition for many years and if it wasn’t of feeling ill with chest pains and having an ECG in the summer of last year, I would not be on this journey today. I am now I am thankful to the medical staff that got my thyroid levels tested and began the referral to see an endocrinologist. It makes you realise how things could not be picked up unless we listen to our body and probe further to find out why we are unwell.

Think I’ve had two crying episodes today. One with my partner and one with my son. Ethan is 9 and I am raising him with the understanding that it is OK to cry and get the tears out. It heals the soul and without crying, the world would be a miserable place! I don’t want Ethan exposed to a lot of upset in this childhood but at the same time it is more healthy to let him see me react to sadness from time to time without running out of the room and hiding away in shock! Sometimes I can hold in the tears though and sometimes I chose not too. I always tell my friends to let it out so I need to take a lesson from that. I have always said there should be ‘community crying cafes’ where people can go to have a good cry and meet new people without them feeling they need to see a GP or have the label of mental illness. There is also too much commercial gain from the major, profitable pharmaceutical companies but again,  but, wont go down that round on my blog just yet! I need to wait until my moods lifted!

There are people in our community needing to show emotion but self medicate with drugs or alcohol, get angry and violent and vent their emotions in other ways which have lasting damage because of a difficult life due to poverty, child abuse or even homelessness and as a society we are told not be depressed or anxious or at least the norm seems to be ‘happy, balanced and conforming with others’.

Anyway, I managed to get my son to and from school, go the library and buy some bananas today, oh and do some cleaning. I got through the day….!

 

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Happy pancake day!

Couldn’t really leave the day without blogging about food and mood!

It is pancake day and nice to have a treat from time to time. After all, eating pancakes inspired me to come up with a title for this blog. I suppose as time as gone and depending on how I feel, I don’t eat well and often can’t afford the range of foods we are meant to eat to stay healthy. I do quite well but I am always anxious about making sure I have healthy food in and we are always hearing so much about ‘mood boosting’ foods. I haven’t been able to gain much weight in a while due to over active thyroid as I have a fast metabolism. This may sound a bit weird, but I would prefer to have the choice to gain weight even though I know many complain about being overweight. I suppose it is how you feel rather than what size you are.

These are the following ‘eat well’ messages we are bombarded with:

Ensure your family eat their five a day (fruit and vegetables)

Avoid too much caffeine if you have mood problems such as anxiety issues and depressive mood

Don’t have too much sugar or caffine – especially if you have bladder illness

Drink 2 litres of water today

Eat at regular times and avoid snacking – if only!

Guten free products are better for you – and very limited and costly!

 

But I have found it hard to know whats best with various health conditions and often feel confused and deprived of what I should or shouldn’t eat. Not everyone can afford a nutritionist either.

It would be interesting for you to share what works for you and if you are on a budget, how do you eat well for less. (or so Sainsburys say!)

Here is link to a healthy, balanced diet 

Anyway enjoy your pancakes, including all the sugar and toppings you like!

 

 

 

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Outlook on life

Are you a planner or do you like to go with the flow of life to get what you want out of life? Do you expect the worst to happen or are you happy to look on the bright side? Negative thoughts can make this difficult.

I believe that there is a higher power, guiding us in a certain direction and although difficulties and suffering may happen to us, we are in position to learn from the situation and become empowered from it. Depression has a harsh way of asking us to look at our life and make some changes. It can be a turning point for many.

You could call it destiny or fate! If we leave our options open and try different things, we may become connected to certain people who will take us on a path that is meant for us. I like being around new people but in the past social anxiety as made me feel overwhelmed or feel like I may not fit in to a certain group of people. I still have very difficult days where I feel unable to cope.

Mental health challenges, sometimes make it hard to differentiate between what are ‘normal’ feelings and what is a a health issue. I think today’s fast paced society has made it difficult for function and cope with different stressors. For me, there is no such thing as normal. Making comparisons to others and putting unrealistic expectations, is one of the reasons why we get depressed and anxious.

How about having some alone time and switching your phone off? In relation to our mental health, sometimes we try so much to ‘feel better’ and be around people and avoid feeling lonely when sometimes, we may be running from ourselves and not enjoying our own company.

Looking at the relationship we have with our self before we look at the relationships we have with others is a good starting point.  I wish I had this wisdom when I was younger. It is guidance that I can now pass on to my son and other children to increase their self-esteem.

When we don’t have self-love and compassion, we end up forming unhealthy relationships and going down the path that may not be right for us. Something to think about ………………….

‘What is meant for you, won’t go past you’

RIP Pepa 2000 – 2017

After nearly 17 years together, I said my final goodbyes to my boy Pepa or ‘Peps’ that we liked to name him. He was the last of four cats I looked after since 1997. Part of the family for such a long time with no health issues. He had such a gentle nature and was always there for me, giving me comfort when I needed it, especially during the very difficult days of depression and stressful life events. He was very good at flexing his claws into my leg when he wanted to help eat my food!

I was heart broke when he became ill quite suddenly over the last few months. I made the choice to take him to the vets yesterday. Part of me didn’t want to say goodbye but I knew it was the kindest thing to do in the situation. I have his collar and cuttings from his fur for a keepsake box. He can now be reunited with Tara and Bobby in cat heaven to eat endless tuna!

A few months before he passed, we decided to rehome a kitten so we now have Shire to keep us company.

 

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I’m getting married!

Feels unreal when I say I am now a fiancee! I had a lovely weekend visiting my partners family in Kent. On a visit to Leeds Castle, Jason proposed to me! On one knee, in the castle grounds, Jason asked me to marry him. At first I thought he was joking! I replied ‘are you having a laugh?’. Then I realised he wasn’t joling and I thought “this is it – I am going to be married!” It was a beautiful moment. We haven’t decided on a year and a venue as yet. Today we are went to the jewelers to have the ring adjusted as it was 2 sizes too large. It is a family heirloom and exactly the style of ring I would have chosen.

Today we have started to make a list of ideas and guest we want for the wedding and hoping everyone that is invited can make it.

 

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Accepting the ‘negative’ thoughts….

I’ve tried lots of therapies via the NHS, mainly CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and counselling. Although I can see the rational and logical way that cognitive behavioural therapy can work and be helpful in some situations, particulary the here and now, I have also struggled to implement it in my daily life and see it of any benefit to me as it also works on the principle of changing what you are thinking rather than accepting the thought and looking deeper into why you would think that way in the first place (the route cause). Because my condition began from a difficult childhood and a history of serious health problems which affected my self worth and distorted my core beliefs, I needed to revist my past and talk about long term trauma I had experienced. I was always surrounded by people and social constructs that appeared to be ‘strong and resilient’ and appeared to be coping with whatever life threw at them. It can make you feel pretty crap over time when you think you are constantly at odds with the world. Depression distorts your view and makes you feel like a different person. I suppose you could say you have an angry or wounded child inside. This is why I do my best with parenting now as I know how different things could be for my son. School is one of the first environments that challenges you in many ways. Bullying, the stress of being absent due to illness and the social pressures of living in a deprived family with mental ‘illness’. When I look back on my childhood now, it made me realise how much I endured and how proud I should be of being here today and surviving what life has thrown my way. I take responsibility of where I am and where I will get to. Does it really matter if my hairs a mess or I have acne..no!

Often there would be no obvious triggers for my low mood, some days I may have poor sleep and wake upset or drained even before the day began. Even though sleep hygiene is important, if you need to nap in the daytime, do it. Dont deprive yourself of sleep. Get sleep when you can, especially if you are suffering from insomnia at night. Mornings are particularly problematic for me, which is common with depression. I think you get into a thought habit of telling yourself that there is no point in sticking to plans as ‘things will go wrong’ or ‘you need to stay at home and rest today’. It is incredibly hard to know what to do for the best some days. Today was a great day. I accepted my negative thoughts and set out to go to work as planned. I was nervous as hell, convinced the day would not go well and got stressed out with the motorway queuing but I managed to report I was running late and that took the pressure off getting to my meeting on time. I really hate being late, always like to punctual or I’m always early. Slight ‘obsession’ but a useful one because they say its good manners to be on time!

One of the things I aim to do now, is be mindful with the way I think, when I can and not get swept into the ocean of deeply distressing thoughts and get used to concentrating on my breathing more to ground me. If we are anxious we often don’t learn to breathe from our belly (like babies do), we have very shallow breathing. It is automatic and feeds into the horrible cycle of anxiety, negative thoughts and avoidance behaviour. Mindfulness seems to be the buzz word in mental health at the moment. Like I said, you can choose bits of everything that suits you on different days. Getting to a place of complete stillness and peace is hard to do during meditation practise, especially if you are a creative thinker as I am as you are always coming up with ideas in your mind or problem solving.

I am trying to not be too hard on myself, to be kind and nurturing to myself and have a future of more helpful thoughts.