Why Red Balloons? Well, let me tell you…

I’ve been blogging a while now, well at least attempting to come across as a blogger when really all I feel is like someone who spouts randomness but is lucky that some people like to read it! A lot has changed since my first blog and I get asked quite often, “What is Red Balloons?” “What are you about?” etc so I decided, now that I have a few new readers and I have officially launched Red Balloons as a living, breathing entity, I would explain who I am and what I do, as well as why. A little insight to the crazy world of CC!

Very brief history, I have suffered from Depression for many years now, although extremely luckily for me, it was quite deep under the surface. I had ways of managing it where I could even forget I actually had it. Last year though, I had the worst flare up I have had in over 13 years. A flare up that very nearly cost me my life. My metaphorical bath was over flowing at an alarming pace and I could not see a way to let the water out safely. All of the things I had tried so hard to bury in my lifetime were determined to escape. Quite simply, they were too strong and I broke, into several pieces.

Luckily again, my attempt was unsuccessful. If I didn’t believe in Guardian Angels before, I certainly do now. And what I have realised is, it wasn’t my time. I have things I need to do here, things to achieve, people to help, a difference to make somehow, even if only a tiny one.

Counselling and my lovely friend introduced me to writing as a form of therapy and from there, this blog was born. My first blog post got 21 views. I was over the moon! I don’t write for others, unless asked for a blog piece for a particular reason, but that people chose to read what I had wrote was a lovely feeling. I began to feel that maybe if I could explain what was going on in my life, it could help someone else who was suffering, it could help someone not feel so isolated and alone, it could help those who have never really had any dealings with Depression or other mental health issues understand a little bit more. Although the word is getting louder, mental health problems are still HUGELY stigmatised. I am determined to keep campaigning for as long as is necessary to try and ease this stigma, a mental health issue can be just as crippling as a physical condition. Just because you cant see it, or maybe dont understand it, it does not mean the damage is any less severe, that the pain is any less than that of a broken limb.

So, why the name? The Red part, although coincidentally my favourite colour, was in homage to RED January. This charity event as such (to do some sort of physical exercise every day for the whole of January) was such an instrumental part of getting me onto the path I am on now. It was the very start of me being able to mix my passions, mental health and fitness, as well as being able to raise over £300 for Mind. It was the start of me giving back, doing my bit to help in any way possible. Through RED, I have met a whole new family, I am part of an amazing community who I am so proud of! We celebrate each other, support each other, virtually hold each other up when we are not strong enough to do it ourselves. EVERYONE should have a community like RED. I truly believe the world would be that bit nicer a place!

Balloons? Well in the spirit of me being different my version of the balloon metaphor is the opposite of the standard image. As a rule, the balloons signify being able to let go. You put your worries/stresses into the balloon and then you let them go. Yeah, I supposed I get that. For me though, every balloon signifies a part of my life. When things start to go a bit tits up, a balloon breaks free and starts to float away. I lose control. I need to chase that balloon to catch it, to get it back in the bunch where it belongs. I need to take control and hold on firmer. Sometimes more than one balloon breaks free and it can seem nearly impossible to chase them all down, but I don’t give in until all balloons are caught and back as close to me as possible. Also, balloons are a sign of fun, of freedom, of happiness. How can you not smile at a big bunch of gorgeous Red Balloons??

From the blog, I went on to approach Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind to do more charity events for my local service. I have now successfully raised over £1000 for them through a 10km and my very first (brutal) Half Marathon. During the chat I got taken on as a volunteer, first for anti stigma, then peer support and finally, recently for Active Minds (all info can be found on their website 🙂 ) It was during certain discussions that a tiny idea I had, of what I would love to be able to offer, became public. Exercise had saved my life, in more ways than one. I wanted to show how exercise could benefit you so much mentally as much as physically. That you didn’t need to be ripped or a marathon runner or anything to be able to utilise it’s benefits. Everyone starts somewhere! Exercise, physical activity should be fun, not a chore. You should WANT to do it. It might start off a bit hard to get used to making time to begin with but if you persevere it WILL become a habit. It gives you time for you, doing something that only has good results.

Mind saw the passion I had, saw potential in my idea and encouraged me to go forward for my group facilitation and peer support qualification. I was also on the development team for National Mind’s new peer support toolkit. My confidence and belief started to grow so I decided to take the opportunity with both hands and take the leap. I set up a Facebook page to start to send the message out. Through an amazing friend, I managed to secure the perfect venue, that support me and my ideas. Then it was time, Red Balloons is now a fully fledged, active, physical, peer support group! I now have the exciting yet nerve wracking job of ringing HMRC and making it all “official” and opening bank accounts etc. The business side of it, not the most thrilling tasks but all exciting in their own way!

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A brief description of what happens at one of my sessions, it is a mix of discussion and activities designed to get you moving. The activities will be chosen weekly by members, it could be anything from stretching to circuits to a team sport like rounders. All activities will be able to be scaled to a persons fitness/physical ability or an alternative option offered. Discussion wise, this is where people can be as open as they like or just listen. We will discuss barriers of exercise, why we feel people are wary of physical activity, discuss ideas to get us moving. I want my members to have ideal goals, maybe it will be to run a 5km, maybe it will be gaining the confidence to join a gym, maybe it is to make a personal pledge that they will do something for a certain amount of time a day. I want them to brag about their accomplishments, to speak excitedly about potential ideas, to be honest about how it is helping them or about anything that may be worrying them. I want to create a safe, open place where the emphasis is on being healthy, in all aspects, mind, body and soul. I want to be able to help people realise their true potential and to believe in themselves. I want to gain just as much knowledge and support from my members as I am able to offer them. I want to trap a sense of community spirit. Getting people to get together, to talk, to have fun, to get active, to support and to encourage.

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It is very early days, I am riddled with self doubt sometimes but what I do have is passion and a huge belief in what I am offering. I want Red Balloons to float nationwide eventually. I have high hopes and big dreams. Sometimes I think maybe I am being too ambitious. But no, ambition is ingrained in me, as is the want, the need, to help others and give back in any way I can. I will do whatever is needed to get these balloons as high as they possibly could go!

So, in a nutshell, that is Red Balloons. My dream for a better life. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, details below. If anyone is in a place where they could help spread the word, newspapers etc, please get in touch. Your help and support would be hugely appreciated. On that note, I shall leave that here. Looking forward to Red Balloons third session on Tuesday 😀

Much Love

CC xx

email: ccoulthard0413@gmail.com

Facebook: Red Balloons

Instagram: @girlwiththe_redballoon

Twitter: @balloons_red

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Why I run

I started this blog back in April as a way to supplement the weeks I wasn’t seeing my counsellor and to set my self targets/goals. I could basically either brag about myself or moan, regular readers will know it has been a journey that would make one interesting rollercoaster. I suppose in a way it is my safe place where I can say what the hell I want, because it is all mine. I am acutely aware that people do upon occasion read my random musings and I am so grateful. I just want to say that anything I say is never meant to offend, upset, trigger or affect negatively in any way. It is just me, being me. 100% raw, honest CC.

Now, what I have begin to realise more and more is that misery attracts misery. I am, wherever I possibly can be, a massively positive person. Someone could have me on the floor, kicking me in the ribs and if I liked their shoes I would tell them……. before punching them in the private area. Yet recently I have started to become very self depreciating, very angry and mopy and just generally a bit of a miserable cow! A frown doesn’t suit my English dandelion complexion! However, from a blog point of view, I have started to hit some of my highest views and visitor numbers. To be honest this kind of unsettles me and leaves me in a bit of a limbo. I am so very proud of my blog. I am never fake, I never lie, I never beat around the proverbial bush. I appreciate so much anyone that reads Red Balloons. I hope that me being so open and honest can help people. That it can make people aware of mental health issues and how it could affect them or how it could be affecting some round them. Maybe I shouldn’t be rocking the boat. Maybe I should just accept that some blogs will get more attention than others. I just want the positive side of things, the fight side, the fact that ill mental health does not have to dictate who you are and what you can achieve to be what shines through.

Anyway, having went for a trip round the block to get to the point of this blog, to get started. This will be a HUGELY positive blog, because today I feel positive. In fact, I feel like CC. I feel happy. Genuinely happy. I feel like I have made myself proud. I feel good. I have been more productive today before 11am than I have for the last few weekends, in total! And do you know the secret? Ssssshhhhhhh. Listen carefully……………. it’s because I could run!

I was laid in bed this morning, a habit I am starting to develop that I need to nip in the bud asap! I was feeling utterly lazy. I wasn’t hungover, I hadn’t slept great but it wasn’t the worst I have slept, I just couldn’t be arsed. Scrolling through Facebook as you do, and I was reading all the posts from my awesome RED community and I could see so many of them getting ready for park runs and long training runs and I started to get itchy feet! What was this? It’s been a while! The sun was streaming in the window, I knew it was cold but it looked like a gorgeous morning. I wanted to be out there! Right now. Yet, it still felt like a bit of a challenge to actually move from horizontal to vertical. So, I decided to make myself accountable. And how do you do that these days? You post your plan on Facebook! So it was 0739, I would get my arse out of bed in 6 minutes (I like nice round numbers) and I would go! No distance, no time, I would just run. To see what I could do.

Clock turned 0745 and that was it, I was up, with an encouraging arse kick by MB’s comment. “Go!” Yes, Go CC! Gym gear on, headphones in, my running playlist on loud, out the door and off I went! Not even a coffee first. I didn’t dare. This motivation feeling has been sadly lacking for a while now.

First thought, f*”k me, it’s flipping freezing! To begin my feet felt heavy, like I was having to concentrate on just getting one foot in front of the other, but as my legs started moving, my body started to warm up, my breath started to become hoarser, I could feel the smile on my lips getting bigger, bit by bit. I decided to run a route that I find visually stunning. The sun was blaring down on me and with every step I could feel all the tension, all the negativity of the last few weeks starting to lift. I found myself saying morning to people as they walked their dogs. I haven’t done that for a long time. I found my lips singing along to the songs playing loudly in my ears. It got easier with every metre. I have to listen to my body at the minute, I have had so many different twinges and injuries and illnesses, I didn’t want to exasperate any of them. I kept waiting for the familiar Achilles twinge, the calf tightness, but they didn’t come! I could keep going! I could feel my confidence oozing back, I could feel my brain starting to switch off for the first time in what feels like forever! All that was in my head was the music and the appreciation of being able to run somewhere so lovely.

I honestly expected to have to stop relatively early. 1km came and went, 2km, ok get to 2 mile CC, that will be fab considering what you have been doing. But no, I kept going. Because I could, because I was truly enjoying it, because I wasn’t ready to stop yet. 4km came and went and then, finally, at a point where my chest was saying come on, don’t push it, 5km hit! Yesssssss!!!! After nearly coughing up a lung, I couldn’t help myself and did a little dance on the spot. Go on CC! You are back baby!

5km might not seem a lot to some people. You might think 5km shouldn’t have been such a milestone for me considering it wasn’t that long ago that I was running them daily just because. Today though, I felt like I climbed a mountain. I feel like I have FINALLY smashed through the mental block I have had recently. It felt flipping amazing! I was singing (well miming, no way I would subject the public to my strangled cat tones) and had a proper spring in my step on the walk home. I was so tempted to do Glee style dancing but I resisted, just! I got the biggest genuine smiley selfie I have done in ages, IMG_20180224_091037_533.jpgeven I admit my eyes look shiny. Yes the laughter lines of my 30’s are suddenly becoming very apparent, but I just see that as a good thing. It reminds me, I love to smile. I love even more to laugh. It’s the best medicine. I started planning my day, but not in a “eurgh, I need to do this” it was an “OK, first I will do this, then this”.

Today is going to be filled with music. Loud music. Currently listening to some Soft Cell – Tainted love. What a tune! I don’t always listen to rave and chavvy stuff haha but I will never be ashamed that I do because I love it! It is going to be filled with college work and planning for next week’s Red Balloons session. It is going to be filled with healthy food, lots of coffee but more importantly, a tonne of smiles. I will talk to lush friends, laugh and just be content to be me, in this moment. Yes, there will be bad days, of course there will, I have an illness. Yet, a day like today can make those bad days and bad thoughts that little bit easier to handle. Good day memories can put a fluffy, shiny edge on a dark, sharp day. That is what gets me through. That is what keeps me going………

That is why I run!

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Have a weekend that is filled with as much positivity, love and laughter as you can. If you are feeling low or bad though, don’t be ashamed. This will pass. Until it does though, I am here.

Lots of sunny smiles

CC xx

 

 

Darkness and Light

It’s going to be one those blogs where I am probably repeating a load of stuff I have said before but what I have started to realise is, that is exactly as it should be. I cant just say my bit once, draw a line and get on with things as that is not real life. If it was, well we would be carrying a lot less baggage as individuals! Imagine the ability to just be able to process something, analyse, evaluate and get rid of the thing that is driving you mad?! First time!! Wow! What a world we would live in!

Since we don’t, or at least I don’t, I obviously cant speak for everyone (although the way my gob goes ten to the dozen you would think I’d give it a damn good go!) I will just have to ramble away because, well put simply, because I want to! At the end of the day, you don’t need to read this but it has become something I need to do.

I do think it will be a blog of 2 halves. I am not all sad. I am not struggling with everything. Good, no, amazing things have been happening which are signs that although I feel like I am dragging myself through quicksand at the minute, I am still making progress. The cogs are still turning, the “bigger picture” is still being painted. The foundations are being put in place, maybe the builders are just having a break? Oh, they must be the council! *jokes*

OK, do I start with what the good or the bad bits? My head is very swirly at the minute and it can be hard to make things make sense so bear with me. I suppose I like to end my blogs on a positive note so lets go with the crappy bits. Why not ey? We all love a good rant. Now, where did I put my soap box??

I am SICK TO DEATH of feeling like crap! If it is not one thing, it is another and it is seriously starting to peeve me off! I NEED to exercise. I have to. I know this might sound utterly ridiculous to a lot of people but I quite literally need it to get through the day. It is my stress release, my feel good, my motivation, my pride, my success story. Without it, all my dominoes seem to fall at an alarming pace! Now, I know when you are injured or poorly you have to rest. Yeah that is fair enough. I didn’t always do that last year and I paid a small price some days. Yet this year I am doing as I should, but because I have been either ill or injured pretty much since New Year, I feel like my training and my fitness levels have decreased significantly. I feel like I am being punished for not being as strict with myself, that then makes me feel shame and crappy for “making excuses”. Then this kicks off my body issues. I start to see things again that people say aren’t there. There is a second chin, another tyre on the belly, my thighs are getting bigger, the bum I have worked so hard for is changing back. The list goes on. If you stood me in front of a mirror with a sharpie to mark the parts I currently dislike, well it would be an interesting picture. Screenshot_20180222-075639.jpg

I know this is all in my head. The fact that my scales have broke at home is probably a blessing as I cant weigh myself everyday. But for me it is torture because I cant weigh myself everyday. I have no idea if what I think is even right. So I start to overthink and it becomes of course you are right. All that hard work gone. It’s a tiring process honestly. I don’t want to be skinny/thin etc. What I want is be strong and healthy. What I want is to look in a mirror and see a body I am proud of. I want my mind to be healthy and focused and on point. All of this only happens for me when I can exercise. Addicted? Maybe. But as I have previously said, I am damn sure there are a lot worse things to be addicted to, especially with the frame of mind I am in at the moment.

I need to get out of this shame and disgust spiral and grab my motivation and determination back with both hands. I have the time, in a way, to train like a beast so you know what? As soon as this bloody cold does one, that is exactly what I am going to do! Ok, I am not where I wanted to be by this point in 2018 but do you know what? I am Queen of the Comebacks!

I got an email today that actually helped me see sense a bit (follow and subscribe to blurtitout.org if you suffer from depression or anxiety etc. Brilliant!) The quote below  was like it was written personally for me:

“Being busier than busy itself can bring with it a sense of pride, a feeling of purpose, and usefulness.

Not forgetting too, that resilience, ball juggling, passion, and grit, are all qualities and skills to be admired, at the right time.

But do you know what else is admirable, the ability to know when to stop.

And then stopping.

Because we all need to stop at some point; to refuel, for maintenance, for repairs.

It’s the knowing when to stop before ill health demands that we stop, that’s the tricky bit.

That stopping bit?
It’s far from easy.
There will always be eleventy billion things to do in this conveyor belt of life, people to see, deadlines, bills, things.

But there is only one you. 

And you are much more important than you give yourself credit for.”

I might not believe it right now, but yes! I am!

So, lets change it round for the last part of this blog. Because I am a positive person and these things are what keep me going. This weeks achievements:

  • I held my very first, very own, peer support group, aptly named Red Balloons (of course). I was incredibly nervous. My faith in myself faltered constantly. What started as a tiny seed of an idea in my mind many months ago has grown into reality! Stood outside the gates waiting for any members who might turn up, I wanted to run away. I genuinely thought I couldn’t do it. I was kidding myself. Fast forward 1 hour later and I was elated! 5 people turned up. 5! I was over joyed. We talked, I explained what Red Balloons was and why I wanted to set it up. We made plans as to what we wanted to do next week. They thanked me. They were smiling! Did I help? Even a little bit? I really hope so. I know this will be a slow process, especially with it having a fitness element. People are nervous of exercise. One thing I do have though is PASSION. I genuinely believe in what I am doing and I am determined to shout the message as loud as I can to anyone who is willing to listen. I cant wait to see what next week brings!
  • I got a conditional offer to DURHAM UNIVERSITY!!!! Now, it is subject to certain grades which, honestly, I wont achieve now. That hasn’t dragged me down though as firstly to get the grades I have been getting with what has been going on, well I am chuffed to bits! That Durham even wanted to offer me and place has made my actual year! That they could see in my application that if I could get the right grades they would be happy to have me as a student? Wow! Secondly, my heart was already set on Teesside. It makes sense from a practical point but I just feel with what I am part of with the Steering Group and meeting some of the lecturers, it just felt right. I am at an Open Day there to see all about the Psychology side of things and I really cant wait. I have been ordering Sports and Exercise Psychology books already as I want to get a firm understanding and a good footing to be able to explain exactly what I want to do and why. It’s a very exciting time! One I NEVER believed I would ever have an opportunity to experience.

So yeah, I am feeling crappy, I am really struggling on mornings when they used to be the best time of day for me, but this is a blip. I know it is. I can change things round. Look what I have managed to do in less than 1 year already!Screenshot_20180222-075730.jpg

Lastly, I just want to say a MASSIVE thank you. Thank you to my close friends who hold me up when I am slipping down, who have stood by me through the bad times. Thank you to new friends who I am loving getting to know and who are bringing new laughter and experiences into my life, thank you to my virtual friends who are always there to support me, give me a kudos, tell me I am doing a great job. Such an amazing community. Thank you to those that came to Red Balloons. Thank you to Mind Middlesbrough and Stockton for setting me on the right path and helping in anyway they can. And lastly, thank you lot, who are still here at word 1602 reading my thoughts and feelings. You are all amazing and I am sincerely grateful to have you all as part of my life, one way or the other.

So, here is to Thursday! Hope you all have a fantastic day in any way you can

Much Love

CC xx

We all must change sometimes

Change – The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as…….

Nah, enough of that crap. But it is a subject that has been playing on my mind over the last few days and something that has been bugging me if I am honest. Some of us love change, love that every week or even every day is different, a new adventure. The rest despise it. They like to live where they know the “plan”, whether it be Taco Tuesday, Dress down Friday or just what their TV schedule is going to be.

Me? Well I like to think in a lot of ways I am in that annoying grey area you get when the circles over lap. In some ways I crave control and order. I work well under pressure, I like to know what is needed and when and get antsy if there isnt a routine of sorts. School holidays throw me out of whack! If you ask me, kids should have the same annual leave as adults. Get them ready for the working world 😉 …………………………… for anyone who is easily offended, that was a joke. Kind of!

However, I do embrace change. I am fully aware that change has to occur for things to develop. You have to make decisions without knowing what the final outcome is actually going to be. I find that exciting! Scary as well, but mainly exciting. Look at me now compared to this time last year. Granted, my personal circumstances dont look great on paper but ultimately they were my choices. They will help me become a better person. In fact they were two of the most “selfish” things I have ever done BUT I HAD TO. For me.

Look beyond that and what you see, I hope, is a lass that this time last year was terrified of even staying alive. Now, she has made monumental decisons over the last few months that will shape the future. Volunteering, starting college, about to go to uni, starting her own peer support group, being vocal about her mental health issues, helping others, about to run a marathon, etc.

I have so much to look forward to, I have achieved so much, yet the last few weeks the thing that seems to have changed the most is…..ME! My emotions are all over the place, I am losing grasp of my motivation and drive, issues I thought had been put to bed are starting to raise their ugly heads again and I feel, quite frankly, shit! Yesterday was an eye opener to me. I am used to the feelings of blah and sadness. Depression is being a massive dick at the minute and not seeming to give me more than one good day in a row, two if he is feeling particularly generous. Yesterday though, I had a whole new emotion I normally keep a tight lid on. Anger.

I am scared of my angry side. I struggle to control it properly and when it goes off, people get hurt. Often, innocent people. People who have done nothing but be there for me and want the best for me. Yet, in that angry phase comes pure hatred. Very occasionally it can be aimed at someone who has hurt me but mainly, it is aimed at me. Yesterday, I hated me. I hated my stupid head that couldnt focus, I hated my injuries that are stopping me from doing what I need to do to get my motivation back, I hated the insecurities that were playing around in my brain, I hated the voices in my head telling me everything was my fault – I was weak, worthless, an idiot, ugly, nasty, selfish. Oh the whole lot came out. So along with anger, was genuine sadness. A feeling of defeat. There was no light at the end of the tunnel, just vicious name calling and deafening darkness. I still believe I am not as low as I was – I can honestly say I want to live, but I sure as hell didnt want to be here. I didnt want to be me. I wanted to scream, shout, throw stuff and push everyone away as they didnt deserve this absolute mess of a person dragging them down to her depths of despair. Why would anyone want to put up with this person?

My ability to catastrophise things was in full swing. I hurt my calf on my long marathon training run the other day. Nothing serious, but certainly enough to halt my running for a few days. Oh well, that meant in my head, no way can you run a marathon. In fact, why bother running at all? These few days will see you getting fat again. You might as well, your skin is shocking, you look like a scruff and so on and so on. How can your own mind be so horrible? How can your own eyes look in a mirror and make your mind see an image that makes you feel so horrendous!? The only thing I could see was my faults. It took away all feelings of achievement, success, satisfaction at how much I have changed over the years. I felt like my head was going to explode! I couldnt be this person. I AM NOT THIS PERSON!

You see, for those who dont understand, a mental illness has the power to fully control you. It takes over your mind, body and even at times, your soul. You know what is happening, a bit like a puppet on a string in those old fairground shows, but can you hell change anything! It is one of the biggest fights you will ever have, trying to break free of those strings. Of getting back control. I believe that every scar is a blessing, a sign that you survived and stepped forward stronger but I tell you what, it is exhausting!

So, there I was, in my little funk, Depression pulling my strings. I could have just succumbed to it. I suppose many people wouldnt blame me if I had. It’s been one shitter of a bloody year so far. Maybe I do deserve to sit and lick my wounds. You know what though, that is not who I am. Even with this hideous illness that seems to be really attached to me, I am not a sad, angry, negative person. I am CC. I see silver linings, I hunt for the positives in every negative, so much so I probably make people vomit in their gobs sometimes. I use every bad thing as a springboard on to the next amazing thing. I am a good friend, a good listener. I believe everything happens for a reason and I am starting to believe in myself! I was not going back in my hole for anything!

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So on to the last part, you can breathe a big sigh of relief, go on, I know you want to. Lent. Ok, I am the least religious person ever. Unless you want a massive explanation, to probably somehow be offended and a debate, I wouldnt ask me why. However I do see a purpose in Lent. It is the time where you give up something that is important to you, something that would be a huge struggle to survive without. The common ones – smoking booze (why, I have no idea), chocolate and other sweet stuff, bread etc.

I racked my brains yesterday as to what I could do, even posted a FB status, as you do these days. Yet nothing was clicking, nothing was what I wanted to do. I had sat stewing over all the above and more and I happened to glance at myself. That’s it – I would give up – ME! Not in all my entirity, obviously I am aware from what people tell me there are some pretty decent things about me. I wanted to draw a line though. To mark this as an official end to all the personal negativity, to stop letting the broken part of my mind win. Last time it did, it did nearly won physcially. Not on my watch Depression. So as I am all for symbolism, I gave up – my blonde hair! I have been blonde for over two years now. My hair is important to me, it is an extension of my personality. You could look back and probably see a pattern emerge. That miserable, angry, negative, blonde CC could do one! In her place, a new, determined, aware, brunette CC came forward. It was a shock to me, I went quite literally from one extreme to another but I think I needed to. I need to go forward  now onto my new adventure. I need this time to explore me, my needs, my wants. I need space, I need freedom and I need to come back fighting. The cracks in my brain may never be fully fixed, but if I can only keep them from opening more, that is a win in my eyes.

I wont be miraculously better any day soon but I sure as hell wont be the lass I was yesterday. I dont know who she was, where she came from or what but I tell you one thing, I kicked her arse!

To anyone struggling, you CAN and you WILL get through whatever it is. Please remember though, you dont have to do it alone.

Rant over

CC xx

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What doesn’t kill you….

I suppose the most positive thing about having the worst week of your adult life is the fact the phrase “things can only get better” seems to be a beacon of light. I tell you what, I hope so or they best get a room ready for me at Roseberry Park as I am really at the edge of the proverbial cliff right now. The floor beneath me is crumbling yet I cant seem to completely tear myself away from the edge. When I think it is sink or swim time I get scared as to be honest, swimming is not my thing!

I wish I could say I was just being dramtic, writing for creativity purposes but unfortunately this is my life at the moment. As much I have and continue to work my arse off for that bigger picture dream I have in my head, its seems the law of Sod is working against me. Depression has pulled out the big guns. He really doesnt like the fact that I have had the upper hand for the last few months. Or at least I thought I did. Right now I feel like it has all been one cruel joke. Dangling the carrot of the illusion that all my ducks were finally starting to get in a row, when one of the little buggars decided to do a flit and the rest just lost their head in a mass panic!

OK, what they hell am I babbling on about? I dont know. I just needed the soothing sound of the keys tapping under my fingers, I just need a form of release and after running, this is second best in the coping mechanisms I have to stop me losing my shit completely. I know bad stuff happens, I know I firmly believe everything happens for a reason but sometimes I really just think life likes to play you. To test you. To see if you are fit enough to take on the amazing things you keep telling everyone you are going to do.

So, what has happened to push me to my limits? What has occurred for me to honestly call this the “worst week”? Well lets put it plain and simply – my work life has gone tits up because I pushed myself too far and catapulted myself back over in my recovery process by trying to keep biting my lip and be a decent employee and then I broke my husbands heart by telling him our marriage wasnt working and we needed to be apart. To some it might seem like I am taking this all remarkably well, that it hasnt phased me, they may even believe it must have been easy for me. Easy? No. After nearly 8 years of marriage and 10 years of being together, with someone who has always been my best mate as well as my husband, easy is far from what it was. It was officially the hardest thing I have ever had to do and knowing that although it is the right thing to do for both of us, that I have caused so much pain to someone I love so very much, well lets just say, I have never felt pain like it. Yet I would hurt ten fold if I could take his pain away.

How do I know that I have done the right thing? Because we were becoming toxic for each other. Maybe it would make this easier if one of us had actually fallen out of love but we havent. In fact if anything I think we are probably guilty of loving each other too much, and not always in a healthy way. Thing is, for a strong, healthy relationship there has to be more than just love – you couldnt build a house with just one wall could you?

I am not going to go into detail about our relationship. That is private and out of respect of our vows I dont think it is necessary. What is to be said is we have agreed we both have issues that have just simply overtaken us too much to be able to focus on each other and our family. We need to be apart to start building ourselves to be stronger, happier, more balanced people. We deserve that and more importantly, our children deserve that. I grew up in a very unhappy home in a lot of ways and I truly believe that had a massive part to play in my issues, in fact in some areas I know for a damn fact it did! I do not want my children to struggle like I did. I want my daughter to grow confident and with a firm idea of what she deserves when it comes to being in a relationship. To know that if something isnt working, you try hard to find a solution but if you cant, it is nothing to be ahsamed of to admit that it isnt working. I want my son to grow up and know that he needs to be independant and strong and settle for nothing less than perfect for him yet know how to treat a girl properly. He should be making her cry tears of joy not tears of sadness.

My husband is a good person. One of the best I have ever met. Well I married him, so go figure!  I am a good person, or at least on my way to becoming one. Although heart breaking I am so happy I can still call him a friend, that we can support each other, that we still have the ability to talk about what we want, what we need, what we have done right and what we have done wrong. What we are doing is not giving up! No one who knows us can say we have not fought to keep our relationship going but what I hope people see is two people who have finally admitted there is a problem. It wont destroy us, it makes us more determined to go forward. It wont define us, it makes us fight harder to get better.

I know I hurt him by speaking the words out loud so soon, that I removed my wedding rings too. I can imagine that does put me in quite a bitchy light, but it was not aimed to be malicious or to cause any undue aggro, it was my logical side drawing a line. Trying to be strong and say right, this is it. Like tearing a plaster off. I have two sides to me, my logical side that enables me to get by day to day, to accept horrendous situations that have occurred, then I have my emotional side. The poor cow who I have constantly locked in a box. But this time, she broke free, and the arguments I have had in my head since Friday have been epic! I cant start to investigate how my heart really feels though until I have my head sorted. So for now, she can be out her box in the sense that I will let myself cry when I need to, but she is going to have to wait for the big indepth investigation of what the hell I am actually feeling, because right now, if I explore that avenue properly, being in the position I am on my MH scale, I am actually scared where my brain could take me. It is dangerous and it pains me to say that.

The thing is, I need to look at this all in as positive light as possible. If me and him can get better, can really address our issues, grow and become stronger, we will then in turn become better people; better partners and more importantly better parents. So that there is what reason I am going to take from this whole horrible situation. We are both looking forward now, not back. No papering over the cracks and slipping back into old ways which were slowly destroying us both.

In addition, I have had the decision made to take myself out of my work situation, for the forseeable future. I have been doing EVERYTHING I possibly can to help myself get better but when there are situations occuring that are just destroying you and your sanity, there has to be a time when you admit, enough is enough! Before I end up back where I was and thinking that there is only one way out of the misery and darkness. To be honest, I am way too close to that place than I care to admit and that is scary. I am lucky though, I have the strongest support network. Without them, I would be a shadow of myself. I know they wont let anything bad happen to me and they certainly wont let me become a victim of myself.

So for now, it is a case of taking each day as it comes, literally. Filling my days with positive things, working on the foundations I have already set; college, my volunteering, this blog, my social media campaigning and my getting myself physically fit. As I always say exercise is my therapy and I NEED those endorphins at the moment desperately. One other thing I am going to work on doing though is – resting. I need down time. I need to stop corkscrewing myself into the ground in a bid to make everything so fantastic that I cant see the bad things. I need time alone, I need quiet time, to rediscover who I am as an individual. I need to get better.

Wow! What a long blog! If you have actually got to this stage, I salute you!

Until the next time I need to type……..

CC xx

Is it YOUR #TimeToTalk ?

Another month and another much needed, in my opinion, day of awareness on how important mental health is. February 1st is Time To Change’s turn, with their Time To Talk campaign.

Talking. From the minute you are born it is something your parents are so eager for you to start doing. They wait patiently every day to hear a word, a phrase, your first full, normally nonsical, sentence. Then comes the toddler/early school years where the chatter becomes constant from the moment the day starts to the moment it ends and parents are going bald from incessant hair pulling at the repetition, wishing sometimes they could shove play doh in their ears and their mouth is constantly dry from the “ssshhhh” ing and the “2 minutes”. The thing is, the thing I love is, that despite all this, the child never stops. They are more than happy to get their thoughts, feelings, opinions and general nonsense across. Me? I envy them!

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people out there for which talking is not an issue. I dont mean general, gossip or whatever but those lucky people who can open up. Who if they have a problem, are worried, sad etc have a place or person where they can go and get it off their chest. For someone who is emotionally and verbally challenged, although working through it, I can honestly say, the power of speech, the power that releasing words can have, is seriously under rated!

I cant remember when I stopped talking about things of substance. I cant pinpoint the time that I decided it would be easier to keep my emotions within. Where my brain decided I would be a logical thinker instead of a emotional one. The weird part for me is I can sympathise and empathise with people because of certain events that have occured, yet I wont always make the conscious link that that is what is happening. If I had a penny for everytime someone asked if I was OK and I turned around and said yeah of course when in fact I was crippled with misery/fear/loneliness I would be rather rich and definitely own a pair of Loubotins! When did I decide my pain wasnt worthy of support? When did I start thinking that no one cared? When did I think that if I was to say what was going on in my mind people would laugh or tell me I was being silly?

This inability to vocalise my thoughts and feelings created an internal wall and a hard outer shell. I became a not very nice person in ways so that I could deflect my own misery. The thing is, I think I got so good at being this version of a person, I managed to fool everyone, myself included, that I was that person. People had no reason at all to think there was anything wrong with me, bar the obvious daftness. What I wish and what I have learnt though, is the power of those simple words – “How are you?” and “Are you OK?” Just because someone isnt necessarily showing obvious signs that there is an issue, doesnt mean they are not struggling. If they seem to be dealing with a difficult situation remarkably well, maybe that is the action that could trigger the whole, maybe I should pay a bit more attention? From the person who is struggling it is a tough ask but believe that those asking actually care, that they want to know.

A wall can only hold back so much, once one crack shows it isnt long before they start to spread, like a disease. The wall weakens, it even starts to crumble. The problem is, if you dont have the right support structure in place, when it falls it can cause A LOT of damage, to yourself but also to those in the “splash” area. That is the thing that many Screenshot_20180131-072541.jpgpeople forget with mental health problems, it is not always only the sufferer who could be struggling, it could be those around them. Those that feel they should be strong, that they should be able to make them better, that are so confused as they do not understand what is wrong. People fear the unknown and I believe that mental health awareness should be taught and talked about from as an early an age as physical biology. They are just as important as each other!

This Time to Talk day, it doesnt matter who or what or where, just ask the questions, “How are you?”, “Are you OK?”. Reach out to someone who seems to have drifted away, contact a relative that maybe you havent spoken to for a while, take a friend for a drink, have a quality conversation with your children – whatever they want to talk about! Kids have feelings and worries just the same as an adult. They should NEVER be made to feel that what they are thinking or worrying about is silly. That monster under their bed could be a whole lot more than just their imagination.

For those who feel they dont have a voice, start off small. You don’t need to offload in one conversation, but if someone gives you an in, and you feel you can use it, go for it. If talking to people you know seems scary or impossible, reach out to someone impartial. I will always have so much respect for my counsellor as she really did help me see. I could say things to her I still would never dream of saying to those I care about. She gave me my voice. My blog gives me a loud voice, but nothing compares to hearing yourself out loud, words spoken from your lips.

Your feelings are your feelings, your experiences are your experiences. Don’t ever feel ashamed or worthless. Everyone has their own battles. Your strength might be the thing that helps someone elses weakness.

It really is ok not to be ok, and it is DEFINITELY #TimeToTalk

CC xx

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#BlueMonday

Blue Monday. The most miserable day of the year, so the media and that will tell you any way. All started as a marketing ploy to separate people from their hard earned cash in a month where retail could potentially suffer losses due to the fact that, well, every one is skint after Christmas!

Thing is, these media ploys do have a habit of taking a hold and sucking you in and then you start to really believe in all the hype. Yes, stats show there is an element of truth to it; its been 3 weeks since Christmas (if Christmas is a happy, jolly time for you that is. I’ll say no more, apart from bah humbug!) it is another 2 weeks until pay day, the weather is cold and grey and it’s just basically a bit of a dud month, let’s be honest.

Maybe you are feeling blue, maybe for you it is just an utterly miserable day. For a start, it’s Monday! Maybe you can see a lot of sense in what the media and other people tell you. But I am going to say things from my point of view, from my situation. If you suffer from ill mental health any day of the year could be blue! There are 364 other days around this one, any of those could be a struggle. Not because some one has told you that it will be or that there are perfectly acceptable reasons for it, but because you simply have no control over it.

Everyone suffers in a different way regardless of what title their illness comes with. For me, as familiar readers to this blog will know, I suffer from Depression. It can be quite bad at times, but thankfully even my bad days are not as low as they were this time last year. I no longer have such intense dark thoughts about not wanting to be here any more, of thinking the world would be a much better place without me. However these thoughts can still flutter through my brain at times, more of a nuisance, like midgies in the summer. It is not me thinking of it though, like I say, I’m no longer in that place. I think it is more just my brain trying to play tricks on me and see how far it can push me. Maybe it is still my subconscious trying to process what happened and how I felt back then, as to be honest, I hit the ground running and have made sure I have been so busy that at times I have no idea how I feel or what I think. Comfortable, productive numbness I like to think of it as.

For me, over the last 4 weeks, about 80% of my days have been “blue”. I cant decide 100% if it is all my Depression but from the way I have been feeling I believe it is the main culprit. Apart from the odd good day, I have basically felt crap. I have so many exciting things going on in my life yet I have felt no excitement. For the most part I have felt sad. On some days I have felt so low I contemplated just sacking everything in and going back to that shell like form of myself. I knew how to protect myself in that form. I knew how to shut the voices out. But that is not me! You may see me struggle. I am a lot more open about it nowadays as I truly believe it is NOTHING to be ashamed of. I cant help who I am, how my mind works. I am chaos personified! However you will NEVER see me quit. That is not me. I have given myself a good talking to. I know I can’t just “get better”. How mint it would be if I could!! But I do know how I can cope better, how to manage my symptoms. I do know that I hate pity and the worst pity is self pity. Being in the dark place is what brought me to all the amazing things I have in my life at the moment, what has given me all the fabulous people and support I have.

So today, I am giving a massive middle finger to Depression, to Blue Monday, to self pity! I am going back to basics. I knocked out a 5km run this morning. I am not a failure. I am not letting any one down. I am not letting myself down. Those thoughts were Depression being an idiot! Trying to trick me. Quite clever is old Depression. I think he thought he had won. In fact I was starting to believe he had. I am coming back fighting though. I don’t lose! OK, 2018 has not started how I envisioned, how I hoped but that does not mean that my return won’t be EPIC! Just watch me!Screenshot_20180115-102024.jpg

Back to basics for me is a selection of different things. You will find that your points or list will be different, it is all about what works for you. Mine are as follows:

  • Routine and organisation. When things are messy or up in the air my head becomes messy. So that means, diary management, visual plans like Mind Maps, plans and schedules, filling in my variety of journals – Happy, Happiness Planner, Runner’s Planner etc.
  • Blog. I love to blog. It gets all the crap out my head onto the screen and everything seems a bit easier to manage. The sound of the keys typing is so therapeutic, even if what I end up writing makes no sense to anyone but me.
  • EXERCISE – whatever exercise that might be. Now my Achilles seems to be better, I can make sure my January targets get hit, no matter what. I only set realistic targets, I don’t set myself up to fail, ever. I may have to push a bit harder, but hard work never killed anyone. I know the sense of satisfaction will be amazing!
  • Finally, the one thing I struggle with. Honesty. I need to stop burying my head in the sand if I feel bad and just say. A bad day wont define me, nor will a bad week or a bad month.

For the rest of this month I am going to find daily positives. My silver linings that I pride myself on finding were starting to get lost in the fog. I have found my glasses again though, so things are literally clearer and I can start looking again. Blue Monday is just another Monday for me. In  fact it’s going to be a good day. I can feel it. I am wearing bright yellow to bring some sunny vibes into the day, my nails are RED in homage to RED January, which I got a lovely message to say that so far we have raised over £322,000 collectively for Mind. WOW! My smile might not fully be reaching my eyes yet, but it is a lot closer than it was yesterday.

If you are blue today, I am sending positive vibes and virtual hugs. Life is stressy, stuff can get in the way, circumstances can push you to your absolute limit! One thing I do know is, you are fabulous. Your health does not define you, it is part of your journey. If you are feeling bad, I challenge you, write just 3 things that are positive in your life today. Tomorrow is a new day, a blank canvas.

Until next time.

Love

CC xx

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