Decisions

***Another guest blog from the provider who sent me Lighthouse. I think you will all agree, he is a great writer and he gives us a great insight into his bubble of mental health problems.

He would like to continue to stay anonymous, for now but please, help me support him and show him how great he is and how his words can touch others.

His blog is as follows:

The only thing worse than the wrong decision is making no decision at all. A good statement but not 100% accurate. I would suggest two amendments. 1. Being forced into a decision 2. Making a decision to make someone else happy.
Until recently I had never made my own decision because it was the right option for me, it was either the right option for someone else or it was my only option. I didn’t want to go to university. I wanted to be a soldier so at 17 I applied. I passed the fitness with ease but failed on my attitude. That’s my failing and ill own it. I had trained myself for years to get physically fit enough for the selection. When I was denied I stopped training all together and now need to prepare to jog up the stairs to bed. So, I failed, I didn’t have a back up plan. My friends did “we’re going to uni come with us” they said. So, I did. I didn’t choose the uni or the course. I went where they were going, and I was doing what they were doing. No passion for it, no commitment to it, just a lack of options and no reason to change.
3 years later I graduated with a degree and was working part time. It wasn’t the ideal job and prospects weren’t great, but it was spending money. I applied all over for graduate schemes, carefully selecting companies that I wanted to work for, doing my research, willing to move. I got zero replies, not a ‘no thanks’ or a ‘keep your chin up’ or even a ‘maybe next time’. I couldn’t sit at home 5 days a week. That finished with uni. I went full time where I already worked. The job I didn’t choose earned me enough money to start to pay the student debt I had accrued from the degree I didn’t want and wasn’t using. It’s hard to find the momentum to go to a job every day when you firmly believe you should be doing something more. I did find my motivation and I’m still with the company, working my way up. There’s a ray of light and possibly a motivational story for another time.
Around this time, I had to move out. Had too, my family home was lost due to bankruptcy, so I had to grow up quick. I was seeing someone at the time whose mother irritated her, she wanted out, I needed out, we moved in together. I hadn’t decided this, it was needs must. I don’t regret this happening. It was my first enchilada of freedom, I was young and happy and even if I could have moved in on my own I know I wouldn’t have. I’m not trying to say these are mistakes, just that the lack of options in my life became a pattern, a pattern that I didn’t try to break. I had issues and I accepted it was my lot in life.
The pattern continued. I was a being a spectator in my own life. I didn’t choose the holiday locations, I didn’t choose the house I eventually bought, I didn’t choose the decorating or what we ate. I just paid for most of it. It happened slowly but it happened none the less. I found myself hitting milestones and all I had to show for it was what other people I cared about had wanted. My wants had fallen by the way. I was fine with all this. I was fine when I could see how happy others were. I didn’t need the toys, or the driving lessons, or the nights out without an eye roll and a guilt trip. Because I was doing it for them. I was making decisions for them. But then I stopped seeing them, life happens and for most people who have a family and full time jobs you begin to see the people you love less. But what you don’t see less is the situation you have made for yourself, so you need to like where you are and what you have. It turns out I wasn’t.
If your reading this and you aren’t sure if it applies ask yourself one question. Am I selfish? Its ok to be selfish. Its fucking necessary. It’s a positively magnificent idea to say “sorry flower, no caravan holiday for us this year, we’ve already been abroad and now I’m skint.” “But I want to spend time together as a family” “well get the fuckin barbeque out cos I’m not going away again”. And don’t let people convince you what you want isn’t necessary. Take it from a guy who can’t drive at 30 because “you don’t really need to learn though do you?”. In a healthy relationship there has got to be give and take, there has got to be democracy. if your asked to do something, only do it if you want to do it. Don’t go on holiday if you don’t want to and can’t afford it and for the love of fucking God don’t take a loan to pay for one, max the credit card for another and live in an overdraft for the third. I made these mistakes. I made them because they deserved to be happy. “THEM” not me. Now that I’m on my own I don’t know how to make decisions to benefit me, I need someone to want something then ill aim for that. I’m getting better at it though. I’m going to buy what I want while I can and go where I’ve never been. I’m going to have guilt free nights out, I’m not asking permission to watch this, or play that or listen to these guys. Its not bad to want to make others happy, its bad if you don’t make yourself happy. So make a decision you miserable idiots.

Advertisements

(Prescription) Drugs DO work!

Since the beginning of being open and honest about my fight with Depression and more recently, anxiety, I was always determined to stay away from antidepressants or tried to believe that I didn’t need them and I could manage in other ways. I suppose partly I was hoping that I could believe I wasn’t as bad as I am but mostly it was actually just a genuine  fear of them. When I was younger they didn’t get a good hype and you were thought of as crazy if you took them, although I campaign constantly to try and erase stigma, it can still have an effect even 20 or so years later.

Now, that’s not to say I didn’t try some. It was one of the reasons my fear grew and my stubbornness kicked back in. Citalopram sent me, well manic is the only way I can describe it. I couldn’t sleep at all, even less than I do now, I felt constantly buzzed and could sit still even less than usual. Sertraline gave me the worst kidney pain imaginable and ruined my family holiday last year. I was in so much pain I was debating going to the hospital in Turkey! So although there are loads of SSRI’s, I believed that they  just weren’t for me. Until last month.

This year has been hard so far, to the point I was starting to worry about my state of mind again. I have cried so many tears, screamed, shouted, pushed people away and just generally been a mardy arse! Nothing was working, my motivation was drying up, my exercise has taken a step back as I just haven’t had the energy. The days have been dark most of the time where if I am honest, a lot of time I just wanted to give up. To just exist quietly. I have been “faking it” an awful lot but never seeming to quite “make it”. I had to admit defeat. I needed help. My coping techniques were just not working properly any more. So another trip back to the doctor, signed off sick long term as work was unfortunately a large stressor, I doubt I will ever be back in that office if I am to be completely honest. It’s just too dangerous for me. Another conversation with the doctor about antidepressants and this time, I gave in and accepted another chance at a different drug.

Hand on heart, the first 3 weeks were brutal. I didn’t get happier, in fact I think I actually dipped even lower. Dark thoughts and motives returned but thankfully more ideations than actual concrete plans this time. I was so prepared to just sack the drugs off. They clearly don’t work. I’m broken. Nothing will “fix me”.

But then, I woke up one day last week and I didn’t feel so down. I felt a flicker of hope. I smiled before 9am and even more sensational, before coffee!! I didn’t feel the tug of despair deep in my gut anymore, it was more just a gentle ache. The thing is, it literally changed that quick. Over night. My friend said it would and to be honest I thought she was mad to begin with, but it did! Like a finger snap. I’m not fixed, not by a long shot, but I feel a little less broken than I did. So, as painful as it is to admit, I was wrong. Drugs DO work!

A conversation I had on Friday has had me thinking about this more over the weekend. My friend had admitted they were trying to wean themselves off their tablets. I asked why. (By the way, before I go any further DO NOT TRY TO COME OFF ANTIDEPRESSANTS WITHOUT CONSULTING YOUR DOCTOR! It is incredibly dangerous, even missing doses can have a huge impact!) If we were on medication for say, diabetes, we wouldn’t think about trying to skip doses and come off something that was helping us. Why do we feel like we can do that with antidepressants? Because we don’t feel they are “real” medication? Because we think once we feel better again we are better? Why do we struggle to admit that if they are working they must be a good thing? Stigma, judgement and opinions have a lot to answer for! I wonder how many people have put themselves back in their recovery or have suffered when they didn’t have to because of what they think others thought? Hands up please. I know both mine are in the air.

Having a look at statistics today, the amount of prescriptions for antidepressants and other mental health drugs has increased from 31 million in 2006 to over 65 million in 2016. They cost the NHS £780,000 a day in the UK. Perhaps more shockingly but interestingly, there has been a 54% increase in the number of children prescribed them. What do we think of that? Personally, although I hate to think of anyone suffering as it is truly horrible, it shows that more people are becoming aware of these issues. More people are willing to admit they are struggling and ask for help. I wouldn’t say medication is an “easy option” and it certainly isn’t for everyone. I believe other forms of help should be sourced before or alongside the medication route, like talking therapies, but they do hold their place in society and for a lot of people, they are a necessary part of day to day life. No one should feel ashamed for doing what will ultimately help them. They should be congratulated on taking themselves seriously and being a priority.

Life is stressful enough. Bad stuff happens and even the strongest of people can have days, weeks or even months where they struggle. If help is out there, whether in pill form or whatever, use it! We are lucky to have free health care, we are lucky to have so many options and having choices in our health and well being. A healthier lifestyle is ultimately a happier life and who doesn’t want to be happy?

So, my name is CC and I am on fluoxetine and for the first time in my life, I am OK with it, because it helps me be a better me!

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!

Screenshot_20180123-171747.jpg

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

20180214_143712.png

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

Screenshot_20180131-072509.jpg

Reflection!

Ideally I wanted to write and publish this blog on the 1st as a proper started to my year, but to be completely honest, I was loaded with cold and I simply could not be bothered. The fact I got out and jeffed my way round 2 miles for RED 2018 was a massive achievement on it’s own, although maybe not my best idea! When will I learn? Probably never but you know what, I think I am OK with that now.

Anyways, back to what I wanted this blog to be about, reflection. I know I have a tendency to reflect quite often and personally I think that is a useful quality to have, but being the end of the year, and having possibly the WORST December known in my small ish 33 years of life, I have probably reflected more than normal.

Now that isn’t to say it is all bad. I don’t necessarily want this to be a massively down post as today I feel pretty good. Physically I am back to about 80% health and managed a 2 mile run where I actually ran it, emotionally I am stable if not slightly annoyed about a few small things and mentally I am ready to get back to normality ie the crazy manic life I have taken on for myself. One thing I have definitely learnt is lack of routine, busy-ness and “healthy” stress does not agree with me!

2017 as whole? Where do I begin? Started fantastic with my first Run Every Day January, work life was a constant rollercoaster due to events occurring within the business itself, I have made some true forever friendships, lost some people I thought were close to me, had more than my fair share of marriage issues but what we are fighting our way through; but then I launched this blog, started volunteering for MIND, started college. applied for uni, completed a 10km and a HALF MARATHON!! Me!! Like, wow!! Basically it was a year of high highs and extreme lows. Lows that were circumstance based, lows thanks to my mate Depression, lows where I truly thought the world would be better off without me and I didn’t want to be here anymore. I cant express how much I am so very glad my attempts failed. I have so much to live for and I finally see that. I have goals, both short and long term. I have children who NEED me. I may not be mother of the year, far from it, I make mistakes constantly but what I lack in maternal instincts and the ability to get involved in activities that I see everywhere, I counter act with unconditional love.

My Depression has made me be a horrible person at times, over the years but certainly this last year. I have been moody, angry, negative, snappy and a basic pain in the arse to be honest. I have tried to push those closest to me away, I thought I was not worthy of love and respect. I would do things to hurt myself and inadvertently hurt others then feel an immense amount of guilt. Guilt is something that tends to stay with me, I have had it pretty much all my life but hopefully I am slowly managing to control it, to manage it. I look back over my old blog posts and I am so proud of my honesty, of letting what was pulling me down in my head go. I never expected anyone to really read it, I genuinely do it because for me it is therapy. I miss my counsellor quite a bit at times but I know that for now, that part of my recovery is over. She helped me discover ways that I could release what I need to and walk away from negative dramas. She made me see that I was a fighter, that I could use the negativity and spin it all into positives. I have always been very self aware, dealing with emotions has been what I struggled with, preferring to put a massive wall up and lock everything away apart from logical things. She, along with some very special friends have helped me realise that feeling is always a good thing.

Another thing that has been a slow realisation but one which is ultimately helping me unlock parts of myself is that I cant compare myself to others. I know I have touched on this in various ways before but it is very important if you want to become a stronger person. You have to have faith in your abilities, appreciate your strengths, acknowledge your weaknesses, celebrate what others have that you don’t and help them build on what they struggle with. I have seen a few memes these last few days that really made me think. With everything you can be, with all the possibilities, BE KIND! Screenshot_20180102-051903.jpg

You really do not know what some one is fighting. Even the most vocal people can be suffering and you don’t know what could trigger them. I have been thinking the last few days that may be I am TOO positive at times. Maybe I come across as a brag? Maybe I post too much about my achievements and what I have done that is goes against the whole me helping people theme and actually makes them worse? Now this would really affect me if this was true as all I want to do is use what I have learnt to help others. Although I have had no negative feedback to me directly, I haven’t been strong enough to not let external issues affect me negatively too. This got me thinking, should I feel like I should hide away to make others better even at my own detriment? Is it selfish of me to keep posting what I post as it makes me feel good to see what I have done? That it keeps me accountable and I can see exactly how far I have come in a year?

Do you know what, no. I got myself into a bad place by putting EVERYONE before myself. I wouldn’t talk about my problems to anyone as no body deserved my crap, or so I thought. Yet I am always willing to be there for everyone else and always will be. That meant I was yet again putting myself down and believing I didn’t deserve back what I was giving out. We all deserve that. Being positive is my thing. There is so much negativity and stigma and just plain nastiness that if I can help even just myself smile that has to be a good thing right? Everyone deserves support, encouragement, a sounding board to shout about their successes where we all clap, cheer, whoop and just generally bask in their blatant awesomeness! Because, to me, we are all amazing in our own ways. Whether it is fitness related, professional achievements, family celebrations or just the fact that today you beat Depression by getting out of bed, by getting dressed and eating some food.

2018 is going to be my year. Just watch. I am going to run a full marathon, Red Balloons is going to grow, my volunteering will continue to bring me so much joy, my blog will continue, I will get into uni and FINALLY I will leave my job. There will be dark days, there will be low times and there will be times when I think, that’s it. But I wont give in. Because I finally believe in myself and I can see a future. A bright future at that.

Sometimes you have to stop avoiding that mirror. Your reflection can tell you so much more than you ever realised.

Much love and best wishes for 2018

CC xxSnapchat-1598745327.jpg

12 days of #ChristmasinMind

Yesterday saw Middlesbrough & Stockton Mind kick off their Christmas campaign #ChristmasinMind to help people see that even at the “happiest” time of the year it is OK to not feel OK. I personally think it is a fantastic campaign as being someone who is often called the Grinch for her dislike or at least her complete lack of interest in the festive season apart from the mulled wine and having a valid reason to be hungover (or still drunk) on a Tuesday, it is important that people can see behind the fairy lights, tinsel and brightly wrapped presents to what is a reality for so many people.

For those who love every bit about Christmas, I am not trying to be Debbie Downer. At the risk of sounding like a giant piece of Stilton I would LOVE it if everyone could have the same festive glow and happiness at this time of year, the same way I wish everyone had a warm, cosy home, food in their belly and the feeling of love and safety. But at the risk of sounding blunt, please, let’s get realistic. If you want to live in your little snow globe of candy canes, Christmas trees and mince pies, I urge you to stop reading now. Or at least invite us all in for a big piece of cake 🙂

Have you ever sat in a room full of people and felt utterly alone? What about at a works party, where you seem to be having the time of your life but where in fact you are drinking to numb the pain? You end up being the drunkest person this side of the equator and go down in “legend” or “joke” status for how the night ended, with your face down in your doner meat? Have you been that person that has craved attention, even of the sexual kind, and will take it from anyone, just to try and even temporarily cover the disgust you feel at yourself? ………….. I have.

Whatever it is that you are suffering from, be it an established mental health condition like me, a result of a terrible experience like bereavement or maybe having a stressful time in your current life where you just cant seem to get your head straight and have no Screenshot_20171213-074740.jpgidea whether you are coming or going, it can be really hard to admit to even yourself just how bad you feel. You might be one of those people who hide away from the world, you  may get up, slap on your game face and go about your day like you are not emotionally breaking inside as you just don’t have the time, you may go opposite end of the spectrum and get completely wrapped up (no pun intended) in the season and seem like Mary Christmas in the attempt to do anything to cover up how you are really feeling. I just want to say, all of these things are completely OK. However you cope with things to get you through the day is so very OK. You being here, with us, with those that care about you and love you is all that truly matters. Not how much you might have been able to spend, or how entertaining you have been, how big and bright your Christmas tree is or how many Christmas films you have managed to binge watch in one go.

Honesty I really believe is key. There is something to be said for the whole “fake it till you make it” scenario, sometimes you can even find yourself having an unexpectedly good time. At the same time though this can be completely exhausting and if it is what is making you feel worse, please, do not suffer in silence. It is good to talk. It may not be your nearest and dearest, it could be an online group (join Run Every Day January – what an amazing group of people) it could be your GP, your significant other, your best mate or just someone that you know might understand. I always have a listening ear if someone feels lost and not sure where to go. I cant offer professional advice or diagnosis or anything like that, but what I can offer is friendship and someone who genuinely cares.

It goes a different way too, you may be completely great and going about your day in your usual jolly way, but have you noticed someone round you has changed? Are they quieter than usual? Are they cancelling plans? Are they acting out of character? Are you worried or concerned about someone even though you cant quite put your finger on why? Then I ask you, please, give them the greatest gift you could – your time. It could be as simple as a “Are you OK?” message – they might not have been asked that little three word phrase yet it could be a lifeline for them to open up. If they are avoiding social gatherings, invite them out 1 on 1 or for a coffee at yours. If they really don’t want to talk, and some people, speaking from experience, simply wont until they are completely ready, just be there. Be their friend. Send them daft GIFS, meme’s, keep them included, let them know, no matter how low they are feeling, they are not alone.

Social media, although I am using it as a huge positive in campaigning and registering my achievements, unfortunately it can be used and seen in a negative fashion. Although you want to show the world you are having the biggest, best Christmas, do you need to show the world? One, is it the genuine truth? but please, think of the people who may be struggling – financially, emotionally, mentally. I am so not saying you should feel bad about what you post, it is your social media, your life, but maybe just stop, for one small moment and think, why am I doing this? If it is to show the massive pile of presents in comparison with others you have seen?

There is a lot of pressure put on us, commercials and shops start their Christmas messages and promotions earlier every year, but I think what we are starting to lose, is genuine Christmas spirit. It is becoming so much more materialistic year on year. Little Jimmy NEEDS the brand new games console, Jane MUST have the latest trainers etc. I was thinking about this the other day. If I look back over my Christmas’s, especially as a child, I can barely remember what I got, apart from a few things that stand out as I really wanted them, but they were little things, things that wouldn’t have cost much money but that my Mam realised how much I would appreciate. What I do remember though is family meals at my Nana’s. We might have had a small family but it was lovely to be all together. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t perfect, there would be arguments, tears and the lot but we were together, Even my Grandad would come and sit at the table! That was like a MASSIVE deal. There was also a lot of love and laughter. I miss that, so much and I know now, I never appreciated it when I had it. Not really.

This Christmas, I want my children to appreciate not what has been bought for them, but how loved they are and for what they do have not what they might have wanted and didn’t get. I want them to feel safe, happy and content and I want to make memories that they wont forget when the latest model of whatever comes out next year. I want them to believe that they are worth it, that they are special in their own way.

Screenshot_20171213-074503.jpgFor myself, I am going to actually try and believe that I am worth it. That I don’t just have to be there and do everything for everyone else. That it isn’t selfish to want to do something for myself, whether it be an undisturbed bubble bath, a run or just going to the shop without my rabble so I can have a bit of space. That if I want to work on my college work or blog for a little while then that is OK. That will go such a long way in helping me overcome often negative feelings at this time of year. I am not going to stress that I haven’t been able to spend a fortune, or that I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping yet as I have been so ridiculously busy building a foundation for a potentially fantastic 2018. Christmas is one day and what I do promise, is to give me, my time, to those that I love.

I am lucky that I have battled a lot of demons this year and that Christmas is hopefully not going to be the emotional mess it has been in previous years for me internally. My journey is far from over but I am strong and I will keep fighting.

For those struggling, remember, it’s ok not to be ok, even at Christmas time.

CC xx