Busy, busy, busy

Only 3 days until we fly out to Brisbane! This weekend has flown by as Dave and I have both been busy. 

I really enjoyed going for lunch with my parents and sister on Friday. It was nice getting to spend time with them. My hair is now even shorter. My hairdresser was laughing that I keep getting more of the length taken off each time. I now have a graduated bob which is the shortest I have had my hair in a good few years. It is much more manageable and will hopefully mean that I will be cooler in Australia. 

On Saturday was my godson’s 2nd birthday party. We had a good time. I was anxious in the car when driving to our friend’s but I was able to work through it by talking to Dave about it. I am still convinced my godson is autistic. He is really into cars at the moment. There was a lot of repetitive behaviours – moving the cars in a particular way, in a particular order etc. Also, he would lie on the floor and move the cars close to his eyes. He seemed fascinated with watching the car wheels turn. My godson does not talk and there was no imaginative element to his play. Other red flags were that we wouldn’t be singing happy birthday or putting candles on his cake as he is scared of candles and he was scared to open his presents unless you opened it to a point that he knew what the present was. I have thought for a few months now that my godson has autism. But I know it is not my place to broach the subject with my friend. Regardless, Dave and I love my godson. He means a lot to both of us. 

We started packing for Australia when we got back from the birthday party. It was comically to see how much more I am taking then Dave! I normally really hate packing for holidays but it helped me feel more organised and excited. 

Yesterday Dave did overtime at work. I went the gym in the morning. In the afternoon I started cleaning and tidying the house. It’s the first time in a few months I have done a proper clean. It sounds vile I know but I had zero motivation to do housework. It was taking all my energy to even get out of bed on particularly bad days. I feel so much better for doing it, even when I knocked the hoover and its contents spilled over the hall carpet! I managed to not get worked up about it which is a big thing for me. 

I am going the gym tonight. My friend is going to be doing some of my favourite tracks during combat. It was suggested that I make some requests as it is my last Monday at the gym for a good few weeks. 

Tomorrow my brother is off work. He is going to come round to mine and we are going to go out for lunch. Wednesday I am at the gym in the morning and I have Dom in the evening. 

This is potentially my last post before going away. I don’t have any concrete plans to post when I am in Australia. I do plan on taking a lot of photos which I will post at some point. 

Thanks again for taking the time to read, comment and like my posts. It means a lot. Until next time! 

Depression and the British media

The British media has acted really irresponsibly in their reporting of the French Alps plane crash. As more information has become available, the stigma surrounding mental health in particular depression has been fuelled. 

I feel that it is extremely unhelpful that the media think it is their role to apportion blame. It has made for uncomfortable reading. Maybe I shouldn’t have read the comments on news articles regarding this truly awful event over the past few days. 

As someone who has struggled to come to terms with depression, I am incredibly reluctant to talk about it with anyone who doesn’t currently know more than ever. I dread to think what others are going through who are currently not accessing any support through their local health services. It takes a huge amount of courage to make an appointment with your GP let alone talk to them about how you are struggling. To have the added worry that you might be perceived as a danger to others is wrong. Why would someone want to admit they may have depression if they are going to be stigmatized by those around them?

Please do not mistake this as me supporting the co pilot that decided to senselessly murder 149 people. I don’t. Not one bit. I was horrified when I found out that the crash was a deliberate act. Apparently there were screams from passengers when they realised what was about to happen. I can’t even begin to imagine how the families and friends of the victims are feeling. It’s an incomprehensible tragedy. 

Having depression does not make someone a thoughtless monster. I am married and I have been with my husband for nearly 10 years. I am extremely close to my family and friends. I am a personal assistant to a 12 year old boy who has autism and ADHD and have been for nearly four years. There are millions of people around the world living with depression who are from all walks of life and in a wide range of professions. Depression does not mean an intent to hurt others. If anything, I feel that those with depression are highly sensitive in regard to the people they care about. I wouldn’t wish depression on anyone including those who I no longer have in my life as a result of their horrible actions towards me. Its impact can be truly devastating and something only those who have experienced can ever fully understand. So why would I or anyone else with depression behave in a way that would knowingly cause harm to others?

Lightbulb moment and laughs

This morning I had a lightbulb moment during my NHS counselling session. I was filled with anxiety and dread about going. Maybe that played a part in my struggle to fall asleep last night (I was asleep when Dave got home from work around 11pm apparently).

I have realised that my weight loss started when I was being bullied at work. It was only when the counsellor asked me for a timeline of sorts that it clicked. It’s something we are going to explore during my next sessions which will be from the beginning of May. The counsellor made me feel at ease. I did most of the talking during the session but I think it was necessary for the counsellor to get a clear picture of me, my circumstances, my feelings etc. 

The gym was great this morning. I really enjoyed combat, pump and pilates. It was only during pilates that I saw just how far I have come regarding my core strength. My friend who runs the classes came round when we were doing pilates situps to make sure we were all doing them correctly. She commented on how much stronger my core was compared to a few months ago. It is something I have felt I have always struggled with but clearly the hard work is paying off. 

My GP appointment went well. The doctor I see is so lovely. She actually understands mental health and seems to genuinely care. We ended up talking about travelling and holidays for ages! My ears have felt blocked and itchy this past week. When the GP looked in them she said both ears are impacted with earwax more so my left ear. Apparently, you can only have your ears syringed after using olive oil eardrops for 7 – 10 days….not helpful when I am getting on a plane in 8 days. I have some olive oil drops to use 2 – 3 times a day between now and next week. I plan on buying boiled sweets for the plane and I have already told Dave that I am using the beats headphones we have. There’s got to be a perk to having blocked ears 😛

Dominic was a delight tonight. Although I was subjected to watching Frozen at my house. I really don’t like Frozen. Quite possibly one of the most overrated and annoying films. But Dominic loved it and has already suggested about bringing another of his DVDs round to mine (even though Dave and I have loads of DVDs and Netflix). Next Wednesday will be the last time I take him out before Australia. I am going to take him to pick an easter egg from Dave and I which he is excited about. He has such a sweet tooth. 

Today has been a busy but good day. I think it is important I acknowledge in some way when I do have a good day. I have actually managed to come up with six positives from today. It was a struggle to come up with one positive a few days ago. I have laughed all day particularly at the gym and with Dominic. Depression and anxiety didn’t have such a tight grip on me today and I am grateful. 

Tired but awake

It is so frustrating how tired I am yet I can’t sleep. The past few nights I haven’t had enough sleep. I made a conscious effort to unwind and relax tonight. I had a bath and read in bed. I took a sleeping tablet two hours ago yet I am still awake! The annoying thing is I have to be up early as I finally have an NHS counselling appointment at 8.30am. I only have two CBT sessions left so I am going to make sure that the NHS counselling will continue in May. 

So I thought I should use my time awake positively and do a post. 

After a bad few days, my CBT helped massively this afternoon. I experienced this massive wave of anxiety which came from nowhere before going the gym last night. I need to work on ‘pressing my pause button’ and to acknowledge that it is ok to be anxious. My current strategy has been to fight it and not address it. By acknowledging it I can then identify what I need to do to help the anxiety pass. We also looked at the high levels of guilt I experience and negative self talk that I frequently do when I experience anxiety or when my mood drops. We focused on how much I worry and what things I am worried about and strategies to help me worry less. Currently my worries are

  • I will never recover from my current relapse
  • That when I get back from Australia I will have nothing to look forward to
  • Getting a job if I do recover

Only 9 days to go until we fly out to Brisbane! We are gonna pack at the weekend and I am going to do a huge clean of the house one day next week before we go. I want to come back to a tidy house as I think it will help.

I’m getting my hair cut on Friday so it looks nice for Australia. My hair grows ridiculously fast and my fringe is in eyes. I’m also going for lunch with my parents. 

It is my godson’s 2nd birthday tomorrow. He is having a birthday party on Saturday which I am looking forward to. We haven’t seen him for a few weeks as we’ve been so busy. 

10 positive things

I was reading through some recent posts of blogs that I follow. Bipolar Whispers has done a challenge and has asked others to do the same – to write 10 positive things about youself that have nothing to do with any of your mental health issues.

This is something I thought I would do. I focus on the negatives a lot. Funny that I saw this post this morning. I got up to find a notepad with a post it note on it from Dave – for the positive things. I am going to write at least one positive thing that has happened each day.

10 positive things about me that have nothing to do with depression or anxiety:

  1. I am a determined person. Once I set my mind to something I can be unstoppable. 
  2. I am a wife and love it. Dave proposed to me after being with me for 7 years and we got married after 9 and a half years together. Regardless of what others have said about the novelty wearing off, I still love being called Mrs and it hasn’t got old in the past (nearly!) 6 months
  3. I have a godson who is 2 on Wednesday. I have known him his entire life as his mum is one of my best friends. I love that I am known as Auntie Gemma to him. 
  4. I am passionate about the things I like and causes that are important to me. Examples of this are seeing my favourite bands live numerous times and having a jigsaw piece tattoo (autism awareness) on my ribs.
  5. I devour books. Ever since I can remember I have loved reading. I can easily sit and read for hours. 
  6. I am from Liverpool, England and very proud to be! Although I haven’t lived in Liverpool for a number of years I still have a scouse accent. 
  7. I am a gamer girl. I love nothing more than to sit and play on my xbox 360 particularly co op games with Dave. Our wedding cake was an xbox cake!
  8. I am a caring and loyal wife, daughter, sister, auntie and friend. My family and friends are extremely important to me and I love spending time with them. 
  9. I have climbed Snowdon and Scafell. I used this as an opportunity to raise money for Action for M.E. as my sister has M.E. I am hoping to climb Ben Nevis so that I can say I have climbed the three peaks in the UK. 
  10. I enjoy helping others, whether it is helping a friend out with a problem, helping someone in the gym who looks unsure or helping Dominic or other autistic children. I couldn’t imagine not being a helpful person. 

This was a really hard post to do. I have been attempting to think of 10 positive things about myself throughout the day. I am glad I did this though. It is something I can look at when I am struggling to think positively. 

It would be great if anyone else out there is willing to do this. Write 10 positive things about you that have nothing to do with any of your mental health issues.  Post them on your blog and share the link in the comments.  If you are not comfortable writing a blog post and linking it, you can write the 10 things in my comments section on this post.

A ray of sunshine

In an attempt to get out of this black hole that depression and anxiety have sucked me into right now, I thought I would do a post about the child I take out for respite once a week. 

Dominic is 12 years old. He has ASD and ADHD. I first met Dominic in June 2011. At the time, he was living mainly with his Mum but also spent time at his Dad’s. Dominic was 8 years old and his behaviour was becoming increasingly more difficult for his Mum to manage. As a result, it was decided that Dominic would live with his Dad for the majority of the time. This was not an easy decision for his parents to make. Through social care Dominic’s family were given direct payment hours and this is where I became involved. 

I can remember going round to meet Dominic and his family along with his social worker. Dominic was this little ball of energy who bombarded me with lots of questions. 

Dominic has come on so much in nearly four years. He is now able to order food in certain restaurants/fast food places, use a knife and fork and share his thoughts and feelings with me. Dominic has overcome some major fears including fireworks and dogs. 

Here are my ten favourite things about Dominic:

  1. Special interests – there have been a number of these over the past four years – Mr Men and Little Miss, space, fish, Toy Story, languages, birthdays, theme parks, water parks, Mr Bean and Horrid Henry. It still astounds me how much Dominic knows about the things he likes. For instance, during his Toy Story phase Dominic had a spell where he was teaching himself how to count, say hello and goodbye etc in a number of languages. He then started watching the Toy Story films in Spanish to help learn more Spanish!!! The pleasure and enjoyment he gets from his interests is amazing to see. 
  2. Honesty – Dominic says it like it is due to having autism. I always know where I stand with him. When Dominic says he looks forward to seeing me or he has had a good time, I know he means it. 
  3. Memory – Dominic has a fantastic ability to remember dates, birthdays and things that have happened. He can remember whole conversations from years ago!
  4. He doesn’t judge people – Dominic doesn’t judge people based on what they look like or the clothes they wear. He likes people based on whether they are a nice to him. 
  5. He is a positive person – Dominic finds the best in everything and everyone. He can always find something to smile or laugh about. He frequently tells me that if something is annoying him on school he will think about seeing me to help him feel better
  6. He is a thrill seeker – the opposite of me! Dominic loves going really high on swings in the park, rollercoasters and bouncing high on his trampoline. 
  7. He is caring – Dominic speaks highly of his friends from school. He helps them if they are upset or hurt themselves. 
  8. He loves meeting people – Dominic came to our wedding and was more than happy being around dozens of our friends and family. He likes nothing better then seeing Dave or my immediate family. 
  9. Sense of humour – Over the years Dominic has developed a wicked sense of humour. He initiates jokes more often now. 
  10. He is inquisitive – Dominic will ask questions about anything and everything. He loves finding out things. Currently, he loves finding out how tall people are!

I could list so many more things that make Dominic such an amazing person. He leaves such an impact on others when they meet him. His remarkable personality really draws people to him. My family and friends frequently ask about Dominic and truly care about him.

I am so protective of Dominic. I worry about him becoming a teenager (which will be later this year!) and eventually an adult. Every so often, Dominic will ask how long me and him will go out. I really hope that I will always be a part of his life. I am so proud of how far he has come in the four years I have known him. 

I have not missed this…

Last night I got upset over my CBT session which took place yesterday afternoon. We looked at the way I think about myself particularly in relation to the way I look, my appearance etc. I brought up my massive fear around putting on weight too. 

I’ve never talked in great deal to anyone about the bullying I was on the receiving end of throughout different parts of my school life. It is possible that my self loathing stems from this. My thoughts about myself are likely to be a result of being bullied. 

It now makes sense why I had a breakdown when I was bullied during 2013 at work. At the time, I received generic talking therapy. I wasn’t given the opportunity to look at my thought processes at the time. 

After my CBT session I felt my mood drop as the day went on. When Dave got home from work that night I became upset. It’s hard to explain how shit I felt.  Clearly I have tried to block out the bullying and now it is at the forefront of my mind. 

I didn’t sleep well last night. I went the gym this morning and then went for a coffee with my friend from the gym. My friend confided in me about something she is dealing with. She said she wanted my advice and we ended up talking for about three hours. We talked about a lot of other stuff to do. I find it weird how calm and rational I can be with other people’s situations yet I am the complete opposite with my current circumstances. The only reason we left when we did was due to the fact I needed to pick up my respite child. I had a good time with my friend and with my respite child. 

Since getting home nearly 3 hours ago, my mood is even lower then yesterday. I have been in tears. The frustrating thing is I can’t say exactly what is causing this. I just want to hide from the world. Right now, I feel like I have to put such a massive effort into doing things that other people take for granted. Getting out of bed, eating, showering and leaving the house are just some of the things I have to use a lot of energy to do. The mask I wear so much feels like it is slipping. 

The suicidal thoughts are back. There. I said it. I don’t feel able to talk to anyone about it. It will do nothing but cause upset and stress for those that know about my depression and anxiety. I don’t have another CBT session until Tuesday afternoon. I have an appointment with my GP a week today. 

I feel so fucking weak and pathetic. I have no reason to feel this shit. I am a fraud. I lie to so many people. My go to response when anyone asks how I am is, “I’m ok” regardless of how I actually feel. I don’t have the guts to tell people about being ill or the fact I don’t work. It’s just easier to say work is fine or to change the subject. 

I’ve got 99 followers and another lovely note

I started this blog just over two months as a way to help aid my recovery. There was no expectation on my part that others would even read my posts let alone follow my blog. So to have 99 followers from all over the world is incredible. Thank you all for taking time out of your day to read my posts. 

Dave left me this note on our full length mirror:

This note has made me realise how much my eating and poor body image are having an impact on me. 

Initially when I became ill and had issues with medication I experienced a poor appetite. This was a genuine side effect of the anti depressants I was taking. As my depression and anxiety has raged on my self esteem is now at its lowest. 

I have mentioned before that I lost a lot of weight (4 stone) during 2013. This was done in the right way – changed my diet and exercised regularly. When I am thinking rationally I know that right now I am not eating enough. Yet a part of me has this overwhelming fear of putting back on all the weight I have lost. I wear UK size 10 clothes. I even own some size 8 tops. But this does not stop the recurring thoughts I have. Just some of these thoughts:

“I am not in proportion”

“My thighs are too chunky”

“My stomach isn’t flat enough”

“My arms aren’t toned enough”

As a result I look in the mirror a lot. Even more so when I am leaving the house. I sound vain don’t I? But I honestly think that I do not see myself as everyone else sees me. Dave tells me all the time how fantastic I look. And do you know what I do? I dismiss the comments. I argue with Dave. I totally disagree with him. 

During CBT sessions so far we have briefly touched on this. By disagreeing with Dave I am making out that his opinions do not matter. I am currently trying to just say thank you to people whenever they give me a compliment. 

A part of me knows I am putting my body at risk. I try to eat as little as possible yet I am still doing a lot of high intensity classes at the gym. I feel like my attitude to food is spiralling out of control. I don’t make proper meals. I get so angry with myself if I eat certain things. The guilt I feel when I eat is truly awful. 

I decided to tell Dave that food is now becoming a huge issue for me. I have been trying to hide it from him. He doesn’t need anything else to worry about. I am going to bring it up during my next CBT session and at my GP appointment in two weeks time. Dave has said he does not know what to do about it. He had noticed my weight has been dropping each week recently. He now just makes me food or gives me a choice of what food he will make for me. I think he picked up on the fact that when he was asking if I wanted something to eat I would always so no. 

Sometimes it feels like one thing after another. Other times it feels like I have so many issues at play at the same time. 

Talking, walking and sorting

Thank you to all the people who have left some really lovely and encouraging comments on my last post. I wasn’t expecting them at all. I am quick to find the negative in situations and you all helped me see that I was strong and brave to stand up for myself when at times I feel quite the opposite. 

I had my first CBT session last week. It went a lot better then I anticipated. I am not sure if I like the counsellor at the moment. At times she seemed sympathetic and at others she made me feel ridiculous and stupid for the way I think right now. I have three more sessions booked in before going to Australia. 

On Saturday the weather was pleasant. You would think given the UK press that we were experiencing a heatwave. It wasn’t warm. It was sunny and I didn’t need to wear a coat outside. Dave and I took advantage of it and went for a walk around a dam that is about 10 minutes drive from our house:

The fresh air and sunshine on my face felt fantastic. I felt so much calmer. We then went and had a drink in Starbucks. Although it was busy I didn’t feel overly anxious. 

Dave and I have been discussing the possibility of getting a dog when we come back from Australia. The benefits of me being outside were obvious after Saturday. I also think it will give me a sense of purpose having to look after a dog. We are not taking this decision lightly. We still need to discuss it in more detail. Plus currently Dave and I live in a rental property so we would need permission from our landlord. I’m hoping this wouldn’t be an issue with him as we have lived here for coming up to 4 years now and we are not looking to get a huge dog. 

Dave and I went through all our clothes we are planning to take to Australia. I have mostly everything. I just need a few more pairs of shorts and another bikini. Dave needs some more shorts and tshirts. I was supposed to be going out for the day on Friday with a friend. She has had to cancel though so Dave and I are going to get all the clothes we need plus all the other stuff we need (I’ve made a list). I felt so much better when I could see that we don’t need to buy that much. Dave’s auntie has been messaging him about us climbing the Sydner Harbour Bridge today! We have our visas sorted, car park booked and Dave has emailed the airline we are flying with to let them know we are going to be on our honeymoon. 

I went the gym on Saturday. A lot of people spoke to me about the incident with the woman pushing. They were all supportive of me. I found out from my friend that this woman has made someone else who comes to the classes so uncomfortable that she had stopped coming the gym! My friend is away from Wednesday for a few days so I am planning on mixing it up a bit at the gym. Normally I go to the gym on Wednesday mornings but I have decided to go to Insanity and Abs Blast tomorrow night instead. It is not worth the stress of potentially seeing this woman on Wednesday when my friend isn’t running the classes. I have been really up and down mood wise over the weekend so it really isn’t worth it. 

Strange few days

It feels like it has been a strange few days. Currently, I am extremely unsettled. I will get to what I think has set me off…

A few times for the past week or so I have reached a point where I feel like my brain completely shuts down. This has resulted in me curling up on my corner couch in the fetal position not being to do anything. I’ve noticed that I am unable to focus on what I am doing and zone out. It then feels like I am in this mindset for what seems like an eternity. 

This happened last weekend. Luckily Dave was here. He put my ipod on our speakers and eventually he distracted me. However, this happened again yesterday afternoon and again in the evening. Last night Dave had to prompt me to get up off the couch.

I have posted frequently that I go to the gym a number of times a week. I have also said that this is an ongoing struggle to do. I had actually felt less anxious about the gym the past week or so. I had spoken to my friend at the gym for a good half hour on Monday night. 

I got to bodycombat on Wednesday morning and stood at the back in a space waiting for the class to start. An older woman came in and stood directly behind me. My friend noticed this and asked everyone to move forward. This woman then actually pushed me! I told her not to push me. I was so angry. I don’t know how I managed to stay in the gym for bodycombat, bodypump and pilates. This is actually progress for me. A few weeks ago I would have walked out straight away.

At the end of bodycombat I decided to say something to this woman. I said that I did not appreciate being pushed. She then tried to argue with me! My response was that there is no excuse for it and I walked off to get my kit out for bodypump. 

I spoke to my friend at the end of the classes. She was disgusted and said I could make a formal complaint. She talked to the gym manager who then phoned me yesterday. My friend asked me if she could tell the gym manager about my depression and anxiety which I agreed to. The manager was lovely. She told me to keep coming the gym and that I am to tell her if anything upsets me when I am there. The infuriating thing is this woman hadn’t even booked on to bodycombat! My friend and the manager tried to find out who she is. This woman has actually broken the terms and conditions of her contract and could have her membership revoked. On Monday the manager is going to come up to the studio to see if this woman is there. 

I feel so strongly about making a formal complaint. It is wrong that someone thinks they can behave in this manner. After the phone call from the gym manager I was in tears. The whole thing played on my mind all last night. I wouldn’t want anyone else to feel the way I do because of this woman. I refuse to stop coming the gym but other people might not feel the same if something like this happened to them. 

On Tuesday I went out for the day with my sister. We went for lunch and I had this 

It was amazing. Really filling. So much so I couldn’t finish it all. We then looked round some shops. I got some stuff from primark for Australia. It was nice to spend the day with my sister. We have become closer recently. 

I am going to end this post with a photo of a note Dave left me under my phone this morning. It was lovely to read after how unsettled I have been these past few days. I hope everyone who is going through similar things to me has someone like Dave in their life. He gives me the strength to carry on x