Things can get better

Sometimes I find it hard to believe how much progress I have made over the years since being diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I have two things that have happened over the past few days that I want to talk about.

Dave received a Facebook message from someone I have not been friends with for nearly 3 years a few evenings ago. I have spoken about this person. She was one of my bridesmaids when Dave and I got married. But when I was at my lowest, she made my life even worse. She made me feel guilty, didn't respect my boundaries and only cared about herself.

I made the decision that I did not want or need this person in my life. So I was surprised to find out this person messaged Dave acting as if nothing was wrong, asking how we were and congratulating us as she (somehow) knew I was pregnant.

Dave worried so much how I would react that he got in touch with my sister. She reassured Dave that I am stronger then a lot of people realise.

My first response when Dave told me was to laugh. I can honestly say that I have not once missed the friendship. I questioned the motives behind her getting in touch in the first place. Plus, the message acted if nothing had happened when it was quite the opposite.

Dave and I both agreed to ignore the message and that he would block her on Facebook. I am so happy with the people in my life. My family have always been amazing. I have the nicest and supportive friends. I didn't see the point in trying to be friends with someone who made me more ill and turned out to be an awful friend when I needed them the most.

I know for a fact that this message would have triggered my anxiety and depression when I was still struggling. I would not have been able to stop ruminating about it, quite possibly had a panic attack and it would have made my mood come crashing down. I would have brought it up continuously with Dave. It has been quite the opposite. We have not talked about it since Dave received the message.

Yesterday I went for afternoon tea for a friend's hen do. In the past, I would have automatically said no to something like this. I used to actively avoid situations like this; too many people, being with people I didn't know, a busy place etc. The only person I knew was the bride. But I went and had a good time. I chatted away to people I didn't know and they were all lovely.

To think there was a time that I was suicidal, struggled to leave the house and was constantly anxious and my mood was low is hard to believe right now. I am proud of how far I have come. I want to stress how it has not been easy to get to this point. There have been a lot of tears, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and being honest with myself and others when it is not always easy. I can recognise if I am starting to struggle and do things to help myself feel better.

Chester Bennington

Like so many people, I was shocked and saddened to hear that Chester Bennington, singer of Linkin Park had committed suicide. 

For those who are into rock/metal music, we all have that one band that got you hooked. The band that opened your eyes and ears to music that completely speaks to you. For me, it was Linkin Park. 

When I first discovered Linkin Park they had only just released Hybrid Theory. At the time, I was a teenager. I was struggling back then with feeling of low confidence, doubts and anxiety. I know now it was more than your average teen angst. 

Finding Linkin Park helped me feel a sense of belonging; that other people felt like me, that someone could captivate perfectly my own thoughts and feelings. I was fortunate enough to have seen Linkin Park live on a number of occasions. It’s hard to describe what it was like singing your heart out with thousands of other people. It was beyond magical. 

I have been in that deep, dark place that Chester must have been. It feels neverending. At my worst, I would spend hours researching ways to kill myself including where I would do it. It was all consuming. I didn’t see a way that the darkness would leave. I really wanted it all to end as it was unbearable. 

I can’t remember how or when, but I decided that I couldn’t go on feeling like this. I felt I was just surviving, not living. Thanks to my amazing family and friends who supported me I got the help I needed. It was not easy. Addressing the deep rooted issues in my head is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. At times, I had to take myself out of my comfort zone and trust my therapist. It was scary and exhausting. 

I am not saying that life is now a bed of roses for me. It isn’t. But I can identify triggers or when I am starting to decline. I am more open with my family and friends when things are hard. For years, I hid my difficulties which I now know made things so much more worse for me. 

Things can get better. If someone had told me a few years ago how my life would be now, I would never have believed them. No one should feel like Chester, that suicide is the only option. Please find someone to talk to if you are struggling. 

I hope Chester is at peace now. My thoughts are with his family and friends. I am sure I am not the only one who is grateful to have found Linkin Park. Chester’s voice spoke to a generation and helped us during our worst moments. It is such a shame that he didn’t feel able to continue living when he had so much more to give. 


I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I’m close to something real. 
I wanna find something I’ve wanted all along. 

Somewhere I belong 

Linkin Park, Somewhere I belong

Help and support

The NHS counselling I was having wasn’t working for me. I felt like I wasn’t getting anything from the sessions. The counsellor would speak to me like a child. As a result, I dreaded going. Not the usual anxiety filled dread. But rather the dread of having to spend an hour doing something unproductive. I have had counselling in the past and I found it beneficial. I think it was the counsellor that made me feel like this. 

After much messing round with different people through my local NHS services, I finally got an assessment appointment for CBT. I had it this morning. It went fine. I am now on a waiting list. This shouldn’t be an issue as I still have some sessions left with the private CBT counsellor I am seeing.  CBT has been so much more useful to my recovery compared to counselling. I feel more in control and have found strategies that help me. I want to build on this and CBT through the NHS will hopefully allow me to do this. 

I decided to cancel my counselling. The relief I felt after I had done it reiterated that I had made the right decision. Plus, someone else who is currently waiting for counselling can now access it. 

Walter loves going for walks. He gets so excited when he knows we are going for a walk. He is such a poser:

  
Beside the fact he takes ages to go on a short walk round the block, Walter is quite good when we are out. He is overwhelmed by all the new smells. Plus, he is super nosy whenever we walk past anyone. I have had so many people stop us when we are out. Walter loves the fuss that is made of him. 

Walter had a little play date with our friend’s border collie Fly. They got on well. Fly is so laid back which helped:

   
 

   

  

 

They played in the back garden and went for a quick walk. Walter was exhausted when they left. My godson absolutely loves Walter. He kept going over to stroke him. Walter loved it!

   
   

I have loved spending time outside in the garden and on walks with Walter. He is coming on loads. We’ve managed to get him to sit and put his paw up instead of jumping up on the couch. He also waits for his food now. When we first got him he would dive at his food like we were going to take it away from him. I enjoy having Walter to focus on. My mood hasn’t been as low since a few weeks ago. The only thing I am struggling with is that I’m not getting enough sleep. Walter wakes up at 5am each morning (regardless of what time we put him in his crate for the night) to go the toilet. He then wakes up each hour after that. Dave thinks the sun wakes him up. We are going to put a blanket over his crate and see if this has an effect. I think it will be just a matter of time before Walter can sleep through the night. He is only 14 weeks old and his bladder is only small. 

There is going to be another Fit for 5ive event at the gym in July. I am really looking forward to it. The gym is still helping me to regulate my mood. With having Walter, I really enjoy having some ‘me’ time that the gym offers. I am planning on increasing my weights in Bodypump as my fitness seems to have improved. 

This Friday = new series of Orange is the New Black!!! Dave and I absolutely love this show. We are planning on spending Saturday afternoon watching it. I have just started watching Misfits. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have done (so far). 

Still struggling

You know things are bad when your doctor asks you to come back in again in two weeks. 

My doctor was really sympathetic yesterday. I didn’t want to be at the doctors. I didn’t want to go anywhere. I still don’t. My medication has been increased to 40mg a day. I am being referred for CBT on the NHS. The NHS counselling is really not helping. Talking isn’t helping. I need more than just talking. I told my GP this. 

Normally I am asked to come back in every four weeks when I am struggling. I was told to come back in two weeks. Maybe because I was honest and said that I am suicidal. 

Trying to articulate what is going on in my head is a struggle. So I always come home after a GP appointment feeling quite emotional. Walter was in a funny mood when I got home from the doctors. He wouldn’t stop barking regardless of what I tried. I was at my wits end and ended up in tears. Pathetic huh? 

Depression likes to tell me that I am shit at everything. The latest thing it likes to tell me is that Walter hates me and I’m shit with him. 

I’m at the point I was at the beginning of the year. I don’t want to leave the house or do anything. I am still going the gym as much as my head tells me not to. I’m not getting much enjoyment out of it. 

I’ve just got to keep going and believe that things will get better. Even if depression and anxiety like to tell me otherwise. 

An update

Walter has been here for nearly a week now! This week has flown by. He is still really good at night. The time it takes for him to settle is getting shorter each night. He whines a little and then settles down. 

Dave and I have discovered that Walter can destroy toys pretty quickly:

  
Puppy toys are his speciality. Within 5 minutes of playing with this stuffed toy he had managed to bite a hole in it:

  
I then had to pull out all the stuffing and throw it away so that Walter didn’t eat it. 

Walter loves having his belly rubbed while playing with a toy:

  
 

He also loves his sleep and can sleep in a range of weird and wonderful positions:

  

  

Walter totally has a shoe/foot fetish. So much so we let him chew on a pair of Dave’s old shoes:

  
Dominic adored Walter when he met him on Wednesday. It was lovely to see Dominic with Walter. He spoke really calmly and was gentle when stroking Walter. As a result, Dominic was on the receiving end of lots of cuddles and kisses from Walter. My friend from the gym came round to have lunch with me and to meet Walter. I had a great time and I think my friend did too. We have two of our close friends coming round tomorrow afternoon to meet Walter and for some pizza. 

The gym is going well. I have cut back the amount of time I go. It’s not fair on Walter and I am tired at the moment as I have to get up in the night to take him the toilet. I still do 3 back to back classes on a Saturday morning. That will be Dave’s time to spend with Walter. I am able to push myself more, my knee pain has gone and I am back to doing the high intensity options. 

I am still receiving counselling/CBT. It’s going well. A lot of things are making sense about myself. It became clear to me during a recent session that it was possible I was exercising so much at one point as a way of punishing myself. 

My mood has improved lately. I think Walter has helped with that. I love playing with him. He is such a loving dog. He loves cuddles and is always so happy to see me and Dave. My anxiety has been bad at times. I worry that I am doing everything wrong with Walter. I am experiencing massive levels of guilt too for a number of reasons. I message Dave when I feel that my anxiety and guilt are spinning out of control. He is brilliant at helping me think more rationally. Walter is having his last injections next week. I’m hopeful that being out in the fresh air each day for a substantial length of time will help. Dave and I can’t wait to be able to go on walks together at the weekends with Walter. 

Onward and upward

I’ve managed to get an extra four CBT sessions on top of my existing ones I have left with my current counsellor. I’m really pleased. It seemed like I was starting to get a good understanding of myself so I am grateful I will be able to continue this. I have a session this afternoon. It’s my first one since coming home from Australia. 

I have been really busy these past few weeks. It’s been good. I have spent time with my family which has been great. I feel closer then ever to them right now. Dave and I saw my parents last weekend. For the first time, I talk with them about the guilt I feel for various reasons. I also expressed concerns that I worry that they don’t think that I am mentally ill. They were really supportive and said that this wasn’t the case. 

I also spent the day with my sister this week. We ended up going Pets At Home for more things for Walter. We also had lunch in Pizza Hut. I would recommend trying their salted caramel cookie dough dessert. We shared one and it was divine. My brother is coming round after my CBT session and we are going for lunch. 

I went back to the gym last week. Last Wednesday was my first time in 3 weeks. Les Mills have released their new stuff and it is brilliant particularly Bodycombat. My first classes back were really hard. I felt like my fitness was noticeably worse. However, my body seems to have needed the break from all the intense exercise I was doing. My knees have not caused me any problems since returning from Australia. I am able to use weights again during the leg track of Bodypump. I am back to doing the high impact moves in Bodycombat and Bodyattack. My friend from the gym thinks I was over exercising before Australia. She and a number of other people at the gym have said I look like I have lost weight. My metabolism will also be working constantly as a result of regularly exercising. 

So tomorrow is the big day – we go to pick up Walter! Our house is all ready for him after sorting it out all week. He is registered at a vets. I am excited and nervous. A puppy is a big responsibility. Dave and I want Walter to be happy with us. My friend from the gym said that her parents got a dog when her Dad was struggling with depression. She said it really helped him and she thinks Walter will be a good thing for me. She is going to come round to meet Walter on Wednesday. My Mum, brother and sister are meeting him on Monday. 

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.