journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Suicide Awareness

I agree that suicide is complex. It usually occurs gradually, progressing from suicidal thoughts, to planning, to attempting suicide and finally dying by suicide. The attitude towards suicide however always amazes me. One person dies every 40 seconds by suicide worldwide – that is an estimate of 1440 deaths by suicide a day! By 2020, the rate of death will increase to every 20 seconds. 2880 people will be dying of suicide a day… How can there be such a negative stigma surrounding suicide when it claims so many lives in simply a day? Suicide has now become one of the three leading causes of death among those aged between 15-44.

 More than 4,000 children under the age of 14 tried to take their own lives in the UK in the year 2007.

During my first suicide attempt at the age of 11, I didn’t have any suicide ideation. I had been bullied for months, probably over a year, and although I felt quite down and isolated, I didn’t feel as though I wanted to die. It was only when I was on a ski holiday with my bullies that things started to turn bad. I was sat on a ski lift with two of the people who had bullied me, and of course there was no escape. The taunting, the physical abuse, the laughter…it was all too much. My suicide ideation happened in a blink of an eye. One minute I was feeling angry at these people for being so mean and the next minute I was lifting up the bar of the ski lift ready to jump. At 11 years old, that’s a pretty scary thing to experience. I can’t remember if I knew about suicide before this attempt…or whether my mind somehow knew what to do. All I knew is that I was trapped and that was the only way of escape.

After that first attempt, suicide ideation has never gone away. Thinking about suicide became a daily task some months, but other months I wouldn’t think about it at all. As I’ve gotten older, the suicidal thoughts have become more frequent. It’s difficult, because suicide should not be ignored. Suicide should not receive negative reaction. A child – or even an adult – should be able to approach someone confidently and tell them they are thinking about suicide. Why are suicidal thoughts downplayed? The time I told my doctor I was feeling suicidal was unreal…her response? “We haven’t got any appointments for another 3 weeks.” I know that you cannot see suicidal thoughts, but they are just as serious as a broken leg.

It can be very difficult and daunting to reach out and ask for help when it comes to suicide ideation…it can be even more difficult when a loved one or someone you know unexpectedly takes their own life. That is why I’d like to educate you on the signs and symptoms of suicide, so that help can be spread to all those suffering.


Warning signs:

A person may be at risk of attempting suicide if they:

  • complain of feelings of hopelessness
  • have episodes of sudden rage and anger
  • act recklessly and engage in risky activities with an apparent lack of concern about the consequences
  • talk about feeling trapped, such as saying they can’t see any way out of their current situation
  • Self harm – including misusing drugs or alcohol, or using more than they usually do
  • noticeably gain or lose weight due to a change in their appetite
  • become increasingly withdrawn from friends, family and society in general
  • appear anxious and agitated
  • are unable to sleep or they sleep all the time
  • have sudden mood swings – a sudden lift in mood after a period of depression could indicate they have made the decision to attempt suicide
  • talk and act in a way that suggests their life has no sense of purpose
  • lose interest in most things, including their appearance
  • put their affairs in order, such as sorting out possessions or making a will

If you notice any of these warning signs in a friend, relative or loved one, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.

Also share your concerns with your doctor or a member of their care team, if they are being treated for a mental health condition.


Offering support to someone who’s feeling suicidal

One of the best things you can do if you think someone may be feeling suicidal is to encourage them to talk about their feelings and to listen to what they say.

Talking about someone’s problems is not always easy and it may be tempting to try to provide a solution. But often the most important thing you can do to help is listen to what they have to say.

If there is an immediate danger, make sure they are not left on their own.

Do not judge

It’s also important not to make judgements about how a person is thinking and behaving. You may feel that certain aspects of their thinking and behaviour are making their problems worse. For example, they may be drinking too much alcohol.

However, pointing this out will not be particularly helpful to them. Reassurance, respect and support can help someone during these difficult periods.

Asking questions

Asking questions can be a useful way of letting a person remain in control while allowing them to talk about how they’re feeling. Try not to influence what the person says, but give them the opportunity to talk honestly and openly.

Open ended questions such as “Where did that happen?” and “How did that feel?” will encourage them to talk. It’s best to avoid statements that could possibly end the conversation, such as “I know how you feel” and “Try not to worry about it”.

Getting professional help

Although talking to someone about their feelings can help them feel safe and secure, these feelings may not last. It will probably require long-term support to help someone overcome their suicidal thoughts.

This will most likely be easier with professional help. Not only can a professional help deal with the underlying issues behind someone’s suicidal thoughts, they can also offer advice and support for yourself.


Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Versatile Blogger Award

I have recieved the Versatile Blogger Award by Getting Through Anxiety.

My nominees for the Versatile Blogger Award include:

My Quiet Roar

Unbroken

Becoming Alex

drowninginmytwenties

deadlydarkleyme

Overcoming Eda

recovery is pending

A Little Bit of Magic

Minimally Crazy

The Sound of Ed’s Voice

7 facts about me:

I am 18 years old

I’ve had mental health problems for 7 years

I have a puppy named Willow

I’m originally from Wales

I’m a mental health advocate

I’ve wrote a book

I love youtube

versatilebloggeraward

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

I am socially anxious…

Anxiety has no discrimination. It can affect anyone from any background, any ethnic group, any age, any gender, any religion – anyone. Anxiety affects all aspects of a person’s life every single day of the year. It cannot be cured – it is a long term condition – but it can be managed.

Having anxiety means…

You worry that something you say or do will make someone else unhappy,

You can’t meet new people or talk to strangers,

It’s hard to make friends, or keep old ones,

Leaving the house makes you feel anxious,

Sometimes talking at home makes you feel uneasy,

It’s impossible to answer the phone or work up the courage to ring someone,

You count money over and over when waiting at a till because you’re scared you haven’t got enough money.

You hate using public transport,

You have panic attacks for no reason at all,

Any time a group of people laugh in a room, you think they’re laughing at you,

You hate walking into a room full of people because you feel they are judging you,

You replay conversations in your head for hours,

Your life is structured around what other people think,

You want everything to be perfect,

You feel like people are always watching you,

It’s hard to ask people for help,

You feel like everything you do looks silly,

You know what you have to do to be social but you just can’t do it,

You know the fear is irrational but nothing you do gets rid of it….

Anxiety is damaging. Anxiety is misunderstood. Anxiety is not rude, anti-social, shy, a lack of confidence…it is a mental health condition…

Let’s end the stigma.

anxiety

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Now blogging for the Huffington Post

This morning, my first article was published on the Huffington Post – a politically liberal American online news aggregator and blog that has both localised and international editions founded by Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer, Andrew Breitbart, and Jonah Peretti, featuring columnists.

This is such a big achievement for me and I have strived so hard to get to as many people as possible over the year that I have tried to advocate for mental health. I feel so blessed that I am now able to reach to larger audiences and help educate on what mental illness really is like.

Here is my article on the Huffington Post website:

What Life Is Really Like With Anorexia

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Mental Health Wellness Box

I’ve seen a lot of boxes over the past few weeks that people have created to help with their mental illness or self-harm. I think it’s a brilliant and unique idea as you have the ability to personalise the box to your own personality and needs. I wrote a little list of what I wanted to put into my box and made sure I included each of the 5 senses.

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This lovely box was bought at Store Twenty One.

For touch, I included some play dough and my loving (very worn!) sheep stress ball. I wanted magic sand but mum said it would be too messy . Never mind. For smell, I’ve got two candle tartlets (vanilla and vanilla frosting flavoured!) and my beautiful dog Tia’s collar that still smells of her. For taste, I’ve got some little chew candies…taste was difficult for me but I’m giving it a try. For sight, I’ve got a personal photo and a teddy with Tia’s picture on it. I’m still stuck on sound…but for now I’ve got my little McDonalds minion toy that makes a lot of annoying noises :’)

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If you’re having a hard time right now, I encourage you to start your own wellness box. You can include anything that provides you with comfort. All these things should hopefully help you and make you feel relaxed so that all your negative emotions and thoughts are taken away at that moment. Your box does not have to include an item for each of the senses but I wanted mine to.

Have a wonderful day, lovlies. One step at a time.

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

What they didn’t tell you about recovery

Recovery. A word everyone associates with ‘doing well’. A positive word. When you tell people you’re in recovery, they assume you’re doing well. That isn’t always the case. Recovery is having the hope that one day you will get better. Recovery is taking tiny steps to feeling better even if you do relapse back to your mental illness. Recovery isn’t always easy, but I bet nobody told you that.

My experience of recovery will be a lot different to someone else’s. I don’t think of recovery as a set path. One day you move 1 step forward and then the next day you’re moving 3 steps backs. Some days I feel positive that the future will get better. Some days I don’t even want to live. Some days I am back to where I was when I was 10 years old. Some days I have the knowledge and hope to deal with my mental illness. Some days I can overcome the urge to kill myself because I know life is worth living. Some days all I can think about is dying. Recovery is a difficult one to explain. Recovery for me now is a lot more complicated than how ‘recovery’ was for Anorexia Nervosa. I am not in recovery for just an eating disorder. I am in recovery for a range of mental health conditions and problems which fight to ruin my life every single day of the year. I am in recovery to try and survive. I am in recovery to one day be free of suicidal thoughts. I am in recovery to be able to function everyday without worry. I am in recovery to be in control of my mental illnesses.

Recovery is such a big process. It is so difficult. A lot of people imagine recovery to be happy and positive but the truth is it isn’t. A lot of the time recovery involves frustration, confusion, guilt and pain. You want to recover and have a good life but at the same time you have been ill for so long you don’t want to let go of everything you’ve known. Mental illness is a huge blanket covering your mind; feeding you lies that destruct your life. Mental illness is nothing but awful but yet when it comes to recovery, you can’t lose your mental illness. You feel like your mental illness is you and if you lose your mental illness, then you will lose yourself in the process.  When you enter recovery you expect to experience a life without your mental illness but that never works.

Relapse happens a lot in recovery. At first, relapse seems to happen so often that you don’t even feel like you’re in recovery. When you are relapsing back to a mental illness, you start to become forgetful and have irrational thoughts and beliefs. You start to fear being left alone. You feel tense, anxious, depressed, restless, irritable, confused, suicidal and isolated. I know that when I relapse I withdraw from everything around me. I lose interest and motivation in everything. I have trouble sleeping and eating and I don’t pay attention to how I look. My grades suffer terribly because I don’t have the energy or even the care to finish my assignments. Relapse is usually caused by a non-compliance with medication, the use of drugs and alcohol, lack of sleep or an irregular pattern of sleep, stress, lack of social relationships, support for the mental illness, stigma attached to mental health, poor physical health and unplanned life events. Relapse has such negative consequences when you have a disorder such as Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, or an Anxiety Disorder. When you relapse, it’s so difficult to regain control over your symptoms. It’s so much easier to fall victim to your mental illness than try to fight the demons in your head, but once you beat the relapse, recovery begins again.

Recovery takes a lot of strength and commitment. It also takes a lot of courage. Recovery is like fighting with yourself, with your own mind, because you care enough about yourself to want to get better and fight your thoughts and your illness. Recovery is physically and mentally draining. Some days, it makes me ill. Recovery can make your mental illness worse sometimes. My anxiety levels usually suffer a lot in recovery because in order to change and become a healthy, recovered individual with mental illness, I need to put myself into situations that make me severely anxious. I come home sometimes with the happiness of accomplishing something new but also drained because my emotions have been through hell. The process between recovery and relapse leaves you feeling confused, empty, numb and lost. I couldn’t define who I am. I could not tell you a thing about me, because the truth is, I don’t know me. Relapse makes you see life through a false image; it gives you a negative and untruthful perception of the world. Recovery helps you appreciate the small things in life and offers you a little bit of hope in yourself. I am a different person in relapse than when I am in recovery. In relapse, I am silent, isolated, broken, confused, frustrated, comforted by mental illness, detached from the world, spaced out, extremely tired, hopeless and suicidal. Recovery for me only lasts a couple of days but from what I’ve seen of recovery so far is that I am hopeful for the future, I am able to make plans and decisions related to my life, suicide is no longer an option, I remind myself that I am beautiful and that God loves me the way I am, I am kind to myself, I allow myself to relax and appreciate the small things. I am different.

Relapse is torture. Recovery is beautiful. Battling with both is hell.

The most beautiful thing I have discovered about myself in recovery is that I have the compassion and empathy to help others going through similar circumstances. I absolutely hate knowing that there are people out there, even reading this right now, who feel so alone, helpless and lost. I just wish I could sit with every single one of you and make you feel appreciated.

In recovery, I am a mental health advocate. In recovery, I strive to help as many people as possible. In recovery, I educate people about mental health. In recovery, I raise awareness. In recovery, I offer a voice to others suffering with ill mental health. In recovery, I have the courage to make mental health awareness films. In recovery, I have the courage to talk to ITV news to share my experiences. In recovery, I have the courage to speak at conferences on mental illness. In recovery, I am the true me, that is so often consumed by the shadow of mental illness. In recovery…I have the ability to smile, because I know that one day things will get better. In recovery…I have the ability to smile, because I know that one day things will get better for you and that one day, you will smile too. Continue smiling through recovery, and you will get better.

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Above is the tattoo I had a day before my 18th birthday to highlight my battle with mental illness. The recovery symbol allows me to remember that I am in recovery, even if I relapse. The birds signify freedom – freedom that I will one day be free of the dark hold my mind has on me. Hope signifies the belief that I will get better someday, even if I do not hope now.

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Anxiety means that I…

Anxiety means that I…

often find it difficult to make eye contact when having a conversation.

Anxiety means that I…

sometimes flinch from physical contact or pull away.

Anxiety means that I…

find it hard to start a conversation and ask you questions.

Anxiety means that I…

struggle to ask for your help.

Anxiety means that I…

fidget or play with my hands a lot as a way to cope.

Anxiety means that I…

often daze out in social situations or suffer panic attacks.

Anxiety means that I…

am often self-conscious about the way I dress, the way I look and what you may be thinking about me.

Anxiety means that I…

struggle to talk on the phone or have conversations with large groups of people.

Anxiety means that I…

sometimes shake when I feel uncomfortable.

Anxiety means that I…

have a mental health condition.

Anxiety means that I…

am no different to anybody else.

Anxiety means that I…

am brave,

strong,

and am 1 of the 7.3% who suffer with an anxiety disorder worldwide.

dont-judge

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Mental illness took my life. I refuse to let it take yours.

“It’s 9:36pm and I’m sat here on my couch in the dark, just a small beam of light coming from the cabinet beside me. Tears are streaming down my face, dropping onto my keys and preventing me from seeing clearly. My mind is dark and clouded, weighed down by suicidal thoughts and depression. The hopelessness builds which swirls bouts of anxiety and fear around and around inside my upset tummy. My whole entire body is shaking, my hands blue with numbness.”

This is a scary scenario, but one I see more often than I would like to admit. This is a scenario that my mental illness forces me to face. This is a scenario that I still cannot deal with after 7 years of mental health problems.

Life can turn so easy sometimes. Life has been a world wind lately – there have been amazing opportunities and moments and I’ve grown in ways I never thought I could. I have accomplished things I never thought I would accomplish. Yet, amongst all the highs and the thoughts of being able to see a positive future, the mental illnesses always have a way to push themselves forward.  I hate how these illnesses take over me. I’m tired – you know, I’m just exhausted. My eyes refuse to close; my dreams refuse to be gentle on me. In the mornings, I have to get out of bed. Throughout the day I’m a zombie. It becomes bad when I start to glaze off rather than being alert to everything around me. I go numb. My mind is so loud but yet so numb.

Not so long ago without a single ounce of care, mental illness took away from me things I never meant to share. It stole my childhood. It stole me. It stole my friends, my family, my relationships with others, my ability to interact and ask for help. It took away so many opportunities, so many moments of fun I missed out on. I have lost so much and some days I continue to watch what I’m missing…

I’ve survived 7 years of this, and I’m sure many more will come….I know I’ll fight through it, but the prospect of always being this…always struggling…is scary enough for anyone.

Mental illness took my life. I refuse to let it take yours. I always vowed that if I couldn’t help myself then I would help someone else. Every day I strive to do this. I advocate for those suffering with mental health problems, who are too scared to speak up. I advocate for change, for equality, for respect, for understanding. I offer comfort and support even if I don’t get it myself. I try, and I promise to try harder if I’m not trying enough.

One day, Mental Health stigma will be a thing of the past…that I promise.

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

The REAL reality of Anxiety

I think a lot of people underestimate the true effects of anxiety on a person’s life. Having an anxiety disorder is not worrying about going to the dentist or worrying about passing your upcoming exam. Having an anxiety disorder can become pathological and maladaptive. They can cause distress that interferes with your ability to lead a normal life. Anxiety can be a serious mental illness. Suffering with an anxiety disorder means having a constant and overwhelming worry and fear which can be crippling.

Anxiety has prevented me from doing so much. It has stolen my childhood. It is so difficult to do normal everyday things when the anxiety inside you is so loud you can’t ignore it. It’s so devastating, but people underestimate it. If you tell someone you suffer with an anxiety disorder they just say, “oh, so you’re feeling anxious? why don’t you just stop worrying?”. How can I just stop worrying? My fears are irrational, they are constant. They do not stop. Not ever. I am not just anxious. I am not just feeling anxious. I am mentally ill. I am suffering with a severe mental illness that prevents me from living every single day.

I can always tell when my anxiety is worse some weeks than others. Over the past couple of weeks my anxiety has been quite high, probably an nearing a 10 out of 10. My anxiety presents me with physical symptoms – inability to make eye contact, inability to remain still, sweating, movement and clapping of the hands, heart palpitations, dizziness, difficulty breathing, cyanosis to the nails and nose and panic attacks. Sometimes it prevents me from sleeping, leaving the house, or interacting.

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The above picture was taken in November 2014 – a month filled with severe mental illness, suicidal thoughts and behaviours, 4 hour long panic attacks and the inability to remain at college. I took the picture to show the true effects of what anxiety does to you – cyanosis in the finger nails due to lack of oxygen. Having an anxiety disorder is not attention-seeking nor is it over-exaggerated or simply an emotion. An Anxiety disorder causes very REAL physical symptoms.

I wanted to highlight the true effects of having an anxiety disorder in this post because I feel like suffering with anxiety can often be misunderstood and looked over. Anxiety can be a severe and life-threatening mental health illness that can prevent function in daily life and lead to self-harming behaviours and suicide.

Please be disorder aware and be mindful of those suffering with poor mental health

Watch my short film on Anxiety

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

The truth about self harm (SIAD)

 

Tuesday March the 1st 2016 marks Self-Injury Awareness Day.

Raising awareness about self-injury is incredibly important. Awareness leads to understanding and empathy, banishing judgement and fear, and reducing the number of people who feel alone and suffer in silence.

Raising awareness is about educating people who do not self-injure, and reaching out to people who do.

Self-harming is when a person chooses to inflict pain on themselves in some way. If you are self-harming, you may be cutting or burning yourself, biting your nails excessively, developing an eating disorder or taking an overdose of tablets. It can also include taking drugs or excessive amounts of alcohol. It is usually a sign that something is wrong. Self-Harm is not always obvious and sometimes isn’t intentional (self harm can be done absently). A person may self-harm if they are feeling anxious, depressed or stressed or if they are being bullied and feel that they do not have a support network or way to deal with their problems. The issues then ‘build up’ to the point where they feel like they are going to explode. Young people who self-harm often talk about the ‘release’ that they feel after they have self-harmed, as they use it as a mechanism to cope with their problems. A person may self-harm to relieve tension, to try and gain control of the issues that may be concerning them or to punish themselves. Sometimes in severe cases it is an attempt to commit suicide if the problems are very severe.

I was 11 years old when self-harm introduced itself into my life and its been an ongoing battle since. I’ve therefore decided to put together 5 little truths I’ve personally come across in relation to self-harm.

  1. Self harm is a very common problem, much common than a lot of people think. Although it is common, a lot of people struggle to deal with it. Recent research shows that at least 1 in 15 young people in Britain have harmed themselves. This amounts to at least 2 young people in every school classroom self harming at the same time. The most common age for self harm is between the ages of 11 and 25. Most people start self harming at around 12 years old but it is increasing among those younger.
  2. Self harming is usually not for attention. Self harm is a way to release emotions, deal with stress and pressures and to replace mental pain with physical pain. Most people harm themselves because they don’t feel like they have any other options. Self harm provides a temporary relief and a sense of control. Most people self harm due to being bullied at school, stress and worry about work, feeling isolated, divorce, bereavement or pregnancy, experience of abuse, problems with their sexuality, low self-esteem, underlying mental health issues.
  3. Self harm is not closely linked to suicide. The majority of people who self harm are not trying to kill themselves, but rather trying to cope with difficult situations and feelings. Although many people who do go on to commit suicide have self-harmed in the past, self harming itself does not indicate that a person is attempting to take their own life.
  4. Self harm can become addicting. Chemicals are released in the body when it is injured. These chemicals make you less sensitive to pain. Self harm mostly becomes addicting as it grows to be a habit that the person begins to rely on in order to function.
  5. Self harm is not just a phase. In young people, self harm is often blamed as a ‘teenage phase’ that the person will grow out of. However, self harm does not just affect young people. It affects people from all ages and all walks of life. If someone is self harming, then someone is severely bothering them and if left untreated, it can become more aggressive and frequent over time.

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