autism · eating disorder · journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · savannah lloyd · Uncategorized · weight loss

Making it two decades!

Tomorrow is the day I turn 20 years old. I have officially survived and lived two decades. It’s crazy to think how fast time flies; how many birthdays I’ve celebrated; how many things have happened and changed. How much I’ve changed.

At 11 years old, I didn’t think I’d survive to be 12. Each year since then has been a battle. Each year since then has been an absolute roller coaster. Joy, change, hurt, sadness, depression, anxiety, happiness, fear, shame. At 15 years old, I cried myself to sleep because I didn’t want to celebrate my 16th birthday and become ‘grown up’. Now I’m sat here, the night before my 20th birthday and I won’t cry myself to sleep. Life isn’t a walk in the park. I’m far from where I want to be but much further than I have been.

Tomorrow I will wake up and celebrate that I have actually made it two decades in this crazy world. Two decades of life to which half has been filled with mental illness…

I will not give up.

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

Mental Health Awareness Week 2017

Mental health problems can affect the way you think, feel and behave. They affect around one in four people in Britain, and range from common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, to more rare problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A mental health problem can feel just as bad, or worse, as any other physical illness – only you cannot see it.

Some people think that there is an automatic link between mental health problems and being a danger to others. This is an idea that is largely reinforced by sensationalised stories in the media. However, the most common mental health problems have no significant link to violent behaviour. The proportion of people living with a mental health problem who commit a violent crime is extremely small. There are lots of reasons someone might commit a violent crime, and factors like drug and alcohol misuse are far more likely to be the cause of violent behaviour than mental health problems.


Warning Signs

There are over 200 classified forms of mental illness so its clearly very important to be aware of the warning signs. Mental Illness has no clear victim. It affects people of all ages, young and old, of all races and cultures and from all walks of life. Mental illness, like physical illnesses, is on a continuum of severity ranging from mild to moderate to severe.  More than 7 million people from the UK have a mental illness in any given year.  Mental illness affects one in four adults and one in five children. Very few people, however actually seek treatment for mental illness. Many aren’t even aware of the different types of mental health problems and struggle to spot the signs.

So what ARE the warning signs of mental illness?

In an adult:

  • Marked personality change
  • Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
  • Drop in functioning – an unusual drop in functioning, at school, work or social activities, such as quitting sports, failing in school or difficulty performing familiar tasks
  • Strange or grandiose ideas (impulsive, boastful, exaggerated, dreams and fantasies)
  • Excessive anxieties
  • Neurotic or repetitive behaviour (rocking, biting, hitting, head banging, pinching)
  • Prolonged depression and apathy
  • Marked changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Extreme highs and lows
  • Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch; avoidance of over-stimulating situations
  • jumpy/nervous behaviour, easily startled
  • problems with concentration, memory and speech
  • disconnected from self or surroundings
  • withdrawal and a lack of interaction with others
  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Excessive anger, hostility, or violent behaviour

A person who is thinking or talking about suicide or homicide should seek help immediately.

In a child:

Having only one or two of the problems listed below is not necessarily cause for alarm. They may simply indicate that a practical solution is called for, such as more consistent discipline or a visit with the child’s teachers to see whether there is anything out of the ordinary going on at school. A combination of symptoms, however, is a signal for professional intervention.

  • The child seems overwhelmed and troubled by his or her feelings, unable to cope with them
  • The child cries a lot
  • The child frequently asks or hints for help
  • The child seems constantly preoccupied, worried, anxious, and intense. Some children develop a fear of a variety of things–rain, barking dogs, burglars, their parents’ getting killed when out of sight, and so on–while other children simply wear their anxiety on their faces.
  • The child has fears or phobias that are unreasonable or interfere with normal activities.
  • The child can’t seem to concentrate on school work and other age-appropriate tasks.
  • The child’s school performance declines and doesn’t pick up again.
  • The child loses interest in playing.
  • The child tries to stimulate himself or herself in various ways. Examples of this kind of behaviour include excessive thumb sucking or hair pulling, rocking of the body, head banging to the point of hurting himself, and masturbating often or in public.
  • The child isolates himself or herself from other people.
  • The child regularly talks about death and dying.
  • The child appears to have low self-esteem and little self-confidence. Over and over the child may make such comments as: “I can’t do anything right.” “I’m so stupid.” “I don’t see why anyone would love me.” “I know you [or someone else] hates me.” “Nobody likes me.” “I’m ugly. . . too big. . . too small. . . too fat. . . too skinny. . . too tall. . . too short, etc.”
  • Sleep difficulties don’t appear to be resolving. They include refusing to be separated from one or both parents at bedtime, inability to sleep, sleeping too much, sleeping on the parent’s or parents’ bed, nightmares, and night terrors.

If you spot any of these warning signs in yourself or in another person please speak concerns to a health professional such as a GP or a charity that can help with advice such as childline or samaritans.

For more information on mental illness:

Mind

Rethink

NHS

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autism · eating disorder · grief · journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · savannah lloyd · Uncategorized

100 Reasons to Stay Alive

Suicidal thoughts make every minute of the day a struggle. We are often left questioning why we are still here and what the future holds for us. We wonder how we can keep living a life that has been so hard. We wonder if we’ll ever get better and get the help we need. Mental health problems can be frustrating, isolating, and deathly.

However, there are people out there who understand and want to help. Here are 100 reasons as to why you should stay alive if you’re currently struggling!

  1. to have hugs that last more than a minute
  2. a smile from someone special
  3. melted chocolate
  4. ice cream on a hot day
  5. adventures with friends
  6. recovery
  7. stargazing
  8. watching a sunset
  9. laughing uncontrollably
  10. you’ve made it this far
  11. building forts
  12. eating fresh baked cookies
  13. bonfires and hoodies
  14. graduation
  15. pregnancy and new life
  16. finding a person you love
  17. late night adventures
  18. overcoming fears
  19. dancing in the rain
  20. walking through the countryside
  21. making friends with nature
  22. life is beautiful
  23. movie nights
  24. foot massages
  25. saturday mornings
  26. you have forever to be dead
  27. to be happy one day
  28. you’re beautiful
  29. you can make a huge difference on the world
  30. moving to a new place
  31. getting a pet
  32. new clothes at summer
  33. dancing without care
  34. picnics with friends
  35. long drives
  36. waking up late
  37. to prove them all wrong
  38. to love and be loved
  39. the ocean
  40. very loud music
  41. days out
  42. watching a concert/play
  43. reading your favourite book
  44. conversations that last all night
  45. to plan for the future
  46. to learn new things
  47. you are important
  48. christmas morning
  49. someday the pain will end
  50. warm baths
  51. the first snow of winter
  52. first kisses
  53. sand between your toes
  54. flowers in spring
  55. pyjamas after a hard, long day
  56. new bed sheets
  57. water balloon fights
  58. thrill of roller coasters
  59. meeting your favourite celebrities
  60. fireflies
  61. icecream
  62. days spent outside
  63. the sound of water
  64. visiting a place from childhood
  65. all the places you’ve never been
  66. music whilst driving
  67. to look back at all the shit you got through
  68. buying new clothes
  69. meeting internet friends in real life
  70. to succeed
  71. to work in the career you’ve always wanted
  72. baby laughter
  73. sleep
  74. a hot cup of tea
  75. rules to break
  76. to help someone
  77. smiling at strangers
  78. dreams
  79. the last day of school/work
  80. taking pictures
  81. brownies
  82. bubbles
  83. water slides
  84. going on holiday
  85. to fall asleep on someone
  86. to be protected
  87. to grow
  88. to make new memories
  89. to look back on old memories
  90. to laugh at childhood pictures
  91. sit with animals and nature
  92. to be loved by a pet
  93. swimming on a hot day
  94. the first signs of autumn
  95. to binge-watch a series
  96. to live independently
  97. to get somewhere in life
  98. to breathe
  99. to grow
  100. so that you can say that you’re alive

 

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

Today I got some diagnoses..

So, my specific learning difficulties assessment report came back today. The report is long and confusing but after analysing, I feel somewhat more reassured.

The report states that I scored well below average in many areas apart from literacy and reading and particularly struggled with memory and concentration.

I got 3 diagnoses.

Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (Dyspraxia), Dyscalculia and Attention Deficit Disorder.

I have also been referred to an adult Autism assessment as this is informally diagnosed and is highly likely. Autism covers all symptoms listed in the above disorders as well as anxiety and low mood.

I feel relieved to finally know what difficulties i’ve got and how to tackle them, as well as getting some extra help at uni. I’m just a little unsure on how I feel overall about this at the moment, even though deep down I kind of knew.

Information on these disorders will be provided below so you guys can understand and educate others 🙂

I’m the same person I was before these diagnoses and always will be.

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Autism/ASD

High-functioning autism (now called Autism Spectrum Disorder) is a term applied to people with autism who are deemed to be cognitively “higher functioning” (with an IQ of 70 or greater) than other people with more severe forms of autism. People with Autism have difficulties in social communication and interaction, may engage in repetitive behaviours and routines, have highly focused interests, and have sensory sensitivity. People with autism also see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. Autism is a lifelong condition and cannot be cured.

Some symptoms include:

  • trouble detecting social cues and body language
  • difficulty with maintaining conversations and knowing when it is their turn to speak
  • Appearing to lack empathy for other people and their feelings. Some people can appear to be introverted and almost aloof
  • Dislikes changes in routines
  • Employs a formal style of speaking using complex words or phrases despite not fully understanding their meaning
  •  unable to recognise subtle differences in speech tone, pitch, and accent that alter the meaning of others’ speech
  • difficulty when playing games which require the use of imagination
  •  limited range of interests which he or she may be very knowledgeable about
  •  poor handwriting and late development in motor skills such as catching a ball or using a knife and fork
  • heightened sensitivity and become overstimulated by loud noises, lights, or strong tastes or textures

Dyspraxia 

Developmental coordination disorder, also known as developmental dyspraxia or simply dyspraxia,is a chronic neurological disorder beginning in childhood that can affect planning of movements and co-ordination as a result of brain messages not being accurately transmitted to the body. It affects 5 to 6 percent of school-aged children. This disorder progresses to adulthood, therefore making it a lifelong condition. Developmental coordination disorder is associated with problems with memory, especially working memory. This typically results in difficulty remembering instructions, difficulty organising one’s time and remembering deadlines, increased propensity to lose things or problems carrying out tasks which require remembering several steps in sequence (such as cooking).

ADD/ADHD

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is a mental disorder of the neurodevelopmental type. It is characterised by problems paying attention, excessive activity, or difficulty controlling behaviour which is not appropriate for a person’s age. These symptoms begin by age six to twelve, are present for more than six months, and cause problems in at least two settings (such as school, home, or recreational activities).

Symptoms include:

  • Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
  • Have difficulty maintaining focus on one task
  • Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless doing something enjoyable
  • Have difficulty focusing attention on organising and completing a task or learning something new
  • Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
  • Seem to not be listening when spoken to
  • Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
  • Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
  • Struggle to follow instructions
  • Have trouble understanding minute details

Dyscalculia 

Developmental Dyscalculia (DD) is a specific learning disorder that is characterised by impairments in learning basic arithmetic facts, processing numerical magnitude and performing accurate and fluent calculations. These difficulties must be significantly below what is expected for an individual’s chronological age, and must not be caused by poor educational or daily activities or by intellectual impairments.

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

The stigma of Mental Health Problems and Antidepressants

Antidepressants.

The one thing in the world that nobody wants to talk about, or admit that they are on. The one thing that everyone thinks does more harm than good. The one thing that people say shouldn’t be used.

The majority of the population believe that antidepressants cause more harm than good in treating mental health problems. Many people think taking them is a sign of weakness or inability to just get better yourself. Many people misunderstand that antidepressants can take up to 2 months to work as they start to adjust chemical imbalances in the brain. Many people misunderstood that antidepressants make it worse before it gets better.

I’m so tired of people judging situations they have no understanding of. I’m so tired of people passing negative views on antidepressants because of things they have read or heard. Something that works for one won’t work for another. Every person is an individual.

Since I was 11 years old, I have battled an array of mental health problems. For 6 years I dealt with these problems with no medication whatsoever. These were the hardest 6 years of my life. Self harm and self hatred was constant. The desire to die was all I ever thought about. Then, at 17 I went on citalopram (an SSRI) and for 18 months increased and decreased this dosage until I decided to come off the drug. When I came off, I realised how much they had actually been helping me. Then, for a year I struggled again with no medication and the simple use of herbal remedies, the outdoors and exercise. Kalms did not work. St John’s Wort made me suicidal. Rescue Remedy worked for 10 minutes and then the illness would be searing back. Nytol had no effect whatsoever. Herbal remedies are designed to treat mild forms of depression and anxiety alone. Not a mixture of mental illnesses or eating disorders or personality disorders or major depressive disorder.

Do NOT tell me to try herbal remedies. 

Before I decided to take antidepressants I tried every coping strategy under the sun until I could no longer cope.

I have recently been put on prozac and although its currently making me worse I believe I need to give it time to kick in. I can’t give up and give in on myself. It’s been nearly 9 years of fighting mental illness and I still have not found a solution. I will try all options. You would too.

Nobody would bat an eyelid at taking medication for back pain or giving insulin to a diabetic, something you cannot see or quantify, so why is there so much stigma around medication for mental health? Nobody would question giving an asthma pump to an asthmatic or give medication to a patient with a heart condition. All antidepressants do is balance out the hormones in your brain, which when they are low can cause people to become depressed, much like the contraceptive pill to stop you from becoming pregnant.

Antidepressants have been proven to not be addictive; they are just a tool to help people when they are suffering and need a bit of help with their low mood.

Stop being shocked when people tell you they are taking antidepressants, and don’t assume that they are weak and vulnerable. Some of the strongest people I have met are taking medication for their mental health, and that is what helps them to keep going. Antidepressants don’t change people, and they don’t stop them from being themselves.

PROZAC

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

The lack of mental health care available…

It’s an obvious fact that mental health treatment is underfunded in the UK, but the true extent of this under funding has only become more apparent to me in the last couple of weeks.

My mental health has turned downhill gradually over the year and more so in the last few months that I’ve needed to go and seek help for it again. The hardest thing in the world is to go to a doctor and tell them you’re there because your mental health is poor. It’s one of the hardest things to do, especially if you have anxiety and hate the thought of going there. The even harder thing is going and knowing that you possibly may not even get the help you need because of stigma, misunderstanding, the area you’re in and the lack of funding.

Mental health care is a like a lottery. If you live in the right area, you may have access to the help you need. Other areas have less funding and less mental health services available. It makes me feel really sad.

It’s so frustrating. It’s agonising when you’re sat through a suicide crisis at 2:30am in the morning and theres no help at all. The helplines shut at midnight, your GP is closed and you’re too afraid to call out of hours. You feel like your mental health problem is not serious enough for A&E and think the staff there will assume you’re wasting their time. Anyone whose been in this position will know how frightening this situation is…

I’m really hoping one day this will change. I want to make that change. I want to advocate. I want to educate. I want to raise awareness. I want to offer support. I don’t want people to feel like they’re ever alone. I want people to know that someone, somewhere, loves them and cares about their safety.

For help and support visit my mental health support page or email me.

When “I” is replaced by “We” even Illness becomes Wellness.

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

Depression Sanctuary

Depression Sanctuary is an organisation located in the USA. It offers free services to everyone suffering with mental health problems. It is your safe place, where you can find resources, help and comfort. It’s a place where you can find people in the same situation, and people that understand what you’re going through. All their services are free.
The organisation offers free services for everyone. The services includes
moderated and safe chat rooms, questions & answers, authorised depression test, lots of resources and much more.
Depression Sanctuary has been trough several incarnations over the past two decades. It originally began in 1998 as a depression chat room on About.com.  When About.com opted to no longer host chat rooms Nancy Schimelpfening, About.com’s Depression Expert, decided to create a non-profit organization called Depression Sanctuary, in order to continue the great and important work.
Depression Sanctuary’s values are based on support, love and respect. They have trained staff that supports users, as well as other users. The trained staff has experienced mental health issues, and have a valuable insight. Many members of the staff have over 20 years experience as a trained host.
 The chat room is moderated, and have a great and including community. You can ask question in their Q&A and get answers from members and staff. Some in their staff is health professionals, have relevant experience or can help you find the resources you want.
Depression Sanctuary offers support for all kind of mental health issues, and not just depression. They also offer help and support for relatives and next of kin. There are also a support group for LGBTQ-members from all around the world.
If this sounds good for you, go check them out at http://www.depressionsanctuary.org
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autism · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

St David Awards Finalist Reception

Today I woke up at 6am to travel all the way to Wales for the St David Awards. I was so anxious that I actually felt physically sick but it was such a good event and everyone was so friendly.

We arrived and had some breakfast before I had some professional photos taken and spoke to some journalists. We chilled for a little while before the First Minister came and announced all the finalists to the stage. I am in the young person category for my mental health campaigning and special needs volunteering.

It was really lovely to see everyone there today and hear about all their achievements. It’s really overwhelming to think that people feel you deserve a national welsh award for ‘exceptional people in Wales’. I feel so incredibly blessed and feel so motivated to continue reaching out to others in similar situations to my own.

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The whole reason I started this personal journey to recovery was because of the amazing people who kept pushing and pushing for my life. Without my family and my close friends, Anorexia would’ve claimed my life 2 years ago. With them, I began to fight for a new life and with it found the amazing joy of helping others. So many people reached out to me during my darkest days and I realised I was never alone no matter how isolated I felt.

I still get emails, facebook messages, and letters from those who wish to thank me for my work. For 2 years, I’ve exposed my inner and most darkest secrets, all my thoughts, and all my struggles in the hopes that it can help others in the same situation get the help they need. Exposing yourself to the world is one of the hardest things you can do – because it feels like everyone can criticise your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. However, I don’t regret ever starting this blog and sharing my story because if one person is helped then thats enough to change the world!

Mental Health problems are such a taboo subject and people struggling are more often than not stigmatised.

Every single day I will fight to change this view.

Mental Health problems are not a liability. They are not shameful. They are not cowardly. They are not only experienced by the weak.

Mental illness has no victim. It affects people of all ages, all backgrounds, all cultures and all social class.

Different but NEVER less

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

Going Back on Medication & OCD

After 13 months of no medication and managing a range of conditions by myself, I realised I could no longer manage without some sort of intervention. I went to my doctor yesterday to discuss my anxiety and any new relevant information. She decided (based on my medical history and on new symptoms) that Prozac would be the best option for me.

Prozac is a SSRI antidepressant that positively affects communication between nerve cells in the central nervous system and restores chemical balances within the brain. It is used to treat major depressive disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder and some anxiety conditions. Prozac is a strong medication and can cause more severe side effects compared to other medication. Common Prozac side effects may include sleep problems, dreams, headaches, dizziness, shaking, feeling anxious, weakness, tiredness, loss of appetite and weight loss, sweating or hot flashes, flu symptoms, nausea and tremors.

I know a lot of people have negative views on the use of medication for the treatment of mental health problems; especially when a comes to a drug as strong as Prozac. For 13 months I have pondered these views myself and believe that using medication is in my best interest. You would not rob an asthmatic of their inhaler or a diabetic of their insulin; why rob a sufferer of mental health their medication if it is needed?

Whilst at the doctors, some symptoms of OCD were picked up and then diagnosed, which I think is one of the core reasons I was put on this drug compared to other psychiatric medication.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition in which a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. Most people with OCD will have obsessions or compulsions. An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease. A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that you feel you need to carry out to try to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought.

PROZAC

I’ll now be under review continuously for medication and checks on my mental health and there’s no guarantee that this will improve my mental health. However, medication is not a magic pill or an instant cure; it just makes things more manageable and helps sort out brain imbalances.

I will keep you guys updated on everything and hope that the next few months will be positive.

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

Day 1: Survived Anxiety

Day 1 of placement is over – and I can finally breathe a little. I survived. Savannah survived. I usually back out on everything that gives me anxiety and I didn’t…and I did it. I actually did it. I am tired; I am drained; I am feeling anxious, but I did it and I feel happy. I know I have to face it all again tomorrow but feel slightly more relaxed now that I’ve done it once…

My anxiety has been so severe these past few weeks – but that’s expectant when you have both Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder, mixed with Avoidant Personality Disorder – right? It’s been so severe even standing up after being in bed gives me great anxiety, and it hasn’t been that bad in a really long time. So, I thought I’d share some insight into how I actually survived today…

Most of you know I’m religious, and I used this today to relax me. I put on my christian playlist on the bus which calmed me slightly. My tactic? Imagining Jesus sitting right next to me. Imagining him getting off the bus with me and walking into placement. Jesus walking right beside me every minute at placement. Feeling as though I wasn’t doing it alone – slightly helped.

The other thing – stimming. Stimming, stimming, stimming and more stimming. If you’re not sure what stimming is head over to my blog post on stimming. I pretty much stimmed when I got up until I got to placement. Then I tried my hardest to relax and be professional and be socially acceptable (because as much as I hate it – stimming is not seen as a positive). Then, as soon as I left the building; the stimming began again.

Anxiety is deliberating. It stops me from speaking; from asking questions; from expressing my thoughts. It stops me from having self confidence; from looking people in the eye; from getting involved in group conversations. It makes it harder to be alone; to work; to do things out of the ordinary routine. It gives me headaches; sickness; tummy problems; panic attacks; cold sweats.

It affects the way I think, feel and behave as well as sending lovely physical symptoms.

But anxiety isn’t going to win…

because Savannah survived today; and she’s going to survive tomorrow

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