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

When Anxiety Prevents You From Functioning…

It’s really hard to put into words how I’m currently feeling. I just know its a severe, intense feeling that is consuming me 24/7. It’s crippling anxiety that I haven’t felt in a really long time. It’s deliberating tiredness that even sleep can’t heal.

It’s emotional. It’s time consuming. It’s horrendous. It’s draining. It’s lonely. It’s darkness.

It’s really funny how a small thing such as going to a new place or taking on a new role with new people can cause such emotions and make you feel completely helpless. I start work placement on Monday, at a school for two weeks, and I know this is one of the causes for my extreme anxiety and mood. Every day, normal people get up, get dressed and go to a new workplace without worry. They greet people, laugh, smile, ask questions without a second thought. They interact, they eat lunch, they catch a train or a bus, and feel completely normal for doing this. They go to bed at the end of day without feeling anxious because its just another day with new people.

I think that’s why its so hard for people to understand why I struggle. Why I struggle to even leave the front door because I’m freaking out inside over somebody seeing me. Why I can’t walk into a coffee shop without hyperventilating and playing with my hands. Why I can’t greet people or look into their eyes when they want a conversation. Why I can’t ask for help or ask questions in new settings with new people. Why I can’t be myself because I think people are watching me. Why I can’t get onto a bus or take a seat because I think I’m going to trip or do something stupid. Why I can’t ask the bus driver for a ticket without going over and over what I’m going to say. Why I can’t pay at the till with cash because I worry I won’t have enough. Why I can’t answer phone calls without preparing for days. Why…just WHY.

Work placement is one of my worst nightmares. New surroundings, new people, phone calls, parents, taking responsibility. It’s a day filled with social interaction and trying to smile and laugh. It’s a day filled with sitting in a quiet staff room – wondering what to say and worrying to eat in case someone’s watching me. It’s a day filled with people observing and watching you interact with children and staff. It’s just a day…but it’s not just a day  – not when you’re battling with severe anxiety.

Why can’t society be accepting and accept the fact that sometimes I just can’t function…I really can’t.

Extreme anxieties feels like you’re cornered; you’re trapped; you’re dying…your chest is tight, your lungs don’t catch air, your mind is a whirlwind.

Anxiety, I despise you.

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

Anxiety

I’ve suffered with anxiety for years, but every now and again I get severe bouts that really prevent me from doing anything. Over the last few days, my anxiety levels have soared. The minute I get out of bed – anxiety. The minute I get dressed – anxiety. The minute I do absolutely anything – anxiety.

I can’t breathe without feeling intense anxiety and a sense of hopelessness. Dropping a pencil is bringing me to tears. I’m not stressed…I’m anxious. I’m anxious about nothing, nothing at all but at the same time anxious about every single thing.

Breathing. Eating. Walking. Inside. Outside. People. Clothes. Cars. Planes. Internet. Myself.

Everything…

The sad reality is anxiety gives you such negative emotions. I’m irritable. I’m tired. I’m teary. My anxiety triggers my depressive episodes. I have panic attacks. I have meltdowns.

I. can’t. breathe.

When you tell someone you have anxiety they think you’re just momentarily worried because you have an exam or you’re going to be late for work…but an anxiety disorder is absolutely crippling. It’s a 24 hour constant disorder  – not emotion – that threatens to destroy you.

The strength a person needs to simply cope with such anxiety is tremendous and i’m tired…

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

New Years Recovery Playlist

New Year’s is a time filled with diets, resolutions and the promotion of weight loss and exercise by the media. For those with eating disorders – this time of year can be very hard so I’ve created a list of uplifting songs to get through the triggers.

  1. Recover – Natasha Beddingfield
  2. Firework – Katy Perry
  3. Brave – Sara Bareilles
  4. Carry On – Fun
  5. Roar – Katy Perry
  6. Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
  7. Fight Song – Rachel Platin
  8. Scars to Your Beautiful – Allesia Cara
  9. I Love My Life – Robbie Williams
  10. You’re Worth It – Cimorelli
  11. Skyscraper – Demi Lovato
  12. The Climb – Miley Cyrus
  13. Recovering – Celine Dion
  14. Try – Colbie Callait
  15. Fighter – Gym Class Heroes
  16. I Lived – OneRepublic
  17. Masterpiece – Jessie J
  18. Gold – Britt Nicole
  19. The Lost Get Found – Britt Nicole
  20. Fix You – Coldplay
  21. Human – Christina Perri
  22. Hold On – Extreme Music
  23. The Greatest – Sia
  24. Anchor – Novo Amor
  25. Perfect – Emma Blackery
  26. Jump Rope – Blue October
  27. Recovery – James Arthur
  28. Save The World Tonight (Acoustic version) – Collin McLoughlin

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

Mental Health and Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful, happy time but when you’re suffering with mental illness, it can be difficult to feel joyous. Mental illness does not take a day off. It does not care about your feelings, or what you may be celebrating. It does not care about Christmas Day, or your birthday. It does not want you to feel happy. It does not want you to feel joy.

There are some mental illnesses that make Christmas even more stressful. For example, Christmas can cause severe triggers for eating disorders. Last Christmas, I was so irritated. Everything was about food. Breakfast whilst opening presents, a big Christmas dinner and pudding, and a Christmas buffet at night. By the end of the evening, my stomach felt so bloated and the smell and thought of food made me want to heave so much that I had to go sit in the bathroom with the lights off for over an hour.

It’s not only Christmas that can trigger and make worse mental illnesses, but new year too. With a new year comes a new, older age. With a new year comes new things, new changes and new situations that can cause anxiety. With new year comes new year’s resolutions…which can be severely dangerous for those in recovery for eating disorders. Today, I have been in recovery for around 11 months. During this time I have relapsed 3 times with 1 relapse being severe. With new year’s resolutions comes weight loss targets and people complaining about their bodies. It’s extremely difficult to talk about weight and diets when you’re suffering with eating disorders. You may be in recovery, but you never recover. This year, I feel so fragile. I feel close to the edge of relapsing in the new year. I feel close to restricting food and severely exercising. I feel close to feeling disgusted again by food. I don’t want to get dressed because of the disgust I have for my body.

Please, be mindful to all those with mental illnesses today and during the new year period even if they seem to be coping well. You can hide a lot behind a smile.

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