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

Massive Sensory Overload

Today’s just one of those days. Way too anxious, way too tired. Sensory overload came over me this morning in full swing. Even the power of headphones did not stop all the different senses getting too much. I’m putting it down to lack of sleep, alcohol and medication.

I was supposed to go shopping. I was supposed to buy food for the week ahead, buy some envelopes and post a letter. I forgot to get off my stop on the bus not once but three times…so I decided to get off in town. I forgot completely about what I needed to do. I made it to tesco (a 5 minute walk that consisted of too many voices, too many cars, too many tapping feet on the pavement, construction guys throwing tools around and my own breathing) but my shopping list consisted of just mushrooms because I forgot all that I needed. I wandered around the shop for a bit before realising I had to pay. I then caught the bus back…

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The entire time I couldn’t breathe. The minute I left my flat this morning I felt like a boa constrictor was perched on my throat. My chest was so weak and hollow, my breaths were fast. All I could focus on was every single noise, every single image and person. Everything but my mind. It was like walking through a dream. I completely forgot the reason why I was going out in the first place. However, I made it to a to b and eventually back to a…but my goodness. What a morning.

Sensory overloads are horrendous. Sensory overloads or meltdowns occur when one or more of the body’s senses experiences over-stimulation from the environment. Examples include; crowded places, noise, people, too much information, visual overload.


Oversensitive Sensitivities

Sound

  •  Noise can be magnified and sounds become distorted and muddled.
  • May be able to hear conversations in the distance.
  • Inability to cut out sounds – notably background noise, leading to difficulties concentrating.

Touch

  • Touch can be painful and uncomfortable – people may not like to be touched and this can affect their relationships with others.
  • Dislikes having anything on hands or feet.

Sight

  • Distorted vision – objects and bright lights can appear to jump around.
  • Images may fragment.
  • Easier and more pleasurable to focus on a detail rather than the whole object.

Helping someone in Sensory Overload

If someone is having a meltdown, or not responding, don’t judge them. There are things that you can do to help. This can make a world of difference.

Often, small changes to the environment can make a difference. Creating a sensory profile may help you to work out what changes are needed. Three points to remember are:

  • be aware. Look at the environment to see if it is creating difficulties. Can you change anything?. Watch the person closely – changes in behaviour or indicators of distress may be small. Watch breathing patterns, especially.
  • be creative. Think of some positive sensory experiences.
  • be prepared. Tell the person about possible sensory stimuli they may experience in different environments.
  • be calm. People in sensory overload are feeling very distressed and anxious so staying calm may help them relax. Offer comfort if the person wants it (touch or words) and move away from the area that is causing distress. Be patient and wait for the sensory overload to finish.
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.

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

I was REALLY sick…

I was on instagram last night when I went onto my instagram profile. I decided to just stroll through my pictures and found some from 2014/2015. For those who know me, you’ll understand that during this time I was in the depths of my eating disorder. At the time, I didn’t really know this. I thought I was okay. I thought I was better than I’d ever been. How wrong I was though. June 2014 consisted of doctors appointments, hospital appointments, blood tests, scans, meetings with college, intervention from community mental health teams and social services. My weight was drastically dropping by each day. The calories kept getting lower and lower.

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Whilst going through those pictures last night; I had the realisation that I was actually really sick back then. How I had managed to feel so healthy I have no idea. How did I survive on no calories for a week? How did I manage to exercise every waking hour of the day?

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I knew that I was sick, I just don’t think I realised how sick I was. I thought I was getting healthy and stronger, not unhealthy and weaker. I remember getting every single illness going; my immune system was very weak. I was always cold yet I still took freezing showers. My muscles always ached and bruised but I would walk for hours on end.

All I wanted to do was sleep and food plagued every single thought.

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Anorexia is such a wretched disease.

It stops its victims even noticing theres something wrong. It refuses to let them see their true self or feel any sort of happiness.

Anorexia is strong, but Savannah is stronger.

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

Remembering the Recovered: Eating Disorders at Christmas

When you’ve had an eating disorder in the past and people are aware of that, you are no longer protected in that safety blanket of the unknown. People now have suspicions. They are more aware. They know you once suffered and are now tracking every move you make; every bite you consume. There’s no hiding it now. They know, and you can’t take that back. That’s the most scariest thing about recovery. The raw revealing of yourself. Your entire thoughts and battles on show for everyone to stare at. That’s what makes Christmas as a recovered so hard…

You can no longer pass off not eating the cake because you’re a little full or you’ve already ate. You can’t make up a believable excuse as to why you’re exercising none stop. It’s not to be healthy or to practice for a sports tryout. Refusing a meal is no longer simply overlooked; its scrutinised and studied.

But the thing is, when you’re ‘recovered’ people expect you to reintegrate into the normal family unit. It isn’t about food anymore. Now you’re recovered, you love food. People expect you to eat everything on the plate and ask for seconds. That fear of food you had – that’s gone now. They want to forget about the past and have a ‘normal Christmas’. You’re recovered now, so why wouldn’t you eat that extra slice of cake or have any fears of food at all. Your health and weight is no longer a concern and people expect you to fit into their shared experiences, including the overindulgence on Christmas Day without feeling guilty and the ability to eat food without deeming yourself bad.

But I want to tell you something…a person who has ‘recovered’ from an eating disorder may appear fine and healthy on the outside. They may eat without guilt or have a dessert after dinner. They may not exercise anymore and seem confident about their body, but the thing is – they’re likely not fully recovered. Eating disorders have a heavy hold on the sufferer. Recovered may mean better but it doesn’t mean the eating disorder has just completely disappeared off the face of the earth.

Eating disorders build up their own identity. There is no room for happiness in an eating disorder. It robs you of your joy and you become some automaton with no feelings. You can no longer tell the difference between who you are and who the eating disorder is. You’re not you anymore. You become a walking, talking eating disorder. The eating disorder invades your mind and every single part of your body. You think you can stop it at your will, but you can’t. You’re no longer in control; the eating disorder is.

Recovered does not mean that I now have a healthy and positive relationship with food.

So on Christmas day, please remember the recovered. Remember that an eating disorder used to be the only thing that they lived for. Remember that they struggled to look at food and eat it. Remember that exercise was their life. Remember that they struggled to eat during family gatherings and did not like social events that included food. Remember that their eating disorder was valid and so is their recovery…

Please remember that recovery is a long and treacherous journey and that relapses are a 100% acceptable.

Be forgiving. Be loving. Be kind. Be compassionate. Be open minded. Be patient.

Thank you,

the recovered.

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

Beautiful

I was so unique
Now I feel skin deep
I count on the make-up to cover it all
Crying myself to sleep cause I cannot keep their attention
I thought I could be strong
But it’s killing me

Does someone hear my cry?
I’m dying for new life

I want to be beautiful
Make you stand in awe
Look inside my heart,
and be amazed
I want to hear you say
Who I am is quite enough
Just want to be worthy of love
And beautiful

Sometimes I wish I was someone other than me
Fighting to make the mirror happy
Trying to find whatever is missing
Won’t you help me back to glory

You make me beautiful
You make me stand in awe
You step inside my heart, and I am amazed
I love to hear You say
Who I am is quite enough
You make me worthy of love and beautiful


Theres just some songs that completely convey your thoughts and feelings. This song gave me comfort in 2014 and here it is giving me comfort again.

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