Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Faking It

I'm a lot better than I was when I was first diagnosed with anxiety and depression. In fact I'm no longer on any medication, sleeping OK and to the outside world I'm completely 'cured.' I seem recovered from the way I act, what I say, my smile, how I look. There's a huge difference. But I'll tell you a secret. Sometimes, whether I like it or not, I'm not OK. I'm low, very low and struggling. I might appear OK and 'cured' but in fact I involuntarily fake it. Faking it comes with many problems. 

It hides how I'm really feeling meaning I have to carry on with what I'm doing and keep up the act while inside I can't cope. It's almost like being a puppet with a mind.

My mood can be annoyingly happy and carefree which often overwhelms me because I feel like I'm being forced into this hyper bubbly state, ready or not. Sometimes inside everything's a panic but I don't appear that way. 

My mood can plummet to snappy and annoyed and I have very little time for anyone or anything. But I'll fake it for most people. It's the ones that I love the most that I seem to let this monster out on. And it's sudden to them but it's been boiling for a while for me.

It's tiring and it's hard work and above all it feels unnatural and as if I have no say in how I am. My feelings inside don't match my outside and neither my inner or outer self feels like me.

I try to force feelings. Sometimes I feel numb and unresponsive to what is happening around me or what I am thinking, hearing or seeing and I try to force out the right emotion- when it doesn't happen I tell myself I'm broken, selfish or insensitive.

I'm not 'cured', I can't say I'm better but I can say "I'm not as bad as I was." I don't mean to fake it, I don't control it either. It just happens. Thankfully it's getting less of a chore and I'm making the most of when I'm on a high. But I do feel as though I've managed to get through my teens and early adulthood without being in control of myself.

Much love,
Becky xx

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Mobile Phones and Mental Illness

On Friday I helped at an event where I served tables for a charity event. I noticed that between courses the majority of the guests were sat in silence with their phones in their hand. It was a very sad sight to see that at a social event more people were on social media sites on their phones rather than being social with the people sat right next to them. People they knew as you could buy a table for your group. I'm sure we're all guilty of it but it did make me wonder just how much do we use our phones? And how many of us are actually addicted to them?

I found studies that showed how some mobile phone users show behaviours that you would see in someone with a substance addiction. Becoming irritable or worried when they don't have their phone to hand. Choosing to use their phone when it is inappropriate such as when driving or secretly at work. Spending excessive amounts of time on their mobile. Constantly changing their phone to have the latest mobile and spending excessive money on upgrades, apps, tariffs and accessories. Using their phone at work when they know it could mean disciplinary action. This doesn't seem healthy behaviour at all but what worries me the most is what people miss out on while being hooked to their phone. 

I've seen parents staring at their phone screens while their children play in the park. Couples on dates where they are both sat phone in hand. People on holiday constantly on social media. Cars swerving as the driver tries to text. Panic in peoples faces when they realise they left their phone at home. People at gigs filming the live event rather than enjoying it.

Don't get me wrong social media has been great for me to connect with others and promote my blog. It's good to know I can call or text people whenever I need to and I have my phone in case of emergency. I capture a lot of memories with my camera. I use my phone to bluetooth music to my workplaces sound system. This is all great but I also stay awake on my phone regularly and use Youtube to fall to sleep. The first thing I do on a morning is check my social media. I tend to go on my phone at home whenever guests come round. 

Really what I'm trying to say is life is happening around you and not on your phone. Put it down and spend time with the people around you. Don't risk your job or your safety using your mobile inappropriately. Use it in moderation. It may improve your mental health.

Much love,
Becky xx

Friday, June 17, 2016

Getting Your Hopes Up

High hopes, wishes, dreams... we all have them. We day dream and play scenarios through in our head of "what if". We imagine things. We base them on reality but with that extra bit of sparkle thrown in. This might just be me but when I'm on a high of being really happy and positive my hopes and dreams can run away with me and sometimes my dreams takeover. I decide on something and plan for it, make lists, buy the things I need for it and so on. Then they start to become a little bit of an obsession. I get my hopes up so high that although I know they might not happen, it's like I now need them to. I tell myself that it's the way forward and what needs to happen. When really dreams aren't needs, they are wants.

In some ways dreams can be beneficial and in other ways it can bring you crashing down. For example going into an exam with the attitude of "I'm going to pass", "this will lead to better things" "I'm going to nail this" "I'll pass then get my dream job after college with this" will stop worry setting in and give you a drive to go for it. It will make you more relaxed and able to get on with the work. But it may also make you complacent thinking that you don't need to put in a lot of effort because you've told yourself it will be easy. Or even worse, you take one look at the paper and it's a lot more difficult than you thought. Your high goes to a low and you tell yourself you were stupid to ever think you could do that. So do we stop dreaming and wishing? No!

We need dreams and fantasies to give us that determination. We need to think of the cup half full to stop us from thinking we are stuck in a place we don't wish to be. But we need to balance these dreams with reality and manage our expectations. Remember that your dreams aren't going to fall in your lap. They might need time to pan out, effort, hard work, cooperation from others, planning, finances... They may also never happen or change completely from the original idea, but you shouldn't feel crushed. Re-evaluate the situation and see what you can change about it to take a small step towards your dream. If the plan needs abandoning then think of something else you want to aim for. Look at what you have and think of the things you are grateful for and that you have achieved already. Don't give up on your dreams but at the same time live in the now and appreciate what you have already.

Much love,
Becky xx

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Name of Depression- Guest Post

The Name of Depression
In the late 1970’s, Pink Floyd released an album called “The Wall”. It was a giant hit for the band and then a few years later, a movie was released and the songs we heard on the radio like, “Another Brick in the Wall”, “Hey You”, “Comfortably Numb”, and “Run Like Hell” took on a new meaning. It seems that lead singer of the band, Roger Waters, suffered through depression and the meaning of “The Wall” was the symbol of the trap he had built around him during his depression. The rest of the songs describe either stones that built that wall or his suffering.
In 2012, when I was battling depression, I called it the hole that I buried all my memories of childhood bullying in and that I couldn’t see the ladder in the dark to get out for a long time. So, it only made sense to me that when I wrote my memoir about my struggle with the long-term effects of youth bullying, I called my book “A Ladder In The Dark”. Roger had his wall and I had my hole.
I know others that call their depression their bed, their locked room, and their dark place. But we all have a name for it, don’t we? Why do we do that? I believe it is to give this unexplainable feeling of emptiness we are going through a physical description, because no words adequately describe the desolation, the isolation, and the pain (yes pain) of a depression.
We believe we are going crazy and that our life that was is over. We can read so much about depression, but when it’s happening to you, all that reading goes out the window as that isolation sinks in. I had all my family and friends around me, but I was still stuck in the hole.
So how do we get unstuck?
We make a conscious choice to battle ourselves and find ways to have small victories over this thing that has grasped us so tight. If you do not want to do battle with the demon called depression and you don’t believe you can conquer what your mind is telling you, feel free to stop reading now. I have nothing further to offer you.
But, if you stay with me now, I’ll at least offer my learning lessons while overcoming depression.
  1. First you must admit that which you don’t want to, that you are dealing with a mental illness. We feel we will be stigmatized. We feel like we are not right in the head. But, since 20% of the population is dealing with some form of depression at any time according to the studies, we are dealing with a normal illness. Remember, it is an illness.
  2. Once you know what you didn’t know, you have to remember that you are the cure and that you have to take the first step. For some this means a visit to a psychiatrist or a therapist or even a life coach. These choices are ones you need to consider and rationalize what will work best for you. Do you want to take medication as part of your recovery? Do you want to try to go it without? These are your options. But seek the help of professionals who are just waiting for you to ask for help. YOU HAVE TO ASK!
  3. Realize the “cure” is probably a way off and will require a lot of work and time. I think it’s good to also remember that, like alcoholism, we who deal with depression have a possibility of recurrence, so once you feel better, you still have to keep working so that it doesn’t come back.
  4. Finally, be brave, be strong, be ready to change your lifestyle to help you live a healthier life that will help both your body and brain in the end.
In my story, this meant changing three major habits that I had to embrace.
  1. Nutrition – There is actually food that helps your brain stay more positive and no, it’s not at a fast food place. Vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and so many others. Did I like these foods when I decided that I had to change my diet? Not really. Do I like them now? Oh yes, because food has a direct connection to your brain and body and has been proven in science.
  2. Exercise – I was never an athlete and really found little enjoyment in exercise. But again, proven science told me if I wanted to get better, I better start with exercise, because this immediately sends endorphins to your brain, which is a leading cause of positive thinking for your brain.
  3. Mindfulness – Oh no, it’s that weird word again. What the heck is mindfulness? Well, you can think of it as training your brain to start thinking of life again as being a glass half full instead of half empty. There are so many ways to practice mindfulness. Positive journaling, yoga, meditation, a walk in nature, breathing techniques. The list goes on and on. Everyone finds their own way with this one. For me, I love positive journaling, where I write three good things each day.
You can change the name of your depression if you want to. For a long time, I didn’t want to, but then the fog lifted. My ladder appeared in the hole and I escaped the trap that I set for myself. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, we created that place, whether it be a wall, a hole, or a room. We can also tear it down, just as happens at the end of the Pink Floyd “The Wall” album. At the end of the album, we hear the wall crash down as Roger Waters faced his demon of depression. For me, it was a Ladder In The Dark that let me escape.
We can all escape, but it is our journey to get there. I hope in some way my few thoughts here help you out too. You deserve to live the life you want as did I and you can. Be strong and fight for yourself, for you are your best advocate.
Alan Eisenberg
Founder/Managing DirectorBullying Recovery, LLC

Please vote to have my next book called “Crossing the Line” published. You can vote at

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Ballgame of Life

Today we're going to the ballgame! 

Have you ever heard the phrase "when life throws a curveball hit it outta the park". This is the peak of positivity right here! A curveball is one of the hardest pitches to hit for a batter because it comes in at an angle, with great speed and doesn't follow the straight path of other throws. It's not what they expected or hoped for. Then to knock it out of the park is even harder. This is the ultimate dream for most young players and for professionals alike the crowds go wild. So basically life threw you a challenging situation and you came through it amazingly to over achieve.

Now using this metaphor lets see what happens when the batter has a mental illness and a clouded view of the game. For me this is how life's curveballs can feel sometimes...

When life throws a curveball and your so paralysed with fear it hits you in the face and you cry...

When life throws a curveball swing aggressively, managing to hit the ball but then run away before you see where it lands...

When life throws a curveball, drop your bat on the ground and walk away, knowing the crowd were never rooting for you anyway...

When life throws a curveball, refuse to play and tell everyone you hate the game anyway...

When life throws a curveball, somehow manage to hit it and feel so overwhelmed you don't want to talk about it...

When life throws a curveball, surprisingly knock it out of the park and tell yourself it was a lucky hit and you don't deserve the crowd to cheer for you...

When life throws a curveball, miss the shot and blame it on the pitcher...

All very negative right? But this is a distorted view that depression and anxiety can create. The saying itself can really help look at how mental illness can affect your view to life. 

My advice; always try to hit the ball but if you miss or it goes straight into the hands of a fielder or bounces a few yards away on the floor know that you took a shot and nobody really expected you'd hit it. Not because you're the world's worst batter but because it was near impossible. The crowd understand it was a tough shot too and aren't judging you, especially if you're not a pro player.

If you want to blame the pitcher, ok that might get your anger out but remember you had the bat. You had a chance to meet their challenge so you need to make sure you didn't just let them win.

If you hit it outta the park and don't know how, don't focus on thinking you did nothing. You swam in the deep end of life's challenges and came through victorious. Sometimes it just happens but don't give yourself any less credit. You still hit the ball.

So when life throws you a curveball, take a shot and know you had a swing at it!

Much love,
Becky xx

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Rage and Anxiety

The majority of people who know me well or have met me will tell you I have the patience of the Saint, I'm quite laid back, I'm in my own little world and generally happy go lucky. I can worry and get anxious and can feel overwhelmed easily. I can talk too quickly and get easily excited when talking. That I go quiet from time to time and try to get on with things... I doubt they would tell you I have a mean temper and get seriously angry. But I will tell you that there are times when I turn into a hot-headed, raging mess that just wants to destroy everything in site.

I'll often have feelings of anger, rage, losing control and be snappy and short-tempered. These aren't often. They're not in public. They usually last a very short period of time. But nevertheless they are a foul mood! They are usually when I've completely had enough of being in a panic, stressed and upset. They are my fight mode. 

They usually happen on a day off work if I wake up late and feeling breathless. My anxiety has kicked in for the day and I don't have to put my happy face on or have a set plan to follow. I panic about what needs to be done that day and that I must have the most fun possible or the day is wasted. This puts pressure on me instantly from getting out of bed. I beat myself up about having a lie in and feeling tired. How dare I when I must enjoy the day and be the most productive person known to man! The day will continue and my anxiety will usually have me miss a meal or two which makes me instantly irritable. Something minor will go wrong, that is guaranteed and it will feel like the biggest disaster ever. I'll be overwhelmed and get clumsy, dropping things, going dizzy and losing my footing which irritates me even more. I'll feel fed up and unable to take anymore crap that I seem to have created for myself and then I explode!

I'm snappy, my head is painful, I'm overheating, I'm dizzy, I'm inpatient, I'm short tempered, I slam things about, I feel like I'm failing at life, I beat myself up about things in the past, I want to scream, I feel like I could lash out, I hate everything around me and I'm raging mad.

The thing that makes me most angry? That I do this too myself. On my day off I should allow myself to sleep in if needed. I work hard enough and get tired, that's human. I should try to get a few little jobs done here and there rather than feel like I need to do everything then get so overwhelmed I avoid doing any of them at all. I should do something fun or relaxing but it doesn't have to be anything major, it could be slobbing on the sofa watching a film or sitting in the garden with a cup of tea. I should use it to relax, recharge and connect with my loved ones, instead I waste it, then beat myself up about wasting it, then get angry. This seems to be a vicious cycle with me at the moment and I'm not too sure how to break it. All I know is I don't want to spend my days off like this and I want to change. So I came up with a plan to follow these simple rules on a day off...

  1. recharge- sleep in if needed, beginning with a good breakfast, keep hydrated, eat meals, have a sit down and relax, get outdoors, pamper myself a little
  2. house tasks- find something to do in the house that is bothering me the most- pick a small job and I'll probably find more small jobs I can do once I get going and tackle larger things
  3. playtime- quality time with my husband and/or mum, meet up with friends, do a hobby, visit a place, watch a film- just do something fun
  4. ignore the clock- there may be things that need to be done before a certain time or at a certain time but not everything! stick to appointments but for the rest of the day just do things as they come along
  5. STOP- if I start to feel overwhelmed or anxious then STOP! get some fresh air, sit down, cuddle, drink a cup of tea and just breathe- the day has to stop until this feeling is gone or it will be a day running on anxiety. I tend to keep going in the hope I'll catch up with the race I have created but I always finish in last place (strangling the water boy and throwing my trainers at the wall)
I might not have beat anxiety yet but I will tame it. It needs to know that it will be controlled and it won't control me no matter how hard it tries. I need to help myself, be kind to myself and give myself a chance to breathe!

Much love,
Becky xx

Monday, June 06, 2016

Warning Signs

You have depression, you have medication, you stop your medication, you're back to normal? The End?!

It would be nice if that was the case but no, not for me anyway. Yes I am no longer having medication and yes I am a lot better than I was, almost back to the old me in fact but it's not plain sailing. Things have changed and I have accepted them. I can get a little anxious over smaller things, I can have mood swings, I struggle to get going on a morning and sometimes I'm quite shut off from people and their emotions but I have learn't how to deal with these. These are the aftermath of a mental illness and they're ok. They mean I'm a lot better than I was. They mean I WAS mentally ill not that I AM mentally ill, and that is the lesser of two evils. But I do worry about things going backwards and having another breakdown. Going back to square one and knowing what's to come is a scary thought.

But maybe it might never happen. I have changed but I can now manage myself and these changes. Maybe I never will get to that low point again. There's nothing to say whether depression is a lifelong illness or a one off for me. Maybe it may happen a few more times. Maybe it will be constantly recurring and never quite gone. Time will tell. I'm ok with these maybes. I'll deal with depression if and when it comes again BUT there is something that does worry me. The warning signs. The things I notice every now and again that I believe played a big part in the start of my mental breakdown. Things like...

  • not liking how I look/ not wanting to look in mirrors/ not fully recognising myself in the mirror
  • getting upset over things that I can easily change yet doing nothing about them, such as a lot of housework needs doing but rather than begin it I just let it get me down
  • pains in my head that aren't like a headache- 'rewiring' pains
  • feeling very angry over nothing much
  • getting so overly happy that I become excited, talk quicker, get out of breathe and become a little hyper even when I don't feel that happy inside
These may be personal warning signs to myself or you may relate to them but everyone is different in this. For me these cause negative spirals that I've talked about before. There's a day where I'm low on energy, stressed out about the small tasks I need to do that day and I get irritable. Here's how the negative spiral begins...

I recognise this and worry that it is how I felt just before my breakdown ---> I worry it's going to start all over again ----> rather than talk to someone I shut myself off and push loved ones away ----> I feel unwell ----> I worry even more and become physically unwell ---> this doesn't last very long and I start to feel ok again ---> it was just an off day and not the start of a break down afterall.

Although it was nothing to worry about it puts me on hold until it passes. It affects my daily life but for a short period of time. So I start to feel better again and back to normal..... but then I have another off day and it starts all over again. Maybe this will be lifelong for me. There may always be the worry that it will happen again whether it does or it doesn't. So do I spend my life worrying or in fear? NO!

I recognise what is happening and think about how I feel. I tell my husband and mum that I'm struggling that day so that they can help me and monitor how long it lasts with me. I try my best to pick myself up that day. I put little jobs on hold and concentrate on myself and how to boost my mood. I do something to make me smile. I cuddle. I eat healthily. I stay hydrated. I scream if I have to! I try to get a good night sleep and in the morning I review how I'm feeling again. And 9/10 times everything is a lot better in the morning. Life has ups and downs but I'm not going to let every bump in the road throw me and I'll deal with the bad if it comes not worry about when it comes. Because worrying about it before it happens is a waste of a good day.

Much love,
Becky xx

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

How They Influence People- Gig Therapy

We all have that one band or artist that we love. I saw mine live on Saturday. A band that I grew up with, that I've been to many of their gigs with my parents (from age 5/6), that holds memories for me, that their songs remind me of hilarious moments with my dad and that just let me get my emotions out. That band is Terrorvision. If you don't know them then look them up, they're awesome... now back to the blog and what this has to do with mental health!

Use the tools you have around you for mood control. What makes you feel happy? What helps you get your tears out? What gives you an energy boost? What reminds you of someone or something special? For me the answer to these are many little things from food, to scents, to objects but one of the main things I use for this is music and especially this band. I have their songs on my phone and carry headphones everywhere I go, a CD in my car and I try to see them live as much as I can. They are pretty much my therapists!

So when I need to cry or want to feel close to my dad or need to scream but want to sing my heart out instead I listen to their music. I use the song or songs that reflect my mood. By listening to the songs that are mellow and help me get my tears out when I am sad it helps me express this mood. But I don't want to feed the sadness too much. I want to let it out but then I want to distract from it. So then I'll listen to the songs that I find quite chilled out to relax and calm myself. So my tip is to express your mood then correct your mood, it's mood management. 

I find it hard to change my mood full circle such as going from really upset to overly happy so I get myself back in the middle. Chilled out and not affected or held back by a mood. This seems more natural to me than forcing myself to feel happy when I'm not. Sometimes I just need to let the emotion out and really feel it. Depression seems to dull my emotions and makes me feel nothing when my heart is shouting "react!!". So sometimes I just need help feeling. It really works for me.

If you love the band like me or want to give them a listen here are some suggestions that I use for my mood management...

Terrorvision Songs to Suit My Mood

To remember my dad by: If I Was You, Oblivion, My House
Happy: Tequila, Come Home Beanie, any song that reminds me of my dad
Nostalgic: Perseverance, Pretend Best Friend, Easy
Upset: Run and Hide, Ten Shades of Grey, From Out of Nothing
Angsty: Bad Actress, Some People Say, Alice What's The Matter
Chilled: Mugwump, Josephine, Superchronic
Energetic: D'Ya Wanna Go Faster, Discotheque Wreck, All The Girls Wanna Dance

Does anyone else do this and if so who is your go to musician? 

And a huge and heartfelt thank you to Terrorvision for the memories, the smiles, the silly times and your dedication to your fans and shows. As you say "I couldn't be me if it wasn't for you."

Much love,
Becky xx