Royal baby? More like royal fear!

News of the arrival of little Prince X has hit the headlines across the world. Stories are circulating about how well the Duchess of Cambridge looks, that she’s wearing the same colour outfit as Princess Diana did many years before, and her general appearance out of hospital. There are Mums everywhere debating about how she looks, how they didn’t look anywhere near as glamorous and other such post birth-related things.

However, for someone with a genuine fear of childbirth, it just gives me baby fear.

This is not a new thing. I’ve had this rather odd fear for sometime, stemming back to school when they give you ‘The Talk’ and explain how babies are made. I remember nearly vomiting and refusing, hands down, that nothing of human proportion would be appearing from…there.

As I got older, the fear got worse. Any talk of babies, birth, giving birth and I get sweaty, feel vomity and get images similar to that of World War Three in my head. I’ve never ever seen the programme ‘One Born Every Minute’ and even when a friend was pregnant and she asked me to watch it with her, I refused. Just hearing all the noise and chaos from the safety of my room made me feel anxious.

The fear has a name. Tokophobia. NCT.org says that one study estimates “one in every five women is affected to some extent by fear of childbirth, and six in every hundred are so scared of giving birth that it affects their pregnancy and birth choices.” So I’m not alone. I’m also in fear as with having Borderline Personality Disorder, I’ve been told I would be at a higher risk of Post Partum Depression and Psychosis. None of this sounds fun.

At the moment, my mind is in a place where I would have a sprog but just because my parents would love grandchildren. I know how much I loved my Nan (and now miss her) and it’s sad that my fear would mean them not being able to be grandparents. However, the whole process of pregnancy, birth and looking after something makes me feel sick.

Apparently therapy can help in this situation. But I don’t know how I feel about having a small human to look after. Looking after the puppy stresses me right out. My other half is so calm and can handle most things. ‘Poonamis’ (when pup decides to poo, eat it and chuck it back up again) he’s not particularly happy about, but who is right?!

If anyone has any advice, I’d be very grateful. I’m on the waiting list for DBT for my Borderline but don’t know if that’ll necessarily help me find my maternal instincts.

 

 

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Mental health at work: Why it matters

For so long, so many of us struggling with our mental health have tried to keep our issues well hidden. When asked why there’s unaccounted time-off on our CVs, we’ve simply put it down to ‘taking some time out to develop much needed skills’. If asked at interview if adjustments need to be made for any reason, we’ve shied away and shaken our heads to confirm that no, we don’t need help or support. And this is fine.

However, should we, in this day and age, be hiding our mental health conditions away like diseases we don’t want people to catch?

Courtesy of Mind

Blogging for Mind about mental health at work

When I was starting out in my career, I went at it full force, nothing was stopping me, I could work 24/7 and nothing affected me. Then the paranoia started; were people at work talking about me? Were they doubting my ability to do my job? Did they know I was struggling? Then the Glandular Fever happened and then came the downward mental health spiral.

At interviews for future jobs, I didn’t mention my mental state to anyone. I thought it would jeopardise my career and I already had a low opinion of myself and compared myself to everyone else. Everyone else looked shiny and professional and I was falling behind and falling apart. When I eventually had to tell someone I was struggling with depression, it was dismissed like I was making it up. I needed a doctor’s note as ‘proof’. Then I was given verbal warnings and given the choice of ‘getting better or leaving’.

This shouldn’t ever be a position that someone should find themselves in.

Since I’ve received a diagnosis and been more open about it, the shame is starting to disintegrate, although I do still worry about it and whether employers see me as weak. However, after blogging for Mind and having an amazing response, there are so many people out there being discriminated against for their mental health and IT’S NOT RIGHT.

Ultimately, it is up to you whether you tell your employer about your mental health condition but if you do decide to and they treat you badly or differently, it’s discrimination and YOU HAVE RIGHTS. Read more about these on Mind’s website here.

Here are a couple of pointers that might help to start you on your way:

  • Sit down with your Manager in a quiet and calm space
  • Take deep breaths and remember why you’re telling them
  • Speak slowly and don’t feel pressured to rush
  • Be honest and explain what’s happened and what’s going on
  • Let them know you decided to tell them because you’d value their support
  • Ask if there are any adjustments that can be made (if you need them – Have things in mind, for example, starting work later in the morning if you struggle to sleep at night or if driving at rush hour makes you edgy)
  • Thank them for listening and for being supportive

Your Manager might want to talk to HR about your chat so they can get support themselves if needed. Not everyone will know how to help you so they might need some input. All the better if it’s going to help you in the long run.

There’s an interesting article here on Psychology Today about anxiety, stress and mental health in the workplace.

In the end, sharing the state of your mental health and your condition is entirely up to you. No one else. If your workplace is still stigmatising mental health and you don’t feel comfortable disclosing it, you don’t have to. However, if you do want to share, your employer should be open to listening.

 

 

Surviving the toxicity

So, this post is a bit different and whether the person it’s aimed at will actually read it is yet to be seen. I was inspired to write this after seeing an article called ‘To anyone who has to break-up with toxic parents – It’s going to be ok.”

For years, the relationship with my Dad hasn’t been that great. It’s ticked on with polite meet-ups, ‘just checking in’ messages and generally, on and off. It was a relationship based on whether he happened to think of us or not. The thing is, things haven’t improved. They have in fact, gotten worse. This may be down to me growing a pair and facing the demons or it might be because the niceties are just too tedious.

My Dad suffers with PTSD. He has done all his life. He had a diagnosis a few years back and joined a ‘charity’ that quite frankly hasn’t really helped him. They did NLP on him and on me which threw up more problems. The thing is, we’re very different people. I’m pretty proactive in trying to understand my condition (BPD), understand what it involves and how I can help myself to feel better. My Dad, he’d rather wallow in self pity. I’ve tried to help, to direct him to people who can help, suggested he go and talk to someone but he shoots me down. He keeps threatening to kill himself and my Stepmum is obviously really worried. The issue is, he’s threatened it so often that it’s no longer a threat. I know that sounds awful and I sound hideous for saying it but I’m tired. I’m tired of trying to help, tired of him not taking anyone else’s feelings into account and tired of not feeling like he wants us.

My abandonment issues come from him. Psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors tell me so. And I know it. I felt like I was trying really hard and he wasn’t. Once, he didn’t get in touch for six months with my sister and me. It was because we didn’t ring first.

So much has happened and I get really angry thinking about it. Especially when my grandmother died (my Dad’s Mum). My sister and I were so close to her. She was the one we went to whenever he messed up, chose a woman over us and phoned us drunk on several occasions. She was pretty much the Dad we never had. She was absolutely my best friend in the world and she’s gone. His response? To give all responsibility of her funeral and passing to me. I obviously would’ve done anything for her. But him? He shirked all responsibility of being a son and a Dad. He did nothing but hide. He moaned about her when she was alive and it was all about him when she was gone.

The anger has simmered for some time. Then, when there were questions about what was wrong with me mentally, I asked him whether he had been diagnosed with Autism or Borderline. His response? ‘I’m not fucking Borderline or Autistic.’ He then rang me in a drunken stupor telling me that he had in fact been diagnosed with Borderline years ago. I’m angry just writing this.

My Stepmum has tried to help but she has also made me feel like everything is my fault. That I should apologise and I should be the one to talk to him. My response? NO. I am not the adult in this relationship and I am not the one who’s in the wrong.

My sister and I have been unlucky with him but so lucky with our amazing Mum and Stepdad who have supported us in everything we’ve done. We are really lucky. They’ve had to listen to what he’s done and be gracious about it. They’ve been there for the heartbreak he caused, the tears and the ‘I told you so’s’.

I’m so angry at him and I’m still 8 years old and upset about him not turning up at the school gates when he should’ve or purposely blanking my sister and me when we saw him with his horrible ex-wife.  Some people will say ‘Stop living in the past’ and they have. Some will think I’m awful for saying what I have but all I say is, you weren’t me. Some will support and for that I thank you. And some will know exactly where I’m coming from.

Thank you for reading and listening.

 

 

*Please vote for me!*

This is a bit of an ‘out of the ordinary’ post but what the heck.

This blog is a finalist in the Regional Awards in Cardiff where I’m from. I’m absolutely delighted that its potential has been recognised in the ‘Influencer Award’ category.

Influencer-AwardI’m in a category with some awesome talent and pretty top notch blogs. I’m not expecting to get especially far but it would be amazing if you could spare 30 seconds and vote for me.

I would absolutely appreciate it!

To get a mental health blog as a finalist in a local awards ceremony is a pretty good feat. Considering how much stigma is still out there, putting it into the public sphere is winning enough and I’m mega proud. (Not over keen on how much it is to go along but hey-ho, I’ll save a couple of quid if I don’t end up winning anyway!)

Big love to everyone!x

Mental health, debt and ‘breathing space: what it all means.

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (started by Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert) have found data suggesting that 23,000 people in hospital for a mental health problem were being hounded by banks, credit card companies and local authorities for payment, despite their conditions.

Charities, like Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, are joining the MMHPI in calling for a ‘breathing space’ scheme whereby these organisations would stop charging people interest, charges and fees for a certain amount of time if they approached them for help and support.

As someone who’s been on the receiving end of banks and credit card company houndings, this is definitely good to hear. It should also be extended to those who have been diagnosed by their GP and going through treatment and Community Mental Health Teams too. Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean you’re coping or dealing with life as well as you could be.

I used to do things like:

  • Ignore statements from the bank and hide them in the wardrobe
  • Not answer the phone for fear of it being the bank
  • Ring the bank for advice, listen to what they had to say, but not do any of it
  • Pay back some of my credit cards but re-spend again when I had no money
  • Go on a spending spree because I needed cheering up and not feel bad about it until I had to face the statements

It sucked. Royally. However, the bank did not help because:

  • They never asked why I was spending so much so quickly
  • They automatically increased the credit card limits so I would spend more money (I think this should stop happening as it’s taking advantage)
  • They never signposted me to any other agencies who could help

Back in December, I wrote a blog for the Huffington Post about what it was like having a mental health condition and being in debt. Many of you guys reading this may well have been in that position before, not wanting to face your money matters head on or worrying so much about them that you make yourself sick or have panic attacks.

To me, this ‘Breathing Space’ scheme seems like a positive move in bringing mental health and debt into the public eye and get people talking about it. Government now needs to listen. It could help so many people. It could ultimately save lives.

My advice if you’re in this debt spiral:

  • Don’t hide your bank statements
  • Ask a trusted family member or friend for help
  • Go to a charity like Mind or StepChange who can give you guidance or even Citizen’s Advice
  • Look up information on budgeting and see if you can give it a go
  • Cut up your credit cards
  • Give your debit card to a loved one and use cash

I’m slowly working myself out of my ‘bad debt’ (credit cards, overdrafts) so I can pay more off my ‘good debt’ (mortgage, house stuff) which is quite a nice feeling. I still don’t feel like I’m good with money but I’m getting better.

YOU CAN DO IT. You have the power to change things 🙂

Sense and Sensibility…and Shots

Happy Monday one and all. I hope you had fabulous weekends and managed to take some time for yourselves. In general, I had a lovely weekend but as the title suggests, I didn’t manage to weigh up being sensible with having tequila shots!

It’s on a very rare occasion these days that I actually drink alcohol. Years ago, I would be out all the time with my friends, being really boozy and trying to drink away the anxiety. However, and as many of you will probably know, it definitely doesn’t help. In fact, it makes things worse. Recently, because of my new diagnosis, Dad-stuff and studying stuff, I’ve been feeling really angry and anxious. I’m not entirely sure my anti-psychotic medication is helping as I’ve now started having chest pains which I’ve never had before and have lost the feeling in three of the toes on my left foot (odd I know).

Anyway, going off topic as per usual!

So I started my weekend out with my local Parkrun and 144 other enthusiastic runners at 9am on Saturday morning. I felt like a just needed to run the anxiety out of me. It was getting more and more pent-up. It was a good run and nearly had a PB.

Then there was shopping and spending time with my Mum and sister which was fun and cuddling the puppy later in the afternoon.

I got myself into an anxious and angry tizz before I even left the house as I couldn’t decide what to wear and could feel the rage building. Eventually (the pup had fallen asleep by the time I’d chosen what to wear), I left the house and my little sis ‘made me up’ for my evening out.

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Then there was gin. Then there was a Long Island Ice Tea. And then there was Tequila. The latter being all my undoing. I don’t think of how awful it makes me feel until it’s the day after and I actually want to die. The evening was amazing and there were conversations flowing about mental health and how we were all dealing with our problems. An alcohol fuelled therapy session.

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The day after. I felt OK, bit of a headache. By 10.30am, I was cleaning the house, stripping the beds and doing the washing. I then took the puppy on a long-ish walk, sorted and cleaned my wardrobe, did the food shopping, made dinner, and cleaned the kitchen (again). This might look like me being super productive but when I’m on the edge-of-my-seat anxious, I clean. Obsessively. I get angry and raging when things aren’t tidy or in their place. Luckily, my partner was out so didn’t get to see me throwing things about. THIS is the problem with alcohol.

Then came the chest pains, the rushing thoughts, the panic attack and my poor other half telling me I was going to hospital. I panicked about him leaving me and started ranting about my Dad. My partner insisted on hospital but I refused to go. There’s nothing they could do about it so I just sat and waited for the pains to settle. My lovely man sat and gave me hugs, made me laugh and helped to take my mind off things. I used the reliable co-codamol to knock me out and help the pains.

What I’m gathering from this is that common sense should’ve told me not to drink as much as I did. I should’ve had the intelligence and sensibility not to do that to myself but ultimately, the shots won. I was upset because having a drink for me is not the same as it is for the majority of people and it makes me sad.

Those of you who struggle with your mental health, have you given up drinking altogether? Is that the best way forward?

Review: ‘Out of this World’ Launch

Bit of a different post from me today but quite a nice one. I was invited by Escentual and the Wales Blog Network to go along to an ‘Out of this World’ launch last night.

It was a blogger event aimed at telling us blogging folk about some awesome new products, mainly a brand new Benefit Cosmetics product. As someone who rarely wears make-up, I was pretty excited about this event as Benefit is the only make-up I wear on the few occasions I wear it.

I asked my little sister to come along with me for an hour and see what it was all about. Doing things with her is really calming and great fun. She’s such a good influence on my anxiety!

As we arrived, we were greeted with a ‘spaceship’ in the car park…

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…and some lovely ladies donning some rather snazzy spacesuits! These guys were the lovely staff from Escentual, an online retailer in all things fragrance, make-up and skincare set up in 2000 by Rakesh Aggarwal. The company is a great local success story and stocks over 9,500 products, so a little something for everyone.

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After chatting with some of the staff, we were taken up to Escentual HQ to hear a bit more about what they do and what sort of products they stock. We were treated to a cheeky Be At One cocktail (a Pornstar Martini on a Monday I hear you say!) and then got to go inside the Benefit spacecraft for some lessons on the new Benefit Cosmetics BadGal Bang mascara (RRP £21.50)

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As a MAJOR Benefit fan, I obviously loved this experience. Hearing all about the ‘gravity defying’ technology behind it all and getting to try it out was a treat. And wow…It was fair to say we were all impressed. My sister looked like she was wearing false eyelashes! See how awesome she looks?

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Me and my sister with our BadGal lashes!

It was such a lovely evening and we were spoiled rotten by the Escentual staff. We continued a tour of their new premises and were told all about the make-up and the Make Up Forever range that they stock.

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We got chatting to the Globetrotter GP who was there taking in the excitement of the evening and heard all about her awesome blog. (If you’re into your travel and some great advice, take a look!)

On leaving, we were presented with some lovely goodies from the ever smiley staff and my sister even got a little something too (which she was delighted about!). These were our happy faces on taking part in this event…

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A huge thank you for the invite Wales Blog Network and Escentual. It was a lovely night, we learned a lot and we’ll be looking at ordering our make-up from you guys in the future!

Being included in something a bit different and being able to blog about it, has been really good. I always felt a bit out of my depth at events like this before but it didn’t matter if you were full-on glam or just into the health and wellbeing side of it like me, you were made to feel really welcome.

The amazing power of storytelling

This week is National Storytelling Week, a time to appreciate the power of people’s experiences and the stories they tell.

Many of us as bloggers are digital storytellers. We do it to help other people, share information and make a difference. Are these the reasons you do it?

I share my story to:

  • Show I’m proud of who I am
  • Get advice and support from people going through similar things
  • Provide reassurance that if someone is feeling alone, that they’re not
  • Feel relieved, almost a cathartic experience

For these reasons, I decided to share my story with BBC for Time to Talk Day. I spoke to the journalist, gave her the ins and outs of my mental health experience and then she asked if I would be filmed. Bearing in mind I hate the sound of my own voice, I decided to do it anyway. And also, considering how much I bang on about how sharing is important, how talking is important and how you shouldn’t be scared to tell your story, I was petrified.

The night before it went out I couldn’t sleep, my anxiety was through the roof and I felt sick. But I knew that it was the right thing to do. I think when you tell the world about things that are so personal, it is really daunting.

The interview I did with BBC is here (‘Living with a personality disorder’)

Me BBC

The result

As soon as the interview went out, I knew I had to send to my folks as they didn’t know the extent of things. They were really supportive and for the first time, we really talked about it.

Friends that I haven’t spoken to in a while got in touch, and close friends were just amazing, sharing the link and showing support. It went down better than I thought (not hard really as I thought that everyone would disown me and I’d go into a deep sulk  – Good old mental health!)

People I don’t know have been in touch to say that they feel reassured that they’re not alone in their diagnosis and some have said they’ve opened up to people they know. The last point is amazing and what I was hoping might happen.

Being a Time to Change Champion lets me tell my story to people and hopefully helps employers and their employees see that taking mental health seriously is really important. Storytelling helps social change and that’s something truly awesome and something amazing to be a part of.

 

 

What is Borderline?

Since receiving my suspected diagnosis from the psychiatrist, there have been some interesting reactions when I tell people that I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)(sometimes known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder).

A couple of the best ones:

  • ‘Does that mean you’re on the border of personalities?’
  • ‘Oh, is that like Bipolar then?’
  • ‘Are you, like, more than one person?’
  • ‘On the borderline of what?’

I’m sure anyone with BPD/EUPD has had some of these things said to them more than once. Having just been diagnosed, I find these quite amusing. For those who don’t know what BPD is, Mind write that it’s “a type of personality disorder. You might be diagnosed with a personality disorder if you have difficulties with how you think and feel about yourself and other people, and are having problems in your life as a result.”

Story of my life.

These are some of the things you can and I do experience:

  • Feeling very worried about being abandoned, and would do anything to stop that happening.
  • Having really intense emotions that last from a few hours to days and can change with a snap of the fingers (for example, from feeling very happy and confident to suddenly feeling low and sad).
  • Not having a real identity and not really knowing who you are
  • Finding it hard to have stable relationships and being reliable
  • Feeling empty
  • Acting impulsively (such as binge eating, drinking too much or driving dangerously).
  • Having suicidal feelings and thoughts.
  • Feeling really angry but not being able to or not sure how to deal with it.
  • Feeling so stressed that you experience paranoia or zone out completely.

For so long, I was telling my GP, mental health teams and other professionals that my moods were erratic and I was doing things to the extreme. I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere, didn’t belong and didn’t really know who I was. I changed who I was according to who I was with.

Now, and quite recently, I’m feeling so angry at things. I say what I think, I don’t hold back and am openly passive aggressive to strangers (when I hold the door for them and they don’t say thanks, I’m there with the ‘Oh, don’t worry about it’ sarcasm). I almost chucked my Mum out of the car the other day after she commented on my driving. It feels like I can’t stop.

More recently, I’ve been feeling like I want to cry all of the time. I keep pushing the feeling down into my stomach because I’m almost searching for the right time to let it all out. Blogging and talking about it helps to an extent but there are always those nagging worries, the anger, the lack of identity, feeling like everyone wants to leave… It’s hard.

However, I’ve been told that there are things I can do to help myself.

Thank you for reading. I feel like it was a waffly post and I’m really grateful for you stopping by.