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.

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.

 

 

Shock, horror, it happened again

My poem about and ode to the Daily Prompt: Shock.

I hate it when the record gets stuck and it’s playing on repeat,
When I can hear it blaring the same old thing but I can’t get up out of my seat.
To turn the volume down or stop the noise from sounding,
I’m trying to catch my breath and trying to get my grounding.
While the anxious thoughts are busy whizzing around my brain,
Shock, horror, it’s all happening again.

I hate it when the record gets stuck and it’s playing over and over,
The frustrating sounds that it makes, my brain it runs for cover.
It’s the same old thing, on a different day,
What more can I do, what more can I say?
When it’s spluttering and aggravating my head,
Shock, horror, it’s happening again.

I pluck up the courage to move from my spot,
Turn the screech down and knock the thing off.
Its background noise still fills my mind,
And will continue to do so until I find
A way of drowning the repetition out when,
Shock, horror, it’s happening again.

How to look after your mental health this Blue Monday

The third Monday of January every year has been labelled as ‘Blue Monday’, the most depressing day of the year. That’s all well and good but what if you struggle for the 364 other days of the year?

There’s a great piece written by Anita Sethi on The Guardian Online who says:

“It’s important to acknowledge that, despite the PR over this particular date, depression can strike on any day, at any time of year.” And she’s right.

There’s no shame in it and as it stands, 1 in 4 people suffer with their mental health. So you’re in good company.

Some days, like so many, I find it hard to comprehend getting out of bed and starting the day. Talking to people seems like a mission, the head fog seems too much and the prospect of being productive while my head is elsewhere seems foreign. However, there are a few things that I do to help myself. These might help you too.

Breathing

OK, bit obvious, however sometimes I forget to take calm, deep breaths. Especially if my mind is playing tricks on me. Sometimes I’ll sit and take eight deep breaths in and out just to clear my mind. It helps me re-focus too.

Exercise

It might sound like a cliche but I’m a real advocate for it. If you’re feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and you need some space, go for a walk. Take a stroll on your lunch break and listen to some of your favourite songs. Go to the gym (if you’re part of one), do a bit of yoga, go for a run, anything that will help you let off steam and get the endorphins going. I’m really bad for not getting my bum out of my office chair when I need to so I’m making an effort to do this more. It really helps.

Reading

Positive quotes or an uplifting article can make you feel a bit better. I love Pinterest so I’ll take a look at a few and when I crack a smile, I write down the quote in my notebook so I can look at it. My best friend bought me a book for Christmas that has lots of amazing quotes inside it. Whenever I feel down, I’ll go to this book first and see what it can do.

Listening

Whether you listen to an interesting podcast, your favourite album, an uplifting playlist or your favourite radio station, treat yourself to time alone in your mind with you. Surround your mind with something you really like and enjoy. I like listening to my London Marathon 2016 playlist because it reminds me of how awesome the experience was and the playlist was put together by lots of great friends.

Talking

You might not want to talk to anyone but it can really help. Whether it’s telling a friend, partner or colleague you’re not feeling too great, they might be able to help. Or, they might just leave you alone to have the space you need. Talking about what’s wrong over a cuppa can really help to take the weight off. Sometimes, I find, that what my mind is telling me, isn’t necessarily the truth. If you’re a writer, write how you’re feeling down. As a blogger, I definitely find this helps me.

Take a social media break

Social media is something I both love and hate. I work on it daily and try to keep up with what’s going on nightly. Sometimes, I see things that really put me on a downer. Whether it’s someone going on holiday, getting married, doing incredible things that I’m not doing, it gets me down. I do try to remember that the majority of what’s online is what people want you to see about them. But still, this sense can get lost in the depressed fog of the brain. Take a little break from it. I try really hard at night to put my phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ and not look at it. I also put it face down on the night stand. I then pick up my book and get engrossed.

You’re not alone. If you’re feeling really down and feel like you can’t cope, I’ve been there too. I know this might not help, but I’d like you to know. I posted a few weeks ago about having a complete meltdown and filmed what it was like. I also then rang my local GP and asked for help. But this was a big step and I was supported by my amazing partner.

Remember, you’re awesome and you can get through it.

Useful links

Mind

Samaritans

Mental Health Foundation

(In Wales)

CALL

Hafal

Gofal

The Awesome Blogger Award!

Wow, what a start to 2018! Thank you so much to The Girl With The Pawprint Tattoo for nominating me for The Awesome Blogger Award! Absolutely check out her blog. It’s really inspiring and very honest, which is something I respect in writers. From one blogger to another, thank you again for this! 🙂

So, in case you haven’t heard, The Awesome Blogger Award was started by Miss Maggie @ Dreaming of Guatemala:

“This is an award for the absolutely wonderful writers all across the blogging world. They have beautiful blogs, are kind and lovely, and always find a way to add happiness and laughter to the lives of their readers. That is what truly defines an awesome blogger.”

The rules for this are:

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Tag it under #awesomebloggeraward in the Reader
  • Answer the questions your nominator gave you
  • Nominate at least 5 awesome bloggers
  • Give your nominees 10 new questions to answer
  • Let your nominees know that they’ve been nominated

So, my questions from The Girl With The Pawprint Tattoo are:

  1. What do you hope to achieve in 2018? My CIPR Diploma and to blog about things people want to read about!
  2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Turning 35 and being happy with what I have.
  3. What is one thing you cannot live without? My partner and my pup!
  4. What is your favourite movie and why? Top Gun – Because who doesn’t love an 80’s classic?
  5. If you could go back in time to any era, where would you go and why? I would go back to the 1940’s – I love the whole wartime spirit and the fashion is pretty cool too!
  6. What is your favourite candle scent? Yankee Candle ‘Clean Linen’ 🙂
  7. What was the most recent thing you got excited about? This award!
  8. What are topics that appeal to you the most on the blogging community? Apart from this fab blog, mental health, running, reading and positivity
  9. Did you accomplish any goals you had for last year? Didn’t do too badly – Got a new job, bought a house with my partner and got a puppy!
  10. If you had 1 million dollars, what would you do and why? I’d probably panic about having that much money, have an anxiety attack and then take mine and my partner’s families on holiday!

The blogs I’ve chosen for the Awesome Blogger Award are unique in their subject matter but are equally open and honest too:

Psychogrok

The Fed Up Christian

Rude Girl – Living in an Aspie World

A Guy Called Bloke

Think Outside the Toaster

My questions for my nominees:

  1. Three words to describe your blog
  2. What would you name your boat if you had one?
  3. Five positive words to describe you
  4. The most interesting thing you’ve read/seen this week?
  5. Favourite joke/pun?
  6. They’re creating a film (movie) of your life, who plays you?
  7. Favourite blog post you’ve read today & would recommend?
  8. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  9. Positive motto for 2018?
  10. Your top tip for finding blog-spiration?

I can’t wait to see what you all come back with! A huge thanks to everyone nominated for writing such awesome posts and thank you to everyone who follows my little anxiety filled blog!

An undulating thing called ‘Life’

I would love to move through life much more smoothly,

Knowing for sure who I am & who I want to be.

Like anyone else moving patiently through life,

I’m always met with moments of heartache and strife.

The anxiety and depression, they come like waves,

They’re like taunting schoolchildren who will never behave.

The crashes of anger and the sadness it ripples.

These emotions tip up my scales and my balance, it falls.

The unknown of the tide is just one of the battles,

Once it takes hold it’s like nothing else matters.

And yet with the storm comes the surprising calm,

Which causes so many feelings of alarm.

For now, I’ll keep on fighting the continuous typhoon,

Hoping that the scales will rebalance out soon.

Thanks Daily Prompt: Undulate

Liebster Award 2018

I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award for 2018. Never heard of it? Well, it’s a lovely system of recognising new blogs and celebrating ones that you engage with often. I’m really lucky to have been nominated (for the first time ever!) by Mental Health @ Home (definitely check out and follow!) so a HUGE THANK YOU!

What you have to do:

  • Link to the Official Liebster Rules (click here) in your Award blog post
  • Answer the questions given to you (if nominated, if you were not nominated you can use my questions)
  • Create more questions for your nominees to answer (The more unique and creative, the better!)
  • Comment on the Global Aussie (here) with a link DIRECTLY to your Liebster award (It makes it easier for the chaps to read them all!)

Questions I’ve been given from Mental Health @ Home:

  1. What is the goal and/or purpose for your blog? The purpose is to talk about my mental health, mental health news and give tips or support to anyone who might need it. It acts as therapy but also as a tool for getting to know more bloggers talking about similar things.
  2. How did you come up with the name of your blog? A bit of brainstorming here and there… I do love a good play on words.
  3. Name three things on your bucket list. I actually don’t have a bucket list. The world scares me somewhat but in 2018, I want to complete my Professional Diploma in Public Relations, read more books and see Les Miserables in London.
  4. What is your favourite quote and by whom? ‘She walks with storms in her heart, and battles in her eyes.’ – Nicole Lyons
  5. What are your favourite types of books to read and why? I like fiction crime novels but at the moment, I’m reading books about people’s experiences with mental illnesses. It’s so interesting and eye opening too.
  6. What is your favourite movie and/or television show? Favourite TV series at the minute is Criminal Minds!
  7. What is your best memory from the year 2017? Cheating a bit because I have more than one! Getting a new job, buying a house with my partner and getting a puppy!
  8. What did you learn from the year 2017? To try not to let what other people think of you, define you.
  9. What are your hopes and goals for the year 2018? Same as number 3!
  10. What is your favourite post you have written? ‘Mental Health, Money and Me’ – I’ve never written about my money struggles before so it was a biggie.

It’s nomination time…

Nominating just 10 blogs is always really hard because there are so many awesome bloggers out there. But my thinking is, if I nominate my 10, the next few people will carry it on and so-forth so everyone gets to celebrate. So, here are my 10:

  1. Emerging from the dark night
  2. Aspiette, to aspie or not to aspie
  3. Girl with the Paw Print Tattoo
  4. Braving Mental Illness
  5. Beckie’s Mental Mess
  6. Laina Eartharcher
  7. The Running Princess
  8. Andy’s Insights
  9. That Aspie Lady
  10. Rob Talks MH

My questions to you lovely people are:

  1. Three words to describe your blog
  2. What would you name your boat if you had one?
  3. Five positive words to describe you
  4. The most interesting thing you’ve read/seen this week?
  5. Favourite joke/pun?
  6. They’re creating a film (movie) of your life, who plays you?
  7. Favourite blog post you’ve read today & would recommend?
  8. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  9. Positive motto for 2018?
  10. Your top tip for finding blog-spiration?

I hope you guys have fun answering these and sharing these/your own questions with the blogging world! A MASSIVE THANK YOU AGAIN Mental Health @ Home (I enjoyed doing this!)

Liebster

 

Mental Health: How to start the conversation

I get told I talk a lot. I’m a prolific chatterer about everything and nothing. So, I decided to put this to good use and talk about something really important… mental health.

I became a Time to Change Champion to go out and talk to people about mental health and hopefully, help to break down the stigma. Sharing your own experiences to help others is really empowering and I’ve met some awesome people doing the same.

(Two awesome ladies I met through Time to Change celebrating my 30th with me ❤️)

I’ve been reading some epic blogs about it and think it’s really brave of these people to share. So thank you for doing that.

Did you know that just by writing a blog you could change someone’s life? Did you know that by asking how someone is can help too?

If you’re not much of a writer but want to help someone, here are some ways to start the conversation:

  1. Hi, how are you?’
  2. ‘How are you feeling?’
  3. ‘I know you’re not feeling so good right now but if you need to talk, I’m here’
  4. ‘Is everything ok? I’m here if you need me’
  5. ‘You’re not on your own, I’m here to listen’
  6. ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’

Just letting someone know that you’re there for them can really help.

When I get really low, really angry or really upset, my partner always says ‘is there anything I can do to help?’ Most of the time, there isn’t but just letting me know that he’s there, really helps. Because of my Alexithymia, sometimes j can’t even tell what’s happening with my moods. But it’s nice to know someone cares and accepts me.

So this 2018, if you haven’t already, start the mental health conversation. It only takes a ‘How are you?’ to make a difference ❤️

Daily Prompt: Conversation