Baby steps

I’ve just got back from a trip to the doctors and for the first time since I initially reported my depression to a doctors, I’ve actually been seen by a member of the counselling team and been given an assessment

It’s been difficult enough coming to terms with everything myself and talking to friends and family about it, but there’s something so alien in talking to a complete stranger about something so personal. Now I’m a fairly open book normally, I’ll happily talk to anyone about anything but today I really struggled. Maybe it’s because I’ve been struggling to open up to anyone about it for so long and even though therapy is something I’ve sought for a while now it’s actually happening and it’s all real I’m a little overwhelmed to say the least.

Don’t get me wrong, the therapist was calm, patient, caring, understanding and a good listener- everything you could expect and want so I’m not saying she was bad at her job. It’s not her. It’s me

Now it’s a waiting game again to see what assessment she makes and to see what the best next step is. I’m pleased with today, feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and some things are starting to fall into place. I know it’s going to take a lot of patience and it’s just baby steps for now but it’s a really good feeling things are finally starting to move in the right direction. I’m already almost looking forwards to next time to open up a bit more and see how much progress we make next time. Until then it’s back to the baking

Keep smiling and stay safe
J

Turning Point

This isn’t going to be a post gushing about how awesome my other half is, but he is. To put up with the crap I throw at him day in day out and still want to not just stand by in all of this but love me and support me in getting better. He’s my best friend. My soul mate. He’s been my rock and I honestly don’t think id be here now if it wasn’t for having him by my side every step of the way

Sometimes though, how much support is too much? I’m starting to see a draw back to him being so amazing….I now see him as a security blanket, a safe place. When I’m around him I feel secure, stable, reassured, no anxiety and I feel happy.

While I’m unemployed and taking the time off to focus on getting better and having very little money I’m spending a lot of time in our flat. Since what happened a couple of weeks ago I’ve been reluctant to spend too much time on my own. Bit of a catch 22. As I don’t have a lot going on in my world other than baking and looking after the kittens, the only real thing I have to focus on and look forwards to is him coming home from work. Every day I’ll be eagerly watching the clock for the time he should finish in excitement for seeing him and for the relief of not being on my own with my demons at least for a few hours.

This back fired last night. The poor boyfriend, after everything I’ve put him through and after all of the unconditional support he’s giving me I then flip that he stays out late and has a few beers for one of ours friends birthdays. He’s allowed down time and space away from me, he’s not my carer and I would never want him to feel that way.

Before he came home, I got that wound up and stressed out I started scratching my arm. Now I have some fetching go faster stripes on my wrist which I get to look at the rest of the day and are going to act as a reminder of what an nightmare I was last night. I didn’t do it in a build up to wanting to kill myself or even to hurt myself. I did it to check I can still feel something other than this illness which seems to not only be destroying me, my finances, my career, my friends but it’s destroying the best thing I have in this world and the only thing keeping me going. My relationship

Misplaced frustrations are the hardest things for me to deal with at the moment. From lack of care from Nhs, lack of luck finding a job, lack of motivation to even get out of my bed I feel like nothing is going right so what do I do? Take it all out on the one thing that is

My turning point is about no longer punishing him for the few hours he can’t be by my side, whether he’s working or needs a bit of understandable and much deserved down time. It’s about looking to transfer all of these feelings and trying to turn them into something good and use them to fuel positivity and getting better

I never want to feel as guilty as I do right now and I’ll do whatever it takes to put things right. For now, all my thoughts and feelings are going to channeled into tidying up last nights baking mess….and probably making some more goodies to guide me down the path of becoming the size of a house

Keep smiling and stay safe
J

Breath of fresh air

When you’re going through a time of feeling low in your life, whether it’s anxiety, depression or something else it can seem like it takes over your life and it becomes the only thing you speak about. Whilst tonight I’ve met up with a friend who has been and is going through similar troubles, to be able to have a conversation that doesn’t start with the question “how are you feeling” is unbelievably refreshing and makes me feel like I’m able to move on with my life and not let this beast completely consume me. These rare moments, glimpses into what life used to be like are so cherished and should be held onto fondly. Fingers crossed for another tomorrow

Keep smiling and stay safe
J

VICTORIA SPONGE CAKE

One of my favourite easy quick cakes and tastes amazing. Perfect little (or big) pick me up for a bad day

INGREDIENTS
Cake:
6oz unsalted room temp butter
6oz caster sugar
6oz self raising flour
3 eggs
50ml milk
3 drops of vanilla extract

Filling:
2oz room temp butter
4oz icing sugar
Lots of your favourite jam

1. Pre heat oven to 170 and grease a cake tin ( I used a 20cm)
2. In a large bowl cream together the sugar and butter until pale, light and fluffy
3. Add in the milk and keep mixing until fully combined
4. Alternate between sifting in flour and adding an egg on at a time until all have been added. Try not to beat the mixture too much at this stage or the cake will become dense from working the gluten too much
5. Mix in the drops of vanilla extract
6. Spoon mixture into cake tin and put in oven for 20-30 mins. It will be ready when golden brown on top and if a knife comes out clean if it’s been put into the middle of the cake
7. While in the oven cream together the icing sugar and butter to make the butter cream for the filling
8. Leave to cool on a wire rack
9. Once cool enough slice the cake in half horizontally
10. On one of the middle sides evenly spread on the butter cream to edge and on the other spread your jam. I used a strawberry and champagne one – incredible!
11. Put the two halves of cake back together with the fillings in the middle on top of each other
12. Dust with icing sugar and enjoy!

Unfortunately before I had chance to grab a picture, I dropped something on the cake so wasn’t the prettiest. Still tasted amazing!

Happy baking! Keep smiling and stay safe
J

MANGO & BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

butter crumble:

4 tablespoons plain flour

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 pinch salt

30g unsalted butter

muffin batter

115g unsalted butter

250g caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

225g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

110g semi skimmed milk

150g blueberries (lightly dusted in plain flour)

165g mango (peeled, seeded and diced)

method:

  1. preheat oven to 190*c, prepare cake tins with 14 muffin cases
  2. combine the flour, sugar, salt and butter together for the butter crumble and set aside
  3. in a large mixing bowl: beat unsalted butter sugar and salt for batter mix
  4. once light and fluffy beat in the eggs – one at a time making sure the first one is completely mixed in before adding the second
  5. once combined and fluffy fold in the sifted flour and baking powder
  6. after this is bound together alternate adding the milk and the butter crumble until both have been completely added to the muffin batter – this shouldnt be completely smooth as the butter crumble will melt into the batter in the oven
  7. add in the blueberries (coated in flour so they dont sink) and the mango
  8. carefully spoon mixture into muffin cases
  9. bake for 25-35 mins – they should be golden and the tops should be springy when lightly pressed
  10. leave to cool and enjoy!

other fruit can be used – i find theyre a fun and healthy way to use up any fruit that might be old in the fridge

keep smiling & stay safe

j

Film; Silver Linings Playbook

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1045658/

Not only did this film win a bucket load of awards off important film folk but it’s won a place in my heart. I feel a massive connection with the two main characters and have an overwhelming and understanding for what they’re going through. The highs and lows of Pat’s bipolar are really reflective of my own mood and how I’m treating those around me at the moment. Even though it’s a pretty hard hitting topic it still gives you that lovely warm fuzzy feeling when it’s over with an ending reminiscent of little miss sunshine. And if it doesn’t affect you in the way it has with me, Bradley cooper and Jennifer Lawrence aren’t too shabby to look at for a few hours. What’s not to love!

Keep smiling and stay safe
J

dead ends

my “depression journey” if you want to call it that has been pretty short lived this time around.  it came to light mid-feb and by march i had taken myself to seek help from a doctor.  from then things have escalated rapidly in my mental state – going to rock bottom and back within 2 months is pretty tough going. unfortunately things haven’t been as reactive in terms of the help and care i’ve been receiving

as is the way in a lot of cases similar to my own, medication is handed out like pick and mix to keep people quiet and to act as a quick fix.  what many don’t realise is one of the more common and horrific side affects when you start to take anti-depressants (alongside the dry mouth, lack of appetite, loss of motivation and sex drive) is increased thoughts of self harm and suicide.

these thoughts are horrid enough, without it being caused by something a doctor has prescribed you with in order for you to get better. they’re certainly thoughts and feelings i’ve never had before and if i had been aware of these thoughts i would have been a lot more tentative in agreeing the take them

i’m really struggling to see the sense in any medical professional being so eager to pass out medication with such severe side affects to people who are so vulnerable and desparate to get better they will follow any advise given.  people who are already feeling low and struggling with positivity and motivation.  why would you give them something that would have such a negative effect on all of this, and then add fuel to the fire by it causing suicidal and self harming thoughts. why would you give them enough medication so when they do have these thoughts, they have easily accessible means to carry it out?  surely this can’t be responsible? these professionals have a duty of care, so surely the first port of call should be to look at the individuals lifestyle – food, drink, exercise, social activities, support networks alongside the offer of mental health professionals to speak with

following on from first being prescribed medication, i was referred to a local therapy team. unfortunately, due to moving house just 3 miles down the road and no longer being in the correct catchment area i had to change gp and as such the team i had originally been referred to would longer take on my case. during my first visit to my new gp, i was made aware the original referral had been sent within a matter of weeks to my previous address (despite changing it) and was advised i would be referred to my new gp’s counselling team straight away. this was at the beginning of april.  its now the end of may and only now – after having been admitted to hospital for an overdose – i am being told it could take 6-9 months to be able to receive personal counselling.  next week i’m due to see a doctor for an assessment, the first i will have received since it all began. how can it have taken this long to get to see a mental health professional?

given how fast my mental health has escalated over the past 2 months since it was first reported to a gp, it terrifies me the only active care i’ve received so far have been pills with side affects which nearly cost me my life

as i mentioned in my last blog post, ive decided to take things into my own hands and looking to treat this naturally but i am also still extremely keen on seeing a therapist or counseller for impartial support and guidance.  i was only in hospital 2 weeks ago and im still struggling with being on my own for too long, bad anxiety, feeling really faint, sick, frustrated, and i still have times of being really low.  i’ve called 4 different support groups and services within the area. one wont take me on because i’m 26 (they only deal with 18-25 year olds). another wont because i’m not on benefits or from a foreign country. the other 2, i’ve been put on waiting lists with no indication of how long its going to take

at the moment, mental health is such a hot topic.  its everywhere in the press, on the tv, celebrities are coming out of the woodwork discussing their demons and its taking over our social media timelines.  it seems to be more acknowledged, understood and recognised than ever and this is rapidly on the up. while this is phenomenal news, the next challenge is for health care to step up and reflect this. its all well and good joe bloggs understanding anxiety more and mrs jones next door no longer thinking you’re a bit loopy or rude but suffering from depression, they’re not the people who can really help.  its all pretty meaningless those of us suffering and those of us campaigning to change the stigma surrounding mental health if there isnt the support we need when we need it

i see myself as extremely fortunate. my situation could have easily been so much worse a few weeks ago and ive managed to start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel relatively quickly. but its only on reflecting about my own experiences i dread to think about other people experiencing similar problems. those who haven’t been able to find their light as quickly, or still cant and those whose battles are longstanding.  what does it take and how bad must it have to get for doctors to sit up and take notice?  how many other people has the system failed like me, or worse?

right now this is my biggest frustration in trying to fight my own demons. once i’m better, back in the land of employment and no longer a member of the pyjama army i’m going to do as much as i possibly can to make a difference and change this so people don’t have to go through the same struggles i’ve been through in getting help when they most need it

keep smiling & stay safe

j

Introductions…..

First things first, a little background on me and whats going on in my world

over the past 6 years i’ve been battling with depression.  I’ve always put it down to circumstantial as its only ever really made an appearance in times of work or social stress.  each time before its gone away on its own within a week or so, so i’ve never sought help from a doctor

from february 2014 i started feeling really low again and on top of that over the past year ive been experiencing increasing anxiety – quite often with no correlation to whats going on in my life.  at the time when my depression started making a reappearance i was dealing with a lot of stresses both in and out of work, leaving me feeling like as i was escaping one i was having to face another.  as it didn’t look like it was passing in the same way it had before, i went to a doctors to ask for help

it turns out anti-depressants are as easy to get as smarties over the counter.  straight away i was put on medication with very little advice given about how these were going to affect me or any of the side affects. working in the hospitality industry, dealing with people face to face every day the effect the medication was having on me and the side affects were extremely notable.  I’d gone from being a bubbly, out-going, chatty restaurant manager to a quiet, unmotivated, shell of my former self with my only aims each day involving a duvet fort, my pyjamas and a cuddle from my other half.

after going back to my doctors and requesting referrals for therapy and expressing how the medication seemed to be aggravating my anxiety as well as causing me to have horrid thoughts of self harm and suicide – things I have not considered before taking medication – i was advised to increase my dosage.

not only did this make me incredibly sick, moody, faint, irritable it further increased my anxiety and my desire to end my life.  i was struggling to see anything in a positive light and saw myself as a burden on everyone around me.  i was so poorly, low and felt so vulnerable and unreliable I ended up leaving my job.

soon the frustration of being out of work started really getting me down.  having the time off to get better was what was necessary but it also left me too much time to think. concerns over letting my colleagues, family and boyfriend down, money concerns, having to be dependant on everyone when i’m so used to be being independant and being the shoulder for other people to cry on. i thought everyone in my life could do so much better without the worry of me over their heads, everyone could move on and get back to normal. all of these feelings built up so much, and on top of this i had a months worth of medication in my cabinet from the doctor and all of these strong thoughts of ending my life taking over……

with one of my favourite bottles of red, i took half a packet of my anti-depressants. something i even researched to check if it was enough to make sure i didn’t wake up again.

i don’t know why or how, but i did wake up. i honestly couldn’t be more grateful.  i feel as though i’ve been given a second chance, like my body doesn’t want me to give up so easily and let this horrid illness win.  before i knew it, i was in an ambulance on my way to hospital, dribbling on paramedics trying to remember how to spell my name

that night in hospital was the lowest point, but the silver lining in it all is i can confidently say things in my life will never be that bad again.

since coming out of hospital i’ve chosen not to go back on the medication but to deal with this demon naturally.  With lots of books on self help, exercise, eating well and support from my amazing friends and family i know i can get through this

my reasons for doing this are mainly cathartic – ive heard writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a means of therapy and a healthy way to release the demons in your head. i’d like to hope that maybe someone somewhere reads this and it breaks down a barrier or two in stigmatisation of mental health and opens someones eyes in what its like to live with an “invisible illness”. romantically, i’d like to think someone somewhere might read this and it help them.  if it could reach out and just help one person in need of support then it makes all of my struggles worth it

keep smiling & stay safe