Musings and Snoozes

Brought to you today by hormones and emotions

The Great British summer bank holiday is here. A three day weekend – which shockingly hasn’t been a washout so far –  and one that started beautifully in the pub on Friday night. Beer garden, friends, fizz, and nibbles – perfect. 

Then, not to put to fine a point on it, it all went a bit to shit. It turns out that recovering from a quite frankly knackering week, not taking my meds for 4 days because of epic amounts of brain fog screwing me over, AND a severe dose of PMT doesn’t end well. Actually it ends up not being able to see straight, not feeling like your body belongs to you, and having a terrifying panic attack on the bathroom floor at 1am. Yeh….oops.

I am fine now, I’m back on the meds, my hormones have relaxed, and I’ve had A LOT of sleep, but it is not something I care to repeat any time soon. I’ve always known that the withdrawal from my meds is pretty horrible – god knows I’ve done it enough times – but it’s never been combined with PMT before. Apparently the two don’t play well together. Even when I finally, quite literally crawled into bed, I had unsettling dreams involving the end of the world and everyone ceasing to exist. Suffice to say, I did not wake up at my most cheerful this morning. 

But, as always and without even probably knowing it, my family and friends have utterly set me back on track today. I was so very grateful to have dinner at mum’s to go to, else I think I might have done some serious moping. An afternoon there, full of giggles, cake, and family, and I’m ready to face the world again. There aren’t words for how grateful I am. 

As I was ready to take on the world again, I roped poor Jon into giving the house a mini blitz tonight. I’m sure he had other, more relaxing, playstation involving plans, but I was on a mission and the poor man doesn’t have a lot of choice when I’m in this mood. So tidying has occurred, I’ve thrown out another binbag full of stuff (I’m slowly learning to declutter and stop hoarding), and my house looks a little more like a home again, rather than the junk shop it was previously. 

So I’m now somewhat collapsed, but content, in a bath full of bubbles and salts. I can tell you it makes for a far more pleasant night than the one 24 hours ago. I’m sure there are morals to be had and lessons to be learnt (take your effing medication for starters), but right now I’m just glad to be in one piece, happy to be here, and feeling thoroughly lucky and loved 💜

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Across the Irish Sea

I’m off on Irish adventures again. I’m pretty sure I should have an office over here, I love it. Admittedly I particularly love it because it’s 10am and my meeting doesn’t start til noon. So I’m currently sat in the corner at breakfast, on my third cup of coffee, watching the world go by. I might mosy down for a swim in a bit, and then think about getting ready. Or I might just stay here and have another coffee. 

If there is one thing I’ve learned about travelling with work, it’s that I’ll make it work for me. Travelling is knackering at the best of times, doing it while chronically ill is a whole different ball game. For one, I categorically refuse to travel in one day for a meeting. If it means going on a Sunday (which is what I did this time) then so be it. At least I know that time is my time and I can do with it as I choose. There’s no urgent need to be anywhere – I can sleep, chill, swim, eat, drink – whatever I choose. It sets me up nicely for the next day.  

It also helps that Irish hospitality is beautiful. Admittedly I’m in a five star resort, but even so, from the taxi driver at the airport (who told me his life story, god love him) to the concierge at the hotel, and everyone in between – nothing is ever too much trouble. It’s a bit like America in that sense, and having worked in a hotel myself, it’s something we Brits could learn a little from. 

So as I sit here, listening to the almost impenetrable Cork accent, other guests telling stories to each other, and being fed a constant supply of coffee, I can’t really complain about being “at work”. If only every day were like this…. 

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​“Write about the stuff you’d rather not write about”

 

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Some thoughts are practically bursting to escape my head. Others are so well hidden that I barely admit that they’re there, let alone want to write about them. But maybe I should. I acknowledge them maybe once a day, sometimes a little more when things are spiraling out of my control, but mostly I put a little lid on the box and tell myself it’ll go away one day. It’s been nearly 15 years though and it hasn’t yet, so maybe it’s time to rethink. 

Social stigma around mental health is fading slowly, and I’m hopeful that one day someone will be able to say “I have depression” in the same was as they can say “I have diabetes”. I follow the mental health charity Mind as well as the campaign Time to Change – each of which been instrumental in changing the perception of depression, anxiety and many other conditions, but both sites posted something this week which very much struck a chord with me and gave me cause to think. First the quote below from Mind :

“Lots of people with mental health problems struggle with self-harm, yet it’s still something that many family, friends, and even professionals find hard to understand.”

And secondly, Time to Change shared a link to a lovely blog post by Grace Believed who said this:

“As someone who advocates talking and raising awareness of mental health it’s still something that I wouldn’t have even dreamed about discussing.”

The first is factual, the second is more personal. I will happily talk about all my physical health conditions – evidently since I have this blog – and I’m even happy to admit (at least to friends and family) when I’m falling into a period of depression or when my anxiety is getting on top of me – after all, they’re fairly well understood topics – but the one thing I never ever talk about is my struggle with self harm. And so as a huge advocate in sharing experiences, reducing stigma, and maybe helping others, I now want to play my part.

I should however start with a couple of disclaimers –

Firstly, I’m ok. This is just a part of me like everything else. You’ll see in my story below that it’s not something I act on a lot these days, it’s just there and I cope in much healthier ways.

Secondly, there’s a big reason I don’t talk about this – I don’t want to hurt anyone. Ironic I realise given the subject matter. But I’m so damn scared of upsetting anyone with my feelings that I find it easier to say nothing at all. So I’m telling myself and I’m telling you, that it’s ok that I’m sharing this. It’s less hurtful to share than to bottle it all up.

So all good stories start with music and this is no different. As I sit here indulging in my love for Ryan Adams, I can go straight back to being 14 years old, 18…..21….. 25…… in a heartbeat. I love the way music can do that and while you may not think that’s a positive thing given the subject matter, I can tell you there have been hundreds of nights that by simply plugging in my headphones and losing myself in the music, I’ve been able to feel and cry and sleep and be ok.

And that’s what this all comes down to – how to feel, how to cope with feeling, and how to control it all . I’ve learned a huge amount of coping methods and strategies in the last ten years or so, and it’s why I’m able to sit here and talk about this in the (mostly) past tense, but I cannot pretend that self harm won’t always be an option, even if it’s quickly pushed away. I feel intensely, far too intensely for my head and my heart to cope with. Or I feel nothing. A complete blank, an emptiness that can neither be explained nor rationalised. Honestly, I don’t know which is worse, but they both result in a desperate need for control – and for a long time, self harm was the only way I knew to manage that need. It’s taken me an extremely long time to work that out, and only with the support of friends, family, and network groups have I been able to finally put it into words. 

The stigma that surrounds self harm is that it’s a cry for help, that the person is suicidal, that they hate themselves, that it’s a form of punishment. And for many people that’s true, but it never was for me. It’s only in the last few years as other people have started opening up and sharing their stories, that I’ve begun to understand that that wasn’t what drove me to it, and more importantly that I’m by no means alone. 

And that’s my aim of this. Or one of them. I said before that I have discovered a plethora of coping strategies now – well one of them is writing. It literally keeps me sane on a day by day basis. This post has been floating around my head for weeks, if not months – or rather the thoughts behind it have – and this is how I can take those thoughts and turn them into something positive. Think of it like the pensieve in Harry Potter – each thought, be it good or bad, can be picked out one by one and examined in front of you. Self harm used to serve that purpose in the past, now writing brings the same relief. 

But just as importantly, this subject needs talking about. I see the amazing progress we’ve made around talking about mental health over the last ten years, and yet this is something that is still only whispered about. I spent too long not asking for help, being ashamed, embarrassed, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. So I’m not saying shout it from the rooftops, but I am saying you’re not alone. Find someone you can trust, who you can open up to, don’t be scared to ask for help. When I finally spoke to a professional about how I was feeling, I was so shocked to not only be faced with understanding, but also the sheer fact that they took me seriously and didn’t judge. If there’s one thing I’m still learning (as last night’s anxiety filled post proved), it’s that it’ll never be as bad as you think. 

So that’s my story. It’s not over yet, because I choose for it not to be over. All I ask of you is to think about being that person, the one that someone can come to. You might not be able to do anything other than listen and that’s ok. Sharing our stories is how we’ll fight this and everyone has an important part to play. 

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If I just sit here quietly, it’ll never find me

Honestly, I’m 29 years old, you’d have thought I’d have learned my lesson by now. But no. Burying my head in the sand and pretend a problem doesn’t exist is by far my default coping method. 

I have an appointment tomorrow morning that I am absolutely terrified about. Unreasonably terrified probably,  but regardless, I’ve just been pretending it’s not happening for the last three weeks. Now it’s 10.30pm the night before and I’m having to gather both my thoughts and the physical bits and pieces I need for the morning. I am of course wishing I’d done all this before, because now my usual anxieties are setting in – what if I get lost, what if I can’t find anywhere to park, what if the people are horrible, what if they judge me, worse still what if they don’t believe me?! I spend my whole life trying not to let my illness define me and now tomorrow morning I have to go do exactly that – let it define me completely and furthermore, prove it. 

I considered just not going. I always consider that as an option. If in doubt, run away, right? But I won’t. I am better than that. And I have to remind myself that the whole thing will be over within an hour. After that I can drive away and it’ll all be done. Honestly getting to work has never looked so appealing in comparison. 

I have no idea why I do this to myself, and everytime I say I won’t do it again – I’ll be more prepared, I’ll make sure I’m ready, etc etc etc, but here I am again! So instead I’ll just talk to the pooch for a bit until I get too sleepy to think anymore, and hope that this is the last time I put myself in this situation. I’ve got to learn at some point right…..?

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Enjoy the beauty of becoming

I am feeling all kinds of content right now. Kinda like I’m on the edge of something good, but not quite there yet. It’s exciting and satisfying, though as patience is not my strongest point, it’s frustrating too. Almost within touching distance, but not quite. 

I am currently enjoying a long weekend off work – much needed after the week I’ve had. Infuriating, busy, chaotic, and challenging pretty much sum it up. The challenging part I like, the rest have been more troublesome. But hey, I made it, I’m making progress and I don’t have to think about it again until Tuesday. 

I’m still doing good at the gym. I didn’t have the best morning on Friday – I had great plans which were all foiled by snoozing. But after a couple of hours on the sofa catching up on episodes of The Magicians (which I am now addicted to), I dragged my backside out of the house and spent a satisfying 45 mins or so working up a sweat. It feels good to be making progress and seeing what my body is capable of (so long as I’m careful and remember to rest). For some reason I’m still not a size 8 (she says while supping a very large latte), but I’m feeling good, and that’s half the battle – the dress sizes can come later. 

So I’m sat in Costa, enjoying the aforementioned latte, having spent last night with my lovely school friends, dancing the night away at a wedding. I’m paying for it this morning of course – aches and pains everywhere – but it was worth it to catch up and see an old friend enjoy her special day. I’m a sucker for a wedding – if I could go back and do mine all over again I would. Not because it wasn’t perfect, but just because it was so much fun! From the whimsical first plans, the dress picking, the invite making (eventually, we were a bit lax on this part), right through to having all of our friends and family together, celebrating with us – I loved every moment. 

So today brings rest and recovery, before more venturing out tomorrow and back to reality on Tuesday. I feel good, and I’m going to enjoy it 🙂

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Be a wolf

After what can only be described as an extremely frustrating day at work, I not only survived, but instead of coming home and moping, I instead went and had a very therapeutic gym session. So forgive me, but I’m feeling thoroughly smug and proud of myself right now. 

I almost didn’t make it admittedly. When I couldn’t find my towel I have to confess to having a little bit of a hissy fit. But instead of deciding that it was clearly a sign to stay at home and eat chocolate, I decided sod it, and walked out the door before I could change my mind. 

And I’m glad I did. It was just the break I needed to stop thinking about work, to focus on me, and just lose myself in music and pleasant pain. Despite not leaving work til gone 7, I still feel as though I’ve had an evening and that I can tackle tomorrow’s challenges in the morning. 

So I now pleasantly ache (and clearly won’t be able to walk in the morning), but you know what –  I feel refreshed, satisfied, proud, and smug for having not given in to what could have been a pretty crappy evening. There’s a lot to be said for stubbornness I tell you – it has its uses every now and again. 

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