Adventure Time

This may be news to some of you, but I am an absolute sucker for cartoons; whether they’re made for children or adults. I’m a 26 year old, I swear πŸ˜‰ but Adventure Time always holds a special place in my quirky little heart. It kept me company for a long time when I was at my most unwell. It cheered me up on my lower days. It made my imagination even more vivid + wild. And for that, I’m incredibly thankful. So here’s my current (and very colourful) collection of AT graphic novels/comics

Is there a particular TV show or film that is extra special to you? If so, what it is and why? ☺️ I’d love to hear from you guys!!

Adventure time, c’mon grab your friends… ❀️

Another spontaneous trip!

Hey hey bloggerinos πŸ™‚

So you might recall one of my last posts: when I actually did something spontaneous. Shock horror, it happened again! This time me and le boyfriend headed off to Petersfield to mooch. We were greeted by an apparent summer festival going on which was a nice bonus! Lots of market stalls, music, a vintage car show. It was VERY busy and VERY warm but I didn’t feel anxious or overwhelmed; I soldiered on and didn’t get grumpy in the heat either.

After that, we decided to head to the coast as it would (hopefully) be cooler 🀞🏻 luckily, once we’d gotten through the traffic, Hayling Island actually had some sort of breeze. HALLELUJAH. We ate ice-cream on the beach. We people watched. We then stared in awe as an eery sea mist/fog started rolling in and we were pretty much certain it was the end of the world. I even heard someone say ‘I bet it’s because of Donald Trump’ πŸ˜‚

This is becoming a habit now, people! And whilst I still love making plans etc, winging it is pretty cool too 😎

Until next time, folks.

Kelsey x

Belated birthday blog

Hello again folks 😊

I promised you a post about my birthday trip out, so here it is!

As an animal lover, I opted for a day at the zoo, without any hesitation. Me and le boyfriend ventured onwards, with much anticipation and excitement in the air. I shan’t bore you with a detailed itinerary or an exhaustive list of every animal we saw; but instead, it’s all about the highlights and snapshots. Enjoy!

Hungry hungry hogs
monch monch monch
teeny weeny sea lion!
Beautiful elephants ❀️🐘
Rhino buddies
Trevor and Tulip the miniature donkeys

I’ll be back soon!

Hello to all you fantastic folk out there 😊 sorry I haven’t managed to post for an absolute AGE. I’ve been pretty busy actually which is something I’m still not used to πŸ˜‚

I’m currently having a rest day as my body is all screwed up from my birthday zoo trip yesterday. But it was TOTALLY worth it! I’ll likely do a post with some photos soon, but for now, I’m just checking in to say I’m all good (relatively speaking) and will be back soon.

See you soon.

Kelsey ✌🏻

New Forest road trip

Hello again!

As the weather is now turning back to what you’d expect here, I’ve been reflecting on the lovely weekend I had. Saturday was relaxed with a small veggie BBQ. Nomnomnom. And Sunday involved a trip to one of my favourite places: the New Forest πŸ™‚ me and my fantastic boyfriend headed off to the wildlife park first. My excitement was pretty blatant and I’m not ashamed. I squeeed, I gasped and I almost cried with the sheer cuteness of what I was witnessing. Teeny weeny harvest mice chowing down on gigantic slices of apple. Otters juggling stones and squeaking nonstop with their buddies. And two ADORABLE newborn European Mouflon lambs. Luckily my boyfriend is an animal lover too and is also pretty accustomed to my reaction when something is hella cute. Don’t tell anyone, but he turns into a squealing mess when he sees alpacas πŸ˜‰

Then a random drive around was on the cards; hunting out any picturesque or intriguing places on our way. A brief trip to a deer sanctuary was suggested, although by this time I was knackered, so sadly we couldn’t stay long 😦 although we did utilise the presence of a Mr Whippy ice-cream van and it was glorious in the 24Β°C heat. Eating PROPER ice-cream, outdoors, in April, in England? Would you believe it?

And for those of you who are silently urging me to post some photos, I wholeheartedly oblige.

OH AND I COMPLETELY FORGOT. One of the keepers was casually walking around with a blanket in plastic box. Colour me intrigued, I went over and lo and behold, a HEDGEHOG snoot did appear from under the blanket. It turns out his name was Bryan and he’s Leucistic; he lacks multiple types of pigments, but still had the dark eyes you’d expect. Basically, he looked like a blonde/slightly speckled light brown hedgie instead of the dark brunette you’d imagine for a European hedgehog. Great. Now I’m imagining hedgehogs in different coloured wigs. Sadly I didn’t get a photo as I was far too busy coping with my heart almost melting inside me.

Stop The Stigma

Let’s get right to it: there should be NO stigma or shame attached to taking antidepressants, anxiety meds etc.

It really gets to me that there’s still people out there who see them in such a negative light. Yes the medications may not help everyone and in some cases can make symptoms worse. But for all those people that they help? They are genuinely a lifesaver. Nobody should be made to feel bad about taking meds for depression and other mental health issues. So, let’s get a few things straight…

  1. Antidepressants do NOT make you weak or any less of a human
  2. They don’t cause ‘fake happiness/feelings’
  3. Taking them isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Fact
  4. Some people need them indefinitely and that is okay
  5. Others take them for shorter periods and that is okay too
  6. They enable you to cope with life
  7. And, in my case, they simply allow me to be 100% me
  8. I’ve been taking antidepressants since autumn 2010 and don’t regret a single tablet
  9. I will take them for as long as I need and don’t give a shit if that’s months, years or decades
  10. You don’t know everyone’s story or what’s going on in their minds, so you have no right to make a judgement on that which you know nothing about
  11. Some people choose other alternatives to medication, but that doesn’t mean their issues are any less severe or debilitating
  12. And medication isn’t the first option for these issues. Doctors will recommend self-help first, counselling etc. And if those don’t help, then pharmaceutical avenues will be explored
  13. Why is it that with a number of ongoing physical conditions, taking medication long-term is never questioned, but for mental health, some people suddenly get in a tizzy about it? You wouldn’t tell a diabetic that they didn’t really need their insulin. So why is someone with long-term depression for example any different?

Basically, don’t be a dick about it. Educate yourself, do some research. And if you still have nothing positive, helpful or supportive to say, keep it to yourself

Illness anniversary

Christmas time is upon us once more! How the hell did that happen? January, heatwave, Halloween and then it’s suddenly Christmas. Mind blown.

The festive period is obviously a wonderful time for most of us; whether you celebrate it in a religious manner or otherwise. It’s a time for coming together, eating good food and generally relaxing after another year. But it’s a strange time for little old me. Whilst I adore Christmas, I got ill on Christmas Day 2010. Okay so looking back there were warning signs beforehand but I noticed something was VERY wrong on the 25th December 2010. My depression diagnosis came in the autumn and I’d been on antidepressants since then. However I was extremely positive and hopeful regarding Christmas and New Year. Here’s a brief synopsis of how it went down.

I had a wonderful day, just me and my mum at home. As the evening came around, I suddenly became exhausted. I had to retreat to the sofa for a lie down. I felt so heavy and drained. And from then, it only got worse. It’s something I’ve detailed in past posts so I won’t bother rehashing it all again. That’ll merely depress us all.

Christmas Day 2010; totally unaware of how my life would change as of that very evening

It’s a weird one. On the one hand, my conscious mind is focused on how lovely Christmas will be etc, but subconsciously, I’m dwelling on how it’s one more year of being unwell; and being thrown back to the day it all began. And admittedly, since being ill, I’ve cried every Christmas or New Year’s, apart from last year. So that’s 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 AND 2016. The mood just hits me out of the blue, even if I’ve been totally fine during the leadup. It’s almost as if my brain suddenly twigs that’s it’s yet another year of being ill and goes into teary mode.

But as we approach this Christmas, I’m feeling more confident that the tears won’t make an appearance. I’ve had a fantastic year. My health has continued to improve. I’ve battled (and won) a number of anxieties. I’ve done new things + met loads of new people. If we add that all together, it should be a very different December.

Be kind to yourselves, folks.

Kelsey x

A New Diagnosis (continued)

Let’s jump straight back into it, shall we? No time like the present and all that jazz.

So, as I said in the previous blog post, I was referred to a cardiologist at a local hospital to test for POTS. The only real way to officially diagnose POTS is via something called a Tilt-Table Test. Essentially, you are strapped onto the bed/table, which is slowly tilted upwards (around 60-70 degrees) to mimic standing. The straps are in place as a safety measure in case a patient faints. A footboard is also present so you’re not just dangling! Heart rate and blood pressure readings are taken throughout. The upright position can last anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes, depending on your readings, symptoms etc. The test will end when adequate results have been obtained, the patient has fainted or the maximum time has elapsed.

To be given a diagnosis of POTS, a person has to have:

  • A sustained increase in heart rate of greater than 30 beats per minute within 10 minutes of standing
  • Those aged 12-19 years require an increase of at least 40 beats per minute
  • These criteria may not apply to those with a low heart rate when resting
  • There is usually no drop in blood pressure on standing

I wasn’t particularly nervous about my upcoming test as I just genuinely wanted some answers; did I have POTS? Was my M.E diagnosis wrong? I can’t recall exact details (my test was in May 2012), but I definitely remember how utterly strange it felt. I became symptomatic almost straightaway after being tilted, which wasn’t really a surprise. My feet, legs, hands and arms all started to go numb and the little energy I had was simply draining away. After only a short time, I’d say about 20 minutes or so, the cardiologist stopped the test as he had seen enough and it was evident that my symptoms were causing me some real trouble. Once I’d had a rest, gotten changed out of my hospital gown and my mum had entered the room, he told us both that I did indeed have POTS. There was no doubt about it. He couldn’t tell me whether I had M.E alongside it as the symptoms overlap so much. But to have a diagnosis of something that can be properly tested for was a real relief; as if I now had something concrete and medically proven. Overall it obviously wasn’t an enjoyable or pleasant experience; when are hospital tests ever either of those things? But to have something 100% proven, something that couldn’t be dismissed as fake, was a wonderful result. I know not everyone is this lucky and it upsets me greatly, but this is just my own story and experience; many struggle to be heard and are refused tests that can easily be carried out, even though there is strong evidence of another condition at play. On this occasion, I was unbelievably thankful for my lovely GP, cardiologist and NHS.

Have a great weekend!

Kelsey x

Driving Anxiety

Greetings to you on this sunny Monday!

Another anxiety post coming up I’m afraid. But when your life has been full of it for over ten years, there’s a lot of ground to cover. And this particular subject is something that has given me the most horrendous anxiety I’ve ever known; and it still impacts me to this day.

Back in June 2010, I turned 17. I received a block of driving lessons as my main gift and I was genuinely really hyped up and excited for it. This would start me on the road to becoming an adult; pun totally intended. The first lesson came around and I distinctly remember it being a lovely sunny day, which elevated my mood even more. I got along well with my instructor so that was a relief. She drove me to the local driving lesson ‘stomping ground’ and, after a lot of instruction and chatting, I was able to get behind the wheel for the first time ever. Sure I only crept forward a few metres but I had actually driven! She then drove me home and I began the excitable retelling of how my lesson had been. I was hopeful.

After a couple more lessons, I was told I was progressing nicely. I hadn’t had any accidents or serious moments. But a sense of anxiety slowly washed over me. As the next lesson got closer and closer, my anxiety and stress would increase. I’d give myself horrible headaches and nausea from worrying so much. I’d find it hard to relax and would find myself becoming restless and fidgety. I cancelled lessons as I couldn’t handle it, but the same feelings would arise again and again. I didn’t know why. That was the hardest part. I knew it was driving related. That was obvious. But I couldn’t pinpoint a specific thought or eventuality that was setting it off. I wasn’t scared of crashing as the car had dual controls and I had great awareness on the road. I’d never been a nervous passenger either so it couldn’t have stemmed from that. Maybe, on some level, it was the responsibility angle that did it; not only being in charge of a car, but having to think of other drivers, pedestrians etc.

Eventually, my mental health deteriorated so much that, upon going to the doctor’s, I was diagnosed with depression. Whilst I’ve spoken about this before, I wanted to remind folks that the driving lessons were a huge trigger for my depression. I genuinely think that the sheer stress of the whole thing contributed more than 50% to my mental health decline. I had to fully cancel all my lessons and ask for a refund of outstanding ones as the circumstances were out of my control.

Fast forward two years and, not only do I have my depression and anxiety, I’ve had a diagnosis of M.E. After much deliberation, I decided to take the plunge and start lessons again. As I was receiving certain benefits, I was able to have a number of lessons free of charge, so that alleviated a fair amount of pressure. My instructor was even better than the first one. But the anxiety persisted. However, I also persisted. It was tough. Really really tough. It was basically the same as before but I kept on going. Looking back now I don’t know how managed it. The anxiety was awful and my health was greatly impacted. Maybe I had a different attitude or something. Frankly I can’t really remember.

I passed my test second time in June 2012, only 6 days after my 19th birthday. I took my first ever solo drive too. It was fine. I did it. But you know what? I didn’t drive at all for over FIVE years. Okay so most of that was admittedly down to my health and related cognitive issues rather than anxiety. But I knew it was still there inside me.

Earlier on this year, I decided to have refresher driving lessons, to hopefully get me back into it as my health has improved a fair amount. I was hoping that the anxiety would ease this time as I’d already passed my tests and knew I didn’t have to ‘impress’ anyone and that people weren’t judging. But lo and behold, it showed its face yet again. I only managed a couple of lessons before having to call it quits. The anxiety and stress were having such a negative impact on my physical health; it just wasn’t worth it.

It’s shit. It’s really shit. I’ve had high intensity CBT which has helped so many things immensely. We’ve discussed driving and my associated anxiety before. I’ve got coping techniques. I’ve got analysis of my own thoughts and know logically that my anxiety is unfounded. Yet it still will not shift. It may have lessened, which is a small blessing. But at the age of 25, I am totally reliant on other people to drive because my stupid brain is a pile of rotten turds. You’d think anxiety would start out bad but ease once you get the hang of something right? Mine often acts in the opposite way. Driving lessons were fun at first with little or no anxiety. Then they became stress inducing after I’d had more practise. Seriously, what is that all about? It doesn’t compute. Practise makes perfect couldn’t be any less applicable.

I’m not sure how to end this as it’s an ongoing and unresolved issue. Instead of exposure therapy, I’m having to completely remove myself from the driving world. Exposure has worked with so many of my other anxieties, like meeting new people, crowded places etc. I can’t even seem to get over the first hurdle with driving.

Peace + love.

Kelsey x

The Road to Depression

Sorry for being very quiet.

Nothing has been wrong; I’ve just been slacking a bit. Whoops! But I am back with a vengeance to tell you all about a subject that, whilst very personal, is something I am 100% open and honest with. I’m not ashamed of it and I can’t believe there’s still such a stigma attached to it. Depression is not weakness. Just starting out with that little nugget of wisdom; and anyone who disagrees with it can kindly grab their coat, open the door and kick themselves out of it. Have they gone? Ah good. We can continue.

Rewind allllll the way back to autumn 2010. It wasn’t a great year to be totally honest. Shit happens and all that. I was in my second and last year of sixth form. We were thinking about universities, jobs, exams, driving lessons, becoming adults; it was really bloody daunting. You had all of this stuff thrown straight at you all at once. Yes I know that it’s something everyone has had to do and plenty have coped fine. But me? My brain said a big fat nope. The prospect of university terrified me as I had horrible social anxiety, plus I knew it would require a loan and I didn’t want to be lumbered with debt before I’d even started. The idea of working was just as stressful as I didn’t have the slightest clue as to what sort of job I’d like. Driving lessons had started in the June of 2010, as soon as I was 17, and I initially loved it. But then the stress crept in. I would give myself migraines and nausea from fretting so much. I couldn’t even pinpoint why. The more I drove, the more nervous I got. Strange.

Anyway! The autumn of 2010 saw all of these stressors being thrust upon me. I first noticed something was amiss when my concentration and memory began to slide. I’d always been a proper nerd; able to learn and retain information almost straight away. I could answer questions easily and would get solid A grades in most subjects. In my second year of sixth form, I was taking: Law, Psychology and Religious Studies; all of which I’d enjoyed thoroughly since starting the year before. But then it changed. I couldn’t hold focus. I’d zoned out pretty much constantly. I was sure the teachers were speaking gibberish as I didn’t understand a word they were saying. They’d call on me to answer a question, I’d have to say I didn’t know. It was scary. Really really scary. I’d leave lessons not remembering anything that had been said or done in the class.

Shortly after this, the trademark low moods showed their unwelcome faces. And no, it’s not just feeling a bit sad. It’s an all consuming burden that weighs you down. It’s feeling hopeless, worthless and detached from the world. It’s the feelings of guilt as you think you’ve not really got anything to be depressed about. It’s the mood swings, the irritability and the yearning to be alone. It’s losing the motivation to do anything; even things that used to give you great pleasure like a most treasured hobby. You just…fade. That’s probably the most concise was to describe it. You feel yourself, your personality and the life you’ve built fading away.

I knew I had to get some sort of help. It was affecting every aspect of my life. I know it’s easier said than done for some, but seeking help and reaching out is something you have to do. People are out there to help you the best they can. I saw my GP initially who gave me some self-help stuff to try first, to see if any improvement was made. When this didn’t happen, I was prescribed a very low dose of Fluoxetine; so low in fact that they only did it in liquid form. It tasted pretty strong and weirdly minty. After about 4-6 weeks, noticeable improvements were made. My moods began to balance out and I felt much more stable. But you know what didn’t improve? My concentration and memory. To this day I still struggle with them both. It’s a symptom of the chronic illnesses I have too, so I’ve probably got a double whammy of brain fog. I’d been hoping my grades would start to progress to where they’d been before. I really wanted to be able to contribute to my lessons again. But I just couldn’t do it. At some point, my dosage was increased; which would happen a couple more times over the years. And now I take Sertraline. Yep. I still take antidepressants now. And frankly, I don’t give a fuck who knows it. There is nothing to be ashamed of with regards to mental health. If you need medication, you need medication. It should be treated in the exact same way as physical conditions. You don’t tell someone with a broken leg to just get over it or to get a grip. Nobody has the right to dismiss your problems because they can’t see them.

Right. I’m going to grab some depression information now as I’m getting far too passionate and riled up over here. The following info has come from the NHS UK website, with slight edits to make it easier to absorb.

Psychological symptoms

The psychological symptoms of depression include:

  • low mood
  • feeling hopeless and helpless
  • feeling tearful
  • feeling guilty
  • feeling irritable
  • having no motivation
  • indecision
  • not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • feeling anxious or worried
  • suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting yourself

Physical symptoms

The physical symptoms of depression include:

  • moving or speaking more slowly than usual
  • changes in appetite or weight
  • constipation
  • random aches and pains
  • fatigue
  • lowered sex drive
  • changes to your menstrual cycle
  • insomnia or sleeping too much

If you’ve experienced symptoms for most of the day, everyday, for 2+ weeks, see your GP as soon as you can. And if you need any advice or just want to chat, you can always drop me a message.

I hope, in a strange way, that you’ve found this post to be enlightening and helpful. I have no qualms about sharing my story with others, especially as I know it can really have a positive impact on people’s lives AND it can help educate those who are still extremely ignorant and/or judgemental.

Take it easy + look after yourselves.

Kelsey x