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

Progress Report!

So, this is quite an exciting post! Last weekend, I attended a wedding; the ceremony, the sit-down meal, the reception. I managed ALL OF IT. And not only that, the journey to the venue as well (around an hour)…and I still coped with that too. Back at my most ill, that would genuinely have been inconceivable. Or not even my most ill either actually. It was amazing to be able to be involved without having to go home midway through. I squeezed in a couple of decent rest breaks, just to keep myself at some sort of functional level. But I 100% did it. Any payback was worth it.

Oh and an additional achievement: I was able to watch a proper firework display without holding my ears or flinching constantly!

LOOK HOW HAPPY I WAS

⬇️⬇️⬇️

A weird sort of gratitude

When you think back to being a child, what were your dreams? Where did you want to be by the time you were your current age? If you look at your life now, does it match up? The chances are that, no, it doesn’t. That may because you changed your mind. It might be because of a missed opportunity. Or maybe it’s because of a lack of funds. But for me and others in similar situations? It’s beyond our control. Illness has taken us down a different path. It’s bumpy, muddy and downright treacherous. But we have no choice but to keep following it. Getting ill at 17 and thinking that I’ll be 26 in June? Yeah that’s pretty scary. I still live at home. I’m still reliant on others. I’m still unable to work or study. This sort of scenario would never have crossed my mind as a teenager, let alone as a child. It wouldn’t have been on my radar. You think about getting a job, falling in love, going into space or being a princess. You don’t think about being housebound, wheelchair bound or all the doctor’s appointments.

But at the end of it all, it is what it is. I may not have the career I wanted, but I’ve realised that’s not important. I’ve found my creativity and my love of expressing myself. I may not live independently, but I’ve got a loving and supportive home. I may not be where I wanted to be as a child, but I’ve seen the oh so many options that I didn’t perceive before. And most of all, I’ve found myself. I’ve discovered what I truly value + what I really want from life.

And in a strange way, I genuinely thank my illness for that

Mottisfont

Good evening good evening 🙂 I hope you’re all having a good week so far.

Although it’s been very chilly so far this year, I headed off to Mottisfont with my boyfriend last week. Bit of a contrast to the last time I went in the middle of a heatwave. But it was a fabulous day out regardless; with plenty of photo opportunities.

Mottisfont Abbey is a historical priory and country estate in Hampshire, England. Sheltered in the valley of the River Test, the property is now operated by the National Trust

Monastery information

Order: Augustinian

Established: 1201

Disestablished: 22 May 1536

Dedicated to: The Priory Church of the Holy Trinity, Mottisfont

…Thank you Wikipedia

Below are some of my own shots that I’m pretty eager to share with you all


Short and sweet post this time, ladies and gents. But I think the photos speak for themselves.

Farewell + goodnight.

Kelsey x

2018 round-up

I’m back!

So it’s been a little while since my last post; mostly due to a very busy festive period. But I thought I best get back in touch before 2018 comes to an end, just to reassure you all that I’ve not drowned in alcohol or collapsed under the weight of all the Christmas goodies I’ve received.

I don’t really have a plan for this post. Well, I’ll pretend that I do and hope nobody notices. Maybe I’ll recount some of the goals I’ve achieved this year? Maybe some anxiety victories, health milestones and general improvements? Ah I don’t know! My ‘no plan’ plan is unravelling before my very eyes…let’s try and salvage something, shall we? Or else I risk ruining my blogging reputation for all eternity.

GOT IT! I’m going to list 5 words to describe my year. Yes let’s do that thing.

  1. Positive
  2. Enriching
  3. Creative
  4. Unexpected
  5. Sociable

I’d say that’s a pretty decent list and a fabulous way to describe an equally fabulous year. Here’s to 2019!

Happy New Year from my home to yours.

Kelsey xxx

Stress

It can hit you like a bus

Or creep up in the dark

It takes on many guises

And it always leaves a mark.

Maybe you feel sick

Or maybe it’s an ache

Could be pain deep inside

A presence that keeps you awake.

Your whole mood may change

Is it anger, worry or fear?

A low and desolate place

Nobody wants to be here.

But the light is nearby

Somewhere round the bend

Keep on going, be oh so brave

It’ll be worth it in the end.

Cat Cafe 🐱🐈

It’s me again! Well, who else did you expect?!

I hope you’ve all had a fabulous weekend and aren’t dreading Monday too much. So today was a pretty exciting day; my first trip to a CAT CAFE. Yes. A cat cafe. Paws For Thought only opened last month but they’ve been very popular already (no surprises there then!) 🙂 Due to the nature of the cafe, it’s a booking only scenario to stop it getting overcrowded, noisy etc. It costs £5 per person for an hour time slot but there’s also an afternoon tea option for £25 per person for two hours. Okay so it’s not the sort of thing you’d do regularly as those £5 visits soon add up, especially once you add drinks and food on top. But as a treat, it’s a really lovely place. The cafe itself was immaculate so I had no qualms about eating a yummy slice of gluten free choccy cake! They currently have 4 resident cats but I believe they’re introducing a further two some time this week. Overall it was a lovely little trip and I thoroughly enjoyed myself 🙂

Goodnight and sleep tight

Kelsey x

(p.s keep on scrolling for some piccies!)

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

My Little Bubble

My bubble was home,

It’s the place I know.

It’s my own little world,

And it’ll surely grow.

Illness confines me,

I had to stay.

But my bubble was nice,

In a strange sort of way.

My little reality,

A world for me.

Not isolated or alone,

It just had to be.

Now I get better,

My bubble spreads more.

A new life opens up,

For me to explore.

It’s daunting and scary,

Unfamiliar, that’s true.

But the world is my oyster,

And it can be yours too