Adapt

The birds that sing overhead

Insects scuttle underfoot

Fish in the waves, riverbeds too

The life that lives where it can.

Adaptable, making the most of it

They find a way to thrive

Not all but some it must be known

Do proudly soldier on.

Humans as well do this at times

Surviving, taking each day as it comes

For tomorrow is a bright beginning

The chance for life anew

CBT news

Here comes a positive post, people. Positive post warning.

So I’ve been having high intensity CBT for over a year, which I genuinely can’t remember if I’ve mentioned before. Gulp. Anyway! You now know. It was mainly targeting my various anxieties and depression, but we also discussed phobias and stress etc. I’ve had regular CBT before but was sadly unable to get the most out of it due to my health being much worse. And I actually think that the regular type wasn’t really going to work for me anyway. As an added bonus, the high intensity CBT is ongoing for as long as you need, without needing to be referred by your GP again and again. Three cheers for avoiding that annoyance.

My counsellor was absolutely legendary. I know it’s his job but I could tell that he genuinely cared about the people he sees. I had no trouble opening up and being honest either. It was all very relaxed whilst still providing all the help I required.

Here comes the positive news…

After reducing the regularity of my appointments, I was officially discharged as of the 3rd of April!! 🙂 It’s been stressed as well that I can start up my sessions again at any time in the future if the situation arises, which is a great reassurance for my little brain.

I’m unbelievably grateful that I had access to such a life-changing form of therapy. And I’m beyond grateful that it actually worked for me. I’m honestly in the best place I’ve been for years. So I’d like to say a huge thank you to the wonderful NHS. And, in a strange way, a thank you to myself for embracing and fully committing to the whole process. I’ve got my proud face on and I’m wearing it joyously.

Stay positive, safe and be kind to yourselves.

Kelsey x

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

2019: goals, plans + dreams

Afternoon my friendly readers! I hope you’re all keeping okay.

As time marches on, it’s important to remind yourself of what you’ve got lined up for the coming year; and head towards anything you would like to do. For me, the main overall and ongoing goal is to keep my health stable, or possibly see it improve slightly. Besides this however, I’m hoping to:

  • Complete more free online courses
  • Battle some anxieties I am yet to beat
  • Keep up with my social life
  • Read more (currently nearly finished my SIXTH book of the year so far. My goal is around 70 for 2019)
  • Write more poetry
  • Give less f***s

And as for things I know are coming up this year or will be planned soon:

  • A wedding
  • Going to visit my dad in his new house
  • Short break with my boyfriend
  • My 26th birthday

So it’s not an extensive list at this point. But for little old me who’s been stuck in chronic illness limbo for over 8 years? I’m still getting used to actually making and having plans!

Don’t let the bastards get you down.

Kelsey x

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.

Anxiety Victory: Episode Two

Afternoon my friends 🙂 hope you’re having a tremendous Tuesday.

Today’s post is another glorious anxiety victory. My mum and stepdad went away for their birthdays last week; leaving me home alone for 3 nights + 4 days. I’m used to being on my own during the day whilst they’re at work and obviously the occasional night as well. But, from what I can remember, this is the longest I’ve ever been home alone. I may be 25 years old, but I often don’t feel much like an adult. So this? This was a big deal! Not only did my anxiety allow me to cope and have a great few days, it showed me just how much my physical health has improved. For a long time with my health issues, I couldn’t do any household chores, I couldn’t wash my own hair, I couldn’t get myself a drink or food and sometimes I couldn’t even dress myself. And now I’ve conquered 4 whole days alone and 3 whole nights; nights being where the anxiety can strike most when I’m alone.

I DID A THING + DIDN’T CRUMBLE INTO A DRAINED PUDDLE OF ANXIETY + UNNECESSARY ADRENALINE.

Over + out.

Kelsey x

Compulsive skin picking aka Dermatillomania

Evening everyone. Hope you’re all well 🙂

Yet another new topic in today’s blog post. Well, new in the sense that I’ve not spoken about it before; but I’ve had this particular issue for years. When I was younger, I’d pick the skin around my thumb and fingernails when I was anxious or stressed. It was a distraction essentially. As time went on, it became a habit; something I would often do without even realising. Whether I was actually anxious or not, I’d suddenly notice my skin was sore or bleeding. I only recently looked into it online as it got to the stage where I’d be picking almost constantly. Turns out it’s possibly something called Dermatillomania and it’s actually surprisingly common. Let’s get some facts and science stuff, shall we? Oh and I just want to stress that I haven’t officially been diagnosed with the condition but feel that my experiences match up with what I’ve read so far.

Also known as excoriation disorder, or compulsive skin picking, dermatillomania is a psychological condition that manifests in the form of repetitive touching, scratching, picking, and digging at one’s own skin.

Most people pick at their skin from time to time, but you may have skin picking disorder if you:

• Inability to resist the urge to pick at your skin

• Cause cuts, bleeding or bruising by picking your skin

• Pick moles, freckles, spots or scars to try to “smooth” or “perfect” them

• Don’t always realise you are picking your skin or do it when you are asleep

• Pick your skin when you feel anxious or stressed

• Feelings of tension or anxiety right before picking the skin.

• Feelings of relaxation or the release of tension immediately after picking the skin.

You may pick your skin with your fingers, fingernails, teeth, or with tools like tweezers, pins or scissors.

Well there we go, folks. A brief little window into the general world of compulsive skin picking. Now for some more personal experiences. As I said, it’s something I’m pretty sure I’ve done since I was at least a teenager (I’m 25 now). I do think it began as an anxiety response behaviour but it has since developed into a habitual action; I do it almost constantly and don’t even realise. The skin around my thumbnails is my main target area. I’m almost always fiddling with them in some way or at least touching them. Even as I’m typing this I’m rubbing my thumbs together in-between paragraphs. Or when I’m reading I’ll make sure I’m holding the book in such a way that lets me access my thumbs. For most of you this probably sounds utterly ridiculous. And I luckily don’t pick at them to the extent where I’ve caused any long-term damage; well, nothing that I’m aware of anyway. But the urge to pick is so overwhelming. I bought myself one of those squishy stress toys to keep my hands busy. It does the job when I remember to pick it up, otherwise I’m straight back to it. I think what it boils down to is this: I have to consciously think about not doing it. It’s not something I have to remind myself to do. It’s like breathing or blinking. A constant, habitual action that just…happens. If you sit there now and focus on not blinking, you feel the urge creeping up as your eyes begin to sting and water. Then once you do blink, you feel relief and possibly mild pleasure. Skin-picking is the same. It’s background noise that, when silenced, causes a bubbling anxiety and irresistible urge to start it up again. You become restless and focused solely on the thing you’re not doing but yearn to. So you take the background noise off of mute and the relief washes over you. It’s satisfying too. I’m looking at my dodgy thumbnails now, hoping that the sight of them will deter me from making them any worse. But I know it’s not that simple.

Goodnight WordPress.

Kelsey x

Anxiety: Episode Three

Thunderstorms, strong winds and heavy rain = major anxiety for me. I don’t know where it stems from or if there’s anything that triggered it.

Astraphobia, also known as astrapophobia, brontophobia, keraunophobia, or tonitrophobia is an abnormal fear of thunder and lightning

I didn’t realise it could be considered a phobia until someone suggested it. After doing some research and intensive reading, I concluded that yepppppp it was in fact a bonafide phobia. I’ve just grabbed a ‘symptoms’ list from another site for you to check out:

Physical symptoms

People with phobias often have physical symptoms. People with phobias often have panic attacks. Panic attacks can be very frightening and distressing. The symptoms often occur suddenly and without warning.

As well as overwhelming feelings of anxiety, a panic attack can cause physical symptoms, such as:

sweating
– trembling
– hot flushes or chills
– shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
– a choking sensation
– rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
– pain or tightness in the chest
– a sensation of butterflies in the stomach
– nausea
– headaches and dizziness
– feeling faint
– numbness or pins and needles
– dry mouth
– a need to go to the toilet
– ringing in your ears
– confusion or disorientation

Psychological symptoms

In severe cases, you may also experience psychological symptoms, such as:

– fear of losing control
– fear of fainting
– feelings of dread
– fear of dying

I remember one particular occasion when I was home alone (being alone in bad weather makes my anxiety skyrocket) and how I just totally shut down. I live in England so we don’t get hurricanes, tornadoes or anything that extreme. But a thunderstorm on any scale sets me off. I couldn’t focus on anything. I had to turn all electronic stuff off to help me feel more at ease. I hid in the downstairs toilet as it doesn’t have any windows. I genuinely felt like I couldn’t handle it; I felt like I was going to snap and completely lose control. I’ve spoken about it in my CBT sessions and, whilst that’s helped a bit, my anxiety will still kick in if it’s possibly going to be stormy at night or if I might be home alone. The only things I can do to ease it are distractions and shutting the world out; loud music, colouring or puzzles, closing the curtains etc. Until I find a better way of coping, that’s all I’ve got.

Adiós amigos.

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

Anxiety: Episode Two

I’ve got plenty of these, trust me.

This episode is going to be a bit different from the last one. It’ll be an example of how strangely my anxiety can manifest itself; and how it doesn’t always show its face when you’d think.

Rewind back to my school and sixth form years. My little academic soul is thriving in the educational environment. I’ve got a close little group of friends. I’m progressing nicely towards my GCSEs, A Levels etc. But you want to know where the anxiety is, right? It’s not around my exams. Weird. Qualifications and grades are such a massive deal for me yet I feel no anxiety or stress around them. I would happily revise, quite relaxed and casually. The exams themselves are something that, generally, make most people at least a bit apprehensive. It’s a human response. But I never really got that; at least not on any level where I noticed it. Some may argue that this was because I was academic and knew I could do well in exams, hence the lack of stress. But you know what did make me nervous around exam time? Walking into the hall/exam room. Yeah that sounds slightly ridiculous now I’ve typed it out. The exams and tests themselves? Easy peasy. Making my way into the exam room? Scary darey. I genuinely felt like every set of eyes were glaring right at me. Maybe they could sense my awkwardness and bordering paranoia. Or maybe they weren’t looking at all. Maybe they didn’t give a shit about me and were only concerned about the upcoming test. Whilst the latter seems most logical, my brain was adamant that they were all watching my every step; judging and laughing inside. I was so self-absorbed and focused inwardly that I convinced myself I was the centre of attention.

Essentially, anxiety doesn’t always show itself in a way or in a situation we expect; sometimes it doesn’t show itself at all. I don’t know if anyone else can remotely relate to this, but if so, please let me know!