Sooooooo

Soooooo

A thing happened which I don’t want to talk about. The end result of all of that is being single for the first time in my adult life, getting an excellent new flatmate and trying to figure out who I am all over again.

In the meantime I am getting used to some things, like not wearing a ring on my left hand, not having a really easy reason to turn down anyone who chats me up, not having someone to hug when I feel down, not having him at home. There are other things too, I’m getting used to having a future that is only in my hands, to remembering how to be the super independent person I know I am deep inside, to all sorts else.

Basically I have no idea what this means for this space. The past 14 months have been some of the hardest of my life, and they are also the time that has shown me how strong I really can be as I opened myself to the prospect of pain, addressed my many issues and found peace with my mental health. So yeah. New times.

Thankfully the amazing blogging community here is full of excellent women who have made it out the other side of this and are now living their best lives. So this gives me hope. Wish me luck.

Howl

Last Tuesday my world caved in. I am in mourning and may be for some time. I had scheduled posts but chatty stuff about wearing flat shoes to the Festival etc seems wrong. So no posts for a while. Maybe ever. No idea. The pain is real and raw and all encompassing. Life, as I knew it is over. This all seems horribly dramatic but it is also kind of true. So sorry but I have no energy to cope with this part of the world for a while. Take care lovely bloggers. I’m going to log out of blog chats and bloglovin etc.

Hold the ones you love tight. Tell them you love them. Don’t let them feel unappreciated or unloved. Be really grateful for the things and people you have in your life. Live with intention. Love without limits.

Monday Music (yeah): Shura

So I finally have written another Monday Music post and it is about Shura.

Fun fact, when I went to follow Shura on Soundcloud I found out I had been for 2 years, which means I don’t check Soundcloud enough.

Shura is terrifyingly young and talented, at 25 she has been making music for at least 10 years after deciding to not follow her other potential career path as an international footballer (she was signed to Manchester City’s youth side).

Shura does shimmery, 80’s synth style electro-pop with a dreamy quality and hints of 80’s Madonna (never a bad thing). Touch is the song that, apparently, got me into her music and is an aching, longing filled song with breathy vocals, a great beat and is also basically really sexy. The video meanwhile contains a lot of people making out (including Shura’s twin brother who also features in her latest video). Meanwhile the more recent single What’s It Gonna Be? is one of the sunniest songs I have ever heard. The video is also incredibly cute and contains an Alf denim jacket that I would really like to get my hands on please.

Shura’s album has just come out (on Friday) and basically you have to get it so please do. Shura is mostly playing festivals in the UK and Europe for the rest of the summer and then touring in the USA and  Canada for in September and October.

 

Featured Image from Death to Stock Photo

 

 

Good Morning Call

Oh my gosh but do I love Good Morning Call on Netflix.

It has a strange name and I genuinely nearly gave up after five minutes but it turns out it is really sweet and lovely. It is based on a Manga geared towards teenage girls and tells the story of sweet, clutzy Nao. Yes she is sweet and clutzy and a bit of a pushover, yes these are traits I wish we didn’t always give to the female lead in so many romances. So this is at times problematic but I JUST DON’T CARE because I LOVE IT.

Ahem. So Nao is living away from home for the first time because her parents have moved to the country and somehow (through a series of convoluted events and Nao doing a lot of overreacting) she finds herself living with Uehara Hitashi who is one of the ‘top three’ boys in her school. It seems there is an agreed ranking of boys in this school and that they have fangirls. I have no idea if this is the sort of thing that actually happens but I am sure it did not in my day. Though there was a group of boys who were the acceptable ones to fancy. They were all sweethearts though.

I digress. Nao thinks he is horrible because he rejects food gifts from the girls at the school who are forever bowing, scraping and making offerings to him (seriously!) but it turns out he just doesn’t like to owe anyone anything.

Slowly she starts to find out there is more to him than the grumpy bully she thought he was, and he softens in his attitude towards her, but can living together really work? After all there would be scandal if it got out, and can boys and girls just be friends?

I know it sounds cheesy and it kind of is. There is a lot of slapstick humour, often at Nao’s expense but a lot of that comes from the Manga and to be honest doesn’t always translate so well into live action TV. However, I am hooked. The characters are surprisingly well rounded and the story is beautifully sweet, even if every episode makes me hungry for cake and ramen. Please do check it out and give it a chance. Then let me know what you think in the comments!

featured image taken from the Good Morning Call website

All glands on deck: hypothyroidism and me

So for most of the last 18 months I have felt rubbish. Part of this has been to do with circumstance, part to do with mental health and part of it has been to do with the amount of thyroxine my body produces steadily plummeting.

So for some science: my thyroid gland (and yours if you have one, which most of you will) is responsible for a lot of the core “background” functions of the body. It regulates body temperature, appetite, energy and sleep. It can dictate how you process nutrients from food. It is a big deal.

Now lots of people claim to be a little bit hypo and have a slightly under-active thyroid as a reason for being overweight. But it makes a much bigger impact that just making your weight go up. When I was getting increasingly hypo, my hair stopped growing as quickly, my skin dried out and became flaky, I got small patches of eczema, I struggled to concentrate, my memory became quite poor, my energy levels plummeted I needed to eat a lot but also felt queasy a lot of the time and it certainly did not help my mental health.

I’ve been on a higher dose of synthesised thyroxine for 8-10 weeks now and even though this has coincided with my busiest period at work the difference has been massive. I’ve been more focussed at the gym, and at work. I’ve felt my strength increase. My skin is now starting to heal, my nails are growing strong for the first time in ages and my hair is growing mega quick again. I’m not shedding pounds massively quickly but I do feel I get the nutrients from my food and am using it less as a crutch to get through tired days and long afternoons. My quality of sleep has improved, my concentration has improved, my emotional resilience has improved. In the course of this time I have been continuing to go to the gym, continuing to take Vitamin D and Magnesium as they are recommended for people like me who have hypo-thyroidism but to be honest the biggest change has been getting the treatment.

To ensure I don’t have the long plummet again I now ask for the actual results every time I get a test so I can keep an eye on it. There was concern about doubling my medication as I was in the “sub clinical” range on my previous dose, which does not indicate that an increase in medication is needed. However the increase has only moved me to a nice point in the middle of the safe range. It seems with me the difference between being in the middle of the safe range and the lower end is huge in terms of the impact on me and my body. I am going to keep that in mind in the hope I don’t get this poorly again.

But I’d also like to point out again that this is not a reason to blame your weight gain on, or an excuse to use because you have been body-shamed. It is a clinical condition and the impact can be HUGE on people with it. But if you do suspect you have it, do get tested. Treatment for me has been genuinely life changing.

Mental Health Monday: On hating oneself

I don’t know whether this is a depression thing, a depression plus delusional disorder thing or a thing most people go through but here goes.

Sometimes I cannot stand who I am. I am selfish, and self-centred. I miss my chances to ask good questions about people and am left wondering how their holiday went for weeks afterwards. I think too much. I have an overactive imagination. I am boy obsessed. I am not clear headed. I make careless mistakes. I am careless. I don’t care about other people enough. I don’t care about the world enough.  I don’t go out enough. I’m not creative enough. I’m fat, I’m inactive, I’m unattractive. I am mean. I go too far when I tease people. I am a bad person. A bad sister. A bad friend. I am bad.

When this kicks in I am prone to confirmation bias. The girl who just said I always go above and beyond to help at work is clearly wrong because of that mistake I made on 6 December 2015. That is who I am. I am the person who made that mistake. I suck. At everything.

This guy said I was kind and really see people as people and care about them on Monday but he was wrong because this girl said I was selfish and crap on Friday and that everyone agreed and that was why none of them hang out with me anymore. And they don’t. Maybe he just doesn’t know me well enough to know how rubbish I am. When people get to know me they leave. They always leave.

My friend Paul used to say I collected compliments. What he didn’t realise was that I collect the insults and criticisms too. I am trying to make them balance but I am not sure I manage, and to be honest the negative stuff seems to carry more weight. I guess it is like trains – even if the service is 99% on time that 1% of late trains will be the bit that sticks in the mind. I really notice when I fuck up as a person, a friend, an employee, a sister, a client, a wife so when other people notice it too it furthers the idea to me that everything will end and I will be where I deserve to be; alone.

The thing is, people do tell me I am great and kind. People come to me for hugs. I don’t believe them though. I believe the people telling me I am getting it wrong. I always will. Those are the voices I hear the loudest because they reinforce my own opinion of me. What is worse is that I will then bend over backwards to get them to take it back, like me, be nice to me, tell me I am okay.

Back when I was a Philosophy student I encountered the idea that to be truly virtuous one had to not necessarily want to be virtuous in oneself but instead choose to be despite oneself. Or basically bad thoughts don’t make you bad, bad actions do. By this I am broadly good as I often want to do bad things but don’t. I want to walk up and kiss lots of people but I don’t because I am in a monogamous relationship, I want to shout and scream and sit on the floor but I don’t because this is socially unacceptable. I have other urges I don’t follow which are to hurt me but I don’t because I know the people I love would suffer even more than I would.

Weirdly though, I can intellectualise it all I want but I just feel like I suck. That is the core. I am a bad person and no one should want me. Even writing this scares me (at 33!) that people will see that, yes, yes I am and leave me. Because somehow in my head that is the way life goes and will always go.

So what do you think? Is it a mental health thing or something we all feel from time to time? Do you ever get this feeling? If so, how do you cope with it?

Self care post-Brexit

The massive uncertainly unleashed by Brexit has seen many of my fellow mental health bloggers, bloggers and people with mental health issues fall into freefall. Not just those with depression and anxiety, but with OCD, PTSD, Bipolar and other conditions. It sucks.

The news has got very much full of hate, disaster and uncertainty. When this is happening it can be the thing that tips us over the edge and we need to take some time to recognise that and get the support and help we need at this time. It is not selfish to want to do the things that help you stay alive.

So here I am saying it is okay to feel bad right now. There is a lot going on and it is very uncertain. A lot of us are scared or have seen people we care about deeply getting upset and hurt by current events.

This is not everything though. This is not the whole world. We can be sad and scared but there is light and we can look for the light too and support each other through this.

For me I know that at times of uncertainty I have to fight really hard to keep from certain unhelpful behaviours (binging, purging, self-harm, and relying on superstition to give me a sense of there being a plan when everything seems to be falling apart).

But there are things you can do and here are some ideas that work for me:

  1. Reach out. You are not alone and reaching out can help. If you can, try to reach out in person. It doesn’t even need to be to talk about your mental health, talking to someone else about how we are scared or uncertain or alternatively about their pet, child or something completely different can really help to feel better. The connection can help us remember that there is good in the world and that we are part of something bigger.
  2. Be kind and look for kindness. I find it really hard to be kind when I just want to pull a duvet over my head and curl up and hide from the world, but it gives me a sense of connection, costs me nothing and makes the world a kinder place. Smile at someone on the bus, hold a door open for someone behind you. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive but it really helps.
  3. Take your medication. If you are on medication make sure you have it in. Missing a dose might be a particularly bad set back at this time.
  4. Don’t be afraid to take time out. I am taking some time off work to work on resting as I need it. This is something we should all do if we can so we don’t hit the point of being completely overwhelmed.
  5. You might not be able to have a completely clean flat, a completely up to date email inbox, and all the other things that make you feel in control. This might not be something you can do right now. Priority number one is doing the things you need to do to look after yourself.
  6. Allow yourself to feel. When we have “bad” feelings a lot of us push them down and then they manifest in our mental health issues. At the moment I am “allowing” myself to cry by watching things like Good Morning Call and starting by crying at that and then letting it all out. It is good to make time for our feelings and work through them. If you need help see if you can get short term counselling to get through this problem or call a support organisation. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
  7. If you can, get outside and exercise. It can really help to both lift your mood and force you into the present rather than worrying about the future.
  8. Try to eat and eat healthily. When I need to do this I have certain foods I get as I know they are healthy and I don’t have to think about it. For me this means I eat a lot of Cranks Argi Bhajji sandwiches when I feel a bit overwhelmed as I know they are reasonably healthy and easy to get hold of.
  9. Take time off social media and away from the news. On Monday I took some time at lunch to read my book outside. This meant I got some important sunlight on my skin and also that I got away from the noise of the world. All I could hear was the generator and the wind in the trees. All I was thinking about was the trees and my book. It helped me reset.
  10. Don’t be afraid to do what works for you. These are things I have found to be helpful but if you know successful coping strategies that work better for you then please use them.

FINALLY – let’s all support each other. We can build a strong community and support each other through all of this.

If you are having issues with your mental health at the moment then please do seek help: