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Mental Health, Meds and Meltdowns!

*TW* Medication for treating mental health is still a huge taboo subject, and until 6 months ago I was one of the people who hated taking medication to deal with my issues. I always felt like it made me weak and I was putting these tablets inside of my body for the sake of it. On my good days I felt like myself, but the bad days didn't go away, and they kept creeping up on me and I'd feel like the worst person in the world. I have been on 5 different types of antidepressants and only now do I feel like these may actually be the ones for me, along with my mood stabiliser medication. It has taken me some guts to go to the doctors in the past to ask for new medications, I was forever convinced they were going to shout at me for stopping taking them, or for needing to try yet another. Luckily for me, with time it got easier and I found a doctor who understood me, and I got referred to the correct people to seek my official diagnosis. 

I've gone through periods of time where I've stopped taking them for a few days but I instantly notice the difference in myself. Sometimes it was done on purpose and other times it was from being forgetful when you have multiple medications to remember it is easy to do, for me the key was purchasing a pill organiser like this one and getting into a pattern where I manage to remember it as part of my night time routine and it has become the same as taking my make up off, brushing my teeth and taking my meds. I feel sad knowing there are people out there that are yet to get the breakthrough with medication, as I myself know that it can be a long complex journey to get the place where I am now and a lot of people refuse to go back after trying a few types as they just seem to make things worse or not do anything at all. I've been there myself and I know what it is like.

I spoke to a fellow blogger about her experience to get a wider view of taking medication whilst suffering from mental health issues.

Neve from Life With Neve says:
"I was in a horrible place, I couldn't eat or sleep or do anything. I'd been going to therapy for at least 6 months and I was still suicidal and self-harming and completely shattered and so I was offered meds. I felt awful when I was first on them but the longer I was on the better I was getting and tbh it was like opening my eyes and seeing everything clearly. I felt like id been in a cloud for years and all of a sudden I had the confidence to go out with my friends and do things alone and I was like a whole new person, the person I had longed to be and work so hard to become. I was on them for 3 years and then I eventually took the step to get off of them and I've been truly fab ever since. So many people say that they don't believe in them etc etc but I literally would not be here today or happy or anything without my doctor put me on them! I watched some of my friends go through the same situations one even being placed on a ward and medication literally helped turn her life around too. I mean I always feel silly saying that I'd not be here without being on my medication but tbh it's true! And it's really right what they say when you start them haha you deffo feel worse before you feel better!" 

I also spoke to another blogger Ida who does not like to take any medication for mental health due to the number of side effects she has had and also has tried many types of different medication. All with negative side effects which she outway any positives of the antidepressants. Although she has now found a medication which helps. She says getting an official diagnosis for ADHD has also helped her be able to manage her moods in ways which aren't medication. 

Where I stand on taking medication to help with antidepressants leaves me a little torn, although these work for me currently, they may not always work and sometimes it does make me worry that I am taking the 'easy' route out. Currently, I am going to continue to take them as I find them of use. I am also looking into the route of online psychiatry as I feel like this is something I may also benefit from. I would love to hear your opinions of treating mental health with medication in the comments below. 

*This is a collaborative post, but all thoughts are my own and thank you to Neve and Ida for helping me with this post. 

What is FOMO and do I have it?

FOMO is the fear of missing out, we all deal with it at some point in our lives, it can be anything from going to that social event you don't actually want to be at. To something as simple as watching a television series because everyone else is talking about it, and despite not being interested, you do not want to miss out. You find yourself trying to be like those that are well-liked in aid of people liking you more, despite the fact that if people don't like you for who you are, they're not really your friends and you are better off without them.

Fear of missing out can affect us all in different ways, and for me, it was consuming my life. From being envious of those beautiful selfies people put on Snapchat and Instagram, to that beautiful holiday, we filter our lives on social media and only share what we want to share and often it has been heavily edited beforehand. When I was suffering from FOMO at its worst doing things I wouldn't ever dream of doing because my friends were doing it. I wanted to fit in so bad I was willing to do whatever it took. For me, it was always the not knowing, the inside jokes, the secret smiles about something I didn't understand and when I would ask I was told 'you had to be there'. I hated feeling like I was missing out and that my friends would soon become bored with me, the girl who hated going out, wanted to stay home and couldn't really cope with human interaction. 

It took over my life and social media makes it so much easier to allow it to happen. With just about everything posted on some sort of social media in 2018, it is pretty much impossible to escape. If you don't go to that social event, you will see all the realms of Snapchats on your phone and the collection of photos which appear on Facebook the next day and then worry about what you've missed out on. Fear of missing out also makes you feel incredibly selfish, instead of thinking oh I hope they had fun, you sit and wonder if the photos made it look better than what it was and maybe it was actually really bad, and that you should be glad you didn't go.

If you weren't invited to an event, you will know that you weren't and who was, and it makes you consider everything about yourself and what you've done to that person, despite it actually might not be anything. A lot of people don't understand the true extent of FOMO, it literally can control your life. Make you do things you really don't want to do, go out and be social even though your mind is begging you to stay in and sleep, but you know you can't miss out. It seems like something that is easy to fix and that it isn't actually that big of a deal, but with a constant reminder of what is happening around you on social media, it can a really toxic place, even in your own house. 

Frankii from Quite Franklii  says:
"I feel like because of my anxiety and the fact I married quite young I think people often assume I’m old and boring as though I’ve become a totally different person. That’s not always the case- though I don’t drink often anymore or have the desire to go clubbing I am always more than happy to host get together at my house and other things. It gets to a stage where you always feel like you’re a friend but never the best friend"

Like Frankii, I too struggle with going out to clubs due to my anxiety and I am not a big drinker either, but it doesn't mean I don't want to do anything, I just don't want to do that. I don't mind having people over or going to theirs I just find it hard to hang out in a location I do not feel comfortable, but can often mean me forcing myself to do things which make me feel uneasy just so I don't miss out.  

Kim from The Colour Chronicles says: 
I used to get FOMO really bad when at uni when there was more free time to be more social and I thought by not joining in/attending I'd end up with no friends or people wouldn't want to hang out with me which ended up with me doing things I didn't really want to or spending money I didn't really have just to try and make friends. These days it's something I suffer from a lot too - having a much smaller friendship group, it's easy to fall into the habit of thinking if you're not around much then people will forget or not want to invite you to things. Unfortunately a lot of the time that seems to be the case but it's better for my mental health not partaking in things I don't want to - sometimes you just need a night in and it's helped me a lot more to accept that as self-care, rather than go out and be social and I know I won't miss out on much! Also, if you've got FOMO because you think people will forget you or not want to invite you out because you don't go out often and then they do stop inviting you, they're not great friends anyway.

University is one of the worst places to deal with FOMO in my opinion due to the amount of time you 'have' to spend being social, whether you want to or not as a fresher it's pretty much expected of you and it's the best way to socialise, not doing so makes you a bit of an outsider and can often cause friction with friends. You might not even want to do all of these things, but in your head, you NEED to, or you'll miss out and your friends will think less of you. I feel like FOMO is often heightened if you suffer from mental health issues, as it seems almost impossible to get rid of it and you end up not being able to cope, I have lost friends over agreeing to plans, with a full intention of going, but then the anxiety kicks in and the FOMO and the anxiety battle it, but the anxiety always wins and despite wanting to do this thing, you can't and your friends don't understand. You tell them, and they say they get it, but you start getting invited out less and less.

FOMO is only getting to get worse as social media progresses and the future of social media will be something like that episode of Black Mirror where everything is based on social scores. It's a scary prospect, but it's likely to become a part of everyday life more than it already is because let's face it, nobody wants to miss out.

Talking, Therapy and Trauma

In 2018 we are pushing in the right direction to break the stigma around mental illness, more people are opening up about their own experiences, getting help such as a therapy and finally society is coming to terms with the fact that mental illness is, in fact, a genuine illness and not something to fear. With mental health becoming a topic which is becoming more socially acceptable to talk about, it means we are finally able to get the right help we need without feeling like you're a complete mess. I remember from the age of 14 when I was referred to therapy at CAMHS due to a traumatic experience that happened to me, I was reluctant, to be honest with them, I was worried about what other people would think when I had to leave school early for my appointments, to share what was really going on in my head and the constant worry of being sectioned. At that time, I didn't really understand what has to happen to be sectioned. I hated having to leave school during lunch when my friends were having fun and going to some dingy building across town to talk about my feelings. In the end, I decided to tell them I was feeling better and that I was ready to stop coming to therapy, and with that, they agreed I didn't need to come anymore. 

Which maybe wasn't the best idea, but teen me thought it was great!

The older I got, I went to my doctors an adult seeking out alternative therapy such as talking therapy, EMDR and more recently placed under the care of a community mental nurse, as well as my doctor. Despite being older and understanding that in fact it is ok to talk in these sessions and the only way it will get better is to open up, I still clam up. I find it hard to relax and talk about my issues, I often focus on random objects in the room and think more about them then what I am being asked. I am one of those people who struggle to talk to people on a one to one basis, I often feel myself looking down and away when trying to talk about anything, I am still unsure whether this is due to the shame I feel or eye contact just makes me feel awkward. But it's something I've always found near to impossible. 

But throughout my teen and young adult life, I've kept one thing the same, and that's making friends online. I can tell you now, I find it 110% easier to tell my thoughts to friends on the internet, it's also easier to reach out to these people as in most cases you probably won't meet. I was recently advised that you actually get therapy online, which I found pretty amazing, for those people who are too afraid/can't reach out at their doctors or can't afford therapy, we are lucky in the UK to be able to get our therapy for free on the NHS. Although you do have to pay for therapy online, I think it could be a worthwhile investment, especially for someone like me. Sites such as Better Help which is available from the comfort of your own bed. Therapy can often be a difficult thing to do, so being in your house surrounded by things that make you happy can be a great relief. 

As for me and therapy, my latest mental health nurse actually left so we are currently on a break, however, I have faith that in the future I will continue to take positive steps to my recovery. 

*Contains a paid link, but as always my thoughts are 100% mine. 

My One Year Work-A-Versary

On the 9th of May will mark my one year anniversary of having a full time job, which I can't believe has already come around, it doesn't feel like two minutes ago that I was walking into the office for the first time and being introduced to the team. I was in full panic mode that day and for a few weeks after that, the problem was for me was that I was getting so stressed I was struggling to take anything in, and then getting more stressed. But over the last year of working full time, I've learnt a lot and become a hella lot more confident and I have the people I work with for that. Somehow even with struggling with mental health issues and work draining me from time to time, I am proud of myself for making it this far and I am excited for the future. Today I have decided to share with you my top tips for making it through the working week and taking care of yourself at the same time.

Don't give up:
The first few months of my job were difficult and I did consider giving it up, I was struggling with going from working 12 hours a week to 37, and being someone who struggles with not having town time, it was a lot for me. Along with this I was struggling to reach out and ask questions in case of sounding dumb, it was horrible. I made a friend and he was a very good friend to me, and it helped me with my confidence, but as he was new like me, the managers decided against me asking him, which set me back a little. In the long run though it made me push myself out my comfort zone and ask those people I wouldn't without that crutch. For the first 6 months at work, I had two friends who I struggled to be without. But I kept at it, started talking to more people and getting to know them and I felt amazing, like I was sat in a room with others and talking to them. My two friends have now left and despite feeling a little lonely on some of my shifts I know I am not alone. 

Self Care:
When working in an office it is easy to fall into a rountine of sitting down all day and eating junk food at your desk, I am hugely guilty for this. Sitting at my desk always seems to make me hungrier, I feel like if someone around you is eating it makes it harder to not want to eat what they're eating. I often struggle with sitting down for long periods of time, so I do move around a lot and take regular breaks away from my desk. I found this great infographic of tips for helping you get a healthier work balance. I am lucky as my work offers yoga once a week and a lot of my friends go on walks at lunch, although I am not a huge fan of walking (understatement) I have to admit when I do walk it gives me a boost. 

It's ok to take a step back:
For me this involved having to take some time off sick as advised by my doctor and then readjust how many days I would be working. We decided it would be better if I only worked 4 days instead of 5, and suddenly it felt like a weight had been lifted. I am the kind of person who needs a recovery day in between doing things, so this gave me the chance to do that and become the person I felt like I was before, it also gave me motivation back with blogging which is always a bonus!

*What are your tips for a healthier work life? 

*Sponsored post

Hi BPD, it's not so nice to meet you.

Borderline Personality Disorder, also known now as EUPD (emotionally unstable personality disorder) which to me sounds like my personality is broken. It sounds stupid as they're both the same illness, however, borderline and emotionally unstable to me have very different meanings. It's been around 3 months since I finally got a diagnosis after years off being fobbed off with a variety of other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety and despite having those also, I always knew it was more than that. Finally getting a diagnosis is bittersweet, finding out that there is an actual condition wrong with you and you're not just some weird mess is a huge relief but also awful to understand this is something that may impact my life, forever. Along with BPD, I was also diagnosed with Mood Cycling (Cyclothymia) which essentially is 'a less severe version of Bipolar with quicker changing moods' it is currently being looked into as 3rd type of Bipolar. The reason for my diagnosis of this is along the lines of experiencing both manic and depressive mood states over a period of two years or more. For those of you who don't know much about BPD, it is essentially not being in control of your own moods, for me I see it similar to not being able to be in control of your body temperature; you want to cool down but you don't seem to be able to the heat just keeps getting worse. 

Some of the main symptoms that I experience with Borderline Personality Disorder are things like big issues with abandonment, this is one of the ones I realised didn't really link to any of the disorders I had looked into previously. I have forever had this HUGE weight on my shoulders that whoever I encounter will leave at some point, mostly this is true. However, the vicious thing about BPD is the fact that idea is in your head makes you act irrationally to keep that person in your life. For those who have been in my life and experienced me when I think you're going to leave, it's not a pretty sight. When it happens to me, it's like I am a spectator. I am watching someone else doing it and I'm sat watching them, but in reality, it's me. Most nights I have nightmares about my boyfriend leaving me, sometimes more than once a night and even though it was just a dream, to me it feels like reality and will put me into a state of anxiety. 

Another huge one of my symptoms is the impulsive side of me, in ways I don't even know she has come out to play but everyone around me sees this as a big deal. When asked by the doctor during my consultation if I am an impulsive person I said no. As I didn't even think I was, however, my best friend was with me and disagreed, reminding me and the doctor of all of those times I've dropped copious amounts of money on new gadgets with next to no thought (new cameras, tv, and even a treadmill) as well as doing things like piercings, tattoos and dying my hair on a whim. It is impossible to talk me out of these situations, they're in my head and there is no way out. The practically of the situations is never considered by me until it's too late. I can often do things I later regret and luckily most of the decisions can be reversed, but what about those that can't? I am stuck with that to due to my mania. When I get the idea, I am so happy and ready to do it, honestly, I feel like skipping, jumping and running around, it's a surreal feeling. 

From mania to feeling rock bottom the contrast is unreal, you wouldn't believe less than 60 minutes ago I was bouncing off the walls, when I am curled up in bed thinking the world is going to end, over something usually very small, but in my head it's the worst thing in the world. My anger can be one of my worst traits and usually, it's over the smallest things to most people, but to me, these are huge deals, I see red usually am unable to control this. I've always known this is an issue, but I just thought I was a horrible person. The moods and feelings I feel to me are 10x stronger than someone who doesn't suffer from BPD and it often feels like I am the only one who feels this way and everything seems to affect me in a greater way than the people I have around me. 

My mood swings can often be very quick, so I'll go from angry to depressed in a matter of minutes, and can often stay down for days often as a side effect of guilt from the anger. When I am 'manic', I will be so happy, shouting, running around, wanting to do things and then it will crash down around me and I will feel exhausted. I can have some periods of 'normality' which to me always feel sort of like I am in a zombie mode, I am not happy, I'm sad, I'm just not really anything. Due to my personality disorder, I am unsure who I even am anymore, which 'me' is the real me. I've recently started to take medication to help with my mood swings alongside my antidepressants and so far I've noticed a slight difference, the mood swings seem to be less frequent. However, I know that they could spring at any time and this worries me. Drinking is a big no-no for me, as it never ends well it always makes my moods go one way or another and neither of them is particularly good to be around. People are often annoying and horrible when they're drunk, but this to me is amplified and I wouldn't wish that on anyone else.

My condition shouldn't define me, and although I feel like it does a lot of the time. I also live in hope that one day I will be able to get a better control of my condition. However, until I do, I guess this is me. 

*Disclaimer, I know the photos in this post are not the best, I wanted to show the 'real' me. 

TW. Stand. Together. Against. Mental. Illness. In. 2018.

1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 35. Self Harm is one the rise and we still struggle to talk openly about it due to the stigma attached. Mental health is a scary enough battle without having to face it alone, yet so many of us are left with no choice. From my own experience, I have been told it could just be my hormones, you'll grow out of it, just take your mind off it, do other things. Trust me, I've tried everything to make myself feel better, there doesn't seem to be any other choice but to suffer in silence. I am sick of seeing articles about why I have depression due to eating 'this' food or spending a certain amount of time doing something like watching TV. Mental illness is the same as any other illness, except you are unable to see it, nobody can see it, and you're the only one who feels it. A doctor isn't able to give you a prescription and take the pain away like some other illnesses. You have to fight to prove that you are actually sick and that what is in your head is the reason you act this way. People are so quick to judge and usually aren't willing to hear the explanation behind it.  The things that happen to us when we are younger have a big impact on our mental health, with the internet at our disposal in 2018, people come across things online that they may not have ever seen or meet people they wouldn't have met without it. It's surreal really. 

Having access to the internet growing up, meant I spent a lot of time in my bedroom. I was talking to my friends on the computer, but I wasn't really talking to anyone in real life, I would fear the outside world. Things were easier online, you could speak to people who got it. Those who cared enough to take the time to reply, even make new friends and sometimes even more. You forget the outside world exists. With technology advancing, we can get an internet connection in most places, and there is no escaping it. We feel the constant need to share, everything we do with the world, from our first child to when we get a new car. Each photo, status and moment you put out there gets analysed. You see your friends get engaged and despite being happy for them, it gives you an element of FOMO. Which makes you wonder why this isn't happening to you and if it ever will. People post the parts of their lives they want you to see and this is always going to be the best version. As a blogger who regularly posts on Instagram and views many others, from the outside looking in, it shares these perfect images of food, body image, makeup and life. But in reality it's not that simple, those shots take hours, to prepare. They're taken, edited, probably edited some more than posted online. But those standards are high to live up to, we are constantly comparing ourselves.

Suffering from a mental illness, the guilt is a huge factor for me. I need a day or two in my house a week to recover, doing nothing. I often feel drained and tired and unwell after putting myself through so much, honestly going out in public for me is a draining experience that is almost impossible to cope with at times. When people ask what I did with my weekend, I often find myself trying to make up something interesting that I could have done, I didn't do it. However, it's better than saying what I actually did, which was nothing. I spend hours upon hours in bed, planning each element of my night, from the order of programmes I will watch to what I will eat. Even when I am 'relaxing' I am not. Everything runs through my head constantly, what were my numbers like at work, this person didn't speak to me what did I do? I can't go to that party next week as I can't deal with it, will everyone think differently of me. I'm having my hair cut tomorrow, what if it goes wrong. I can't face cooking tonight so I'll eat pizza, the guilt hits hard with food, it's hard to keep the motivation to do anything when I feel low. I want to lock myself and forget the world.

When you suffer from a mental illness a lot of the things you do, don't actually make sense and it leaves you as a shadow of yourself. It's terrifying to be in that situation and also to see someone you love suffering from it too. You can tell someone over and over it's going to get better, but in our heads it isn't, you can try to be there for us and we want to be happy, we want to get the energy to face the day and hang out, but it's not that simple. We love you for trying and appreciate you for everything you do. However, at the time, it's almost impossible to see you do the things for the reasons you do. From each time you've called an ambulance or forced me to go outside on my darkest days, you've done it from a place of care. In my opinion one of the scariest parts on mental health is dealing with not actually knowing what is going on yourself, how do you tell others what is happening with yourself when you don't even know yourself? Sitting in a doctors office, trying to explain your mind and why you feel this way but you don't have the answers. You want to get to the bottom of it, but even you don't know how. 

  • By 2030, it is estimated that there will be around two million more adults in the UK with mental health problems than there were four years ago.
It's time to talk and we can change the way in which we think and stand together. 

Happy Birthday to me: 23 things I've learnt so far.

Today marks the day of my 23rd birthday and I cannot quite believe it, the year of being 22 has flown by, and I can't really say that's a bad thing as that year sucked, a lot. However, some good things did come out of it, like previous years and it's a damn good feeling to come out the other side. If you follow my blog, you'll know I like to reflect a lot on my life and my blog is usually the place I come to do it. I spent ages trying to think of the correct title for this post, as I wanted to share things I am proud of, as well as things I've learnt whilst being on this planet for 22 years. As this is my birthday post I decided to make it a little different although a haul will soon follow (true blogger style) for now here is 23 things I've learnt so far and a few photos of me from when I was younger. 

1. Growing up isn't as good as it seems:
When you're a teenager and getting told what do by your parents, all you want to do is grow up and be in control of your life, what I'd give for now to have all of my bills and food paid for, as well as all of that free time. Homework is a doddle compared to university work and going to work full time. 

2. Teenage years were hard, man. 
I swear as a teenager, nothing was ever simple. If it wasn't a boy breaking your heart, it was learning who you were, dealing with growing up, losing friends, coping with your sexuality, talking to people on the internet who you couldn't ever meet. Damn. 

3. Papa Johns has the best pizza I've ever tasted. 

4. I got two bunnies in 2017, and they're amazing. I love watching them grow and their amazing personalities shine. 

5. It's important to love (or at least like) your job. 
A lot of us spend more time at work than we do at home, so it's pretty key to love/like what you do. For me, I have a little work family and they're all super supportive. I have never felt more like I fit in, and the work is pretty enjoyable too. 

6. It's ok not to wear makeup every day:
From the age of 15 until 22, I would not go out the house without some kind of makeup on, whether that be eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, foundation or all of the above. I couldn't cope with how I felt and looked. I would love to say I'm ok with how I look without as I'm not really, however it's ok to give yourself a break. 

7. I passed my driving test. (FINALLY!) 
This has been my goal since I turned 18, I have given up learning a bunch of times and have been put off tests for life, however, I managed to stay strong and get through my driving test. Despite it being damn scary.

8. I made a blog and fell in love with it. 
Since 2014 I've been writing this blog, that me and my friend tried to think of punny names for back in college, the name has always felt like me. It's fun and colourful, yet I can feature my mental health posts, I am forever worried about oversharing, but you guys, my readers seem to be ok with that. 

9. People can be the worst, but they can also be the best. 

10. Online dating CAN work. Weirdly, I've met some of the best and the worst people in my life on dating sites. However, some of the bad ones have turned into me meeting other people who I consider now to be friends. I also found Will on a dating site and he makes me happier than anyone else ever has. 

11.Skincare is important. 

12.Taking photos from below instead of above will never give you a good angle.

13. It's okay that your style hasn't really changed since your 'emo' days. 
I was forever being called an emo as a teenager, and looking back on it I did fit the stereotype, I never really grew out of it. Black is still my favourite colour to wear, dark hair and dr martens, but I love my style.

14. Changing your name is a pretty big thing to do, however I did it and it's made me so much happier, for those of you who don't know, I changed my first and middle name and you can read more about this here.

15. Mean girls is one of the best films, period. 

16. Your parents can be, right? As a teenager, like most, I would not believe a thing my parents told me about growing up, however it turns out they were mostly right.

17. Nandos do great vegetarian food. True story. 

18. It's okay to drop those who treat you any less than you deserve to be treated. Whether that be a friend, family member or partner, you deserve the world and if someone isn't willing to give you that. Drop em. 

19.You can never have enough pyjamas. 

20. You can have friends everywhere, some of my best friends are online and I couldn't imagine having them in my life, they mean so much to me. 

21. We all make mistakes. We are human. It's ok. 

22. Even after being classed as an adult for the last 5 years I still feel like I am 16 years old and pretty clueless about the world.

23. Friends has been around for my entire life and it's still as good as the first time I watched it. 

Thanks for reading my post and for being a part of my Dungarees & Donuts journey so far!

Self Care: Why it's important.

I am the first to admit self care often comes last out of my list of priorities, often my life goes somewhat like; eating, sleeping, work etc. In between that time I need to find time to blog, clean and also spend time with Will. I do have it easy compared to some, I'll admit that. However as someone who struggles with mental health, things hit me a lot harder. Like a long day going somewhere can sometimes drain me for days. I like to make sure at least one of my days off is spent at home in bed, it seems lazy but it's my way of coping. I've recently started to implement self care into my routine and it has bigger results on my mental health than I ever expect would be possible. 

What is self care? 
In short, it is taking the time to take care of you and make sure you're doing it as well as can be. Take the time for you, because at the end of the day, you are important to you. Sometimes I even struggle to get out of bed, honestly feels like a boulder is holding me to my bed and to get out I need to be able to muster up the strength to pull it with me. I often spend days where going in the shower, brushing my hair and even communicating almost seems impossible. I've learned that putting my own self care routine in place is crucial too. Often I reward myself for doing the smallest of things which most would find simple, e.g. if I shower now I can have a bar of chocolate later, or I can go back and watch some tv in bed. It honestly can be the smallest of things.

What is my self care routine?  

So my self care routine often involves a face mask, rubbish (and funny) television, maybe even a pizza and my bunnies (oh my, they help me SO much) Washing my hair and having a super long shower (this would be a bath, if you know I actually had one). Remembering to drink water during bad times is one of musts as it just makes me feel so much better. Sometimes I like to play games on my phone, or take blog photos, but they can also be stressful so if I'm already stressed I do avoid these. I put my comfiest pjs on, get a hot water bottle and enjoy a chill out with a face mask. It's amazing how much better than stuff can make you feel. My mood is always boosted when I have clean bedding on too. Do what works for you, because at the end of the day, what works for someone else might not work for you. I found that Mind have a great resource on ways to implement self care. 

What are my top tips for improving self care? 
-Put yourself first:
 This is one I often struggle with, I feel forever guilty if I spend a lot of time caring about myself and not those around me, but at the end of the day. I am the one who can make me better, and my well being is just as important as anyone elses. This is often hard to accept but with time this does get easier, I promise. 

-Find what makes you happy:
This can be anything in the world, whether this is 30 minute run, walking your dog, lying in bed reading, talking to your friends, giving yourself a pamper. The list is endless. You find out what makes you happy to try to involve at least a little bit in every single day. Even at first if you can only manage a day or two a week, that's still a step in the right direction.

-Take care of yourself:
On your hardest days, this almost seems impossible right? Getting up, finding something to eat, showering, brushing your teeth. All of it seems too much to deal with. I've had days where the idea of moving from my bed to brush my teeth seems impossible. I've spent days in the same clothes without a shower as the idea of moving isn't something I can cope with. I've had to sit down on the shower and wash my hair because standing up isn't something I can do. As long as you try your best and try to look after yourself, there is nothing more anyone can ask. Just remember to try and eat as well as drink plenty of water. 

Remember, you are important. You deserve to be treated well, by yourself as well as everyone else. 

An Interview With: A prison officer.

Keys jingle, doors slam shut, doors lock, footsteps can be heard from a distance, on each landing 60 doors look back at you, and behind each door are men who are ready for what today's regime will present to them. After 6 weeks of initial training I am finally here, my fresh uniform hugs my skin. I'm stood ready, nervous yet eager. I remind myself that this, this right here is the beginning of all I have ever wanted to do. I prepare myself for the stories they will share with me about how they got here, for the men who won't talk to me, for those who fear that my uniform is my way of telling them that I am better than them because I am on the other side.

I think of how many times I will have to remind the masses that we all make mistakes, and that despite the fact that they are serving time for theirs it is not the end rather it is their learning curves. The SO (Senior Officer) screams from the landing "unlock 2's and 4's" and at this point, the anxiety kicks in, I don't know if I'll be able to shoot the bolt or if I will be one of the officers with the horror story of being dragged in. Ten doors later I am smiling, each greeting from the men reassures me that unlocking the door is the easy part, and the conversation that will come after that will be harder to digest.
My first conversation is with a young man who openly admits that he is in for attempted murder, the voice in my head reminds me that we are not here to pass judgement. He starts the conversation questioning why I would want to work in the prison, he tells me I am young and can be doing something better with my time. I begin to explain things to him, I grew up in a neighbourhood where gun and knife crime was highly prevalent. I witnessed someone getting killed at 11 years old and since then cannot count how many people I have seen get stabbed, shot or end up in prison. I tell him of the countless number of friends I have seen go in and out of the system, and remind him that I think everyone can change and that I am here to help the men in whatever way I can. He smiles, then challenges me "you'll become like all the officers who stop caring about us, everyone starts off wanting to help, but the job is hard and they get tired and forgot why they started the job in the first place".

He hits a nerve this time and there is a lump in my throat, I swallow and then I remind myself to be a swan. The swan that gracefully moves on a lake is a picture of elegance in motion but what is hidden from the eye is the activity going on beneath the water’s surface. We don’t see the hard work conducted by the swan’s webbed feet which propels the graceful motion we see and admire. I digressed, I smile at him as I say "if I ever find myself losing who I am here, or no longer doing what I came here to do, then that will be my cue to leave" he smiles shakes my hand and says "you're the first officer I have heard say that, I like you, you're going to be an amazing officer, don't let this place change you".
A month later I still remember his words, it stands as the constant reminder that I came here hoping I can help people. As a teen, I remember wondering why the boys around my area were constantly re offending. At the time, I blamed the prison system for failing these young men, I swore I'd grow up and go in there and fix everything. Being on the other side I have only been given a reality check. I see prison officers, limited in numbers on each wing, who work hard every day to ensure the men get what they are entitled to, and where there is room for more they make it happen. I see young men who put their time and effort into working on the servery, in the application office and being painters or cleaners on the landing, to make everyone's life that little bit easier. Of course, I see anger, frustration, tears and even I have shed a few. Being in a prison environment is hard, it is challenging and sometimes having to work as a team to restrain someone is difficult. As is seeing someone with clear mental health issues being held in the confinement of the prison walls.

As a founder of a Mental Health organisation (SAIE – Survive, Achieve, Inspire and Elevate) myself, I must say it brings me joy to see that the prison has a Mental Health Unit where nurses work actively to help inmates with mental health issues. I guess as much as the job is challenging, it is very rewarding and extremely humbling, and I wouldn't change what I do for a living because I simply love it.
I’d encourage any recent grad looking for a challenge to consider applying for the Unlocked Graduates scheme. It is honestly the best thing I have done and it is time well spent. Unlocked has helped give my life more meaning and allowed me to feel like I have a real purpose. Being a prison officer is an incredibly rewarding role and we get the chance to study for a Master’s alongside our two years on the front line. A free master’s degree yay! I know I’ll be able to use this time to make a real difference.

Written by Saida, graduate from the University of Birmingham and Unlocked Graduate in the 2017 cohort.
*Guest post

*TW* Lets talk about suicide.

By any means this isn't a glamorous topic to talk about, however it's a real topic and it affects a hell of a lot of us. Mental health is something that we need to talk about, we need the stigma to break down and we need to be brave and stand together and fight against it. Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and it's time for us to talk. Did you know an average of 18 people take their own lives every single day? And the worst part about the horrifying stat is that it can be mostly avoided, through talking, through support. I am telling you this from someone who has been on the edge and ready to jump on several occasions. Mental illness is a fucking lonely place, I'll tell you that now. It's scary, you feel like there is nobody in the entire world who actually cares about you, your own brain starts to convince you that you're worthless, that nobody would notice if you weren't here anymore, that life is too difficult to carry on. Some of us are 'lucky' and manage to talk ourselves down from 'jumping' or have others who make us realise, but what about those who don't? What about those who are alone, or who don't feel like they can turn to anyone? What about those who take their own lives?

Suicide doesn't just affect one type of person, it can affect anyone. We wake up and take notice when celebrities take their own lives, take Chester Bennington for example, that man was a legend, he had a great career, a family and a lot of things most people dream of, yet it wasn't enough; mental illness destroyed that man, and he felt like he had no other way out. He screamed out for help in a lot of his songs, but nobody seemed to take note until it was too late. The world was gutted - me included - that someone so amazing could take their own life. But what people don't realise suicide isn't just a choice you take lightly, your whole brain turns you upside down, convinces you not to fight and when even the voices in you are telling you enough is enough, of course we are going to want to give up. We took note of Chester, but what about all those other people who also took their lives that day? Do those people even cross your mind? So many people are struggling and nobody even bothers to reach out. Your friend starts acting different, disconnected, cancels plans and is avoiding you. Don't be mad, check in. It's a lot easier to be mad, don't get me wrong, but what if they need you? What if this is their cry for help in disguise. As someone who has taken multiple overdoses, and self-harmed for the past 10 years, I am lucky to be here. I've taken so many tablets in the past that I don't even know why I've survived, but I have. I am lucky.

Don't get me wrong, there are days where I consider “what if, maybe it would be like ___” etc. However, I have my boyfriend and some supportive friends who are often able to help me out of that dark place. But what about those who don't feel like they can talk to their friends? This mainly happens to males, due to the idea of being judged and not being manly enough, and to be honest that's not okay. MEN have just as much right to talk about mental health as any other person on the planet. Men experience feelings the same way in which everyone else does, and being told to “man up”, or “get a grip” isn't helping. Mental illness is not as simple as getting a grip. Trust me if it was, so many of us would have done so by now, am I right? But do you know what makes me really mad about the situation? We tell people to get over it, assume they're okay because they seem happy, tell them everything will be fine and get on with it, but honestly this isn't enough. You wouldn't dare turn around tell people who have had a stroke to just get on with it. We already feel guilty enough, and that's why we hide our struggles but your words stick with us forever.

I understand a lot of people are scared to admit they have a problem, because who wants to be branded as 'mental' and ‘unstable’, right? I am glad the stigma is moving in the right direction, but there shouldn't be ANY. It's an illness, just like any other. Needs medication, treatment, days off, support just like any other yet people don't seem to understand until it's too late. I am asking you - if you only do one thing today, reach out to someone you haven't spoken to in a while, find out how they're doing. Make their day. You can do this. Together we can do this. We can change the world. For anyone who feels alone, my inbox is always open to chat, I am happy to listen to whatever you need, I promise. Remember there are so many numbers to call including Samaritans who are open all year round, anytime you need on the free number of 116 123. You can talk to them without feeling judged and it's nothing to be ashamed of! 

Pictures of my office make over!

First things first, this post is extremely picture heavy and these are the remaining photos after I got rid of around 20 but I felt like these all needed to be in here. But just a warning in case you don't enjoy picture heavy posts as this is a fairly heavy post. So last month I created an office makeover wishlist post and during this post, I asked if you guys would like to see the finished office post and you all commented saying you would like to see that, so I have taken a selection of photos of my finished office to show you all.

 I am gutted that I live in rented accommodation as I would love to do so much more to the walls and floors. I made a few small changes but they've done the world of good to my mental health as well to my office as it is super relaxing to be in here now. Hopefully, you enjoy the pictures I've taken, under the photos I will share where I purchased items from and links if you can still buy them as some stuff has been in boxes for a while.

 Rabbits from George £8.00
Love sign is from George (No longer available)
Eiffel Tower is from a Paris gift shop.
Bike is from Dunelm £5.00  
Clapboard is from The Range £7.99
 Pens are from Asda and Kirsty
 Faux plant is from Primark
Spiced Dusk candle is from Primark £2.00
Mini candles are from Primark £1.00
Bird ornament (No longer available)  
Shell is from the beach!
 The mini suitcase is from Sass & Belle £23.00 for a set of 3. 
Face masks are from Superdrug and Tony Moly on eBay.
Beanbag is from Dunelm for £49.00
Table is revamped from an old one
The Positivity kit is from Amazon £7.49
Quote Jar is from Trentham garden centre.
Notebook from unknown. 
Glasses are from Perfect Glasses in style Vogue £21.00
Flamingo glass is from Ikea 75p
Similar floral straws can be purchased from eBay 99p
Skurar plant pot available in white from Ikea £2.00
Pink plant pot is from Ikea £1.00
Blue plant pot is from Ikea for £1.50

What is your favourite part of my office? 

It's okay, not to be okay.

I've gotta be honest with you guys, this year my mental health has been one of the worst it has been in my 22 years on this planet. My anxiety seems to amplified by 100 and I find each day that bit more challenging. I am forever wondering if it is because I am no longer a student and now work full time, and before that was an emotionally abusive 'relationship' (if you're curious you can read more here.) Although working gives me a purpose which I never had when at university as I was stuck in a degree I hated more than anything and despite managing to complete it this year, go me! My anxiety refused to let me go to graduation, which again was a huge disappointment not only for me but for my family too. A week later I managed to get over my anxiety and pass my driving test, something I genuinely thought I was going to take the most attempts in the world to pass, but I did it on my 5th attempt, quite a few attempts for some, but I did it and that makes me proud. Everyday I suffer with the feeling that something isn't quite right with mental health, I have been given a diagnosis of PTSD ever since I entered the world of getting help for the way I feel, however it just feels like it doesn't feel right, like there is more yano?

I went back to the doctors a few weeks back and was put on Sertaline, my 5th type of antidepressant as usual I wonder if it will do anything at all. I suffer with these moods, these moods which can often have me feeling incredibly low, but also out of this world happy. This worries me. My doctor advised at the mental health service he has re-referred me to should be able to help me seek the correct diagnosis. I struggle like crazy some days to get up, but remember I need to go to work, my managers are super supportive which helps for sure. But I still sometimes struggle. `

I often beat myself up for the way I am, wishing I was someone else and didn't suffer with this condition, which nobody else can see. I wish I was able to control my own moods. However I realise I can't and until I manage to get this under control a little more I may not be able to. So there is only one thing left to do, realise it is okay, not be okay. I am coming to terms with the fact, my condition makes me feel this way, and I shouldn't feel bad or disappointed in myself when I struggle to do things like go out with friends, do certain chores or even when it is really bad go to work. We are all human and I have to say living with a condition that controls your thoughts and feelings is a tough one. So I should keep feeling proud of how well I do manage to cope and keep staying strong.

For all of you out there who are struggling with feeling not good enough, your low moods or anything which isn't your fault REMEMBER this, you are a badass.

Life With PTSD.

I've felt like recently I've slightly lost who I am as a blogger, don't get me wrong I honestly love all of the new content I am putting out, but I am also kinda sad. Sad that I feel like I've lost talking about the things which are so important to me, like my mental health blog posts. So I'm bringing it back, I also bringing it back with a post which I've had a quarter written in my drafts for a pretty big length of time now. Life with PTSD.

So back in 2015 I was officially diagnosed with PTSD. It's a difficult one to deal with because a lot of people assume it is just for people who have been at war, but in fact it can come from any sort of trauma. Even when I was diagnosed I was confused, I went to google what was wrong with me and the first searches were all about being at war. I finally found something that related to me. 
"Related to an incident in which the person suffered a serious trauma." The words on the page rang true to me, I felt like someone finally got it. I started to read up on symptoms and things started to make sense, but even now I struggle to accept what I suffer with. I'm writing this post to reach out to all of those who are suffering too. You're not alone

The worst part about the illness to me is the flashbacks, I'll be laying in bed alone. I'll hear a noise and my whole body will shut down, it'll trigger my brain and give me the scariest flashback, and it takes minutes/hours and even days to feel okay again. I'll lash out to those closest to me because I can't separate reality from the trauma. I'll feel an overwhelming urge to scream and cry. I want to be alone but also hate being alone. I feel scared that nobody is ever going to be able to love me whilst I'm suffering from this. I feel like I can not be on alert, I can never walk around with both headphones in, I'll jump at the slightest noise, I'll be laying in bed and my brain will go into overdrive, I'll constantly be worried that I am upsetting someone, or that I'm a burden. It took me 6 months to stop asking my best friend daily if he still wants to be friends with me. 

Along with my PTSD, there is the depression and the anxiety which pretty much fit hand in hand. I hate going out alone when it is dark, I panic I am constantly annoying. I spend days in bed. I constantly struggle with suicidal thoughts and with people it's never a long-term thing, it's always a when, when are they going to leave, when are they going to give up on me. It's become something that is so normal to me now, it barely even phases me when somebody leaves my life. 

When I suffer a flashback and I am with another person I can often lash out, whether that be verbal or physical it's something that happens, which makes me feel horrible. I feel like the worst person in the world. It's like watching the whole thing through somebody else's eyes and I can't stop them doing it. My temper is awful and I wish I knew how to control it. I've been having therapy to help me deal with my trauma and it actually gives me some sort of escape from what I'm dealing with, although it is tiring and hard as hell, I'm happy I finally have found some sort of therapy which seems to offer me some sort of cure. There are other ways to get therapy including online, you can get this from BetterHelp. It’s always worth exploring other avenues, even if some of them don’t work for you.

I am me, I am not my PTSD. I am a survivor!