My Mental Health Journey

My Heart Has Begun Racing Again

One of the worse physical symptoms of my anxiety that caused me to go on medication because I couldn’t handle it anymore was my heart would race. So fast.

Like it literally was going to beat so fast I was going to have a heart attack. Or my heart would escape out of my chest. I could feel my pulse throbbing through my entire body in my veins. Like my veins could explode from the force of the blood that my heart was rushing through them. I couldn’t breathe. Like, I could breathe, but I felt like I couldn’t breathe. And that would just make the anxiety worse. Because then my body would go into overdrive panic mode which would then make it even harder to breathe. And the vicious cycle begins. And when I am in public, or at work, its not really an ideal situation.

I would have this along with sweating palms, hot flushes, and the need to flight (over fight). Whether that was also caused by my racing heart, I don’t know. It then got so severe, and so re-occurant that I couldn’t handle it any longer.

And then when I started to take the medication the physical symptoms began to disappear. Which was amazing. But then I started to feel depressed. Like, literal depression was upon me. I don’t know if the physical symptoms were blocking the depression, or whether the medication was causing those feelings. My partner, and my therapist both think it is the former. I honestly don’t know. The former does seem more likely, but I cant disregard the latter altogether when antidepressants can increase the desire to commit suicide can I?

Not that I am suicidal. Argh, I digress. Lately, maybe the past fortnight or so, my heart has been racing again. But at seemingly random times. I could be driving along, singing along to music, and bam heart starts having palpitations, or I could be in the shower, or falling asleep, or watching tv, you get the idea. Or writing this post. It has just started.

I don’t know why it has started again. But I want it to stop. I need it to stop.

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My Mental Health Journey

Only You Can Decide What Breaks You

I am going to start this post by referencing where this came from… It is in A Court of Wings And Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.

I read this today. The page that this quote was on anyway. And it just really… Spoke to me? Called out to me? Whatever you want to call it, I love it. So much so that I contemplating it as another tattoo.

I will be the first person to put my hand up and say I love quotes; inspirational, motivational, spiritual, friendship, you name it. I always have. So I have read plenty. Especially in line with this meaning.

But this speaks to me on a deeper level. A deeper level of personal, internal strength. A deeper level of perseverance. Of determination. Of self empowerment. Of not letting toxic people around you, drag you down to their level.

To me, it kinda remind me of the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that says “No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent”; I first heard that quote I think maybe 12yrs ago? Or close to? And whilst I did come across it at a time I needed to hear things like that, it didn’t 100% do the job.

But this quote? Literally did touch my soul. Maybe because by the time I get to the stage that I need to hear things like this, its to late to hear Eleanors quote and really have it make a positive effect. But this? I feel like this quote could have the potential to pull me out of any nasty slump at any stage.

Why? Because without sounding like a whinger, I have had so many toxic people in my life. Especially in the past 10 years. And it has been so hard at times fighting through that. And I say without trying to sound like a whinger because I know that everyone has to deal with shitty people at some stages. I know that I am not the only person.

And it always strikes me how different things look when you are no longer on the “inside” and you are more looking from the outside in. When you are no longer in the thick of it, going through it, experiencing things first hand.

One thing that has always stuck with me when I have been having a hard time with other people that just seem so determined to bring you down with their poison is asking myself whether I really want them and their nastiness and negativity to win/bring me down/beat me. It started with my first job actually. Haha its silly, but there was marginal heavy lifting at times (anywhere up to 30kgs), which now doesn’t seem like heaps, but when you are 15 lol it was hard at times, especially the longer you were doing it and how tired you were etc but I would try to break it down in my head and say to myself “Are you really going to let a box beat you? A box!”; now obviously it wasn’t empty boxes I was lifting lol but the principle was there. And you know what? It worked. Not to say I wouldn’t still be exhausted at the end, but I made it to the end. Because I would not let material items “beat” me. And maybe thats a bad way of looking at things; being so competitive (?) or insecure that I couldn’t handle feeling like a failure. Even if no one else saw it that way. I did.

But this quote? Kinda reinforces this for me. “Only you can decide what breaks you”. Someone shitty telling you that you are inadequate? Its easy to let yourself get pulled down by the negative, but ask yourself “What do they know?”.

Because one thing that I find funny about people, and I guess just human nature and mentality in general, is that we find it so easy to be pulled down by negativity thrown at us by people around us, regardless how much we know them and the kind of person that they are. And yet, being encouraged and motivated by things others around us say? Not so much.

So you know what? Next time someone around you says something negative to/about you, try it. Try remembering this quote, and don’t let anyone pull you down to their level.

My Mental Health Journey

The Truth

I want to help people. I want to help myself. I want to change the world, for better. Cliché right? I want to be the person that everyone comes to, not necessarily because I know everything (no one can know everything), but because they have faith in me and my abilities, and feel comfortable and not scared or intimidated to come to me for help. I want them to know that I actively want to help them, that it honestly gives me joy to the centre of my being helping others, and seeing them grow, whatever and however it may be.

I want to make the world a better place. There are so many ugly things going on in the world every single day. And from where I am sitting, the cause? People, and the way they treat each other. I honestly feel like every problem in the world is caused by, and could be fixed by, the way that people treat each other. If people legitimately treated others the way that they wanted to be treated, stopped to consider what others may currently be going through, or thought how they could positively impact others’ lives, the world would be a more beautiful place. Sure, you have those whom are genuinely “bad” people who don’t care either way, but perhaps if they had been given a chance, had had positive influences and opportunities in their lives, how different would they be?

I want to make myself better. A better human being. A non-medicated, happy, healthy human being. Someone I can admire. Someone I can be proud of.

But the truth? The truth is I am hopeless. Right now I can’t even figure out how to help myself, let alone those around me, let alone the world at large!

Don’t get me wrong – I will continue to help others around me as they need it, and as they ask for it. I am one of those people who will be so exhausted and so worn down, but still put others before my own needs. Some people view this type of personality as a good thing, some view it as a bad thing, personally the jury is still out for me on this one. I get so much joy helping others, but sometimes I am still giving when I have nothing left and wear my self down.

The truth is, right now, I can feel myself spiralling. Down, down, down. I have felt like this before. On and off for honestly 12yrs. I will seem to be ok for a few years and then bam! Seemingly out of nowhere, things will either start piling up or I will just out of nowhere I will feel overwhelmed by nothing. The anxiety that starts as the random nasty thought, that then progresses to anxiety, and then tears on through to full blown paranoia….

And then the self harm starts. Or I start drinking. Or I take more pain killers than I should, more often than I should. I contemplate what would happen if I doubled up on my anxiety meds. Or I start pushing people away. Or I do the opposite, and become obsessed with becoming close friends with people who are currently just acquaintances… Or I go the other way again and start questioning the motives of everyone around me, do they mean what they are saying, why are they doing this, what are they saying to other people etc. Or a combination of multiple of these.

And whilst I recognise the whole way through that my behaviour and thoughts are completely erratic, irrational, crazy, harmful to myself and others, and completely unhelpful, I cannot stop it. I cannot stop myself. And then I drive myself even more crazy hiding my instability from others. Because I then have blind terror over what will happen if others realise how completely crazy I am. Its like when you drop something, or someone else drops something, and it feels like everything is going in slow motion, like an accident; you can see it happening, in minute detail, but you can’t do a single thing to stop it. Its like you are a paralysed spectator to your own life.

So then I feel like a complete hypocrite for wanting to help others. How can I help anyone else if I can’t even help myself?

 

My Mental Health Journey

When You Feel Like Your Life Is Spiraling Out Of Control, You Cling To Any Form Of “Control” You Can….

Sometimes you get overwhelmed. Sometimes it might be for an hour, or for a day, or for a week. Or it might be more long term. Months. Maybe even years, if you can hold out that long. I dont know that I could.

When you feel like your life is spiraling out of control, you cling to any form of “control” you can. Literally any; some of it might be almost “healthy” – you might get your nails done, or your hair done, you might change your wardrobe, you might start studying, start eating healthy and exercise, change your job, or get a new car, hell you might even move.

Coz having any form of control is better than having none right? No matter how small, or  insignificant it may seem. Getting that makeover, moving, buying new things, new diet and fitness routine, it makes you feel better. It makes you feel grounded. It makes you feel less worthless. Less useless. Stronger. More in control……. And less like others are dictating your existence in this world..

But then you have the “unhealthy” control attempts (situation dependent); you might get a tattoo and/or a piercing, you might start self-harming, you might irrationally cut people out of your life, you may start substance abuse (either in the form of drugs or alcohol, or both), you make take “health and fitness” too far and become anorexic or bulimic or exercise to the point you make yourself sick, you might start extreme sporting or doing dangerous physical activities. The list could literally go on forever.

This is another post that is being written over multiple sessions. Some posts are just so personal, so important, I feel like I need to get it perfect.

And I also don’t know how good a job I am doing of that right now…

Feeling like your life is spinning out of control is scary. Its so overwhelming that you sometimes feel like you can’t breath. You feel like you are getting crushed from the outside in. Or sometimes even from the inside out.

The logical part of your brain may even be able to rationalise that things will be ok. That you do have options. That things don’t last forever. That you do have support around you, and people who care about you and want to help you.

Unfortunately none of that helps the feeling of being so overwhelmed you feel like you are drowning.

And perhaps even worse than this? Is the “knowledge” that if one of your problems, possibly even two, was solved that you would feel…. Back in control? Like you caught enough of a breath in your lungs to push your body to the surface towards the sun? Like rather than tumbling head over tail down a steep cliff face you are putting one foot in front of the other and tackling that mountain to happiness, and winning?

But what do you do to get yourself out of this hole? Because sometimes you can sit back, and make a list of all of the rocks dragging you to the ocean floor. And from there you can try to work out what you can do to ease those burdens. And maybe you can only see the solution for one. Or maybe two. Or maybe even all of them if you can manage it. (And good for you if you can!!!). I guarantee though even if you can solve one problem you can feel worlds lighter. It may even surprise you, the thing that seemed the hardest might be the easiest, and vice versa.

If you can’t see an out though? If you can’t see through the forest for the trees what then? I seriously suggest reaching out. Talk to someone. Anyone. Friends, family, even a professional if you need to. It can be hard when you are in the middle of something to see perspective. And sometimes you honestly need external intervention to pull you out of your current funk into something happier and healthier.

I found myself in this overwhelming funk quite recently. Which obviously prompted this post. I was drowning. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like there must be solutions to every single one of my problems, but I couldn’t see a single one, and even the hint of one had me running so much faster and further away with the irrational thoughts that I would probably just make it worse.

So how did I get out of it? I am still one foot in one foot out of it at the moment. But I am one foot out of it. And that is what I am currently focusing on. I am almost out of it. And this time, I didn’t pull myself out. I have been pulled out. I have had external help, and I am being pulled into shore on a life raft.

You do feel empowered when you are able to pull yourself out of your funk. Or at least I know I do, every time I do manage to do it. I feel empowered, and strong, and invincible. But you know what else? When I need help I don’t feel the opposite of these things; I don’t feel weak, or helpless, or useless. Asking for, and accepting, help requires you to be strong. Admitting you need help is not a weakness, it is a strength.

Human beings are so diverse. And I don’t think thats an accident. People are good at different things. No-one is good at everything. Just as no-one is bad at everything. You may have times when you feel like you are good at nothing; but I promise you that isn’t true.

 

My Mental Health Journey · Random Thoughts and Ideas

Everything You Have Ever Heard About Bullies is Right

We all know the cliche sayings; “They are just bullying you because they are jealous of you”, “They only bully people because they have low self-esteem” etc.

How many of you have heard these, or similar, sayings? Probably most of you, if not all.. And how many of you that has had these sayings said to them thought “Yeah right, whatever”, accompanied by a roll of the eyes and possibly a shake of your head? Again, I am going to guess and say probably most of you, if not all.

But, I say this with 100% sincerity, they are both accurate, they are both correct. Again, I can almost hear the collective sigh as you read this. But bear with me on this, because I dont say it lightly; bullying is a real problem in society, across most age brackets and in all different forms and levels of severity.

I have, like most people unfortunately, been a victim of bullying. I am currently 28, and I honestly still get it at times.. Yes, at 28. If you are in your teen years reading this I with great sadness inform you that even though you age through years, not everyone matures and “grows up” with age. Whilst kids and teens can be cruel, adults can be just as cruel. I wish it werent the case, but in my experience, it is true.

By why would that bully be jealous of me? What do I have that they dont? They have everything in life and I dont. And on the list goes; they are prettier/skinnier/taller than me, they have nicer hair/eyes/skin tone/complexion, they are better than me at sports/maths/literature skills/people skills and popularity, they have more money than me/my family, they have a better job/house/car/spouse than me…. Human envy has no ending. But see how easy it is for your brain to point out how and why they are better/better off than you?

So is it really that much of a stretch to think that others have the same thought processes and journeys that you do? That you can look at them and see good things about them and their life, even if they have an “ugly” side, that they are currently displaying to you. Different people have different ways of dealing and coping with different things. Some people unfortunately use putting others down as a method of making themselves feel better. The theory behind this? If they make you feel like crap, its easier to make you feel even crappier (like wearing you down, the more they push you down the quicker and easier you go down), and when they cant pull themselves up they find it easier to push you down. And when your down, they are up, right?

Depending on the bully, and your relationship to/with them, you may or may not know what about their life isnt so perfect. And it could be any of the things I mentioned above. Or it may be something else entirely, something else I havent even thought of. But this is the important thing – you dont need to spread or increase the level of hatred that exists in the world by then feeding on what they are bullying you with, and responding to their bullying by bullying them back.

As well as being the important thing, its also the hardest thing. Believe me, I get it. It is all to easy for us to listen to what they are saying; we are our on worst enemy. Seeing our own flaws and imperfections and faults is second nature. So when others tell us that we are inadequate we just believe it. Whether its straight away, or whether it eats away at us.

We also have the fight or flight instinct. Which means that another natural response is to become angry. Which also then increases our chances of lashing back at them in a self defense move. But you know what? That makes it harder, makes it worse. Because you then activate their fight response, and around in circles it goes. And goes. But where does it end?

It will take practice, and I feel that it is easier when it is an ongoing issues (due to the re-occurrence), but you can let it go. You can let it not affect you. And once you get to that point, you will feel so at peace. And maybe you do this by recognizing that their life isnt perfect. That they have flaws. That they have things that are unhappy about with themselves. That they arent perfect beings. So long as in doing this you DONT then become the bully yourself. This isnt about doing to them what they are doing to you by throwing it back at them, but by reassuring yourself that whilst you arent perfect, neither are they. 

Or, maybe, when you are having a good moment, on a good day, you can sit and write yourself a reminder list of all the things you like about yourself, and all of your successes. Or start the list and build upon it as time progresses. And it could be anything. A physical attribute, and achievement, even how you felt when you helped someone else. And draw on that positivity in these times. Remind yourself what you are proud of, what makes you happy.

And let their negativity just float past you. Like cars on the other side of the road to you; it approaches you, you see it, and then it is behind you.

And remember, this will take practice to master. You wont get it the first time, but if you practice, you will get it.

On a last note – if you need help, ask for it. From friends, family, loved ones, professionals. There are so many resources available to those who need help. It is never ok for people to make you feel any less of how amazing you are.

My Mental Health Journey

Scars On Top Of Scars…

So, today… I have been thinking about this post all day, however now that I am sitting here to write it I am drawing a bit of a blank. On what to say. And how to say it. So I will just type and see what happens I guess………..

So, today, I met a girl. And her mother. I spoke to them for less than 5 minutes, probably. I was at work. The girl, at a guess, would have been 15-17 years old. And she was nice. And her mother was nice. Anyone reading this is probably thinking yeah ok whats so special about that?

This is where my breath catches. Where my stomach turns upside down and knots itself. And the more I think about it, it makes me want to throw up. It makes me sick and upsets me so. It makes me want to cry. I cant tell whether the urge to vomit or cry is stronger at this point.

You see, this beautiful girl has scars on top of scars. On every inch of her body/skin that I could see. Which was both of her arms from the mid-upper arm down, her neck/top of her chest that I could see from her shirt collar up, and even her face.

Not just any kind of scars. Most of them were pink or purple in colour. Thick. And layered and criss-crossed over the top of each other. As I said, on every inch of her skin that I could see. The cause of these scars? Self harm. Cut after slice after cut. Even on her face. She was wearing makeup, but you could still see the slices on her cheek….

The amount of pain that this girl is in to have inflicted herself so badly over time truly breaks my heart. A lot of people who cut (or I guess self-harm in general) will do it on parts of their body where no-one else can see it. I was like this when I was self harming years ago as well. Why? Because when you are truly in that amount of pain you are not doing it for “attention”. You are doing it because of the pain that you are in. And you want it to stop. And its stupid, but it does help. I dont know why. In the short term at least, anyway.

But this girl has obviously surpassed that level. By miles. And thats what hurts me. I have, dealing with the general public, over the past maybe 2-3 years seen an increase in the amount of people I have seen with self harm scars. And being a past self-harmer myself there is no judgement coming from me aimed towards these people. But these have all been past scars. This girl today. She has so many scars, but so many of them were fresh cuts too….

Now I am not going to judge this mother, I dont know their circumstances. But I can say, when I have children, I will do everything in my power to try to help my child/ren be happy and healthy. Obviously my first go-to would be to help them myself. But if that didnt work, I would seek outside sources. Whatever I needed to do. Counselling, medication, meditation, etc. And if that didnt work? Honestly, I would look at options to have them in housing with nurses and psychiatrists available around the clock. I would rather have my child hate me and be alive, than commit suicide and lose them forever. Even if they come out alive and recovered and still hated me, I could at least sleep at night knowing that I did what I could to give them a chance at a happy and healthy life.

All I can honestly say is I hope with my entire heart that this girl is getting the help that she needs.. My fear for her breaks my heart.

My Mental Health Journey

I Cant Tell You What It Really Is, I Can Only Tell You What It Feels Like…

Some of you will recognize this line from Eminem and Rihanna’s “Love The Way You Lie” song. For me however, it is the best description of my anxiety that I have ever heard.

My anxiety isn’t rational. It isn’t logical. It isn’t “sane”. Therefore; I cant always see a situation for what it truly is. I can only see it through what my anxiety makes me feel. I have used this term on here before, but my anxiety is a living, breathing thing. It is like a shadow that floats over me all the time. No matter where I am, or what I am doing, it is there. And sometimes it just hovers and whilst I know it is there it otherwise leaves me alone.

And then there are other times that it doesn’t leave me alone. It whispers hurtful things. It throws fuel onto the fire that is my paranoia. It tells me that no-one likes me. That no-one would miss me if I wasn’t there. That I am useless. That everything I do is wrong. That no matter how hard I try whatever I do will never be right. It will never be enough. I will never be enough.

From the outside I may seem… I don’t even know. I can’t even say “perfect” or “happy” or “together” or any other good adjectives to describe myself. But sometimes I feel so overwhelmed it isn’t funny. That logically I can think “All I have to do is fix one thing/get one thing off my plate and everything will be fine”, but it isn’t always that simple….