Summer series: Germany in Mind

Germany is the third installment of my summer travels, which many of you know I did in partnership with the charity, Mind. I have just completed a five day cycle for the charity alongside the Moselle river in Germany. You can still sponsor me for my cycle, here and help Mind continue the amazing work they do for those struggling with mental health. I appreciate any donations a tremendous amount; we've managed to raise over £150 so far. Thank you so much!

It was a long road trip to get to Germany, including travel through the eurotunnel to France, then Luxembourg, Belgium and finally Trier in Germany, in which I cycled an average of 40 km a day for five days.

Having been to Berlin a few years back, I saw Germany as a very modern place. However, this part of Germany in which I cycled is much more beautiful; a bit like being in a movie. Throughout Trittenheim, Zeitlingen, Tries, Zell and Koblenz, there are hundreds of vineyards and historic quirky towns all situated alongside the busy Moselle river. There was always something new to see and plenty of nature. It's one of those places in which the pictures just don't do it justice. 

Germany is definitely a cycling country; there were bikes everywhere and miles dedicated to it. The people were also extremely friendly, greeting us with 'morgen' and 'Hallo' wherever we were. We often met some lovely people who we spent a few hours chatting to at a time. It appears however, they tend to drink a lot of fizzy, as the traditional drinks found in England were non existent and the only water was 'mit kohlensaure', which created some funny translation situations. Ice cream is also a massive thing in Germany, that alongside the infamous bratwurst and apfelstrudel. We were very lucky with the accommodation too.

In terms of my anxiety, it was pretty good! I do think the exercise was beneficial in all of it. My health anxiety improved as time went on and I managed to find the confidence to do a bit of translation and ordering using my knowledge of German too. By the end of the week though, my legs were almost dead. The cycling mixed with the heat created a difficult combination; I don't think I've felt as tired as I have over these past few days!

I have included some pictures below; let me know what you think. Don't forget, you can still sponsor me too. If you have any questions about Germany or Mind, don't hesitate to comment.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

As a parent how should I act?

Firstly, I am not a parent and nor do I have any experience of being a parent, thus I can only write this post from my perspective and what my parents and others did for me, that has helped me through my battles with mental illness.

I often get lots of tweets and emails about how people feel they cannot talk to their parents in the fear that they won't understand, they will look down on them, or they will just laugh at it and these stories often sadden me. As a sufferer, it's important to remember that what you're going through is not your fault and if someone is willing to listen and try and understand, then that's great. I know it is hard to talk about your situation, but you may be surprised at how postively your parents may act and if they don't, you could inform them on what you're going through; there are various websites out there that can help you with this.

As a parent, the most important thing you can do is be there for them and be a listening ear. Unfortunatly, even parents don't sometimes have the answers. The worst thing that a parent can do though in my opinion, is to just tell someone to "get over it", to say "it's not real", to just "think positively" and to kind of ignore it. This suggests to them, that mental health shouldn't be talked about and is bad, which of course is not the case. After all, mental illness can kill just like a physical illness, so it's important to take it seriously and not brush it aside.

In terms of getting help, there's a range of services out there, which sometimes can be hard to find. Nevertheless, both the public and private sector have options to help. All your child wants is support, so it's always nice to know that a parent will support them through finding therapy, going to the doctors and taking medication, if that may be the case.

Mental health is also a very sensitive subject, and hence why I think it's important for my mental health to only be discussed with those I trust and not told to others which may make the situation worse, and to make me feel uncomfortable.

Again, I am not a parent, but this has been the most beneficial for me. Let them know that you can talk to them, even if you may feel awkward about it. Discussing what kind of support each person wants whilst going through these mental health issues, is also important. "What makes the person feel safe?" "What makes them feel comfortable?" As I'm sure many sufferers can relate, we don't want to be smothered with mental health talk all of the time! But, battling mental illness is often too difficult to cope with on your own and this why a support network is beneficial. 

I know it's hard for both sides, but trying your best to talk is a great step in the road to recovery. You can do this!

I'll leave you with a video, which may help begin your conversation on mental health:

Amy xx

Raising money for mind!

If you follow me on twitter, you'll know that I'll soon be doing a fundraising cycle for the charity, Mind.

I will be doing a seven day cycle of around 30 miles each day along the river Moselle, which is in Germany. As much as I love cycling, traveling and having a go at practicing my German A level, I know it's going to a big challenge; whether that be my anxiety levels when speaking German or my fitness levels whilst cycling!

The aim of this cycle is to raise as much money as I can for the charity mind, which many of you know do a fantastic job at helping people who struggle with mental illness. You can find more about them, here. With myself, many family members and many of you I connect with on twitter being affected, it's time to give something back. As I've mentioned before, mental illness affects 1/4 people and we need more awareness and help, which charities such as mind are doing their utmost to provide.

I would appreciate it so much if you could sponsor me for my seven day cycle over at my just giving page. It will give me some encouragement to keep going when my legs are burning, but also you'd be giving money to help others who are battling severe struggles with their own mental health.

You can sponsor me by clicking on this link:

With this in mind, I may not be able to stick to the usual timetable of blogging, but I will try my best and will update you as soon as I get back.

Thank you for sponsoring if you have or are doing so. Even if you can't sponsor me, I'd be grateful if you could share this blog post or even tell your friends and family. Nevertheless, keep fighting!

You've got this,
Amy Xx

I am not disordered

Hi! I’m Aimee from

Amy, has kindly asked me to write a guest post about being an inpatient in a psychiatric hospital to give some insight for those who have never been admitted.

I was first sectioned in 2009 when I took my first overdose in response to auditory hallucinations and I remember having absolutely no idea what was going on. I’d heard horror stories about our local psychiatric hospital and the police and hospital staff kept using terminology that I had never heard and didn’t understand; no one thought to explain it all to me.
In my second admission, I was sent to a PICU for the first time; a PICU is a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit and once again, the seriousness of this was never explained to me, I just remember being told that the doors were locked. A Unit that is meant for some of the most mentally unwell people was used because I kept escaping from the open ward and the police told hospital staff they could not keep looking for me every single time I ran. That PICU was where I met my first inpatient friend; she persuaded me to finally tell people about my trauma and although I also had my first experience of ‘seclusion’ (a slightly padded room that you are usually kept in after needing to be restrained and sedated) there, it still wasn’t a particularly memorable experience. My third admission was the result of a ‘psychotic episode’ in which I’d become completely lost and consumed with my hallucinations and delusions. I was kept on a PICU for about three months and I saw a lot of poorly people, one of which, assaulted me. I was later told that this admission was used to determine whether I had psychosis.

From then (early 2010) until summer 2012, I never spent more than a month in hospital though I was admitted many times as I continued to overdose, self-harm and experience hallucinations. I was eventually diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and on one of my numerous admissions, a Doctor advised that my community team begin looking into a specialist hospital for me. I didn’t even know places like that existed! The first hospital I was assessed for, refused to accept my risk and I remember thinking ‘I’m never going to get better; no one will give me the chance.’ Then finally, I was admitted to a specialist ward in a private hospital, two and half hours away from home.

I've been here for 23 months now and as cliché as it sounds, it’s been a rollercoaster! Being an inpatient for so long has its positives and negatives. Probably the best thing has been that it’s meant my Doctors have gotten to know me properly which has meant they’ve got a better understanding of things. Another positive is that because it’s a long-term ward, I've made some amazing friends and I'm actually getting better because that’s what this ward is for. All of my previous admissions have either been about keeping me safe or trying to break my cycle of self-harm, so no hospital has ever actually tried to work through the causes for all of this. The two main negatives that I see are being away from home for so long and it’s sometimes quite an intense environment to be ‘living’ in. There’s always going to be some girls that don't get along and I've witnessed many arguments and even a few physical fights. There’s also the odd upset from staff when there’s a lack in communication/organisation or a let-down. But ultimately, I’m so grateful that my funding was approved for me to be here; this hospital has genuinely saved my life.

Summer series: London

My most recent trip was to London, which was eventful to say the least. I love London and although it is quite a journey, it's always worth it. The trip has definitely been a benchmark as to how much my anxiety has improved, which I will talk about later in this post.

We started off at St. James' park where I fed the squirrels and had four pigeons on one arm at one time. We then went to Camden Town to have a look around the market, which is always amazing and full of so many quirky and special finds. Following a few tube trips, we made it to Westfield shopping centre where we had a look around. It's massive in comparison to anything I know of back home. Afterwards we didn't have much planned, but ended up going to tower bridge, soho and piccadilly until meeting a friend for a while; one which I hadn't seen in two years! Besides my friend Ellie falling up the stairs in the tube station, everything was going swimmingly until we got lost...

We had to be at the coach station fifteen minutes before the coach was to depart, so naturally we began to make it to the coach station or so we thought. It got to around ten minutes until the coach was going to leave and we were still clueless. Therefore we asked a taxi driver where abouts it was and he gave the directions and told us to hurry up with walking. However, with only five minutes to go until departure, I went up to another driver and asked to take us to the station. During the short journey however, the taxi driver starts having an heated argument across the road with the previous man that we had originally spoken to! After jumping out of the taxi, we ran through the station to be greeted by no sign of our coach. After talking to various people, we got on the coach with minus one minute to spare. I have never been to grateful to be on public transport before!

My time spent in London as always, was great. Reflecting on the trip has made me realise how much my anxiety has improved. As many of you have read, when my anxiety was at it's worst I couldn't catch public transport, let alone talk to a stranger. But a few years on and I managed to ask for things, phone for a taxi, get in a taxi and be in a coach for six hours. All of this, I never would have dreamed of doing a few months or years back and for that I am proud. Of course, this isn't always the case and I'd be lying if I said I didn't get anxiety when faced with those situations, but If I can do it sometimes, I know you can too. It's a battle we all must keep fighting.

Take a look at some of the pictures of the trip and let me know what you think!

Best Wishes,
Amy xx

Look up

Although this is something I don't usually write about and seems somewhat contradictory, I feel it's important to write about. 

I found the video 'Look Up' through Anna's blog and I have to say it's pretty impressive. It focuses on the many moments in life that we miss because we spend the majority of our time using technology. After all, we don't know how many breaths we're guaranteed. 

Although I use the Internet a fair bit, not only to write this blog and to keep in touch with all of you, but to talk to friends and keep up to date with events. I can go without it and I often find myself without my phone when going out.

However, technology has become a main part of our lives. I know that it can be annoying without my my iPod and the internet general. Nevertheless, it's not a complete disaster that I don't have access to it sometimes. I often find that when you leave the technology at home, your mind is much clearer, especially if you leave it for a long time. Nowadays, even though technology is essential, I find it has disadvantaged us. The times when we're on buses, or in waiting rooms and no one dare to make eye contact in the fear that someone may talk to us. You never know where a conversation may lead and the experience it may hold. As the video touches on, you're not going to remember all of that time you've spent on technology, but rather look back at the time you've missed. 

There are definitely many advantages to technology and for that I am grateful, but occasionally we should take a break and observe the world in which we live. 

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

Summer series: Lanzarote

First of all, I cannot believe it's been a whole month since I've posted anything. I've been so busy revising for exams amongst various other things, that I had ran out of time. But, I am back and I will try to stick to the usual blogging timetable for July, even though it's going to be quite busy. Thanks for sticking around!

Some of you had tweeted me, writing how you'd like to see some of my travels of the summer and thus this is what I'll be doing! It won't necessarily be focused on mental health, but rather the trips I have taken.

First stop is Lanzarote. Apart from the few cloudy days, it was really hot and I must say it's nice to have a break from everything. The majority of the time we stayed in the resort, but did make a few trips to go to the market and another to puerto del carmen, which seemed somewhat influenced by the british with cooked breakfasts and roasts on various cafe menus! The food at the hotel was excellent and so were the staff, I just wished I had brought my cycling gear so I could explore more of Island. The mountains appeared to be changing every day; it was very picturesque. Meeting the regular cats and birds was a nice extra along with getting to know some lovely people!

Anxiety seemed to play a minimal part in the holiday, which was a nice change. There was one night in which I felt very on edge, but I managed to follow some breathing techniques to avoid a panic attack. Generally however, I really enjoyed myself. Lanzarote is a small island, but it's still unique in it's own way and in many ways is very beautiful.

I've included some pictures of my trip below. Let me know what you think!

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx