Early intervention

I cannot stress this enough. Early intervention is so important. As people say 'old habits die hard' and this true in terms of mental illness. As years go by, the more you will reinforce your actions, thought patterns and reactions. This in turn, makes it harder for you to break them. I know that this is true for myself. I had been using the same safety behaviours for many years and I had the same thought patterns, kind of being stuck at at young age whilst growing older. In this way, I had felt too young and anxious to drive, to have a job, to catch a bus and so on. But, with proper counselling and CBT I am finally getting to a point where I have almost retrained my thought patterns, so that I think and react in different ways. I know that this would have been easier many years earlier, but I didn't know I had a problem with my mental health for many years. For those that do, it's so important that you get help as early as possible. Don't get me wrong, the mental health services we have here in the UK are pretty poor, but that doesn't mean that you should be put off by a doctor who doesn't understand or a long waiting list - I have been there. The longer you rely on your old ways, the more ingrained it becomes and the harder it is to get out of it. That doesn't mean that you won't, it just might take you longer. 

I so wish that there better mental health services, so we could nip the problem in the bud before it even begins to grow. Imagine, if even children could be taught about mental health and have access to someone who they could talk to at such a young age. I feel the problems could be lessened, so that it wouldn't necessarily be as of a big problem as they got older. Even though the mental health services aren't amazing, talking, doing your own CBT, and even going down to your local GP are all steps in the right direction and I strongly encourage those struggling to take a stand and take a step towards their recovery. It's not easy, but it's definitely worth it. 

You can get there. 

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

What is it like to be normal?

The other day I was sat on my bed, going through a really depressive episode and I was just thinking to myself, why can't I be normal? Why can't I just float through life? Of course there is the age old question of what is normality? But what I mean is, why can't I just accept things the way they are. To not have anxiety and depression, to not think about death, to not over analyse everything, to laugh more, to not think so philosophically every single day, to just be young and free like I should be and to not be dissocated from my own person. 

I feel that a lot of my friends, perhaps don't think like I do and although comparison is a killer, I just can't help but notice how nice it would be just to go through life more lightly. But, maybe this is just me. From a very young age I have thought things that my peers didn't and I spoke to adults because I found it more interesting and as years went by I started to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety and it's true to say that people who tend to think this way, are more likely to experience these kind of symptoms. Although I feel being this way enriches my life to an extent and has created life for me that perhaps I would never have achieved otherwise, I can't help but get tired the fact that I just cannot switch my brain off, or just do something withough aching. But at the end of the day, I'm not sure I'll ever know what its like just to float through life without few cares, and perhaps I can use this to my advantage. Because, unless I find a way of changing the way I think, which may be possible, this is who i am and this is who we are. And it's something that I'm going to continue work with, because otherwise it will just be another pressure to add to myself.

Everyone is different and no one is really normal, so everyone sees things differently, and they all have demons of their own, just perhaps you can't see them. It's about learning to work with yourself, and to understand that you are your own person and there's nothing to be ashamed of. Heck, it might take more time to feel better and work on yourself and it might be a difficult uphill struggle and be tiring but, this is who you've got to deal with for the rest of yourself, and in a way, that makes it special, because no one else works the way you do. 

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx 

Driving alone!

After passing my driving test in December 2015, my next goal was to drive alone.

For those of you who have been with me throughout my journey, I started driving when I was 17, but unfortunately I had to stop my driving until I felt well enough. The other day however I got my first car! Little did I know how expensive it would turn out to be, but I would pay that just for the freedom any day. 

My first drive alone was very scary! I felt the adrenaline rush through my body and my heart come through my chest, even if it was just a drive up the road. This continued to go on for many weeks, until it appeared that my body just used to driving and calmed right down. I think that worry of the unknown and that I had to completely rely on myself was the anxiety provoking part. But as the weeks passed, I got more confident and I travelled further. Only last month and sometime throughout the summer, I took it upon myself to do a three hour motorway drive to somewhere I had never driven to before. But, I did feel calm and collected and I did have the ability to do it and it turned out to be not as bad as I envisaged. This is how everything seems to be with anxiety - it's always worse than it seems. You're stronger than you believe as well being more capable then you think you are and might just shock yourself with the challenges you undertake - I know I have.

For those of you still learning to drive, or struggling to drive - you will get there. It may be a rollercoaster, but it took many years to get to where I am today, but I still made it and so can you.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx


It's all about the circumstance


*Trigger warning*

This summer has been been very similar to the last, in the way that I really struggled. I will be totally honest and that I have been very depressed and suicidal this summer and I think it's all down to the circumstances alongside the base principle that I do have mental health problems. 

I do love to come home from university and see my friends and family as I truly miss them when I am away and they bring so much happiness, but at the same time coming home brings back some traumatic memories which seem to hit me as soon I walk in the door and I feel this is the reason I struggle so much. I wish I could be like my mother, who went through this all with me, and put it in a box somewhere and move on with it. But, I haven't quite got to that stage yet and the wound still feels very raw, after all of these years. 

Coming home for Christmas, I find is one the happiest times. I think it must be because of the length of time I spend at home - a month. This seems like the perfect amount of time for me and perhaps next year, if I move back home, having a full-time job will take my mind off things. I have found that by being at home for three months without a hefty job, and friends that aren't always available to see, leaves me with my own thoughts, especially when there are some people around you that trigger these traumatic memories every time you see them. I find it very hard to overcome these thoughts when I come home, especially this summer and the last as although I filled my time, it just wasn't enough for me and I just ended up in this spiral of depression, suicidal thoughts, attempts and self harm, the same as this summer. But, when I am at university, my mental health seems to improve and I very rarely feel as depressed or anxious as I do when I come home and I know that's because of my past. But, it does make me sad because it's not the fault of mother's and I do feel the guilt of leaving her in a house by herself when she ill, and that adds to my pressure. But, I know as well that she wants the best for me and I can't thank her enough for all that she has done. I feel a lot of mental health problems can be reactive, and this what mine are when I come home and it's just about weathering the storm. 

I have some fantastic times when I am home over the summer, but I also have some more than challenging times and that's what I struggle with the most. But, it comes to a point where you have look after yourself and your mental health and although others may be suffering, to just keep living can be a sensitive challenge and if that means that I have to do what's best for me, and remove myself from these circumstances of my old home life, then that's what I'm going to have to do. And if you feel a similar way, I suggest that to heal, you do a similar thing if that's possible. 

Even though times can be tough, I am still here and so are you. And that just shows that you can do it.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

My mind is playing tricks

The other day I thought I had somewhat of an epiphany - that perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me and I could snap out of this mental illness that I deal with. That it's all in my head and I just have to think in a different way. I thought to myself, perhaps I should think I'm not suicidal and I won't be anymore. But, yet again this is just another way your mind tries to play with you. Although I think that thinking in different ways can help and allow to reach different perspectives, I am still aware that mental illness is real problem, usually promoted by a chemical imbalance and this is very real. I wish it was as easy as just thinking you're okay and that being the solution, but I think it's a lot harder than it. It takes a huge amount of effort to overcome the doubts in your mind, no matter what people tell you. It's just not that easy and sometimes I feel the brain likes you to believe that it is and you really can just come out of it. But, if this was the case then I wouldn't be dealing with these problems right now. It's hard because I feel that everyday is a battle against your own mind even though it is the one thing you need to keep you in control for that 24 hours. You're constantly doubting yourself, or feeling that there's a black cloud hanging over you and that's a challenge to keep going in itself, alongside the thought that what you're going through might not be real. Don't get me wrong sometimes thinking differently, for me personally, can help. I do feel that I can get myself into a rut where I am thinking negatively alongside my depression rather than it necessarily being a side effect. And in that case if I notice it, I release the pressure a bit. But, a lot of the time mental illness is life-changing and debilitating and it's not just a matter of changing your mind set. It's sometimes just too beyond yourself to be able to even do that. I know with anxiety, I couldn't even walk sometimes and there's nothing that I tried, that worked with that. 

Mental illness is very real and even when our mind plays tricks, it does affect u and you've got to be strong to battle your own mind everyday, but I know it's possible and I know the strength needed to get through - we all have it. 

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx