Journal #3 22nd October 2014

Journal entry number three. Please don't read if you feel this may be triggering. 


Wednesday 22nd October 2014

"As far as we're aware, we only get one life. Supposedly this means I should do whatever I can put my mind to, but it's never that easy. Aside from the cliche, the thought of having so much life and killing it makes me sad. In this world we all have choices which can change our destiny; choices which shape the gift of life. Because that's what life is, a gift, which can be taken away just like the popping of a balloon. It's fragile and too often I feel people can forget, myself included when i'm at the depths of my illness. But Death may be just around the corner and yet people still decide to take damaging risks with their life. What we must understand is that although life can be the darkest hell we have ever seen, it can also be the most beautiful thing ever to experience. I just wish I could show people what life can be and although we never know what's around the corner, I hope I'm not going to look back one day and see sadness in my eyes." 

I wrote this when I was sitting on a bus I believe. I was observing all of the different people we drove past and ended up writing this passage. I'm not sure that I was the most depressed I had ever been at that point, but I remember that I wasn't the happiest. It must have been a time when I felt hope but also sadness. A time where I was thinking about my future and what I wanted to make from it. I suppose, a realisation that a future from a time of hell was possible. Something that is also possible for you.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx




Mental illness is a physical illness

Mental illness is often separated from physical illness and thus is often seen to be invisible and not real. But it seems that some fail to recognise that mental illness can give rise to physical symptoms and thus can be under the physical illness umbrella in that sense. 

Anxiety can give rise to physical symptoms that we can feel within ourselves such as tingling and feeling lightheaded alongside the very 'real' fear that we are experiencing. But, they can also present symptoms that people may see from the outside such as sweating, going cold, clammy and shortness of breath. Similarly, depression can lead to looking grey in the face, wearing darker clothing, not sleeping or sleeping too much and eating too little to overeating. For illnesses such as schizophrenia, although only part of it may be the voices that someone hear's in their head, these voices can lead to particular actions in reality which other people can observe. 

What comes from inside our heads which can feel and is very real, can present real physical symptoms on the outside which people can diagnose. They present physical symptoms, just like high blood pressure would or having a broken leg. A doctor could tell you if you were having a panic attack. Yet there are still people out there who fail to believe it's real or to simply get over it, even though physical symptoms are presenting themselves, usually which cannot be controlled. Weirdly enough these kind of statements are not said to someone who has high blood pressure, even though a lot of the time the physical symptoms visible on the outside are limited depending on the severity. 

It's time for people to pay attention to the realness of the situation. Mental illness is always physical, whether it's the symptoms or the fact it affects our reality and it shouldn't be treated any less of that which is on the list of a physical illness. 

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx 


You can handle it.

Recently I've been reading a book which has changed my outlook. A lot of my anxiety has always been fuelled by the fear of failure and embarrassment which makes me avoid certain situations. I get used to being inside my comfort zone and although it has gotten wider over the years, there are still many things that I avoid on a regular basis, which we all know just continues to fuel the anxiety. 

From reading the book, it has taught me that whatever outcome that comes our way, we will handle it. We have done before and we will do again; after all that is how the species has survived. Just think about all of the situations you've been in that haven't gone as you'd planned, such as ordering something on a menu but it being sold out, or being rejected by someone...you handled it all and you're still here today. From these experiences, we have built up better resilience to future situations in how we handle them because we learn from our past. Having the knowledge that I can trust myself in any situation, even if it may take a while for me to conquer them, widens my comfort zone and the things I can tackle. Try and keep it in mind that you can conquer any outcome.

If you think about it, we all have preconceived ideas in our heads about how an event is going to play out and yet it will never turn out exactly the way we planned it to and yet we learned to adapt to the situation we are in - and that's the great thing about humans. It's practically built into us for our survival, even if we don't think so on a conscious level.

Let me know in the comments of a time when you handled a situation which you didn't expect.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx 

Guest post: A new therapy?

What's new in therapy to literally delete your fears?

Let me introduce myself, my name is James Hymers and I work as a fast change therapist helping people become free of whatever is holding them back. I think it's great that mental health is being talked about more and more in the mainstream press, from the Sun to the Times mental health is in the headlines, and on  the TV we can see mental health being talked about too with many sufferers explaining to the nation how they feel on a daily basis and telling their story, this also helps to break down the negative stigma that's been attached to  mental health problems.
 
I have only one problem with the advice given out by the press and that is that it is so outdated. When we lo
ok at the chosen therapy of the NHS for example it is CBT  it is incredibly hard on the client and takes a very long time, also the success rates are very low with CBT being about 20% that's only one in five clients getting the results they need.
Now I don't mean to sound harsh as anyone who spends time helping others is to be commended I would argue though that there have been a few revolutionary therapies created in the last few years that give amazing results in a much shorter space of time in fact one of the therapies I use can often solve problems in one session in one session !

What is the name of this therapy I hear you ask?   The Havening techniques™ is a revolutionary therapy created by Dr Ronald Ruden  a leading neuroscientist from America. This method is designed to change the brain to de - traumatise the memory and remove it's negative effect from both our psyche and body.The therapy uses the application of touch to change the way memories are stored and remembered and disconnects negative emotions from these traumatic memories, once the negative emotion is removed you can not see the memory in the the same way as you used to and it can not affect you like it did, this creates an astounding change in behaviour as peoples problems are literally deleted and they can now feel so much better and get back to enjoying their lives.

If you would like to see  this Revolutionary therapy in action and hear what the clients had to say about it, you can watch a short video I had made of myself working with clients here, in it you can see clients before during and after a session of Havening therapy, some have large problems and some small and they all have a great result. I have been working with the Havening techniques™ for about two years now and was in the first fifty people in the world to be qualified and I am still amazed at the results for clients. In fact Havening has been put through clinical trials and had some incredible success rates in fact in one study it came out at 99% effective.

For  more information about Havening take a look at the main website in the USA Havening.org
and for more information about myself and the therapies I offer take a look at my website www.jameshymers.com

You are not stuck with how you are feeling now, you can become free of your past and create a better future.

James Hymers fast change therapist. Windsor Berkshire

Thanks James for writing this post! Although I found CBT very effective, I understand that it takes a lot of willpower and may not be for everyone. I am always happy to share various different ways to get help and even though I haven't tried these techniques myself, I hope they will help someone. 

Guest post: Ryan

Dear Anxiety,

How quickly you've grown.
I remember your birth. I was confused by your arrival yet my mind accepted you - with no input from me. You were an extrovert in the early stages of life: not present during the day but made sure you were home at night.
My pillow became your pillow, I began sharing the sheets with you, less so because I wanted to and more so because you'd refuse to sleep without me next to you. You were becoming too comfortable and I couldn't figure out how to ask you to leave. An unwelcome stay which turned my home into a prison and my body into its' amusement park.
As you matured your interests broadened - it made time for me difficult to say the least. I would try to sit down for a minute and relax but you'd become hyperactive in times of silence. You'd cry for attention if I ever tried to ignore you. In the unlikely moment of clarity, where the fog of your presence had lifted, I felt whole again. I felt as if I could remember the importance of caring for me without also worrying about your needs.
Your need for me became an unhealthy obsession. Despite you being ever-present in my mind, I never noticed your insatiable appetite for destruction. I always blamed myself for cancelling dinners, re-arranging plans or for not picking up the phone: I was too frightened of what my friends would think of you. I never stopped to realize that you deceived me. Your viscous lies were the catalyst to my downfall but I couldn't let you go. You were so deep-rooted in my flesh, my veins and my thoughts that you and I were no longer two separate entities.
I always put you first. Why didn't you ever take me into consideration?
By this point, nothing else had purpose in my life. You were always around: at work, in the car, in the park and in my bed. It took away all my energy coping with you, day-in and day-out, you were draining me of all that was good. I accepted the fact that my life would never be normal without you in it. I think you knew that too.
I remember the day when I considered talking to somebody about you. Despite your attempts to dissuade me from ever opening my mouth about our time together, I had to take a chance. I wasn't afraid of your temper anymore, I could deal with the repercussions: whatever they may have been.
I let the phrase 'I need help, please, can you help me understand...' leave my lips. It felt like barbed-wire was being pulled from the pit of my stomach, up through my throat, out through my mouth: cutting everything on its way out. You, my dear friend, displayed your anger in full-force that day.
You made sure that my heart raced, so that my words stumbled in hopes that I would lose my breath and succumb to your rage.
I finally knew who my unwanted guest was. It turned out you have many forms and frequently visit other people to make them feel like me.
All this time, you made me feel alone. You made me feel isolated: like I wasn't normal. And just like a rebellious teenager, I began ignoring your instructions, I started fighting back - I believed in myself.

The more I fought back, the more I started enjoying normality, the less power you had over me. I would put myself through excruciating pain by doing all the things you prevented me from doing: you made everything difficult for me, but that didn't matter. Your stay was coming to an end and you fucking knew it.
Over an 18-month period we wrestled nearly every day but I grew stronger after every throw-down. Confidence began to replace the fear in my stomach, my smile began to replace the tears and the separation between us was becoming a reality. I knew that I was worth more and that you were not forever, I determine when you're welcome: not you. Not anymore.
It's funny - as you packed your bags and left - I felt thankful for you. You taught me so much about strength, about appreciating life for what it is and for showing me courage that I never thought I had.
I have no regrets about letting you in, I am not ashamed that I looked for help and I'm proud of the experiences we shared together. Without you, my old friend, I wouldn't be the determined, compassionate and understanding man that I am today.
You visit me far less frequently these days and you often only stay the night. The next time you decide to stay, you'll find this note. A note commending you for your efforts and thanking you for your tremendous ability to bring the best out of me.
I will always speak about you now. I'll make sure more people know about our time together - the good and the bad.
For now, I'll end this note with a thank you. You will be remembered.

Yours sincerely,

Ryan
@NoMoreGremlins

5 top tips for starting a blog


1. Blog content - There are many blogs out there that are now talking about much of the same. You want to be able to write about something that you're passionate about and perhaps even something a little different to the rest. Once you've decided your blog content, you'll know what to write about. This isn't to say that you can't change the theme throughout time, but you'll get a specific audience and will find it easier to write. 

2. Schedule - A schedule is important because it means your readers will know when you'll next publish a blog post. However, it's important I think to have quality over quantity and so if you only write a blog post every two weeks, then that shouldn't be a problem. It also keeps you in the rhythm of keeping your blog going, rather than forgetting about it. 

3. Blog ideas - make a list of loads of different titles that you could write about and cherry pick them as the weeks go by. You don't want to come to writing something and be stuck! At the same time, I think it's okay to take a break if the creative juices run dry. 

4. Images - although I think it content is more important, people often love something to look at. So finding images, or even take them yourself might make a differece to whom reads your blog posts. Hopefully I'll be revamping my blog soon to include pictures taken by myself and not just quotes. Similarly, having a blog that is pleasing on the eye can help make things easy to find and will make people want to hang around. 

5. Social media - often blogs won't find their own way out of the blogger sphere, so by having an instagram or twitter, you can grow followers and direct them to your blog. Hopefully they'll become regular readers!

I hope this helps,
Amy Xx

Dear YOU

A letter to you, if you are struggling. It may be triggering, so please don't read if you think it may be.

Dear You,

I am writing this to you because I know you are severely struggling with your mental health and you just can't seem to find the effort to get better. All I want to do is put my arms around you and tell you everything will be okay because I was once in the same place. I had nothing in my life that I wanted to live for and I had no energy to spend on what might be or what could be, but on simply the inhale and exhale of my breath.

I am writing this to you because I too have wanted to die. I too have harmed myself, I too didn't want to let people down anymore and I too didn't see the point in living. But I also am here writing this for a more important reason than to just to relate our pasts together, but to explain to you a future because not every illness of the mind is the same, but the outcome can always be changed in some way and somehow.

I am writing this to you because I know that you also can make it to a better place, to a better life and time where the sun shines brightly through your window and the breeze flows through your hair when breathing is second nature. I once felt that when reading something like this, it didn't always change my outlook because my lack of hope at a tomorrow was not something that could be changed through reading words on a page. But, this is why I want these words to stand out like a sunflower amongst roses, like capital letters on a screen, and like blood, sweat and tears on a table. Because I know that this is what it takes to live with these conditons. I know it takes every inch of you and your body to keep going when there is just nothing left to give. But the body is not made to let go easily, it is made to survive. When we get cut, we heal over and when our mind is unbalanced, our body will fight to understand the truth. These words might just be another empty page to you, but I hope you will take every letter and hold onto them like your heart tries to keep beating because if I could be there in person to tell you that you do have the strength and capability to have a life worth living, and be by your side, I would.

For now I just pray that the words resinate. I hope you feel the truth that I speak of and the stories I tell, and that you too can come from a place of pain, to a place of happiness. It's not going to be easy. It is going to take a lot of willpower, which I understand you feel you may not have. But, deep down, we all do. I know that I surprised myself that I am still here in flesh and blood, today. It's going to take time to find the right person to listen to you, but don't give up because you'll find the fitting piece and jigsaw will become whole. 

I am writing this to you because I know how important life is, and how important you are to life. I am writing this to you because I know you can get better. I am writing this to you because I know you have the strength to fight and that is why I took the time to write, because life has better days which may just be around the corner.

Amy Xx 





3 tips to stop irrational thoughts

I'm no expert, but I have picked up some tips over the years which have helped me to control my irrational fears and thoughts. After all, anxiety is mainly caused by the irrational fears that float through our heads. Below I have listed my personal top tips to try and stop irrational thoughts in their tracks:


1. Before and after - this was a CBT technique that I was taught. Still to this day, I struggle with health anxiety and even asking for things. To overcome such irrational thoughts that I would become ill with eating certain foods, or do something utterly stupid when I asked for something, I first wrote down before what I thought would happen if I was to ask for something, or to eat something and give it a rating out of ten as to how anxious it made me. After the event, I would then write down how it actually went and an anxiety raiting out of ten. It made me realise that we often think things to be worse than they actually are. 

2. Mindfulness - I bet you hear this everywhere, right? But it can help. Mindfulness helps to clear your mind and just focus on the here are now to bring your anxieties down calmly. if you feel that your head is racing away, try some simple breathing techniques and focusing your mind to one place.

3. Reality - often it's hard to split what is rational from what is irrational. But, if we really take the time to think about the scenario, we will often find that the chances of the dreaded situation happening is few and far between. If I eat a yoghurt, the chances of me becoming ill from it, is very slim and if I ask for something and stutter, the ground isn't going to fall from beneath my feet. No one is perfect, and yet we expect ourselves to act in that way. This is simply not the case; we all stutter and make mistakes. It's all part of being human.

I know it's not easy as the battle in our minds can be a huge challenge. But with time and will power you will be able to see the difference.

Best Wishes,
Amy xx 

What mental illness has taught me ft. YOU!

A while ago now, I asked the people of twitter what their mental illness journey has taught them. The responses are as follows:

"Taught me that I'm stronger than I ever realised. Fought my way back. I'm not 100% ok but I'm a long way from where I was."

"My mental health has taught me to understand myself and be patient with myself. Not to judge by others standards."

"To accept that is is ok to not be ok and to not rush through recovery but allow time to heal you."

"There is nothing 'wrong' with me and I don't need to be 'fixed'. Support and time helped me so much."

"Never give up because things do eventually get better, it will take time, but you will have happy days eventually."

"Take it day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. It's okay to feel this way. It WILL get better."

"I've become a more sensitive, caring and patient individual."

"Used to think people with mental illness were just in need of attention. Now I know for sure it needs attention!"

My mental illness journey has taught me resilience; that although we feel that we cannot live for another moment, the strength we all hold is immense. It's taught me that a support network is key, and  who really is there for me in my times of need. It's taught me that getting help for mental health is hard, but the continued search is definitely worth it. I am not alone and attitudes are changing on a daily basis, to an outlook that is more positive.

What have you learnt through your journey? Leave a comment below.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

Do I deserve it?

What is patreon you ask? (or maybe you're not asking at all!) You may have seen me throw the word 'patreon' about on my twitter, but perhaps are still unsure about what it is. Patreon is a site where you can support content creators through pledging a certain amount of money each money and return you can get rewards for becoming a Patron. 

To explain further, you could pledge $1 (which is about 80p) per month and get the rewards of patron only content and secret polls. But the more you pledge, generally the better the rewards get, such as getting a download of some of my art and secret behind the scenes access. You can pledge money through PayPal or debit and can cancel anytime, so there is no worry about being a patron forever and ever! 

There's no pressure to become a patron and I completely understand if you don't want to be. I simply set it up so that people could support me for my work and content if they felt that I deserved it or wanted to. The money raised will go to anything needed for my artwork and blog and if there's ever a surplus it may allow me to earn a small amount for the work I put out. Of course, all my content will remain free because my aim was and always is to help those who are and have been in a similar situation such as myself and it is important not to lose sight of that. 

More in-depth detail is available on my patreon homepage which you can find by clicking, here. There is also the opportunity to pledge and get your rewards in return!

If you do decide to pledge, I would be ever so grateful as it will allow me to focus more on my content and grow my blog - hopefully reaching more people.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx 

Journal #2 11th November 2013

Today's journal entry is from 2013 when my anxiety and depression was at its most severe. Please do not read, if you think it may be triggering. 

11th November 2013

"I might as well be in prison for an offence I didn't commit. Many just get on with their lives whilst thinking that Amy will be okay. But perhaps Amy won't get on with it. Amy is struggling so much she cannot bare to see the light of day. Maybe, Amy isn't as strong as you think she is. Perhaps she is screaming and crying on the floor, losing the will to keep going. Maybe you should ask more often, because that's all she needs to be saved.

The eyes of my peers burn through me as I walk into school. Questions sprout in their minds as to where I've been and what's wrong with me. They may think that I'm weak and that I'm skiving, but little do they know that I am strong. If people act in such away towards me, then I cannot be surrounded by them. 

The girl everyone used to know is broken. Demons have taken over her mind and soul but the anger has given her the determination to go on even though they're both battling with similar force. This girl will defeat them.

Perhaps she manages to get to school one day but unfortunately this doesn't mean that everything is okay. It is absolutely immoral to think so and if you want to know the truth, then just ask. 

The pale face, broken skin and dark clothes are all resulting from the effort that can barely be found. It reflects the feelings towards life. The broken face caused by endless tears and lack of food, the clothes that used to fit and too big and fall of her weak bones. 

I'm wasting away and people are too scared to say, but I promise it will be okay."

Here I am. I am okay and perseverance made sure I got through the hardest of times. Even if all seems lost, you have the possibility to get better. You can get better. If I can do it, you can do. Three years later, I am here and I am on my way to recovery. I have every faith you can do it too.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx


Guest post: Caroline

A guest post sent in by Caroline

Having anxiety is like that moment of panic when you miss a step going downstairs, all the time. You know what's about to happen when your heart starts racing and it gets hard to breathe. You start shaking, your thoughts get cloudy and suddenly you can't see anything clearly anymore. Some symptoms are huge, like those. Some symptoms of anxiety are so tiny, like not being able to sit still, eyes always focused on the floor, or not talking in class- ever. You ask a friend to go with you, everywhere, because the thought of going somewhere by yourself is a task that seems near impossible. Thoughts of what could happen at any given moment are always racing through your head, making it hard to think, or concentrate on what's going on around you. Anxiety is constant fear of what others are thinking, like those people laughing in the hall? "What if they're laughing at me?" So many "what if"'s come with this disorder. If someone doesn't reply right away, you automatically assume they hate you, or want to talk to someone else. Anxiety can control a human. Not many things have the power to do that. So the people that get up every single day with this disease and carry on acting "normal", those people are the strongest out there. And the friends and families giving constant support to them are the reason those people can do that. So, if you know someone that has this disorder, always walk with them to the checkout at the grocery store, accept their fear of being in public and help push them gently out of their comfort zones. And if you have anxiety, tell someone. It can make it 1,000 times easier to cope with. I hope this gives others some understanding of what it's like living with anxiety. It can be so hard. But if people can just understand, it could be so much easier.

Caroline

Shyness or anxiety?

Where is it correct to draw the line? I've always wondered if shyness is somewhere on the spectrum of anxiety, but I'm not a psychologist so I'm not sure of the full answer. I've always found it strange that different people can be shy because of different things. I have often heard that actors and actresses are shy when off stage, but are in their element on stage. This is definitely something I cannot relate to! My earliest memory of my shyness is when I was made to be Mary in the infant school play, with the teachers hoping that it would improve my confidence - it certainly didn't! I guess I have always been a shy person as I've hated being the centre of attention, never really put my hand up in class and hated being on stage, but I wonder whether this was anxiety all along. Perhaps I had been suffering from anxiety from the age of five, but there's not much that can tell this is the case. I suppose it almost seems like over the years, my shyness developed into an anxiety disorder with panic attacks and how disabling it became and I think this is where the line is drawn; when it becomes that debilitating. When my anxiety was at its worst, I couldn't do anything. But as it improved I began to learn situations that I was more comfortable in, almost like the situations where my shyness affected me less. I think it's possible to say that there is a connection, but I certainly think that anxiety is the more severe, and I'll just take this opportunity to remind you that if you feel you are suffering with anxiety that is getting in the way or your everyday life, then please seek help. I know it's scary and a lot of the time I hear people saying that they think it's nothing, but even if it is, it's better to sure. If you feel that the opinion the doctor gives you in the first instance isn't right, then I encourage you to go and see someone different until you see someone who understands what is going on with your mind and body. Remember, you know you the best.

I'm curious, has anyone else experienced shyness and anxiety? What are your stories? Leave me a comment below.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

I'm numb

I don't know what it is, but I spend a lot of my time feeling quite numb. I presume it's my medication, which I hope to be coming off soon to see it makes a difference and also to see whether I'm well enough to live without it. 

For a long while, I have felt less than I feel I should. Sometimes I struggle to feel happiness, in the same way I struggle to feel love and sometimes sadness too. It's really weird for me, because although I have never worn my heart on my sleeve, a lot of the time and in the past I have felt more numbness than I have happiness. And although this can been seen to be part of depression, the pure distance and spacing-out seems to be a side effect or either my disorder or medication.  This is because sometimes with anti-depressant medication, it can blanket how you're feeling to try and compensate for the depression. It's also possible, which may be in my case, for the medication to change and not work in your favour like it used to, and that's okay. My medication was my lifeline, but perhaps now after three years, it's time for a change. I would still always suggest medication to those struggling, because it saved my life. 

I suppose it can be quite scary to not feel like other people, and the way perhaps you should feel. But, with time and will I'm hoping that I will reach myself again. I know that people around me have noticed that I've become more distant and away with myself and it's not a nice thing for others to experience, let alone myself. I know I don't want to feel like this anymore and I know that it's going to take time to get back to normal.

You've just got to hold on in there. 

Do you have similar stories?

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

You've got a friend in me!

Sometimes, when someone else is struggling we don't always know the best way to approach the situation. Often, it's hard enough for us to help ourselves, let alone anyone else. So I have complied a few tips and tricks to help you, if you need to help a friend or someone you care about.  


  • Notice the signs - have they become more distant or changed their behaviour? Keep an eye out for any tell-tell signs that something's not quite right. Even an 'are you okay?' can be the gateway to the help they need. 
  • Offer a hand - if you notice that somethings not quite right, then let them know that you'll be there for them. They may not want to talk straight away, but they will know that you are there.
  • Be casual - don't set up a meeting at a cafe just to chat about mental health. Try and make it more relaxed so that it won't be the topic of conversation. That way they should feel more relaxed. 
  • Have resources - make sure you know some people who you can contact if you suspect that something is up. This means that you can help in the best way you can, whenever you need to.
I hope this has helped. Reaching out and knowing that someone cares, tends to be one of the best ways to help.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

Not so new job!


If you've been following me on twitter, you'll know that I have had my my first paid job! I had been

working there for a good few months and I didn't think I would ever get there. Having a paid job was the last goal on my hierarchy because I was just so petrified of the whole notion. But, the way it worked out, one step after another meant to me that I just had to do it. It was my final step for me, so I thought I had to go for it. But I was petrified and I cried at least three times before even getting to the trial shift and even after the first phone call.

But I thought I had come far to even get the trial shift that I might as well continue. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be because I learnt that people don't expect you to be perfect and get everything right the first time round.

Form my first shift itself, I was strangely more excited than nervous. I'll be honest that I was a little rusty as I had to take in a lot of information and for the whole 6 hours, I was on edge, but I made it. Before I got the job I kept getting into a panic about the thought of it and I kept saying that I couldn't do it and I just felt myself full of dread and anxiety and this was the way it was for first month of work.

I'll be honest that the whole notion of a job was so overwhelming that it pushed me to the edge. In the beginning I was doing way too many hours than which I could cope with and I got in such a serious and worrying mental state, that I knew I could either give up or do something about it, and do something about it is what I did. I don't know where the courage came from, but I phoned in sick and explained exactly why and what I struggled with and the necessity to reduce my hours, and as a result that is what happened. I appreciated the fact that I was taken seriously, as an adult and as a human being. My mental health is valid. 

As the months passed, it did get easier and I was brought back from the edge and gaining in confidence. The more I went, the more comfortable I became and the more I got used to it. However, there were many a time where I cried during work, before and after as well having some breakdowns and panic attacks. But, as this passed I picked myself up and tried again. I now understand even more, that the things you think you cannot get through, you can. 

Ultimately, it took one bit of courage to overcome the anxiety. But it was also something I had to give up because I couldn't cope with the stress of final year university and a job and that's okay. Even though I know I will still have anxiety getting my next job, I have gotten over the first hurdle which I never thought would be possible. 

I feel that this was the right time for me to get my first paid job and now, it doesn't matter to me so much what my other peers were doing in the past. I am on my own journey. 

It just takes that one bit of courage.

Best wishes,
Amy Xx

Journal #1 11th November 2013

Today begins a new series on my blog. I want to share with you what living with mental illness is really like. I know I have over the years, but this time I also want to share snippets from my journals, to show you the depth that mental illness can go to. Of course, not all of my journal entries will be published because it is very private. However I will be sharing the entries I feel comfortable in doing so, albeit somewhat altered if necessary.

Today's Journal entry is from 2013, when I was 18 years old and still struggling to get to sixth form on a daily basis. Please don't read if you feel it may be triggering. A time when my anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies were extremely severe:


11th November 2013

"I've recently read a quote that said write until it stops hurting, so here goes:

Today was a bad day. However, God listened to me and got rid of my bad throat to help me to get to school. Unfortunately, today I couldn't make it but I was ever so close. I broke down and mum had to restrain me. I just couldn't get out of the car. 

I picture my classmates and teachers, especially the teachers anticipating my entry in school; their faces of disappointment breaks my heart because I know they search for me and are delighted when they know I've made it. Even though it creates so much pain, I still struggle. I can't bare to let these people down because I know how much they care. My Mum is in so much distress over this and it's not fair on her. I would do anything to take this pain away. 

I hate that other people can just go to school. I am missing out on memories, friends and education. This is what I regret because I will never get the time back. All of that laughter and learning I cannot access because I'm stuck in my room. Because I'm burdened with this curse. I would do anything, go through any other torture to be free from this. I want my life back. I know I have lost myself and I hope that someday I can be reunited, so I can be happy like any other 18 year old. 

I am not an 18 year old now. I feel I have lost all control and it angers me because I can't be like the rest. I want to get a job and join a club, but I am incapable because the forces are too strong. I don't even have the power to progress with the responsibilities that I'm supposed to have. I've been left to crawl out of the mud, whilst others run too far ahead to ever be seen. 

I just want to wake up happy. I don't want to feel ill every day. I don't want to have such dread that my brain can't comprehend it. I don't want to think that the only way to cure this, is to die. This is not what I want, but it's hard to see an end." 

I look back at this entry and I look at how far I have come. I'm 21 now, and am at a stage where my anxiety and depression is under control for the majority of the time. I was writing from a place of hopelessness, but if reading this tells you anything, it's that you can get from the darkest of times and live a happy life once more. I and many others are the proof of this. Keep fighting.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx