Distancing myself from my illness; Mental health update

I haven’t posted in 10 days, it feels like a long time since I last logged in. Simply due to being busy. Stress is normally the main contribution to the severity of my mental health. This is particularly annoying as stress is unavoidable in life. It’s not ‘I’m stressed’ that contributes to the decline, but is often due to (what I call) ‘unconscious stress’. This is where there is a event/worry gives you the symptoms of stress despite not actively thinking about said thing.

Surprisingly, despite having a much busier schedule I haven’t been stressed or overwhelmed by the future. My intrusive thoughts have been a lot quieter. It is only recently that I noticed I haven’t had many intrusive thoughts of suicide, and that in itself is a huge achievement. Even when I wasn’t experiencing them, I was often worried they were going to come. So being in a position when it’s not even on my mind is amazing! I think the reduction in intrusive thoughts is the main reason I am doing so well!

I am thriving! I am doing well in my online degree, going to my part time job isn’t a struggle, and everyday life is great! It not only feels GREAT to be doing so well, but it’s even more exciting sharing it with my partner. I am currently doing my degree part time over summer break, but go back to full time once Fall is here, so that should bring a little more anxiety. But I am currently looking forward to delving more into new modules of my degree!

Distancing myself from my mental illness is going well. Not having it the focus of my life, has already improved my views towards my life, and making it easier to plan the immediate future. I can’t see it yet, but maybe one day I could potentially live a life without this?

I’m doing OK?/ Taking day by day

I haven’t done a mental health related post in a while, as I find it easier to write(or type in this case) when I am struggling. So I’m going to make this post a mini update. As I haven’t been struggling as such, I haven’t known what to write about…

I’m thriving in my current living situation, my new apartment is perfect, and I simply adore being here! It even makes me not want to leave the house haha. I have found a good balance between my part time job and doing my degree online. So lifestyle wise, I am doing great!

I have also regained my absolute love for reading! Oh my, I was in the longest reading slump I have ever been in… Multiple months! For someone who aims to read 100 books a year(and has done successfully for the past 5) This was a huge shock for me. I felt lost without my passion for books. Which I guess contributed to my restlessness. I normally delve into a book when I am overwhelmed, and as I didn’t have this outlet, I guess that caused a change in my state. I am so happy to be reading again, and read 7 books last week alone!

I have had a sudden change in mentality around food&body image, which seems to have come out of nowhere. This has triggered many emotions from the past, and I am actively compensating. TW; Part of me is relieved these feelings have returned, as I have felt so unconfident in myself whilst my mind has been ‘free’ from these thoughts the past couple of years. I feel calm that I now have control over my body now ect. The other part of my brain wants to tell me it’s okay to have x BMI or a soft tummy and eat junk food, as life is too short. But the other part of my brain(that has suddenly resurfaced) has become stronger, and I want it to remain this way, so I can feel ‘better’ about myself. Blah blah blah

I am finding comfort in taking life day by day. In the past (&still present) I have found it difficult not to worry about the future, and overwhelm myself into a bad place. Therefore, I have taken the ‘day by day’ approach, and only ‘worry’ about what I am doing ,thinking and feeling on the given day. This has made me less likely to wake up stressed/ overwhelmed by the days ahead. When I am having a hard time with my thoughts, I tell my this is temporary, and ‘this too shall pass’

I am not in a bad place, nor am I doing amazing. I am simply OK. I am content to just be OK for the time being. This is my update, which basically is just saying, I am doing OK!

Receiving help is so damn difficult?

You probably think this post is going to be able how hard it is to find help. It’s not. We all know how expensive therapy; is hundreds of $$$ a month… Finding a professional that suits your needs, and one you feel comfortable with. Or experimenting with medication for mental health is time consuming. Or even finding the time off from work, college or life to commit to focusing on your support. These are not why it is difficult for me. (Yet anyway)

Firstly, if you have read my post ‘My fear of medication for mental health’, you will know that medication has and is still not an option for me. So that hurdle is out of the window for the time being.

Time? I am a college student online getting a degree, and maybe PhD in the future, and I also work part time in a store, that I enjoy. My job is very flexible with hours and shifts, so I could also work around it if I were to receive weekly support. As I am an online student, I can choose my hours of study, as and when I have the time. I still have deadlines, but the majority of the workload you can do at your own pace.

Financially, well no one wants to spends $$$ of their monthly paycheck on therapy do they? Especially in my circumstance, as I completely shut down. I tried one to one therapy outside of a hospital/clinic earlier in the year. It was not successful, in the fact I could not talk… I don’t have the income to pay this amount of money if I can’t see an improvement or benefit. It was also so mentally exhausting.

My last mental health related post was my talking of my colleagues knowing of my mental health. My manager has been amazing, and even gave me a link to a free charity for support, provided by the company. I think/thought this was my opportunity to get the help I need.

I put on my brave pants, and gave the charity an email ,explaining how I got in contact with them, and a very brief outline of what I am struggling with. They emailed back the same day, and gave me a number to call. I was expecting correspondence through email, so the thoughts of a call stressed me out quite a lot. I am not good with phone calls.

It took me 3 days to have the courage to dial the number. I lasted nearly 2 minutes on the phone before having to hang up. They called me back straight away but I could not answer. I feel stupid in myself. Why can’t I cope with the help and want I need?

I am trying SO hard. Why is it so impossible hard to do something I need? I want to get better, I really do.

This leaves me to the now. I am not sure what to do, other than keep trying I guess.

Recognising when I need to ask for help

Ever since my mental health journey began, I have been silent. I have kept my mind to myself, and have only shared my illness with my partner. I have had a few incidents/situations where others have probably wondered/ could see something wasn’t right, but it never escalated, and I was left in my own comfort of privacy.

If you have been reading my posts as of late, you will be aware that very recently I spoke to others about my mental health. This may not be hard for some. but this a HUGE step for me. I know do not know where this leads me now. They have been incredibly supportive, and repetitively made me aware that I can reach out to them at any time.

I do not know how to ask for help? When I am feeling particularly low or suicidal, and am wanting to reach out. How? How do I ask for support, when I don’t exactly know what I’d like them to do? Won’t it feel like I am burdening them? I don’t want people to go out of there way or spend their own time with me. Yet when experiencing suicidal thoughts, it can be nice to know you are not alone.

As always, I am in two mindsets about everything…

How I cope when alone/my crisis plan.

Let’s begin by mentioning I do NOT have a professional crisis plan, and all these mechanisms to cope are what I made up myself, and therefore may only reflect how they help me. I am writing this post to share ideas that may help others, but also to pinpoint for myself if I ever need a visual guide to look at.

My crisis plan is in place to help me when I experience intrusive thoughts and suicidal ideation. What helps me best is distraction, this is very useful when they begin, and can sometimes prevent the thoughts from becoming too intense. Therefore;

STEP 1: Distraction! -My list of distractions is very long, and I have a written list in a notebook as I need this method most often. If my thoughts are not too bad, I read. Once I am reading it is easy to get lost inside the pages, and a few hours later with a book, can often be enough time for the suicidal thoughts to pass. Other distractions include cleaning, I like to be physically distracted, and cleaning is killing two birds with one stone! Watching netflix/youtube isn’t often helpful for me, but if I get an adult colouring book or my bullet journal, background noise is helpful. I love a good podcast!

STEP 2: ‘ This too shall pass’- I am very comforted by the fact that these thoughts are only temporary. So I often repeat this in my head. Knowing that I only have to get through these moments, and I won’t feel this way soon.

STEP 3: Sleep- I know this isn’t the healthiest option, but if the suicidal thoughts are hard to control, then sleep is my temporary ‘disappear’. I usually only use this option if its night time/after 7pm. I can also use it in the early afternoon as a ‘nap’ but it’s harder to fall asleep during the day, especially with intrusive thoughts, which is why I try to only use this step in the evenings.

STEP 4: Asking for help- This step is a HUGE step for me, and one I do not use often. If I do ask for help, the only person I would contact is my partner. Who can be a massive help! I try not to use this option, and I feel guilty and do not want to burden anyone (despite needing the help, it feels this way to me). Now my management at work know how I can feel ( see last blog post) I have the option to contact him, we are friendly so It wouldn’t seem odd/uncomfortable. I don’t think I would ever reach out, but it’s an option!

STEP 5: Hospital- If I really didn’t feel safe, and wasn’t sure if I could keep myself alive, I would (hope) that I would take myself to the emergency department, or seek immediate professional help in some way. I haven’t used this step before, as I am terrified! Let’s hope I don’t have to either.

Another option I didn’t mention was helplines, there are many mental health and suicidal lines to call if you need support. These can be SO helpful, and area great option if you are alone! If you have any other suggestions, I would love to hear them in the comments.

Opening up about my mental health for the first time..

This is another odd post for me to write about, as I never thought this day would occur anywhere in the near future. This week has been odd.

I hadn’t been having a ‘bad’ week as such. If you read my last post you would know that I have been alone for a few days, which is a difficulty for me. I wrote about how well I was doing at the time, which I was. That wasn’t a lie. Ironically enough, that changed the next day.

I woke up with intense suicidal thoughts. I went to work at my part time job as usual, and thought the distraction would be good for me. I enjoy working, and it gives a good mental distraction. This day, the distraction didn’t come. I could not think about anything else but my thoughts, and this was making it extremely difficult to concentrate. My co-workers noticed this, and repetively asked if I was okay.

As my job does not know about my mental health, I put on a facade and tried to act normal. I couldn’t. My thoughts were too loud. I went outside and tried to compose myself. My colleague followed, and I broke down and told them how I was feeling. I genuinely cannot believe I spoke aloud to someone how I was feeling.

They were very supportive, and tried to challenge my rationale. They did not want to send me home on my own, so I stayed at work, with the support that I could take a step out whenever I needed. I am glad they made me stay. I guess I can recognise it’s best not to be left alone when feeling this way.

I am always comforted by telling myself that these thoughts are temporary and will soon pass. A few hours into my shift, and I was feeling a little better, and reassuring my management I would be safe, I went home.

My manager, as well as the colleague who supported me, both messaged me that evening, making sure I was feeling okay, and reassuring me that they were always there If I ever needed anyone. This made me feeling eternally grateful! And less embarrassed about them knowing about my brain. Every day since this incident, my manager has messaged to check up on me, which makes me feel very supported.

I can’t believe I am okay that others now know about my mental health… But as they said you should never try and cope alone, and that there is always someone who will be there for you. Considering my recent loneliness, this is so lovely to hear. It has come to me, that maybe my brain is wrong, and that I am not worthless and alone, thus would not be best to leave the world.

I am proud of myself for opening up, as it was extremely difficult, and I have been silent about my suicidal thoughts since they began. I am SO grateful for the support I have received, and cannot in words, express how appreciative I am.

I am still trying to reassure myself that it is okay that others know. I will return to work in a couple of days, and seeing them since the incident will be a hurdle… but I’m sure I can jump! I’ll be okay.

I’m actually coping alone?

Firstly, it’s been over a week since I lasted blogged, a rarity for me recently. This isn’t because I haven’t had the words to writes, it’s simply a mix of being busy and moving house and still waiting for the internet to be installed. Combined with the stress of moving house, whilst working part time and still doing my degree (why did I pick a degree which doesn’t have a summer break), my partner has also go on holiday with the other graduates from his degree. He has been gone for a week, considering we spend A LOT of time together, this feels like an eternity.

My partner is often wary of leaving me alone for long periods of time, not because he thinks I won’t get through it, but because he hates to see me struggle. He is aware how well I have been doing the past few months, but thought being in the new apartment alone would be hard for me, as my mental health is largely controlled by stress.

I am actually doing really well! It is half way through the week, and each day I have made 3 homemade, healthy and delicious meals! Not only does it taste super yummy, it’s rewarding cooking nice meals. My beautiful new kitchen brings me so much joy, which has helped!

The only difficulty I have experienced so far is when intrusive thoughts become intense, but I have made the effort to distract myself, and with the new move, it has been fairly easy, with stuff around the house to do! I have written a list of distraction techniques to use for the rest of the week, in case I become overwhelmed!

I haven’t spoke to my partner about my struggles, as I don’t want him to worry, especially as I feel I can currently handle them. I’ve written a mini post it note diary of my days for when we gets back. It’s a good little way to write the positives/ what I have achieved each day!

I am currently in my favourite coffee shop, catching up with all blogs, and downloading some shows to watch while I wait for the wifi to be installed! My partner took the kindle, so I am going to browse the thrift stores and see if there is any books that catch my eye! I’m surprised how well I am coping on being alone, especially at night, but it’s rewarding knowing I am progressing on my own! (let’s hope it lasts the next few days haha)