February 27th & 28th

Hey all…

Well I’m back writing, a couple of days since the last time as not been doing well.
To be honest the only way I can describe how I’ve felt these past couple of days, in terms of mental health, is like I’ve been swimming through treacle, or walking with concrete boots on; everyday has been a struggle, arguing with myself about all the negatives in my head. I constantly don’t feel good enough and like I’m always letting people down. I feel like a burden and a stress on my husband, both emotionally and financially; I know he’s not sleeping well at the moment, constant worry about me and where the next penny will come from for bills etc. Every day I feel guilty as he heads off to work and I stay at home. I feel so useless and like I’m not making any contributions to the household at all. I know we used to struggle financially even when I was working, but not to the extent that we do now on just the one income. The pressure on him to go to work no matter what, even when he’s feeling unwell himself, is a worry for me as well. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve wished for either a lottery win to take the pressure off or for a magic wand to make all my issues disappear so that I can live a normal life. But these things are sent to try us as they say, and try us they do. Without any let up at all; even just a little break from the emotional rollercoaster would be nice. It seems like a never ending nightmare that I can’t wake up from. I have no idea if the new medication is really making much of a difference yet, mostly because I feel so sick and unwell all the time. Also, it apparently is approx 4-6 weeks for it to become effective anyway, even though I was already on a form of medication. It frustrates me, but there is no quick fix I suppose. If only there was, I’d take it in a heartbeat. I wouldn’t wish mental illness on my worst enemy; it’s a relentless battle of me, myself and I. The voices in my head act as constant negative forces, criticism and put downs are constantly running through my head. I often give up on things to simply shut them up. Yes this then proves them right of course, but that blissful moment or sometimes even an hour of silence from their torment is relief beyond any measure. I can’t explain how hard it is to live with them in my head 24/7, I wouldn’t even want to try either. I just wish I knew why they were there, where they came from and how to shut them up forever. Sometimes I feel like I’ve taken back control; in the times of silence or the first few moments on waking up, I feel at peace. But it’s always short-lived and it’s always in the back of my mind, that anticipation of which of them will go first and psyching myself up to try and deal with whatever they throw at me. Sometimes I can ignore them, if I can distract myself enough, like with art or music. The trouble is though, my concentration is short-lived, along with my patience. I often find myself getting frustrated with something I’m drawing not looking how I picture it in my head; or choosing an album to listen to but skipping through the tracks because in fact I don’t want to listen to that at all once it starts to play. I don’t even get any respite when I sleep really either; when I’m lucky enough to get some decent periods of sleep anyway. I get such vivid dreams that they wake me up, for example, last night I dreamt that I was laid in bed and was suddenly attacked by a swarm of huge wasps! Literally some of them were the size of golf balls almost, they were crawling all over me, all over the bed, curtains, walls, everywhere. I don’t recall them stinging me at any point, but it felt so horribly real. The back room of our house was like a giant nest, full of them buzzing around, thousands of them, if not millions. I woke up and felt like they were still crawling on me, but felt paralysed to move to do anything about it; I literally just laid there frozen with panic, repeating in my head over and over that it was just a dream and wasn’t real. Took a long time to settle back to sleep after that, was listening out for buzzing and felt sick.

When this morning (28th) came around and the alarm went off I honestly felt horrid. Sick, tired, fuzzy headed and like an elephant had been laid on my chest all night. I think the latter had something to do with the panic I felt during the night; I dragged myself out of bed and got on with the usual morning tasks on auto pilot. Didn’t know whether I was awake or still dreaming to be honest. I managed to get out and pick up some things that my husband had asked me to get (oh the beauty of pay day!) and then I slept until lunch.

It’s just gone 4pm and I’ve accomplished pretty much nothing. 2 loads of laundry and caught up with some recorded tv; which was actually a mistake as it was One Born Every Minute and turned me into a broody, emotional wreck. I was supposed to be starting my volunteering this afternoon as well, but felt too ill and had to cancel. So I’ve probably screwed that up before it even began too. Story of my life at the moment. I don’t feel like I’ll ever make it out the other side of this. Everytime I start to get the remotest glimmer of hope, something stomps on it with giant boots and I feel like I’m back to square one. I feel defeated at every turn and don’t have a clue what to do. I don’t even think this post makes sense!! I’m just rambling on and on, as the thoughts speed around in my head.

I feel like a fail as well because for the first time since I joined Slimming World, I didn’t go to weigh in last night. I couldn’t face the number on the scales after a bad week of comfort eating, something that I promised myself I’d never do again when I first started my weightloss journey. Yes I know I’m only human and slip ups are bound to happen, but I can just feel the pounds and inches creeping back on my body, and feel so powerless and unmotivated to do anything about it. I don’t know where my head is at, certainly not in the SW zone thats for sure. It annoys me as I’ve achieved a lot in that respect, losing a total of 44lbs last year, of which I’ve gained 3.5lbs of that back already, if not more since last week’s weigh in. The running plan hasn’t happened either. I’ve not been out for a walk since Monday either; apart from today I can’t even use the weather as an excuse as the last couple of days have been quite pleasant. I’m just in such a crappy place right now and I feel totally stuck. Like my safety net has been taken away from under me and I’m crashing down at a million miles an hour. I’ll hit the bottom eventually, I don’t see any other ending to it right now. 2 steps forward, 10 steps back. Every single day.

Tonight we’re having pizza, garlic mushrooms and garlic bread; and it’s 100% non-diet friendly. Do I care? Well yes I do to a certain degree of course, but not enough to change it. I just want to shut off from the world and let it get on with things without me. Tonight is a duvet and movie night with my husband, hence why I’m posting this now. As well as the fact that I needed to write to clear my head. Although I don’t know if it’s really working…

I feel guilty too as haven’t been to church for a couple of weeks either.
Last week was still in bed; this week just didn’t feel up to it. So there again I’m letting people down, most of all I’m letting God down. When all he does is support me, and I can’t even spare an hour of my time to go to church and give thanks to him. So much for rediscovering my faith…

Don’t think I’ve got much else to say anyway, I think I’ve ranted and rambled enough. Sorry for all the negativity folks, but I’m not going to sit (or rather lay) here and lie to you all and say I’m okay when I’m not. Not even close to it.
“It’s okay to not be okay” or so I’m told. I don’t feel like it’s okay at all. I just want my life back.
I’ll conclude this post with some images that sum up a lot of my current feelings. Until next time…

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x Sara Phoenix x

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February 24th – 26th

Hey everyone;

Had intended to try and post daily again, but with 1 thing and another it just hasn’t happened.

Anyway, so Monday 25th, overall a good day (shock!!). It didn’t start out great I’ll admit, felt very low in the morning when my husband had to go back to work. After a week at home together it felt like I was losing a part of me as he walked out the door. Sounds rather dramatic I know, but he truly is my rock and I wished last week hadn’t needed to end. Being at home together was both relaxing and in hindsight probably the best week I’ve had for a while mood wise. With him by my side pretty much 24/7 I felt stronger somehow. His love for me is a really big factor in why I’m still here really. I love him infinitely and no matter how bad things have been, he’s there no matter what. I know he worries about me and I wish there was a way I could stop that, but I know I can’t. Even I worry about myself being so damn unpredictable and me cruising on self destruct a lot of the time is good for neither of us. His patience and understanding means the world to me though and I would be completely lost without him.
Anyway, I’ll stop being all soppy and get back to the happenings of the day that was Monday!
I didn’t do much during the morning because of feeling so mopey and rubbish, but after lunch I dragged myself out of the house to go for a walk. The next part of this may surprise you (it did me that’s for sure!); it started drizzling with rain so I decided to walk a shorter route than originally planned, down a road I’ve not been down for a while; I ended up at the riding school and found myself walking through the gate and asking about voluntary work!! Which I was offered as well, and start on Friday this week! I walked home with a genuine smile on my face as well as feeling totally shocked at what I’d just done! Obviously when it sunk in as I was writing it on my calender I did feel proud of myself for doing it too. I didn’t know I had it in me to be so spontaneous for a start! Normally I plan everything to within a second of time, and never stray from that path! I think that’s what surprised me more than anything. In a way it was a small victory against my OCD. Briefly I had a moment of control over the intrusive thoughts that plague my mind. In that moment I was doing something that no one was either telling me to do or not do; it was ME doing something for ME. First time for everything I guess! I’m not going to hold out too much hope of it happening regularly as it will put too much pressure on myself and that’s the last thing I need. The spontaneity of it was a good feeling, so I’ll let it happen as and when its meant to. In the mean time, I’ll carry on as I always have I suppose!
I’ll come back to how I feel about the volunteering shortly! As far as the rest of Monday is concerned, I received my bus pass in the post too. This both made me relieved (for not having to worry about bus fares anymore!) and also like an OAP! I’m just too cool huh, aged 29 with a concessionary bus pass haha. Oh well, I’m entitled to it so why not eh.
I also made it back to Rock Choir!!! Kind of another spontaneous thing really, as was considering either going on the Tuesday or even not at all. The side effects of the medication are still very dominating and I wasn’t sure that I was really up to it. Plus the car is practically running on fumes and with no money to fuel up it seemed it wasn’t an option anyway. However, a kind text came from a Rockie friend during the afternoon offering me a lift; at first I’ll admit I nearly said no! But, when I received it I was on my little high from getting the volunteering, so said yes please! Right up until the moment I was picked up though I did keep fighting myself not to text and back out though. Kept feeling so unwell and wasn’t confident I’d get through the rehearsal; but, I went and I was glad I did. Yes I was completely wiped out by the end of it, but I’d done it. Another tick on the achievements list, or rather an entry into my positives book!

That night I went to bed feeling fairly optimistic and upbeat! However, it all went downhill quite rapidly not long after getting in to bed. Because of my medication, I was all of a sudden so ridiculously restless; I couldn’t keep still, kept tossing and turning, desperately trying to get my body to relax and go to sleep. It was a vicious cycle though and I barely slept at all. Looking back I think I should have gotten up for a bit (have since been advised its the best option as well!); but I felt exhausted at the same time, so it was like being trapped in a body both flying high on pro plus but also weighed down with exhaustion! Not a good combination and as you can imagine, very frustrating!!!

So, by the time Tuesday morning came round (which seemed to take forever watching practically every minute go by!), I was so exhausted I could barely move. It took so much effort to drag myself out of bed when the alarm went off at 6:30am; I just wanted to pull the covers over my head and stay there. Somehow I got myself up and dressed though, didn’t dare look in the mirror at how horrific I must have looked! Made my way down the stairs like a zombie and got on with the usual routine of making coffee and feeding the cat. I was on auto pilot I think, as even after I’d done those tasks and had a cigarette with my husband, he went off to work and I sat there trying to figure out how I even got where I was, convinced I was still in bed dreaming! Such a weird way to feel, kind of scary really. Like an out of body experience almost, felt so detached from myself, like I was there in body but most definitely not in mind. That was very much elsewhere! I was supposed to go out and meet Rockies for lunch, but I was just so tired I couldn’t go. I was disappointed in myself though for letting people down again. They’d made the effort to invite me, 1 even offered to pay for my lunch as well! So it wasn’t even going to cost me anything. I just didn’t have the strength in me to motivate myself out of the sanctuary I call home. I slept on and off most of the day; catching bits of various tv programmes in between, but not taking anything in whatsoever. One minute it was paramedics rescuing 2 girls on a rocky beach, the next it was the lunch time news! I made lunch for my husband as he always comes home for it; he was surprised to see me at home when he came through the door too, but I think he could see by my the washed out look on my face that I was ridiculously sleepy. I have to listen to my body and go with its limitations these days. Over doing things only makes things worse anyway, so I have to try and be kind to myself. It is hard though, considering I used to be so active with working out, a job and other such things that kept me on the go! It’s hard to just sit back and take time out, but I don’t get the luxury of choice. Yes I’ve been called lazy for doing things like sleep all day, but to those people I say – you have no idea how exhausting a mental illness can be, so don’t judge what you don’t understand. As my favourite quote by Dr Seuss goes:

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(as drawn by me!) Bang on how I look at a lot of things now. Or at least try to anyhow. It does hurt when people judge or criticise me for things, but I shouldn’t let it bother me. It’s counter-productive and their problem not mine. This is my journey and if they haven’t got anything nice to say then they don’t deserve to be a part of my journey, or even my life.

Being unwell really has revealed to me who my true friends are; I’ve been shocked by a lot of people that have turned their backs or been unwilling to even try and understand. Yet they always claimed to care and be there for me. But where are they now? Hmm…to be honest I don’t actually give a monkeys. I know who really is there for me, so those that aren’t can go forth and…well, I think you can fill in the rest of that one! As harsh as it may sound, I can’t have people like that in my life anyway. I don’t need criticisms or accusations, I do enough of that myself about myself. So I don’t need people fuelling the inner bully within me any more so than my mind already does. (You’ll see where the inner bully thing comes from shortly also…) I can be self-prejudice on my own, without any help thanks.

So yeah that was Tuesday! Sucky day for sure. Was glad when it was over to be honest, even though I didn’t have a clue if today was going to turn out any better! I wouldn’t say it’s been a great day today, but I did leave the house, so that was a start!
I attended CBT; session 5 of 12. Was daunting going back after a week out, I think most of the group felt the same though. Was only 6 of us there today, plus the 2 therapists. Felt quite overwhelming in a way, as there was less people to go round in the feedback part at the start. I had been talking via email to 1 of the therapists yesterday though, so she was already aware of what’s been going on and when I declined to comment she didn’t push and understood. Just let me sit back and spectate rather than participate. Which was best for me really. Was still very tired despite all the sleep yesterday, and really wasn’t ‘in the room’ mentally, despite being so physically. Today we covered the cognitive side of things, including self-prejudice and our inner bullies. (hence my above comments!); even though I wasn’t really an active part of the group, I still took it all in and made notes (rather random ones I’ll admit, which I may not make sense of but still…) and obviously some of it stuck and made sense in my head somewhere if I’ve referred to it already here tonight!
It made me realise how much I do listen to the negative internal voice (or voices in my case), and it’s something I really need to get a grip on. Not quite sure at this point how because they can get very…umm, loud. That’s the only way I can describe it really. It only takes 1 small thing to go wrong, like I’ll drop something, and they’ll kick off with all the “you’re stupid” or “idiot” kind of things. I always believe it too, then create more negatives in my head and it goes on and on. They fuel it further and I end up feeling worse than ever. No matter what people may try say to convince me otherwise, I won’t believe them. I wholeheartedly take on board the comments people make, however internally I dismiss it with thoughts of “do they think I’m stupid too? Like I’m any of what they claim I am…” etc.
I also had a 1-1 session after the group with the therapist that I’d been emailing as well; she’s been concerned about me from my emails and wanted to take some time with me to discuss it all. It was really useful, as she put a few things into perspective and definitely made me think. Probably to the point of over thinking though as I always do! By the time I got home I’d done nothing but stare into space and think on the bus journey. So I had an epic headache, as well as the completely exhaustion I always get after CBT. Wednesday afternoon’s are always a right off for anything productive. I just come home, eat then sleep. I can’t do anything else as the tiredness totally consumes me. Apparently that is the right way to feel after sessions though (my GP, the course therapists and my psychiatrist have all said so!), and that we need to take time for ourselves after the group and not try to do too much. Impossible for me really..even if I wanted to I don’t physically have the strength. I just crash out!

Okay so now my head hurts and my eyes are crossing so I think that signals the end of this post. Thanks for reading and hope it made some sort of sense….

Until next time…

x Sara Phoenix x

February 10th – 23rd *Epic*

Hey everyone; apologies for such a long time since writing, been a very up and down and crazy couple of weeks. Not really had a lot to say either as not really done much worth writing about.

I’ll endeavour to catch up from last post to present, without waffling too much! I am however dipping in and out of this post and writing it over a couple of days, so I apologise if it goes round in circles a bit!!!
Anyway here goes…..
In order of happening:
Applied for a bus pass on Tuesday (11th), under mental health reasons I apparently qualify, as I’m currently not permitted to drive. It was getting very expensive travelling to all my hospital appointments etc though, so when I was told this I jumped at the chance to apply. It’ll also allow me the freedom to visit my mum as well, without worrying about finding the money or waiting for the weekend’s for my husband to take me! I just hope I can overcome my anxieties soon too, as that too holds me back from bus travel unless absolutely necessary.
The reduction in my medication got very hard for me, my mood dropped lower and lower. CBT session 4/12 on Wednesday (12th) was hard to get through as I just couldn’t concentrate. Was so tired and really not in the right frame of mind to take it in. I was really reluctant to talk in group too. I was glad when it got to 12:30pm so I could make a hasty exit. I have a feeling the therapist that pulled me to one side previously had planned to this time too, but I got out quick while someone else was asking her something.

Thursday (13th) I spent the day chilling with my bestie, who I’ve not seen for many years! It was nice to catch up with him and just relax. Even if I wasn’t really all that talkative… he understood though.

The next few days after that were hard, as my mum was taken really ill and ended up in hospital. They diagnosed her with a cluster of blood clots on her lung; I was so scared, and felt so helpless as there was nothing I could do. On the Saturday (15th) I spoke to her via the phone by her bed, and it made me really emotional. Told her I love her for the first time in years, then when I hung up the phone I just broke down in tears. Luckily not long after that my husband returned home from work, so I could have a cuddle and talk to him about it. In the evening we went to a surprise 50th birthday party for my uncle, who was less than impressed as he hates surprises…!! Was quite an awkward evening with family I’d not seen for some time, and in all honesty I felt like I didn’t belong there at all. I stuck it out for my other aunts sake, as I mostly went to support her. I don’t think many of us were really in a party mood though with mum being in hospital.
Also was a bad day regarding my self harm too; unfortunately I crumbled at made a few superficial cuts to my leg. Haven’t done so since, but still feeling guilty for giving in to temptation again.

Sunday (16th) was a day of relief as I got the news that mum was being discharged from hospital. Still unwell, but over the worst. We went to visit her at home, and it was nice to just be with her.

Monday (17th), my 29th birthday. My last year as a twenty-something. Oh joy. It was a nice relaxed day though with my husband, who treated me like a princess and let me do whatever I wanted. I ate what I wanted to, decided some time out from dieting was a birthday present to myself! Especially as I was made an amazing, sparkly chocolate cake!

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LUSH!!!

Tuesday (18th) was another off diet day as lots of sugar was required for phoenix tattoo stage 2! Also was kind of comfort eating as it would of been my dad’s birthday that day too. So it was a day of very mixed emotions. I fell in love with my tattoo even more though and now the saving begins again to get it finished! I’m aiming for when I have finished the CBT course, but that may be unlikely as I won’t have much of an income to save between now and then!
I also started my new medication too that evening; more on that at the end of this post!
Here is stage 2: (Only a few hours after, so rather red and sore!! But after 2 hours in the chair that’s a given!)

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Wednesday (19th) did pretty much nothing! Can’t even remember what happened that day… so I’ll skip to Thursday (20th)… I received a letter in the post regarding my temporary work as an invigilator at a sixth form college, offering me the position. So that was a good start to the day, then we made homemade burgers for lunch, also making it a good day! It was however also weigh in that evening! As expected after eating so much cake, chocolate etc I had a gain. Not as bad as I anticipated, but still 3.5lbs. Still staying in target range though, so means I’m still a free member!

Friday (21st) was a lazy day again with my husband; I filled in the forms for the job, and just chilled out really most of the day. Caught up with a bit of housework as was having family round on Saturday. I can’t recall much else happening that day to be honest, so will move on to Saturday (22nd); had my husband’s aunt and 2 cousins round for a cuppa and catch up, which was lovely. Hopefully we can do that more often as they made me smile and laugh a fair bit!
Now to the bit about my medication! By yesterday evening I was feeling so unwell because of them. So far since starting them I’ve had to deal with the following side effects: Nausea, headaches, dizziness, muscle spasms (most at night when trying to sleep!!!), vivid dreams when I’m lucky enough to sleep, and just overwhelming exhaustion. It’s almost like having full on flu, and if it doesn’t settle down soon I’m going to tell the psychiatrist that I’m not prepared to tolerate them anymore. At least with my previous medication I wasn’t constantly feeling like I was going to be sick or pass out! A zombie most days yes, but that I could deal with! The only thing that I’ve found to be a useful side effect of the new meds is the increased thirst, which means I’m drinking more water than before. Good in the diet sense of things, but of course has its irritating down side as well, as you can imagine with increased fluid intake…well yeah you can work that out for yourself! Can’t have it all though I suppose.
Finally, on to today, Sunday (23rd)!!! Taken a while I know (I actually started drafting this post on Friday I think!). Another nice chilled out day with my husband, his last day of holiday. This does make me quite fearful, as when he goes back to work tomorrow I’m on my own again (well apart from the cat!); I’ve been trying to motivate myself to get back into running; simply to get me out of the house really. Obviously there’s other benefits to it as well, but getting out is this main objective. I’ve created a running plan over a 4 week period, starting out at running 1 mile, building up over the 4 week’s to get to 3 miles. This I felt was the most sensible approach as I haven’t run since November/December last year! Also, I want to eventually go back to Park Run as well, which is a weekly 5k (approx 3 miles). So I need to build myself back up again. I’m also contemplating joining a running club at some point, as its free, I can meet people and improve on my running too. But alas, that’s all in the maybe list really, as right now I feel too unwell to move too much around the house, let alone put my runners on and pound the pavement! I think I would actually be sick! I may try and do the 4 week plan as a March challenge! But will see how things go.
This is my plan:

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Not sure there’s really much else to say for now…there’s probably things I’ve forgotten to mention, but my memory is pretty rubbish at the moment so if I recall anything I shall make a note to add them into a future post! I will also try and post more regularly to avoid epic post catch up like this! (Well done and thank you if you’ve made it this far, am nearly done I promise!).

So another week begins tomorrow, back to CBT this week too (if my bus pass arrives before then, as currently have no money for a bus ticket!), otherwise I won’t be going. Going to stop writing now as my heads spinning and it’ll soon be time to take the pill of doom and go to bed anyway! Thanks again for reading, and apologies again for the long silence and any concern this caused any of you. Thanks to those of you who have messaged me during the silence though, much appreciated even if I haven’t been particularly good at showing it!!
Currently feeling a little….

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…in my own little bubble!

Until next time…
x Sara Phoenix x

February 9th

Hey folks,

I apologise in advance, this is going to be a bit of a rant/release of frustration post tonight; feeling overwhelmingly angry and unhappy this evening. I’ll explain why…(without mentioning any names)

The day started off quite well really, was in a good mood for once; was soon spoiled when I checked the bank balance and found we were overdrawn, even though we don’t have an overdraft! Thanks to someone taking a payment of more than double than the agreed amount and 2 weeks early as well. So yeah, that pissed me off.
After getting over that drama, the rest of the day was going quite smoothly, until this evening. I had a text from someone who shall remain anonymous, but the content was what hurt. It seems in my attempt to focus on my recovery, it’s upset certain people. The reasons for this are: I don’t keep in touch with anyone anymore; I never go and see them anymore; and basically I’m selfish, rude and thoughtless because of the above. They claim they can’t remember me having depression before, even though they were the first person to notice my self harming at the age of 16; Its as if they don’t believe that I’m genuinely unwell and feel that I’m just being lazy or uncaring. If it was true then I wouldn’t mind them thinking like that, but it’s not. I didn’t ask to be mentally unwell, nor did I intend to cause other people upset or hurt because of it. What annoys me though is that they don’t seem to want to understand; instead they just judge or criticise or tell me I’m doing something wrong. I get told to “Get better quick” or “Pull myself together” and other such things. I wish it was a simple case of pulling myself together or just taking a magic cure and getting better quick, like overnight or something! Do people honestly think that I don’t want to get well? Do they think that I want to be constantly hating myself/wanting to hurt or kill myself/crying/feeling awful?? I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy!! I know that it’s hard for people to understand how I feel, but to not even bother to try is what hurts me. I have enough self doubt and hatred for myself without their thoughtless comments on top of that. It knocks me back and makes me feel worse. I start to think maybe I am selfish or not caring about anyone but myself. It makes me doubt everything about myself, and it just snowballs into more and more bad thoughts. It’s a vicious circle that I can’t get out of.

I came so close to cutting again today because of how that persons texts made me feel; every day I battle the temptation as it is, then things like that push me closer than ever. I didn’t give in to it in the usual way, but I did sit and frantically scratch at my arms, making them red and sore. I suppose it was better than the alternative, but still frustrates me getting to that point and having no control over the emotion. Sometimes I feel like getting rid of my phone totally to stop people like that getting to me, but then I think of all the people that do help and care for me, and I can’t do it. My phone is almost my lifeline and some days my only contact with the outside world. Right now I just feel so angry, frustrated, upset and overwhelmed by it all that I want to just stay in bed all week and shut the world out. I know that’s the worst thing I could do, but I just can’t deal with drama at the moment. The reduction in my medication is really beginning to affect me negatively and it’s getting harder every day. I don’t know how long I can take this.

Calling it a night, am so over today.

Until next time maybe…
x Sara Phoenix x

February 8th

Hello everyone,

Wasn’t sure whether to bother posting tonight, as had a really lazy day and done nothing productive whatsoever (that was the plan though!);
But, here I am! Figured I could at least document my feelings:
Been really up and down today. I’m really starting to feel the reduction in my medication dosage. The lows are getting lower every time and am having some extreme highs (really hyper, restless/twitchy, giggly). It’s like being on a rollercoaster and I’m dreading the next step down in dosage. It’s going to get progressively harder to function, and then I’ve got the challenge of adapting to the new medication. I’ll be honest as always and say that yes I am scared. I’m scared of the change to something I’ve never taken before; I’m scared of the side effects; I’m scared of it not working or making things worse; I’m scared of it all. I know the psychiatrist is more than qualified to make the decision to change my medication, but I really wish she wasn’t changing things. Yes perhaps it’ll be the change I need that will make a huge difference; but on the other hand it could make everything a million times worse. It could make the suicidal thoughts more frequent and intense (so I’d be more likely to act upon them); it could cause weight gain, which also freaks me out. There’s so many “what if’s?” and unknowns that it’s causing a great deal of anxiety for me. I’m seeing my GP on Monday so am going to discuss all of this with him and see what his opinion is.

I’ve now booked the second stage of my tattoo though, which is giving me focus and a place to aim for. I know that may sound daft to some people, but the tattoo itself has so much meaning to me and I really do draw strength, faith and hope from it. To aim towards getting the next stage of it done is important to me, and whenever I’m in doubt or don’t feel strong, I know I have to fight to get to that day. I looked into designs earlier on, for ideas for the background, but didn’t find anything that really jumped out at me. I’m going with my original plan of trusting my tattooist as he’s very talented and had some awesome ideas that we discussed when he did the outline. I did find some pictures which explain the meaning of a Phoenix, which I thought I’d share on here:

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It definitely reinforces my reasoning for getting the tattoo done, as it really does represent me and my journey. Of course I will post photos on here of when the second stage is done! It’s happening on 18th of this month; the day after my 29th birthday, and on what would have been my dad’s birthday. (I’ll leave that subject for another day’s post I think, too emotional to talk about it today).

I submitted my post from yesterday to the “Blog for mental health project 2014”, so I’ll keep you posted on where it goes!

Not sure what else to really say tonight…I’ve stuck to slimming world plan if that counts…Don’t think I’ve mentioned it but if I’m repeating myself I apologise! But I managed to lose 1/2lb this last week by sticking 100% to plan (other factors did play a part, so I was happy with a small loss!), but am aiming for another loss next week, hopefully a little more. I’d rather be at the bottom end of my target range, than at the top end where I am now. I’d still love to get down to my original target weight, but for now I have to settle for where I’m at. It is a little frustrating, but it’s for my overall health and wellbeing that my target weight was changed. I need to keep remembering that… (easier said than done!)

I’ve also acquired a penpal; been years since I’ve had one! But it’s something I feel will be useful for both myself and the girl I’ll be writing to. She’s recovering from anorexia, depression, self harm and OCD. So we have a lot in common and can support and help each other, because we’ll relate to how each other is feeling.

I filed all my CBT course book into a proper folder today; makes it easier to keep it all together with my homework as well. It was the therapists that suggested it at the session last week, and it gave me satisfaction for the organising I was craving earlier.. (OCD is hard work sometimes!).

Being on top of the housework meant I had nothing to do in that respect today. In a way it was nice not to have a ‘to-do’ list to complete, but at the same time I did keep having moments where I felt lost and restless not knowing what to do!! I’ve been really tired and lacking in concentration too, so have just sat around really, getting frustrated and annoyed with myself for wasting time! I shouldn’t though, as I’ve had a really productive week and achieved a lot. I should be thankful and make the most of the rest and relaxation!!! Oh well…

I think that’s really all I can say for today….think I’ve bored you enough as it is! So, thank you for reading and until next time…

x Sara Phoenix x

February 7th

Hey everyone,

Today I’m going to be posting about something other than my daily existence! I haven’t really done much today anyway; So here goes…

Whilst reading some other blogs that I follow, I discovered the ‘Blog for Mental Health Project 2014’ and decided to get involved. After all, this blog is about my journey of recovery from Mental health problems, so it makes sense to share my story as part of a bigger picture. There’s far too much stigma surrounding mental health problems; resulting in people like me feeling isolated, misunderstood, not believed and accused of making it up or just being lazy. Truth is, mental illness is very real. No matter who you are, it doesn’t make you immune to it. You could be a millionaire or a beggar, the black dog doesn’t care. It’s not picky about race or religion, gender or sexuality; if it wants to bite you, it will. Often very hard. Some of you may be thinking, what on earth is she on about a black dog for?! Well, rather than me trying to explain, watch this video, it’s less than 5 minutes long and I promise, it makes a lot of sense! –

The Black Dog

For me it’s not just a simple case of depression; I’m much more complicated than that. I often wish I wasn’t though and that happy pills were my magic cure, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. If you’ve never read my blog before, here’s a quick summary of me and where I’m at:
I’ve suffered with depression on and off since I was 15/16 years of age; over the years each episode got increasingly worse, more intense and took longer to get back from. Currently I’m going through probably my worst to date; it had a long build up that I never fully noticed, including voices in my head that took on personalities and lives of their own, acted out by me. Every time I say that I feel sick, knowing how unwell I’ve become and it upsets me too because it’s caused others a lot of hurt too; that was obviously never my intention, but I can’t help but feel guilty about it. I guess that’s natural. It’s a human response to be upset about hurting others, so I try not to let it get to me too much.
As well as the voices, I’ve developed anxiety, often to quite extreme levels; sometimes it’s so overwhelming for me it makes me feel really unwell. Other days I can manage it okay and it doesn’t seem to affect me. It’s really unpredictable, much like the depression, and can be triggered by the smallest, seemingly ridiculous things that other people wouldn’t bother about.
As well as depression and anxiety, I have OCD, emetephobia, food related issues (bingeing/purging/avoiding food), and I’ve struggled with alcoholism, self harm and suicidal thoughts. To be honest all of the above is just the tip of the iceberg, but they all pretty much fall under the one umbrella that is my depression, or my black dog.
Despite this being my worst episode, it has had its advantages; as I found a GP that really understood me, and has put me on the path to recovery, well at least management of my illness. In some ways it feels wrong to call it recovery, as that would be mean getting over something permanently. If only that were true for mental health issues. It’s more a case of finding what works for you and taking back the control.

So that tells you a little (okay, a fair bit!) about me and my journey so far. That brings me on to making my pledge:

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”
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More about the project can be found here: A Canvas Of The Minds

I hope my blog is useful as part of this project, and even if it only helps 1 person to not feel they’re on their own, then that’ll do for me. I know that it is a useful tool for me as part of my journey too. Let us end the stigma surrounding mental health;

Until next time…
x Sara Phoenix x

February 6th

Evening folks,

Today’s been quite a productive day! Shocking I know!! I made myself a reasonable list of what I needed to do and what I wanted to do too. So it was a nice balance and wasn’t too overwhelming for me either. It turned out that I got everything on my list done, plus extra things too! It seems when I give myself less to do I actually get more done. Lesson well learnt I think! So today I: Had breakfast and at 9am went down to the church for Holy Communion; the first I’ve participated in since before my wedding. It was scary going into the church but I was welcomed by 2 lovely ladies, as well as the vicar; so it eased my fears a little straight away. It was a nice small gathering of people, around 8 or so of us, which was also a good thing as it wasn’t too overwhelming for me, like attending on a Sunday would be! The only thing I struggled with was my OCD about germs, as there was a lot of hand shaking at one point and I didn’t have my hand gel with me! Also, participating in the communion bread and wine was hard (for the same reasons) but I did it and was really proud of myself for that. I enjoyed it all and it felt good to be out of the house and with other people too. If other people want to judge me for rediscovering my faith then so be it; I’m in a place where I feel at peace with myself and know that accepting God back into my life is not a bad thing and that it’s taken courage for me to do so. The vicar also lent me a book to read about Jesus, which I managed to read a whole chapter of when I got home; another first for me, as my concentration is usually rubbish when it comes to reading a book! The normal for me is about a page before I lose focus, so to get through a whole chapter is a real achievement for me.
After that it was almost lunch time, so I started getting things sorted for that, and whilst my lunch was cooking I did the washing up! It was another tick off my list and that felt good. After lunch I went a little cleaning crazy and blitzed the kitchen, which then led on to hoovering downstairs as well, which wasn’t even on my list! I rewarded myself with a soak in a hot bath, safe in the knowledge that tomorrow I can have a nice easy day and do whatever I feel I can or want to do. Anything I achieve tomorrow will be a bonus, but if I don’t achieve anything then that’s okay too; I’m not going to put pressure on myself, after today and yesterday, I feel I’ve accomplished a lot this week anyway, and that’s good enough for me.

I’m blogging even earlier today too, so it will miss out the evening, which is Slimming World. So I’ll cover that in tomorrows post instead. It means I can come home from that and relax, knowing I’ve gotten everything done that I need to for today. I definitely feel very accomplished, however also very exhausted!! Plus I have to leave for SW shortly so I shall end this here. Thanks for reading, until tomorrow/next time…

x Sara Phoenix x