First appointment – all over the place

When I woke up, I was in relatively good spirits. This was until I realised that I couldn’t have my morning ritual of a nice latte, thanks to getting bloods taken. It may seem menial to those of you reading, but my coffee is literally my only vice. It is also something that I like to enjoy in peace and quiet, sitting in the dark, in the kitchen, looking out the window, just relaxing. I’m fully aware of how that sounds, just putting that out there. It’s not as sad as it sounds. It’s the one time of the day I don’t have to moan, repeat myself, shout, argue, or be angry. It is a sacred time.

Given there would be no chilling out with my latte today, I just proceeded to get ready. As I stood in the shower, thinking about the conversation my husband I had just had, about growing up and all our old friends from when we were really young, you know, back when life was totally innocent? I was reminded that today is my old friend, Kelly’s, birthday. Kelly passed away 4 years ago. In the end we weren’t even all that close, however, she was one of my best friends during my darkest times. Since having my kids, we drifted further apart, only speaking on special occasions, or when she was wasted and emotional. In later years, I stopped answering the phone to Kelly as often, and I wouldn’t even feel guilty. I saw it as; I had moved on, she hadn’t, and I didn’t need that in my life! Not when I’d worked so hard to move on.

The day of Kelly’s funeral was a surreal day. I think because I’d not been close with her in the end, so it all didn’t feel real. When I arrived at the crematorium, other than my husband and an old mutual friend, I knew no-one. I looked around at this sea of strangers. A rather haunting, dubious looking bunch. All unsavoury, and I’m not even convinced they weren’t completely off their tits. In middle of this sea of strangers, was her Mum, Grace, who was completely unrecognisable. Aged terrible, and clearly off her face. When Grace saw me and came in for a big hug, telling me how much she’d missed me being around. All I could think was “Please get off me!”, how bad is that?  I didn’t even cry at the funeral. I just sat, scrutinising the song choice. Not a single song was something Kelly would have liked. We then ended up in the most horrific pub, where I had to sit on the edge of the seat because of the grime, there was no fizz in my drink and the glass was dirty. I sat in this pub, just looking around at this scaly bunch and all I could think was “This was very nearly my life”. Needless to say, we didn’t hang around and we were promptly out of there.

I spent the next few days thinking about Kelly, our fun times, our not so fun times, how differently our lives ended up being. Then the thoughts of “Could I have helped her?”, “Should I have tried to influence her more?”, “If I didn’t shut her out, and she had someone more stable to rely on, would she have ended up like this?” Again with the blaming myself. I drove to the crematorium gardens a few weeks after her funeral, and just sat in the garden, and it was at this point it hit me. I cried. I felt really bad for all the times I’d ignored my phone, for not being more constant in her life, for not trying to help her, for not being the friend she clearly needed, for being so incredibly selfish with my own needs, and that I left her behind.

When I was a teenager my Mum would throw my out on a whim. Seriously! Granted I wasn’t a nice kid. If I was my Mum, I’d have likely worn me like a shoe, but the fact is, she didn’t have that approach. My Mum didn’t parent, she just pushed problems away. Resulting in my being homeless, a lot! During these times, my friend was really there for me, making sure I had somewhere to go and that I wasn’t alone. Now, this was also what helped make me worse, don’t get me wrong. It pulled me deeper into a darker lifestyle, and was the root to all my addictions. Without my friend though, I honestly don’t know where I would have been, or how I would have coped.

Every year on her birthday, I get sad. I think of the age she would have been, had someone cared enough to help her. Had someone encouraged her to be more, and to want more from life? It also leads me to think of all the scenarios for my life. All the dark turns it could have taken. Would I have been dead by now? Quite possibly. It’s a dark train of thought to be caught in, and really, it needs to stop. Much like all my other dark thoughts.

By the time I got out of the shower today, I was feeling a bit meh. Although, I knew I had my meeting today, and this was something to be looking forward to, right? I would love to say I was keen, but I was nervous. The thought of having to tell a complete stranger what is going on with me, why do I feel I need to be there. How do you even begin to articulate something short and concise. Can you just blurt out “Because I’m a crazy, scatty bitch that needs to be happy”?

Once in work, I just couldn’t focus. I didn’t care to focus. My mind was on ways to tell this stranger what is going on. When it was time to leave for my appointment, I was so sure I knew how I was going to explain it all. Do you think that went to plan? Hells no. As I sat in the waiting room, on my own, I just scanned around looking anywhere, but the receptionist. The room was almost bare, bar a rack of leaflets for a series of mental health issues. I started to read the titles: Insomnia? Anxiety Disorder? Depression? Anger management?, do I just pick them all up? Fill my pockets for some reading material? I was ticking all of the boxes for these.

My name was called, and my palms started to sweat profusely. My mouth instantly dried up. I’d forgotten all of the words I’d thought up to say. The woman who came to get me, was a petite woman, softly spoken, and very pretty. Straight away I’m thinking she’s probably judging me for my unkempt appearance (jeans, boots, jumper, barely brushed hair, spots out). I’d say she was probably the same age as me, if not a little bit older. This leads me to start thinking that my telling her about my life, she’ll judge me for not having my shit together. All of this is before we’re half way up the corridor. I’m trying to fix my hair by running my fingers through it, and making attempts to catch a reflection in some glass panels on doors we’re walking past. All to no avail, we were walking too fast!

This first appointment was just an assessment. It was a lot of questions about my mood of late, when did I notice my moods changing, rating my happiness/agitation/anxiety etc. Given it was an assessment, I didn’t expect to cry. I did though. Quite a bit. I felt very vulnerable, telling a stranger my insecurities and how sad I’m feeling. Things I’d only been able to admit to my husband, and myself, only the day before. We spoke about my history with mental health, my attempted suicide, how I feel as a parent, my anxiety issues, health anxiety, the time I nearly died (the root of my health anxiety), it was just all over the place. So much to cover, and not enough time. I didn’t feel I explained myself well, although the therapist seemed happy with me, and confident they can help.

This doctor just sat opposite me, smiling when I was talking, making encouraging comments, trying to keep the flow on topic. The whole time my mind is racing as I’m talking, trying to think up the next thing to say.  This caused the conversation to ping pong around. Bouncing between present day, a couple of years ago, and then all the way back to the beginning. I was trying to let her understand where it comes from, or how it could be linked, or where my OCD’s come from. How on earth do you fit that into an 1 hour appointment? I was so nervous with every question asked. Like it was an exam and I could get them wrong. Or that I wasn’t getting what she was trying to get at. I’m shaking my head at myself as I write this, because I know how bonkers it sounds. I figure that her smiling the whole time, and being really encouraging is a good thing though.

I was feeling a bit down after my appointment. I think because it was just a little emotional talking about everything, and because of me thinking about Kelly. I am feeling a bit better now though, as I have my appointment for next week sorted, and I know that in 20 weeks time, I should feel better. That is all I want. I was asked at the end what I wanted from them. If they could wave a magic wand to help me, what would I want? My simple answer was “To be happy, less angry, and more confident”. If they can give me the tools I need to have these, I’d be eternally grateful.

Positives? Well, my first appointment/step is out of the way. I’ve started my journey on figuring out what my issues really are, where they stem from, and how I can work on living with them better, or even, being free of them altogether. I have been enrolled in a 20 week session, and I’ve been offered a group confidence thing, although I think I’ll swerve that. I’m all for having confidence, it is something I lack completely, but I’m not one for group sessions. I just envision some hippy bullshit. Yes, I know, that it incredibly pessimistic and it’s probably nothing like that. I’ll still be swerving it though. Who knows, I may be more open to it in the future.


Steps in the right direction

If I was to describe the last 18 months as anything, other than the obvious word ‘sh!t’, I’d definitely say it’s been a wakeup call.

As someone who has high functioning anxiety, amongst some other issues, I have liked to pride myself on how I cope. I have my PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) towards almost everything I do, of which helps me greatly, and I have my little quirks/ocds that get me through. Despite having these coping mechanisms, this last bout of heightened anxiety has lasted a long time and has shown me I clearly am not coping as well as I like to think.

I have written many blogs over the last few weeks, many of which I’ve just deleted. Why? Well, mainly because I’ve found them to be a bit ranty, and once it was off my chest I didn’t feel it worth sharing. I’d only have depressed every one of my readers, with my constant negativity. My blog is called ‘PMA Corner’, it’s supposed to be a place where people of similar situations can come, read about my journey, and leave with a positive message. I certainly do not intend for readers to leave feeling worse than when they came.

As most of you know, my life can be described as being like a really badly written EastEnders story line. I’ve been through things that people shouldn’t have to, I’ve seen things people shouldn’t have to, and I’ve done things I’m definitely not proud of. Now, I’ve got two choices; I can choose to be one of those people who wallow in self-pity and make excuses, or, I can woman up, and realise that good has come out of these bad situations. I much prefer the latter, but right now, that feels a little bit ‘easier said than done’. Until recent months, I have liked to think I’ve never been a ‘woe-is-me’ person. I’ve always been quite proud of the person I’ve become, I would have definitely described myself as a strong person, and one who just got up and got on. So, what changed in the last 18 months to make me doubt absolutely everything about myself? What is it that has made me dredge up old, hurtful memories and cause myself to be in a horrible heightened state of anxiety for a long period of time? In all honest, I don’t know. It could be a culmination of different things.

Little over 18 months ago, my Dad was diagnosed with Cancer. A little while after that my marriage started to breakdown and I separated from my husband. These two events were negative, and I didn’t see how my PMA could stop me worrying, or how it could benefit me in either of these situations. The day my Dad told me he had cancer, I just remember feeling so powerless to help. He lived so far away at the time, and between work/kids I had no spare time to spend taking care of him. He lived alone and I couldn’t be there. It was just horrible. I would worry about him all the time. He would tell me not to worry, as the hospital were taking care of him, who put him in touch with McMillan who were going to help etc. This didn’t stop me worrying and it didn’t stop the guilt of feeling like I should have been doing more. Looking back, I think I put myself into a negative place, with my worrying and putting myself down for something that really couldn’t be helped. Separating from my husband was hard, but I don’t regret it. It was what we needed at the time. I know he didn’t see it that way, but I couldn’t go on with the constant bickering over nothing. I had so much bigger things to worry about, that the pointless things we argued about just felt completely menial and I needed it to just stop. I needed quiet.

During all of this I found solace in work. My boss at the time was nothing short of amazing and understanding. He just let me get my headphones on, and plod on with my work. Some days were better than others, and some were really low. I did actually break down in tears at my desk one day, after speaking to my Dad, as he was at home, no way of getting out and about and I couldn’t do anything. I also had the prospect of going home, alone, with no-one to talk to or comfort me. Yes, this was my own doing, by separating with my husband, but it didn’t make it any easier knowing that little fact. For the first time in a very long time, I just wanted a hug and someone to tell me that everything was going to be OK and that I was doing all I could. This was when my best friend stepped in, and was nothing short of my rock. He watched me go through this manic rollercoaster of sobbing, to hysterical laughter. He listened to my incoherent ramblings, erratic thoughts, and the best bit? He just listened. No feedback, no ‘this is what I think you should do’, just listening was all I needed. I know that what I say doesn’t make sense 99% of the time, but sometimes I just need to say it. I need the words to be out in the ether, to lessen the stress I put on myself when they whirl around in my brain like cyclone of anarchy. Sometimes my thoughts get so loud, that even turning my music up as high as I can, cannot drown them out. It can feel like I’m suffocating any trace of positive under a dark blanket of depressed and angry thoughts, and I see no way to break the cycle. It’s like being a spectator in your own mind. You see it happening. You know it’s wrong & irrational, but you’re powerless to do anything to stop it. You must stand there, on the side-lines, watching it all unfold, waiting for the aftermath that you need to live in and deal with. Keeping all of it bottled up in side is tough going. Every day I get up, paint a smile on my face and I go out into the world as if everything is A-OK. I laugh and joke with those around me, I engage with people, when in reality, I’d rather not. If I didn’t make the effort socially though, I’d only worry that people would think I was rude and judge me, so I make myself most of the time.

In recent weeks, things have gone from pretty meh, to very sh!t very quickly. This is all due to my anxiety, and the stupid, irrational thoughts I have, of which lead to impulsive and reckless behaviour. Recently I made a decision, whereby I thought I was doing a good and honest thing. Well, this good/honest deed, only caused upset to all involved. In hindsight, I look back and I shake my head at myself. What on earth was I thinking? How did I possibly conceive that this was going to be a good deed? Or that it was going to end well? This has well and truly been the icing on the cake. I have had to admit to myself; I am not coping. Fact. I cannot do this by myself. I can feel myself, every day, becoming more and more emotional. I am not even finding solace in work anymore. I’m loathed to find/see the positives in anything. I feel so out of control with my own life and emotions, that it scares me. I scare me. How can I be this out of control. This is my life, my mind, I should have full control. Is this the problem? Is it my need to be in complete control of everything, to feel safe?

I realised last year that I wasn’t coping. I told myself that I was just being ‘pathetic’ and ‘weak’. I convinced myself to just woman up and get on. I’ve been trying to put paper stitches over a wound that is too big, and wonder why it keeps opening. I am sad. There, I said it. I’m sad, I’m scared, I feel alone, I cry most days and I don’t know why. I just want it to stop. I just want to be happy. Around a week or so ago, I got up and realised that doing this by myself just wasn’t cutting it. I called my G.P, made an appointment and I’m happy to say I’ve been referred to Psychology. I declined the offer of medication, as I explained that I’ve been on pretty much every single anxiety/depression medication out there, and they all make me a little foggy. With the job I do, I cannot afford to be foggy. The waiting list to be seen is about 6 months, of which I believe to be the national average for the U.K right now. Hearing this did make me a little sad, but, I’ve been like this for 18 months or so. I’m sure I can make it through another 6 months. I’m also not naive enough to believe that going to these appointments will be a magic wand, or they will be easy. It will be a long road, of hard work and change on my part. It’s a challenge I need and that I’m willing to take to feel better.

I am realising that there is no shame in saying I’m not coping. There is no shame in admitting I don’t have my sh!t together and I need help. If you have read this and can identify, then please be sure and get some help. We don’t have to struggle on our own, there is help out there. If you’re unsure about going to your G.P, that’s ok, it takes time/courage to do that. I had to build mine up over a year. If going to the doctors is not something that is right for you just now, then please talk to someone. Talk to a friend, family member, or even someone at Samaritans. Getting your thoughts out really can help. I would also suggest writing things down. Start a blog like me, or even just keep a diary of things that go on in your day, or even just write down some of your thoughts. You’d be surprised how therapeutic it can be.

The positives of this situation for me is the fact I’m taking my first steps toward help. It was by no means a small step, and it is definitely the right step towards better understanding what is wrong and how to feel better. I will document my journey when I start my sessions, keep you all posted on how things go, and hopefully it will help some of you too.

Thank you for reading guys, and thank you all for the messages and kind words. It really does mean a lot.

What I took from “13 Reasons Why”

Why write this blog?

I have been writing this blog on and off now for 3 weeks. I keep writing it, then deleting it, then contemplating it, as I worry that I’ll be revealing too much about myself. For those of you who know me in person, I don’t want to be judged, but at the same time, I cannot just pick and choose the parts of mental illness that are deemed PC enough to share. Mental illness is not glamourous and it comes in all shapes and sizes. What I share on this blog, is my experiences, and how it’s shaped me into the woman I am today. I spoke with my husband about writing this and even he thought it was a bit much. So, we spoke about why suicide is a topic that makes people gasp, why shouldn’t it be discussed more openly? Is it because it might upset people it has affected? Is it because it is a complete overshare? Or is it because people just don’t want to talk about it, as it makes them uncomfortable? Perhaps all of the above. So, I was faced with the question “To write, or not to write?”, well as you may have guessed, I chose to write. I do hope that this doesn’t cause those of you who know me to think any less of me, or those of you who have been personally affected by suicide to be offended, this is sincerely not my intention.

Have you watched “13 Reasons Why”?

If you haven’t finished watching “13 Reasons Why”, then don’t read any further, there will be spoilers. If you have no intention of watching it, then this may mean nothing to you, or it may mean something if you’ve been affected by suicide. The story “13 Reasons Why” is about a girl called Hannah, who commits suicide. Each episode relates to a tape and a situation that lead her to want to end her life. These tapes, 13 of them, were given to each person who had hurt her in some way, and the point was they listen to them all and pass them on. The TV show picks up when Clay gets his turn to listen to the tapes. You get to see it from Clay’s perspective, of having lost a close friend to suicide, and having the revelation of why it happened. At times the show was quite dry, and you find yourself willing Clay to just hurry up already, then other points leave you upset/angry on Hannah’s behalf, and finally you’re left heartbroken despite knowing how it was all going to end.

Teen suicides in America are on the up, which is what inspired the book to become a show on Netflix, in the hope to hit home with the youth of today. Looking up the statistics for the UK, with regards to suicides, I found the following:

  • Deaths from suicide in the UK rose slightly from 6,122 deaths in 2014 to 6,188 deaths in 2015 with a subsequent increase in the rate from 10.8 to 10.9 deaths per 100,000 population.
  • UK male suicide rate decreases whilst female rate increases to its highest rate in a decade.
  • England and Scotland saw decreases in the total number of suicides, whilst Wales and Northern Ireland saw increases.
  • Of the English regions, Yorkshire and The Humber had the highest suicide rate at 11.6 deaths per 100,000 population and the East of England had the lowest at 9.3 deaths per 100,000.
  • Across all broad age groups, the rate for males was around 3 times higher than females.
  • The most common method of suicide amongst males and females in the UK in 2015 was hanging.
  • In 2015, the suicide rate in the UK rose slightly to 10.9 deaths per 100,000 population, up from 10.8 in 2014 (see Figure 1). This was made up of a decrease in the male suicide rate from 16.8 to 16.6 deaths per 100,000 population and an increase in the female rate from 5.2 to 5.4 deaths per 100,000, the highest female suicide rate since 2005.
  • Of the total number of suicides (6,188 deaths) registered in the UK in 2015, three-quarters (75%) were males and one-quarter (25%) were females.

Now whilst the above shows that the figures in the UK have decreased, that is still a frightening number to look at. The overall figure from 2015 is essentially showing us that 6,188 people in this country felt that their life was not worth living. Why is it that some people come to a point in their lives where they just feel that dying is the best option, yet we have others that don’t even view it as an option? What is the difference between us all? It’s a tough one to answer, and I’m not even sure there is a conclusive way to answer it.

The time I had enough

When I was 17 my life was nothing short of dire. Without boring you, and getting into too much detail, let’s just say my life had gone down a dark path and I saw no way to be free. I was young, living with a waste of space, my friends were wasters, I was a waster, I was estranged from my family, I had no education, and essentially no hope. I genuinely saw my life as being over any way, it was just a matter of time before I bought my ticket out, so why not just buy it early. I woke up one morning, to my usual hell and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I hated my life and I hated this person that I had become. I literally saw no light at the end of the tunnel, I saw no way for this horrible cycle to end. I waited until my partner left the house and I went to our medicine cupboard, I took 3 months’ worth of the pill (yup you read right), some paracetamol and some ibuprofen. Pretty much all I could find, I didn’t know the pill wasn’t deadly in high doses, I was young and assumed that everything was. I took them all in quick succession and crawled back into bed to sleep, willing myself to never wake up. A couple of hours later my partner came home and woke me up, I was gutted. How could this be? I’d taken a lot of pills and here I am, awake. As I sat up, I felt dizzy and sick, so I ran for the toilet. My partner saw the empty boxes in the bin, and called my Mum who took me to A&E. When I got to the hospital I was given a lovely cardboard bed pan to be sick in. I couldn’t stop being sick, it was horrible.  Nurses checked on me regularly, until a doctor came to see me, who explained that whilst what I had done had been very silly, it wasn’t deadly and would just leave me feeling very ill for a few days. I was embarrassed and devastated, because I meant it. I didn’t want to be here anymore, I’d had enough, but here I was just lying in a hospital bed, feeling like a complete joke and wrenching up my inners. A while later a psychiatrist came to speak with me, who asked me all sorts of questions about my life, but really his big question that he was dancing around was “why?”, not as simple a question as you might think. You cannot sum up your reasons to simply be “My life is crap”. I didn’t contemplate suicide for a while, it was just on that morning. Something in me just said enough was enough. I was young, alone, and saw no way out, until I thought about ending it. This felt like the only way to stop the rollercoaster that had become my life. In hindsight, I know this is just not true, there is always a way out, and I cannot be more happy and relieved that this didn’t work. I’m also happy to say that I accepted the hospital’s help, and spoke with a counsellor who was a great help. It was someone, completely  unbiased, to listen and support me.

It was not long after this that I fell pregnant with my eldest, and needless to say, my family were concerned for me having a baby. They didn’t feel that I could do it, that I wouldn’t be up to being a Mum, given I couldn’t even look after myself. They were totally right. I was a complete and utter waste of space. Something had to change. From the minute, I saw that first baby scan, I knew I wanted to be his Mum. I dropped all of my ‘friends’ like hot coals, I quit my reckless lifestyle and I got my life in order. I wasn’t perfect by any means. I was young, naive and learning as I went, but I did it. In my family, my son is known as my ‘little life saver’, and that isn’t for nothing. Had I not had him, I’m not sure I’d be here today. Not due to suicide, but more so due to lifestyle. Now I’m not suggesting that all young people out there with troubles should go and have kids, oh no no no! What I’m saying here is this is my story, and this is what straightened me out, and got my life on track. Was it easy? Definitely not. Becoming a Mum is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was having to grow up, mature, learn to be a responsible adult, and all whilst looking after a baby. There were days where I would just cry whilst having my coffee, believing I wasn’t up to this and that my family were right. Having my son wasn’t a magic wand that just made the world a rosy place, but it was something significant that happened that gave me the wake up call I needed. Being a Mum gave me purpose, a reason to care about myself and my wellbeing, and a reason to strive to be better.

Mixed Feelings about “13 Reasons Why”

So now you know my story, you can appreciate why I found watching “13 Reasons Why” difficult. As someone who had contemplated suicide, I could identify with Hannah in some respects, but not in others. Hannah had loving, doting parents for one. She also had Clay, I mean c’mon people? She essentially had a best friend and potential boyfriend who doted on her. Hannah was pretty, smart, and could have had so much to look forward to. I found aspects of her story to be infuriating, as my life was a complete train wreck before I considered anything like this. It also caused me to think of all the people out there that have it so much worse, and they don’t consider suicide to be an option. The whole handing out tapes to everyone also felt a tad excessive. I hated that Clay’s final tape had “I wanted you to come after me…” (I’m sure I’m not the only one), and the final scene when her mum found her just broke my heart. I personally felt that Hannah had a lot to live for, and whilst bad things happened to her, she definitely had parents who would have supported her and a good friend who would have seen her through it. But that is the point, really isn’t it? As an outsider looking in, things do appear to be much rosier than they are. For the person living it, it’s a completely different outlook.  Everyone in the world deals with situations differently, we all have our different coping mechanisms and limits, so who am I to judge?

I have to remember; this is only a story, it wasn’t real. The story was told to highlight how easily you can wear someone down. How easy it is to contribute to someone feeling worthless. For teens of today that is so important, as they have no way to switch off. At least when I was a teen, when I got home from school, that was that. I could leave all the drama at School and switch off. Now when my kids come home, they tap into their social media window, where the drama just continues. It’s constant. Their generation have it harder than mine ever did, and I do not envy them at all.  As a parent, I’m very much aware of the social pressures my children face, and it worries me. How do you protect them from bullying and being overly exposed in a world where there is nowhere to hide? Do I take away their laptops, consoles and smart phones? No. Why? Well because that opens up a whole new set of issues where they’re now different from their peers, and let’s face it, kids don’t like different. I choose to talk to my kids about everything and anything, so they know they always have someone they can lean on. No topic is taboo, and I will be open and honest about everything. I do this so that they don’t have any curiosities about things, but mostly so they know they always have someone to listen.  Whether they choose to tell me things is entirely different, as I’m sure they do keep some things from me, but I hope they know they can.


Well what a wall of text this is huh? It’s not exactly a short/simple topic and I have taken a helluva lot out (believe it or not).

I can empathise with Hannah, and how hard those situations would be on anyone. However, I also felt sad and angry from her Mum’s perspective, as Hannah never let her in. She never told her, and her Mum was left believing she was OK until the final scene, and that was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever watched. No parent wants to lose their child, ever, but when it’s to suicide that must be so difficult to come to terms with. The level of guilt that they must feel, I would imagine to be huge.

For me, the message of “13 Reasons Why” is to highlight that our actions affect people, and that we all (not just teens) need to be more mindful of this. Then there is the fact that suicide affects everyone around you. You may be getting an ‘out’, but your friends/family are left dealing with what has been left behind. They are left missing you, feeling the guilt of thinking it’s their fault, and is it ever really something someone gets over? I’m not so sure it is.

Suicide may feel like an option, but it’s not your only option. There is always a way out of a bad situation, and if like Hannah, you have bad things happen to you out with your control, there are always people out there to help you through it. Whether it’s friends/family, or professional help, there is always someone.

If you have been affected by suicide, or have thought about it, then you can contact the Samaritans for free and remain completely anonymous. They don’t need to know who you are, they’re just there to be a friendly ear, to provide help and advice.




Anxious, or Anxiety Disorder? Sad, or Depressed?

I swithered with regards to writing this blog. I have sat and worried about offending people, or in case it contradicts my blog ‘You don’t look anxious to me’, but I’ve come to realise that it’s important that people know the difference between depression and just being a bit down, and having an anxiety disorder and just being a little bit anxious.


Let’s start with anxiety; This is something we all have and deal with probably every day. Everyone in the world has their anxious moments, so what is the difference between feeling a bit anxious and having an anxiety disorder? Well, to put it in the simplest way; one is mild and one is intense. But, wait, how do we know the difference? How do we know that what we’re feeling is the mild version of anxiety or the intense? I think we first need to understand what anxiety is.

Anxiety is an emotional response to the anticipation of something bad happening, so really, it’s the prerequisite to fear. There is a very fine line between anxiety and fear, which is why both feelings can have similar responses i.e. sweating, feeling nauseous, and quickened heart rate. The feeling of being anxious is what gives us a surge of adrenaline in preparation for the ‘fight or flight’ response, in a bid to help us if the bad scenario we’re anticipating happens. During a bout of feeling anxious you will feel a little scared, but when dealing with an anxious situation when you have an anxiety disorder, you feel intense fear, like something catastrophic is going to happen and you have no control to help yourself.

Some situations that will spike anxious feelings in anyone:

  • Driving test – Everyone in the world is nervous for this. It is one of the most nerve wracking things we will ever do, and it can cause us to be sleepless the night before, give us a dry mouth, even tremble slightly behind the wheel.
  • Operations – Whether it be for ourselves or a loved one. This type of scenario will definitely spike our anxious feelings.
  • Exams – We all want to do well and succeed, so being in an exam can cause us to doubt our abilities, and worry that our best will not be good enough.
  • Children – Our Children make us anxious every day. From the minute they are born we worry if they cry too much, don’t cry enough, eat too much, don’t eat enough, temperature spikes, temperature drops etc. Then as they get older we worry about them going out to play, will they make friends, will other kids be horrible to them, are they happy, how well will they do in school etc. It’s a constant worry for a parent.
  • Work projects – We will all have some sort of task in work that makes us anxious, one that means we’re striving to excel but worry we won’t.
  • Flying – Now this won’t affect everyone, but it does affect most. Again, perfectly normal response to the fact you’re sitting in a metal flying object, couple that with the fact humans were never meant to fly! Totally normal to be apprehensive here.

Some situation that will spike intense feelings of anxiety, associated with an anxiety disorder:

  • Health – “My left hand is slightly colder than my right. Blood flow must be being supressed somewhere. Could it be I’m having a stroke?”, “I’ve had acid indigestion for a while now, could it be an ulcer? Perhaps even stomach cancer?”, “This headache won’t go away, I think I have a blood clot on the brain”, “My right leg has gone numb and feels funny, I think I’ve got DVT”, “I’m sure my heart just skipped a beat then, it felt kinda funny. What if I have heart disease?”. These thoughts will not stop there, they will spiral out of control, to the point where you cannot contain how you’re feeling.
  • Socially – “They’re looking at me. Do they hate how I look? Is what I’m wearing silly? Is my hair sticking up? Is it the way I’m walking? They think I’m ugly.”, “The way they said ‘hello’ was weird. Was it grudged? They don’t like me. What have I done? Did the conversation we have the other day upset them? What could I have said to make them hate me?”, “They didn’t smile as they walked passed. Why? Did they not see me smiling? Maybe I didn’t smile. They will think I’m rude now. Or maybe they did see me smile, but don’t like me so didn’t smile back? Why don’t they like me?”, “I sent that text to them over an hour ago, why haven’t they text back? Have I upset them? Do they not like me?”. You can see the definite pattern here.
  • OCD’s – “That glass looks dirty, I can’t drink from that, what if I get ill?” You will then proceed to wash the glass and then rinse it 3 times for good measure. When you go to bed at night, you check the doors are locked, but then you get up to check again as you doubt you did it right the first time. In fact, you may even repeat the process a few more times, just to be sure, as you don’t want someone coming in and killing you in your sleep. Washing your hands twice, as you need to be sure that all the germs are gone, because you don’t want to die! You will also overly wash your hands as you’re too scared of the surfaces you’ve touched, that others have touched, as hey, you might die.
  • Overthinking & not feeling good enough – “They didn’t seem very happy with me today, I don’t think what I did was good enough. Maybe I could have tried harder? Perhaps I should have done it another way? What if it’s me they just don’t like and whatever I do isn’t good enough? Or maybe it’s just that I’m no good, I’m not up to it?” These thoughts can spiral out of control and have you debating 101 different scenarios of how you could have done things.
  • Insomnia – Because we’re thinking about thinking, then overthinking the thinking about thinking, we tend not to sleep much. Our minds are racing all the time and there are just not enough hours in the day for the level of over analysing that we do.

As you can see we have a rational sense of anxiousness in the first list, where everyone in the world may experience these feelings from time to time. When it’s mild, it’s something that someone can bounce back from easily and something that they will not dwell on or over analyse. Someone with an anxiety disorder, will also be anxious about these things, but they will let it tear them up inside, they will not just bounce back from it, and they will over analyse every situation. Usually to the point where they feel crippling fear and end up sweating, trembling, feeling sick, or actually being sick, getting short of breath, unable to focus, becoming depersonalised, and it may well lead onto a full-blown panic attack. We then have the second list to contend with, one where it’s completely not rational, yet we will let it consume us every single day, again to the point of feeling fear, and this can completely inhibit us from leading what is deemed a ‘normal’ life. We can look perfectly normal on the outside, but on the inside, we’re screaming. You can read more about ‘High functioning anxiety’ in my recent blog, where I explain more about what it is to try and live a ‘normal’ life, whilst contending with the above.


There are a lot of people out there that will throw around the statement “I’m feeling depressed”, without actually understanding what it means to be depressed. The feeling of being depressed, is a feeling of intense sadness, loneliness and hopelessness. You feel like you’re in the worst possible position in your life, and it will never change. You are incapable of seeing the positives in your life, or the light at the end of the tunnel.

Everyone in life has days or periods where they feel sad, down, and even like they can’t be bothered, but this is not depression. This is just a normal response to things in life not going as you hoped or planned. Perhaps you didn’t get the job you wanted, you’ve recently broken up with someone you love, you’ve had big changes in your life out with your control, these are all things that we get sad about. Whilst you feel sad in these situations, you’re still able to enjoy your life and see a light at the end of the tunnel. You know and understand that these feelings won’t last forever and over time, you will get over it.

Depression is like the feeling of sadness magnified. You are not just sad, you are beside yourself with grief. You lose all sense of what is positive in life, you don’t look forward to anything, you cannot have ‘fun’, you lose motivation to do anything for yourself, often losing the want/ability to take good care of yourself, you don’t care for your own well being, tired all the time, sleeping too much, you don’t get excited about things, watching movies that you used to love is just dull now. It is literally like someone has just sucked all the happiness and colour from your life. All you are left with is a bleak, grey, cold and loveless world, that you inhabit all by yourself and that no-one else understands. You may be depressed if you have the following:

  • Intense sadness
  • Frustrated and irritable mood all the time. Complete lack of tolerance of others.
  • Significant changes in weight – either weight loss due to being unable to eat, or weight gain through comfort eating.
  • Decrease/no interest in activities you may have been interested in before i.e. playing sports, watching movies, hanging out with friends etc.
  • Complete tasks at a slow pace – Due to lack of motivation, tasks that would usually be done quickly, will now take you some time.
  • Feeling tired and low on energy – You just feel like you’re in a permanent state of exhaustion, despite how much or how little sleep you get.
  • Unable to focus – You are so overwhelmed by how you’re feeling you can find it difficult to concentrate on the task in hand.
  • Feeling worthless – You never feel good enough. You have every possible negative thought about yourself and the more you think it, the more you reinforce it.
  • Suicide – You can feel so low, to the point of wanting to not be here. You cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel (and there is one, there is always one!), that you believe ending your own life is the only way to be free.

Now this list is not a conclusive list and should not be used for self-diagnosis. I’m not a doctor or a psychiatrist, I am just someone who has suffered with both Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression for 10+ years. The lists I have given above are from my own personal experience. I am in a position now where I don’t need medication and I am able to manage my mental illness much better than just a few years ago, however, this doesn’t mean I don’t struggle most days to appear ‘normal’. If you believe that you may be able to relate to more than a few of my examples, then I implore you to seek advice from you G.P, If you read my blog ‘My story of when Anxiety took hold’ you will see that seeking help was the best thing I ever did.


There are many helpful links online these days, here are just a few I have sourced. Again, please do not take these as conclusive, you are always better to seek professional help & advice.

NHS Depression Self-Assessment

NHS – Check your mood – Anxiety/depression assessment

NHS – Do I have an anxiety disorder

NHS – Generalised Anxiety Disorder

NHS – Suicide awareness & help

Samaritans – Someone to talk to when you’re feeling Anxious/depressed/suicidal


Remember who’s watching

No one is born with a sense of fear, it is a learned behaviour. Babies and toddlers are fearless little creatures, that often have us with our hearts in our throats. For all you parents out there reading this, you can totally relate to times where your child had climbed onto something and attempted to jump off with no concept of the height they were jumping from, or the possibility of hurting themselves. Or the fact that every toddler likes to play with bugs. What is that even about? My daughter once ate a spider. True story. She was about 8 months old, crawled into the kitchen, and ate a spider off the floor. Needless to say, I let her father change her nappy for the next two days. I still get goose-bumps and shiver when I think of it.  My Dad often likes to tell the story of when I would play with bugs in the garden as a toddler. Supposedly, one day when he came home from work, I was sitting on the wall outside our house squishing red spiders for fun, with my finger. That can’t be true surely? If so, where did my fear of spiders come from? If you ask my Dad, he’ll say it is my Mum, as she is someone who would have screamed irrationally if one was around and would get someone to kill it. So, did I learn to be fearful of spiders due to witnessing my parent have a meltdown when they were around? Sounds plausible.

Now I’m a parent I’m aware that I could be passing on my issues onto my children. They are incredibly impressionable and whether they like to admit it or not, I’m exceptionally cool and they totally want to be just like me. This just goes without saying really. My daughters, Rachel & Rebecca, and I are close, and we do a lot together, meaning they spend a lot of time around me and hiding my quirks/ticks/OCD’s isn’t always easy.  I’ve come to notice in the past couple of years that they had developed some issues of their own. Rebecca was starting to develop a bit of a stutter, cries at the drop of a hat, and was incredibly nervous in social situations. Rachel is incredibly socially awkward, doesn’t like people, has hygiene issues and little OCD’s. I could see that my issues were transpiring with them, and this is not the life I want them to have. I don’t want them to worry about every little thing and spend their life over analysing and being sad. All parents want the best for their Children, and ending up like me, even just a fraction of me, is not an option here.

Rebecca was showing signs of a stutter when she was worried about something. She worries incisively about not being good enough or failing, or worse, being wrong! To the point where she would stutter when trying to explain something, then cry. The amount of conversations we’ve had where I never actually hear the end due to sobs, is a lot. I could see that she was lacking in confidence, and I hated seeing her this way. To me, and yes, I may be slightly biased here, she is one of the most beautiful, thoughtful, caring, funny, talented girls in the world, and the fact she couldn’t see this was upsetting. Rachel had started to become very introverted, lost a lot of friends, started sleeping a lot, developed my OCD for hygiene etc. it was like looking at mini-me and I’ve hated it. She too is such a beautiful, loving, very funny, talented girl, who genuinely cannot see how fantastic she really is. Why can’t they just be like their peers, and their only concerns be with their Facebook profile picture and how many likes it’s gotten? Well, the reason for this is me. They have spent so much time with me, that they’ve picked up on my bad anxious habits.

Noticing these traits was hard, as I knew it had to be my fault. So how do I change them? How do I make them see how great they are and that the world is not that scary a place, when I don’t even have this faith in myself or the world? I spend every day telling them how great they are, I praise their small successes as if they’re a toddler who’s just used the potty for the first time, I tell them every day I love them and how lucky I am to have them. I tell them things I wish people would say to me, the things I’d like to believe in myself.

Assuring them constantly that things are ok, and will be ok, just isn’t enough. I see that they doubt me, and they will continue to be anxious. So, what now? Well, I now make them do things they say scare them, or that they’re not keen on doing. For example, Rachel hated going into shops, as she hated the crowds, queues and speaking to strangers, for fear of something happening or looking stupid. I started making her go to the shops with me every time I went, and I would make her talk to the cashier. I would always prep her with what to say, and I believe having me there made it easier. That’s not to say that she didn’t hate me for it, or leave the cashier with tears in her eyes because to her this was incredibly daunting. Now though? Well, she chooses to go to the shops with me all the time, and she now speaks to strangers with ease. This is a success. Rebecca will often get upset at small things e.g. She once got an email where the person had gotten her name wrong, she opened it, then worried it might have had a virus, so came down the stairs in a bit of state. Rebecca had believed that her laptop was now going to break, and realising I wouldn’t have money to fix it or get her another one, thought that I would have been angry/upset and now was besides herself. Thankfully it was just a case of an incorrect name, there was no virus, and the laptop is still going strong. Seeing her so upset, over something so small, was hard. I had to sit her down and explain that even if it was a virus, it wasn’t a big deal. It is fixable. And again, even if it wasn’t fixable, it’s not worth getting so upset over. Even as I wrote that sentence, I realise that is just the height of cheek. Here I am explaining to my daughter that there are things to get upset about, and things to not be caring about, yet I cannot do this for myself. Rebecca can now see the funny side of this, and we will often bring it up and laugh about it. I feel that is very important, to be able to see the funny side of these situations, as it helps to lighten the mood and in turn it doesn’t feel quite so serious.

I’m very open with all my children, about everything and anything. If my children ask me a question about sex, drugs, life etc. I will answer it as openly and honestly as possible. I don’t believe in lying to them, as this will only peak their curiosity and in turn they will make bad decisions. This is me talking from experience; When I was younger I learned about sex in the playground, so, as you can imagine it was incredibly helpful and accurate to the facts. My Mum didn’t even discuss a woman’s menstrual cycle, so imagine my horror when I got mine at the young age of 11 and thought I was dying. Just as well I had one of my close friends with me, who had started hers not long before and was able to help me out. I was shocked, embarrassed and upset. There are many other examples where my parents didn’t help or prepare me for life, so I’ve made the conscious decision to always be open and honest with my kids. I don’t want them to be sheltered or unprepared, and in turn I believe this has helped them to be the amazingly wise and mature kids they are. I have people who disagree with how open I am with them, as they believe ‘kids should just be kids’, but in this day and age, where they have the internet and a lot of misinformation, I believe it’s more important than ever to have these awkward discussions. I also feel it makes them more comfortable to be able to speak to me about anything. I have also been very open with my older children with regards to my mental illness. I need them to understand that I have these little quirks, and explain why. This helps them to better understand that how I am, is not ‘normal’, and these ticks/quirks/OCD’s are definitely not normal. We have discussed Anxiety/Depression, the symptoms, the differences between having Depression and just being sad, then the difference between being anxious and having a disorder. I believe this is extremely important, as I don’t want them thinking because they’re sad, they’re depressed, or because they’ve had a flutter in their stomach they’ve got an anxiety disorder.

Managing how my daughters are, and trying to help them be happier and more settled, is teaching me a lot about myself. A lot of what I tell them, is something I could be doing for me. Also, a lot of what I make them do, like making Rachel go into shops, has pushed me to do things I don’t like, as I know she is watching me for guidance and I need to help her learn by example. They still have their issues and their little quirks, but I’ve noticed a lot of improvement in recent months. Both Rachel and Rebecca are becoming more outgoing, they appear happier, and they don’t seem to worry quite as much. I have many days where I feel like I just can’t deal with the day, or where I just want to stay in bed and let life pass me by, but I can’t do that. I can’t let my kids see me quit, or not even try, as what kind of example is that?  We still have some way to go, but who knows, in my bid to help them be happier, I might just help myself.