Celebrating Christmas Eve with photographs from December (all except very top left taken by me). I’ve had my Christmas with my mum today and am now at my dad’s to celebrate tomorrow. I wish everyone the best of days 🙂
I find checking in with myself is important. It keeps me connected and in touch with my mind and means I can notice issues so I can take action. Right now, although I’m not in crisis I’m at a low point and this is the stage checking in helps me the most.
I’m incredibly worried about the most vulnerable time of year coming up, and also that I’m without a psychologist or psychiatrist. I’m hoping it won’t be for long but I have to wait and I have no idea how long. It’s made me realise how lucky I am to have had a secure care team for so long which I am grateful for. I saw my psychologist for the last time earlier this week and her leaving has been quite sudden and badly timed. Pretty much all therapeutic input has come from her so now I’m left with near to nothing. Although, looking on the positive side I’ve learnt so so much with her help, about how dissociation works as a coping mechanism for my head and it’s relation to trauma. It means I have more coping mechanisms when I’m struggling like this.
January is the month I have severe psychotic episodes that have consistently got worse each year. I live with psychosis every day but these episodes take months to recover from and are centered around a strong delusion.
As I deteriorate I isolate myself which I am doing now. I’m trying my best to have contact with people regularly and will hopefully find it easier with the return of college routine. I’m also making sure I am looking after myself physically, and managing that.
I have many positive influences that will help me more. I am at college doing what I love, I have a stable routine, there are lots of changes of scene involved in my routine, I have learnt how to acknowledge emotions so will hopefully be less dissociated, and I have coping mechanisms to help this. I’m aware I sound really formal but that’s because I’m struggling to connect with the reality of how bad I feel. I will make it though. This check in has been helpful. Well done me!
My last post was 4 days ago and very rambly so instead of posting new things I’ve edited the most recent one so it can be more constructive and helpful, and have also updated my About section. Writing on here regularly is making me feel great and I’m glad I’ve used blogmas as an excuse to get back into posting. I’m definitely going to be building blogging back into my weekly routine.
I’ve noticed some things about myself that I shy away from looking at, and to overcome this I am going to write about it here and take action. I need to face these vulnerabilities.
I’m struggling with showing femininity when I know it’s just who I am and certainly doesn’t make me less of a man. I’m naturally incredibly expressive and affectionate and whilst I know there are so many guys like that, my mind keeps making me think that it’s making me not pass – something I obsess over and focus on a lot as a transgender person. This all leads to me stopping myself from talking so much in public, purposefully slouching and talking quietly because it sounds lower. I feel like it’s got too far, and although gender dysphoria never goes, there is a point where it’s not okay to just live with. A massive challenge would be for me to express that femininity in public places and focus on being me more than passing.
See you in the next post!
Technology (specifically social media) has a lot of positive and negative effects on mental illness recovery; on one hand it offers a great way to find others going through similar things so coping strategies can be shared, however it is also very public and can impact others including young children as boundaries on the internet are not rigid.
I think I have worked out a good balance between technology and real life for myself. There are some apps that I use and find helpful, as well as real life hobbies and friends that create a good support system around me. I’m going to share 9 apps that help me in my recovery. I originally rambled about all of these but have now given the post some structure.
- Instagram – This is a social media platform you are likely to have heard of if not be on. I have had a recovery account on there for a year now and it helps me document my recovery and communicate with friends and other people also struggling with mental illness. I would recommend this if you’d like to be part of a community. It’d be worth reading my post about things I’ve learnt here if you are considering joining as there are lots of pros and cons.
- Pacifica – This is an app where you can track your mood, health habits, analyse thought patterns and set goals. There are also meditations to do and a small community where you can join chats. I use it as a diary card to keep track of things like my sleep, taking medication, social time etc. I also find working through the negative thought patterns really useful and has helped calm me down and rationalise in difficult moments.
- The Mighty – A website that shares blog posts written by people dealing with mental illness, chronic illness, rare illness, autism and other things in one way or another. I have found it a very accessible website and have seen some amazing writing. The way that the Mighty seeks to give these people a voice is amazing and something I love.
- Booster buddy – This is the first app I used to help me with my mental health. I’m not currently using it but you should definitely have a go with this app. The concept is you have a buddy who you have to help wake up each day by completing 3 tasks. It asks you questions at the beginning about what you struggle with so the tasks can be relevant. It’s really child friendly and also a lot of fun which is especially nice to start your day with. What I loved about this app was the reminders for medication you could add and also the collection of coping strategies that involved psychosis help and used lots of DBT methods!
- Breathe – This is a mediation app and the best one I have found so far. There’s a wide range of meditations to choose from and when you check in the most relevant ones are suggested. There is also a sticker and streak system which encourages you to meditate frequently, no matter how short a time. The length ranges from 3-20mins and you can by sets of extra meditations if you like.
- Flowy – This is a really clever app that is a game to help you slow your breathing. It’s helped me with panic attacks before and I would definitely recommend it to anyone struggling with anxiety.
- Fluidity – This is a visual app that has liquid you interact with when you touch it. I find this helps me with grounding and also when I get overwhelmed with sensory overload, this will help me calm down.
- What’s up? – This is an app who’s functions I haven’t been able to fully explore but it’s already clear it’s very helpful and good to use. There’s a selection of ‘in the moment’ activities which I find incredibly helpful with grounding myself.
- Relax melodies
I’ll talk again tomorrow, I hope you are inspired to look at your balance between technology and real life and maybe check out a few of these apps.
It’s no mystery that physical health and mental health are linked. There are endless scholarly articles and health websites that back this, one of them being the mental health foundation. This is what they say about the relation between physical and mental health…
“A clear distinction is often made between ‘mind’ and ‘body’. But when considering mental health and physical health, the two should not be thought of as separate.
Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems. Similarly, poor mental health can negatively impact on physical health, leading to an increased risk of some conditions.”
-The Mental Health Foundation
This article goes on to talk about the effect mental illness can have on physical health and the links between long term health conditions and mental illness.
My physical health is suffering at the moment, and I think the main cause is my mental illnesses.
I get shaky and dizzy often because I don’t feel hunger due to dissociation. I’m not aware of my body wanting food because I’m so out of touch and it’s a really big problem that means my body is exhausted and not getting fuelled.
I have constant bad back pain which is probably stress related because of my anxiety. When I discussed this with my psychologist we agreed the reason for the pain probably wasn’t physical and could be dissociation. I now need to figure out what to do about it.
My body is very unfit so I pull muscles easily and frequently. I hold back from exercising because I obsess over that type of thing and I worry I’ll slip back into ED behaviours. Also opportunities like the gym are usually too challenging because of anxiety.
Physical health issues that are normal like infections are ignored because going to the GP seems like more self care than I deserve, despite me knowing that absolutely isnt true because everyone deserves care, including me!
I want to take action. I want to do something about this so I can feel healthy. In my recovery journal I’m going to list the issues I’ve got and the changes I will be making. I struggle hugely with looking after myself and this is the type of self care I am striving towards. Both my mental AND physical health are my priority.
I will post about this again at a future date.
I think what makes Christmas so special is the lead up to the 25th and how each family will follow their own traditions but will still be based around the same religious story. I find that the combination of Christianity and modern ways can make us lose sight of what the point of the holiday or celebration is (like easter). In my family we don’t have chocolate advent calendars because my mum believes the point of advent is to count down to a day, not get a treat every day leading up to it. It can be a bit dull with my picture calendars whilst everyone around me has upgraded to meodern chocolate or even make up calendars! Also as a family we don’t start decorations until the day after my birthday, so today we got everything out and the house has had a massive transformation from dull to FESTIVE!! Family traditions are special and individual and are what make Christmas so fantastic.
Today was my birthday and I think it’s safe to say it was a bit of a disaster. I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to have a good day when actually mental illnesses don’t take breaks just because it’s exactly 17 years since you were born. It in fact doesn’t give a shit. Today was a bad mental health day, and would have been whether it was my birthday or not. I was very overwhelmed with things going on around me in life, and faced a big trigger at college today that was entirely unrelated to my birthday, so this day was going to happen. I want to focus on the parts of today I am grateful for.
- Having my family wake me up to sing happy birthday
- My cat Misty enjoying the wrapping paper made me feel happy
- All the presents from my friends
- The tutor who always makes me smile gave me a hug and said happy birthday
- When I was struggling I found a long message someone sent me and it just warmed my heart it was so lovely
- I have survived 17 years and got through my worst battles
- I got made a cup of tea by staff to help me cheer up and calm down
- I came home to a freshly made bed with my new bedsheets
- My dad came over straight after getting off an airplane
- I had a good day