Hello there! How are you? How have you been? Let me guess – you’ve come a pretty long way in 3 months too?
Summer has been brilliant. I spent it with family and friends and directed my focus off of Instagram and onto a scrapbook. It’s meant I’ve got a creative output AND get to focus on the real life. It’s been the first summer in what feels like so long that I have been able to forget about mental illness.
I’ve been so eager for my final year at college to come around again; but now that it has there isn’t enough work! Coming off my medication has left me with a hungry and functioning brain just itching to be educated. So I’m self teaching A Level psychology because why not?!
I got my first appointment at Tavistock. The journey of transitioning medically has just started, but each day is a step in the right direction. On top of that I got my name changed by deed poll!!?!
I’m working out who I am at the moment, without the identity of mental illness. So, this blog is taking another turn – not just limited to mental health but whatever I find of interest or worth writing about. I have a feeling this means a lot of books and psychology type questions, as well as creative tags. Religion is a recent thing too, I was brought up as a Christian and have recently reached out to the local youth workers to ask questions and help my mind open up to things.
I’m hoping now the bubble has been burst I can create more and more posts as I feel more able to. See you soon,
Recently I have been struggling and I know it’s important to reflect on this as I come out of it and pick myself up. There has been a significant reason for my drop in mental health, because along with the biological adjustments that are going on as I come off my medication I’ve been on for years, I’ve been under a lot of stress. It’s landed me with really low mood a lot of the time, high urges, anxiety and flashbacks.
I talked to my college support person, and she suggested I start writing again. The type of writing I keep to myself in my notebooks, not blogging or posting on social media, and my god has it helped a lot. I now know my thoughts. Often my dissociation from myself means I can’t think or have thoughts, it’s just white noise and silence in my head. By writing I’ve been able to acknowledge the things that are causing so much stress, and I don’t blame myself for struggling so much! There are a lot of big and dark things going on in my life right now that would tip any well person over the edge. I have done amazingly.
Writing has helped me scratch the surface of these big problems, and it seems there’s one common theme. I am taking on problems that aren’t even mine. I cannot control most of these environmental stresses, and there is no need to be worrying and spending so much time allowing them to trample all over me.
I’m now on a journey to focus on myself and the things that are going to help me. I’m getting my college work finished which enables my future, I’m planning my summer holidays and what jobs I will do. Keeping my physical health up is a good thing too, which is how my walks are benfitting me and giving me a good foundation to work from. My positive affirmation is I am worthy. You will be hearing from me again soon, see you next time.
A week or 2 ago it was mental health awareness week. I like to think I played my part by going to the Walking Out of Darkness event and sharing it on social media. I still wear the top I got from there, in fact I’m wearing it right now. Last year I did a blog post on spreading awareness which outlined lots of different ways you can spread awareness, mostly using social media. I’m proud of myself to still be blogging a year on from then, and hope to be making a similar post with even more insight a year on from now.
So, mental health week came and went, but the phrase they focused on is still on my mind. Am I surviving or thriving? I was lucky enough to hear directly from the CEO of the mental health foundation that only 1 in 5 of us answer thriving.
Determining whether you are surviving or thriving depends on your personal view. Many things are taken into consideration, like how you are doing in comparison to your past, your overall emotional wellbeing, what limits you feel you have and how far in accepting yourself you are. However, I think the question in itself is very subjective, so to objectify it, let’s look at the definitions of the word.
- Surviving – continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship.
- Thriving – prosperous and growing; flourishing.
I’m going to throw it out there, I see myself as thriving. Or more specifically, surviving whilst thriving. That may not be what some expect, I battle mental illness every day and I do have a lot of bad days, however there are some more things I think are more important…
- I have come so far in just a year. In fact, I make significant progress as a person every month
- I’m not in crisis. Especially when it comes to psychosis, this is amazing and is a marked improvement in my mental health
- Despite my own depression and suicidal urges I still experience, I know I do not want to die
- I feel content with myself. There are always things I’m going to want to change, however if I stayed like this forever I would be content
- I’m doing the things I love as my work
- I set monthly goals and am meeting them. Achieving things always make me feel awesome, no matter how small those goals
- My support system is strong
- I have a positive and hopeful attitude towards my life and my future
Thank you very much for reading, see you tomorrow
At long last I have returned, ready to bash out 5 more posts before this month ends. My mental health has been suffering this past week. The worst I’ve been with dissociation and trauma memories and psychosis in a while. The voices are back, and even visual hallucinations because I’m gradually lowering my antipsychotic/mood stabiliser. Things are levelling out now but more of that in a new post. This one I am going to focus on the joys of my transness and the fun I’m having with Gender identity clinics. Almost like a trans mini series. I posted GIC referral in September, so here is the update since.
In September I was referred on, but it turned out I was accidentally referred to the adult services so the letter came back and I had to be referred again to Tavistock. My referral was received and then accepted in December, and the following January I was sent a letter much to my delight saying my first appointment would be 18 weeks from when my referral was accepted, which I worked out was mid April. I was hopeful in March and expecting a letter because I knew they notified you at least a month before your appointment. March came and went, April came and went, and here we are in May.
I chased it up and I will be got back to in August. It’s not even a definite you will hear by this point. So clearly something drastic changed from January when I was told there was now no delay and now suddenly there’s 4 months.
Emotionally I’m struggling hugely with dysphoria. I’m limited in almost everything I do, including basic hygiene. Hopefully in a couple months time things will be better and easier to cope with when the future is a few steps closer.
I went to a mental health awareness walk on Saturday called Walking Out of Darkness run by the charity Clasp. There were several talkers including a several people suffering with mental illness themselves, the CEO of the Mental Health Foundation, and a woman who had lost her daughter to suicide 2 years ago. All amazing people with real stories. Then I recognised the people from Mind over Marathon come on which is the first mental health documentary shown on BBC 1.
Having seen one excerpt from the documentary, I knew I wanted to talk to Poppy. I didn’t even know what I wanted to say I just wanted to say something. I was scared though. Usually I’d be able to push that fear aside because I’m quite good with meeting new people but now looking back I know there must have been a reason I couldn’t or didn’t. I think it was that I knew what I was going to say and what we would inevitably talk about – mental illness – which is actually really hard. It’s reminded me that I still have a long way to go about speaking out. I may have this blog, and an Instagram account but they’re private to some extent and are mainly seem by people whose judgements can’t affect me in my day to day life. Admittedly, I do a lot less in real life. I fear judgement and rejection as a result of people finding out about my mental illness so I hide it. The thing is by doing that I perpetuate the stigma and reinforce it. There is still stigma within myself.
How do I go about breaking that? Well social media is a megaphone but I need to focus on those around me before I go screaming from the roof tops. I need to do more in real life and I think I know exactly how. Recently I have been deemed uncapable to look after children by a college teacher because they saw me wondering around very dissociated. I kept myself safe, did nothing wrong or dangerous yet still this is the second time they are questioning my abilities because of a mental illness they do not understand. I talked it through with Poppy and have now decided with the help of my mum what we will do. We are going to compare the accusations based on my mental illness with the equivalent accusation for a physical illness.
I will report back with what happens. I’ll be posting much more frequently from now onwards to the end of May. See you soon,
I started yoga in January of this year to try and improve my back pain and keep myself active in some kind of way. Initially I was afraid my mental health would effect my ability to do things like it seems to do with every single thing I attempt. Also, there’s the question of being accepted as a transgender person, I wondered if people would ‘work out’ my biological sex.
My experience wasn’t pariticularly life changing in the first few weeks. I got frustrated my body couldn’t do what other people’s could and the ‘mindfulness’ periods at the beginning and end of the session were a breeding ground for voices. Everyone viewed me as male and didn’t question it but they started to try to work out why my younger brother was so much further along male puberty than I am. Also, I couldn’t see or feel any differences in my physical health, even regarding pain.
It took time to get used to listening to the voices, but then for whatever reason they stopped interrupting my mind so the relaxing periods became pleasant. I’ve stopped noticing how often I’m in pain, which hints that it’s getting better. And I can feel my body getting stronger and progressing each week which is something I can be proud of.
I hope I carry on for a long time and can reflect back on a year of yoga. It’s the best type of physical exercise I can do without tempting anorexia back into my life and maybe that will help me keep moving forwards. It isn’t just something I know helps my health, but I also enjoy it there and appreciate the woman who runs it. She is always reminding us of the link between physical and mental health, the effects of stress and the balance of what yoga you attempt to do or not do. Yoga really is for everyone, from wheelchair users to Olympic sports people to your average lazy person. I’ve learnt that I mustn’t compare myself to others because everyone’s body’s are different, and all you need to do to prevent injuries is listen to your body. That simple fact is so important.
See you tomorrow
I’ve been reflecting on this past year and how I have taken a lot of small steps that have added up to be huge leaps forward, and I am now a significantly different person than I was even a few months ago. A lot of this is up to my mental illness and how my recovery has become more and more stable, to the point that one of my small steps is coming off one of my medications I’ve been on for over a year! The changes being made are small but very challenging for me.
The medication in question is an antipsychotic and mood stabiliser that helps to reduce my psychotic symptoms of visual hallucinations, paranoia and the intensity of hearing voices, as well as managing my anxiety and obsessive behaviours to some extent. The dose was reduced by 25mg, a small fraction of the full dose but had a quick effect. I had several panic attacks for the first 2 weeks, but it calmed down after that. The voices got gradually worse but haven’t got any worse recently. I’m managing and they aren’t controlling me at this point so the decision has been made to put it down another 25mg. I’m going to be tracking my symptoms but I’m feeling really hopeful and positive about this change.
Another big change that has happened recently is I am now independent in taking my medication myself. One of the reasons for this is that I have stayed out of crisis for so long, making me more trusted not to overdose during a bad moment. Along with this, my alarm I set helps me remember and means I consistently take it on time!
Thanks for reading, see you tomorrow.