Monday, 31 December 2012

Body Positive/Mentally Healthy New Years Resolutions

Sorry for my prolonged absence - finishing off my PhD thesis is practically finishing me off. Hopefully it will only be a few more weeks and then I will be able to throw myself back into blogging properly.

I just saw this posted by The Huffington Post and really wanted to share it - this time of year can be particularly hard going for anyone with any sort of mental health problem. Don't let yourself get caught up in the usual cycle of unrealistic and un-mentally-healthy resolutions and have a go at some of these instead.


New Years Resolutions 2013: 10 Body Resolutions To Make You Feel Great This Year



Love and Best Wishes,
Betty

Monday, 17 September 2012

Learning to like yourself in the face of external criticism

Recently, my boyfriend had a group of his friends come to stay with us. I found out afterwards that during their stay, one of these friends took it upon himself to critique the 'state' of our flat.

I did not take this well.

Now I'm hardly my own biggest fan. Most of the time I do not like myself and think myself to be deficient in pretty much every way - unlikeable, incompetent, annoying, ugly, the whole thing. However, I know that this is a problem and I make significant efforts on an almost daily basis to like myself a bit more.

These days I often feel quite content with myself and my life. It's not perfect and it can be a little unusual, but that's actually part of what I like about it.
So how then, am I supposed to feel when I receive criticism about the very thing I am trying to feel better about, my life and how I live it, from an external source?
My first reaction was anger and indignation, however that quickly descended into a bout of self loathing that lasted for more than a day. I had been well and truly shaken.

So, how am I supposed to reconcile learning to like myself with this kind of unnecessary criticism?

I don't actually have an answer, unfortunately.

I'm either feeling lousy about myself or feeling angry about the criticism - neither of these are particularly great ways to feel for a prolonged period. My brain won't let go of the criticism but the (small) more self-assured part of me won't let me give in to it either.

I do have a lot of stuff, but I have reasons for the vast majority of it - things that I like and that make me happy, things that are useful, things that hold memories. Why should I have to change the way I live because someone else would rather live a more minimal lifestyle?
I'm clearly in one of my indignant and defiant moods. There's still something inside of me though, yelling, telling me that I'm no good and that people are judging me and finding me deficient. That voice gets louder and louder til it's all I can hear.

You can probably tell I'm pretty far from getting over this one.

The real problem is - as much as I think the criticism is wrong, - it's shot right to the heart of my insecurities and reinforced my belief that I am "bad" and my fears of being judged negatively. I have got more anxious and much less comfortable with people, just in the week since this all started. I hate it and I don't know what to do about it. I can't stay stuck in this cycle of anger and self hatred.

I feel so bad right now.

Betty
x

Sunday, 12 August 2012

My First Attempt at Podcasting

So I've had a little go at recording my thoughts rather than writing them down. I'm not sure how happy I am with the finished result at the moment, but that might just be my frame of mind.

Let me know what you think of the idea of doing more podcasts here, or if you prefer to read my writing rather than listening to my voice!

Click to listen
My First Attempt at Podcasting

Love,
Betty
x

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

Well, the summer has finally shown up here in the UK. I like the good weather, but unfortunately the way I'm feeling is far from wonderful.


I suppose my mood has been going downhill slowly over recent weeks, largely due to work related stresses. I had my PhD transfer viva last week; for those of you who don't know about the PhD process, it's basically an oral examination on my research thesis to see if I've done enough and will be able to complete the PhD or not. I'd been working really hard all month in the anticipation that the viva would be sometime this month, then it was scheduled at less than a weeks notice and my anxiety went into overdrive.


The stupid thing is, as much as I was terrified before hand (my legs were shaking so much on the day I nearly fell down the stairs), the actual viva went well, to be honest, really well. I wasn't asked anything I couldn't answer or given any criticism that wasn't fair and constructive. I actually left on quite a high.


Yet somehow, despite that high, I have returned to the downward course I was on before.


Over the last month I have noticed myself getting more withdrawn socially. Aside from the fact that I have spent as many days in the office this month as most of the rest of the year, I haven't had any social contact with people other than my boyfriend (not that that's a complaint about him, he's great). Even the office doesn't feel that sociable anymore, as more of the people I know leave and those remaining are as busy as I am. I've pulled out of two big social events at the last minute, for reasons ranging from having too much work, being too stressed, too tired, too poor and just generally too grumpy/miserable to be motivated. The problem is, after-the-fact I'm left feeling guilty and wretched and like I'm going to lose all my friends because of it. The latest of those is today, when I should have been going to the New Forest Show with some of my WI friends. As well as it being a bit too expensive for me right now, I just really couldn't face it. I love those girls and I really feel like I'm missing out on a great day. I feel so guilty and stupid for pulling out, even though I know beating myself up over it is only making me feel worse. I've even text them to apologise, explain and they have said they aren't angry with me, but my depressed brain seems convinced that they will now hate me forever and never want to do anything with me again. 


I make myself so angry sometimes. 


If I was talking this through with my therapist I know exactly what he would tell me to do; think about why I think they will hate me then look at the actual evidence. I think they will hate me and not want to be my friends anymore because I have lost so many friends in the past in similar circumstances. Looking at the actual, current evidence, these girls are great and lovely and have said in so many words that they are not annoyed with me.


That actually helped just to type that out. I feel a bit calmer.


It's my birthday party this weekend and to be honest, the way I was feeling, I just wanted to cancel. I won't, because I know it's not really the right thing to do, also I know my boyfriend won't let me (bless him). I'm in the sort of mood where I just can't understand why anyone would want to see me or be my friend at all, like I'm the most miserable, boring, unlikable, unreliable person and totally incapable of having a good time. 


What I really need to do is focus on picking myself up, dusting myself off and getting myself in the mood to have a good time with my friends on Saturday. I'll let you know how I get on with that :/


Thanks for listening,
Betty
x

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Sunscreen

Funnily enough, this isn't a post about the 'wonderful' July weather. I am yet to break out the sunscreen this year.


Sunscreen actually refers to the Baz Lurhman song "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" that topped the UK singles chart all the way back in 1999! I don't know why, but this song came into my head the other day and I remembered how much I liked it and how poignant the lyrics are. (It's probably only fair to point out that the 'lyrics' are actually taken from an article published in The Chicago Tribune in 1997, entitled "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young".)


Anyway, I wanted to just take some time to consider the article/song as I think it contains a lot of really good advice. I did try to do this for the whole thing, but it turned into a bit of an epic post, so I've just picked my favourite sections, but I recommend you listen to the song in full.


"Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you imagine."

While I am still young and would still consider myself to have my youth (no wrinkles or grey hairs yet), I have enough wherewithal to recognise the wisdom of this statement. In modern times and in our western culture, we tend to waste so much of our youth worrying about how we look rather than enjoying it. I am as guilty of this as anyone. When you are depressed it is even easier to spend too much time worrying about things and not being able to enjoy things. I think it is really important to focus efforts on finding things you enjoy as it is these things that will buoy you up when you start to feel low again.  Enjoy the moment, not just the memory, that's what life is for.

"Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday."

Now this is one I am definitely guilty of, and I suspect I am not alone in that fact. Depression makes the future seem so desolate and unwelcoming, how can we do anything but worry about it? However, stopping worrying about the future can actually be part of the road to recovery, learning to recognise and appreciate the good things that happen day to day and breaking down the big impossible problem of 'the future' into more manageable days or hours. Worry doesn't fix anything, it just makes problems seem worse and solutions harder to come by and put into action.

"Do one thing everyday that scares you"

Now, I've thought a lot about this one. Doing something that scares you everyday seems like an awfully bog task. I do also know that mostly this phrase is used as an analogy for challenging yourself and stretching yourself in you life, rather than literally expecting you to do something scary everyday. It is probably easier to think of the phrase literally when you're depressed. When you are depressed, even the 'little', 'everyday' things that most people do can be scary and challenging - from leaving the house to getting out of bed, answering the phone or speaking to your doctor. When you are depressed, these things do count as challenges, and making attempts to overcome them is a huge achievement you should be proud of. If the idea of something scary everyday is a bit overwhelming, try to think of it as doing something everyday that you can write down as an achievement to be proud of. Over time these achievements will all group together and result in getting you better.

"Sing" 

Absolutely do this one! In the shower, in the car, with people or on your own. It doesn't matter if it's an epic ballad that gets your blood pumping and lifts your mood, or something heavier that lets you scream out some of your frustrations. Singing is cathartic. I always feel better after belting out a 'tune'. 


"Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes 

you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with 

yourself. Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you 
succeed in doing this, tell me how."

I'm not sure if jealousy is the right word, when you're depressed it's probably more like envy or resentment. Envy and resentment against those who aren't suffering with depression, who are happy and enjoy life and who don't seem to understand or care about you or what you're going through. This is never helpful and will only ever make you feel worse - don't waste your time. Invest your time and energy in making yourself feel good, it'll have a much bigger, better payout. Remembering compliments and forgetting insults is particularly difficult when you are depressed. I can't give you a secret formula for this one, it's about strength and persistence. I write down good things that happen, it's the only way I can guarantee I will remember.

"Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements." 

Another one I don't think you need to take totally literally. Hold on to the good experiences and discard the bad. It's good advice for everyone, but especially important when you have depression.

"Stretch" 

Physically and mentally. It's generally accepted that physical activity can help in the fight against depression. You don't have to run a marathon, maybe just try a little yoga and see if you don't feel better for it.

"Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t."

I think this is a great one. I have no idea what I want to do 'with my life', career wise anyway. Remember there is more to life than a career though. A life is just a collection of days that make weeks that make months that make years. Ultimately, what I want to do with my life is enjoy it - another piece of advice that is good for everyone, but essential for people suffering with depression. Focus on feeling better and everything else will seem less important.

"Get plenty of calcium"

Calcium is good for your health and good health is important for good moods. I'm also pretty sure there is calcium in ice cream. No further discussion required.


"Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s."

This is pretty much a repeat of earlier points. Don't worry about what will happen in the future, make the most of everyday as it comes and one day you'll realise the future worked out to be pretty good after all. I'm also pretty sure the funky chicken should be a compulsory dance at all 75th wedding anniversaries.

"Enjoy your body, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.. Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room."

Loving yourself seems like the most unlikely thing when you are depressed. Start by finding one thing about yourself you like, or at least don't hate, and build up from there. Dancing, like singing can be a great release and can help you enjoy being you.

"Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them."

This one makes me smile. You don't always have to do what you're told, life can be more fun that way. You don't have to enjoy the things people say you should, you don't have to look the way people say you should, you don't have to want the things people say you should. However, always follow the instructions on medications, that one's non-negotiable.

"Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly."

No-one has he right to tell you you're not good enough or make you think you should be something other than who you are. You can't begin to see how beautiful and wonderful you are if you're surrounded by fake images of what is 'right'. If you do read them, always remember that the pictures are fake and the expectations are all wrong.



I know, when we are at a particularly low ebb, it can be hard to listen to anything positive or take in any sort of advice, but I hope you can find some hope in these messages. 
Also, remember that more people than you realise will relate to these things than you think. Some of them might be particularly relevant for those of us with depression, but worries and difficulties are all part of life for pretty much everyone - you are not broken or wrong or defective. 

Do you have a particular song that helps pick you up when you're feeling down? 

I hope you're all doing ok.

Love,
Betty
x




Saturday, 30 June 2012

It's hard to concentrate in a whirlwind

Apologies for the shoe post that ended up on here this week. I've had a super crazy hectic week, with far more alcohol and far less sleep than I'm used to, in all the ensuing confusion I posted here instead of my other blog :/

The fall-out from my rather manic week is that today I'm feeling particularly off-colour and out of sorts.

I know keeping busy is important for me; seeing friends, doing things outside of the house and generally feeling like I have a life are usually pretty good pick-me-ups. The problem is that all my things to do tend to come along, like buses, all together. I can have 3 weeks in a month with nothing to do, then one week where everything happens and I'm left feeling pulled in a dozen directions without the energy to manage everything.

Even as I'm writing this I'm feeling like I shouldn't be complaining. I am glad I have things to do. It's not really the things to do that get me down, this is just my emotional and generally energy drained brain talking. Things were not helped this week by the fact that everything got topped off on Friday by a less than encouraging email from my PhD supervisor that sent me off in a bit of an angry, emotional whirlwind that sapped any of my remaining energy reserves from the week.

Today I am meant to be getting on with things as I would have done if I wasn't so furious and raging about how that awful, inconsiderate, inept man has let me down. It's not exactly full steam ahead yet!

All that being said, I am managing better than I would have done in the same situation a year ago. So that's definitely a positive I need to hold on to. A year ago I would have cried and raged for a whole day (at least) and probably have been incapable of getting out of bed today. Now, I am angry, but I'm taking affirmative action and constantly reminding myself that he is the problem, not me, and I will finish this PhD despite him :)

I had a pretty good appointment with my therapist this week. It's strange, the sessions I go into feeling like I have nothing important worth talking about often end up being the most useful. I think it probably has something to do with having a clear head and being open to making efforts. I hope to start blogging here more regularly (how many times have I said that?) based on what I took away from that session, about recording my positive achievements.

My positive achievement for yesterday: Although I got very angry and upset by my supervisor, I managed to keep myself from descending into a pit of despair and have taken positive steps towards improving the situation and ensuring I can finish my PhD (whether he likes it or not).

How are you all doing? Do you take the time every day or every few days to think about something you have achieved? What have you done this week that has been positive?

Love,
Betty
x


Saturday, 23 June 2012

Good Mood Food

This is a bit of a cheat post, as I already posted it on my other blog, but it fits here just as well. Some of you may have already seen it, if so I apologise, I really intend to get a new post up here soon.




As I'm sure a lot of you are aware, I have long suffered with depression, anxiety, low mood and low self-esteem.

Through a combination of medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, support from friends and family and a lot of effort on my own part, I am doing a lot better these days. Having said that, things still aren't 'perfect', I still have low days or periods. Sometimes, the fact that I'm having a bad day can be made worse just by being disappointed that I'm not doing so well.

I've read things before about the effects that certain foods can have on your mood. Not in terms of indulging in treats to make you feel better, but foods that actually contain nutrients that can help lift or maintain better moods. To be honest, I've always been a bit sceptical, but scepticism is kind of my default setting. Recently I got to a point where I just wanted to be able to do something else to help myself, plus, as I'm always attempting to eat better and watch my weight, so I decided to do some research, then headed out to Waitrose to pick up supplies.

It probably won't come as much of a surprise that research generally supports the idea that a healthier diet (less processed food, less high fat food, fewer refined sugars etc) has a positive impact on people who suffer with depression. However, there are also some specific nutrients and foods that get highlighted as having particular benefit for mood in general.

Essential Fatty Acids
Fatty Acids are important in the transmission of signals in your brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important and can improve sensitivity to serotonin - the neurotransmitter most associated with feeling happy.
The best sources of Omega-3 include fish and seafood, but spinach, broccoli, Brazil nuts, pecans, sesame seeds and houmous are also good sources.
Unfortunately, I'm really not a fan of seafood or fish, but I love houmous, and spinach, broccoli and nuts are all things I don't mind too much, so they went on the shopping list.

Folate and Vitamin B12
Both Folate and Vitamin B12 are important in the creation of serotonin, and other neurotransmitters. Some studies have shown that a folate deficiency can reduce the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.
Foods including peanuts, spinach, lentils, some types of beans, chickpeas and brown rice are good sources of Folate, but a lot of breakfast cereals are fortified with folate too.
For Vitamin B12, eat milk, cheese, eggs, meats and salmon.
Again, while I wouldn't ever put them on a list of my favourite foods, I can eat spinach, lentils, beans and brown rice without too much objection, and chickpeas are the main constituent of houmous!! While eggs aren't something I like, milk, cheese and meat are all fine on the B12 front.

Antioxidants
Antioxidants work to prevent damage to nerves that can affect how signals are sent and received in the brain. Vitamin C and Vitamin E are both important antioxidants.
Obviously, oranges are great for Vitamin C, but blackcurrants, strawberries, peppers, broccoli, sweet potato and kiwi fruit are as well.
For Vitamin E, sunflower oil, almonds, hazelnuts, spinach and kiwi fruit are all great sources.
Strawberries are my absolute favourite fruit, I would eat them all the time except I will only buy British strawberries and they're only in season in late spring into summer. Sweet potato isn't something I've ever eaten very much of, so that might be something I need to try out a bit more, but peppers and broccoli are pretty standard veg in my diet.

Selenium
To be honest, no-one really seems to be sure what Selenium does, but they are pretty sure it's important for brain function and mood.
Brazil Nuts are the single best source of selenium you can get but kidney, tuna, crab and lobster contain a lot too.
I've never been a big fan of nuts, but I've discovered that Brazil nuts covered in a little dark chocolate really aren't too bad at all. Plus, dark chocolate is one of those things that's also help your mood, in small quantities anyway :)

This list isn't exhaustive, and different sources contain loads of different nutrients and foods that have potential benefits for brain function and mental health.

I only picked up a few additional things really. Fruit, muesli, almonds and Brazil nuts. I would have bought fruit anyway really, especially as there are so many British strawberries around at the moment. I've been trying to eat more oat based breakfast cereals, for general health reasons, but oats are also a source of folate and this muesli has loads of nuts in too. I had to go with Brazil nuts and have also heard good things about almonds, so I chucked those in the basket too.

The fruit was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, I'm really struggling to get into the muesli; too many raisins for my liking and nowhere near sweet enough, I've had to put a fair bit of sugar on to make myself eat it. I wasn't sure about the nuts at first, but once I drizzled the Brazil's in dark chocolate I've been getting on with them much better.

Now, this is nothing like a scientific experiment, so I'm struggling to think how to round this up. I did feel better after thinking more about what I've been eating. I can't say for sure if that's anything to do with the food though, it could be the good weather we had when I started this (not this last week, obviously!) or I could have been on an up anyway, which is why I felt so inspired to try these things out.
There is scientific evidence out there that supports these theories though, so they're probably worth sticking with. Plus, most of this is just about having a generally healthier diet, so it's hardly going to be wasted effort!

My will power is notoriously weak, so I've not really stuck to this plan as tightly as I maybe should have. I've had cake and chocolate and ice-cream too, but I know their pick-me-up effect is always short lived. I'm just not sure I'll ever get into treating myself with a chocolate Brazil or bowl of muesli :/ lol

Hope you have all been keeping well,
Love

Betty
x




Nutrition and Depression: Implications for Improving Mental Health Among Childbearing-Aged Women
L.M. Bonday & K.L. Wisner (2005)
Biological Psychiatry 58 (9) 679-685
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006322305005858

Monday, 5 March 2012

Pros and Cons of Medication

So, I've still not been great at posting here. Sorry. I've taken a lot of time to think about what I want to write, as I don't want to turn this into just a forum for my low moods and complaints.
I thought I'd write about medications, as I know it's something a lot of people have questions about and are unsure of. I will remind you, I'm not a medical professional, and you should always talk to your doctor/therapist about medication before making any changes - I'm just someone who has a fair amount of experience of depression, have done a lot of my own research and have a good biological/scientific background.

I have been medicated now for about 4 years - I suppose these days I sometimes forget that when I was first prescribed these meds I was scared and unsure, as I think a lot of people can be. I was prescribed Citalopram, starting off at 10mg with a quick progression to 20mg then 30mg, I now take 40mg daily.
This wasn't my first experience with medication and I was initially reluctant to go back down that road. I was first prescribed antidepressants when I was 16, when I was put on Venlafaxine. I never got along with it. The initial side effects included extreme nausea, I spent a whole evening sat in the bathroom expecting to throw up at any moment, although that did subside over a few days. Mainly, I just never felt any improvement in my mood. I was more able to get out of the house and socialise, but I felt like I was still a sad, unhappy person trapped behind a happy, 'normal' mask - it all felt like I was taking the medication for other people, so they saw a happier version of me, even though I still felt terrible inside. Whenever I would tell my doctor I wasn't feeling better she just upped my dose until I was taking huge capsules, the maximum amount you could take outside of hospital. After about nine months I was so sick of how the meds made me feel I told the doctor I wanted to stop taking them and she didn't try to change my mind. I did follow the advice to reduce the dosage over time and not just stop taking the pills, but I did reduce my dose quicker than was advised. I just wanted to get off the meds and had no intention of ever going back to them.

I only finally reconsidered when, at the age of 22, it all got too much to bear. My depression had not really ever left me, only gone through cycles of better and worse times; I was paranoid, antisocial, unhappy in my relationship, terrified of failing my degree and my mum had recently been diagnosed with cancer. I went to see my doctor in the hope of getting referred to a therapist, but was open to the possibility of medication - I was willing to try anything to feel even a little bit better. So, that's how I ended up taking Citalopram.

I don't really remember what it was like when I started taking it. I know I didn't feel instantly better, any antidepressant should be given two weeks to begin to take effect, but even after that I still didn't really feel better, hence my increase in dose. I remember increased feelings of anxiety early on, like my heart was racing and could jump out of my chest, for no apparent reason; I was advised to avoid caffeine (but didn't really), and fortunately the anxiety only occurred occasionally and only for a week or so. Then, things started to feel better - stronger and more able to stay on top of things (I also found the courage to end my long but very unhappy relationship).

Known possible side effects of Citalopram include; drowsiness, insomnia, nausea, weight changes, vivid dreams, frequent urination, decreased sex drive (hard to determine as depression usually hits your sex drive anyway), anorgasmia (inability to orgasm), dry mouth, increased sweating, trembling, diarrhoea, excessive yawning, fatigue, bruxism (grinding/clenching of teeth), vomiting, cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart beat), blood pressure changes, dialated pupils, mood swings, headache and dizziness. If you do take or are considering taking Citalopram, don't let the list of side effects put you off before you've given the medication a chance. In the majority of cases, the benefits far outweigh the side effects, and if you are ever concerned about any side effects, do talk to your doctor!

I know a few other people who have also taken Citalopram and experienced symptoms that I didn't really notice. One friend had her appetite and sleep really disturbed. I had never really had a good sleep pattern, so I didn't notice much change on that front, and my diet has always been a bit lacking too. I know she found the sleep disturbance so bad that she stopped taking Citalopram. I do find I grind my teeth in my sleep sometimes, usually if I'm stressed, so I don't know if that's a side effect or just a stress effect!

Despite my reservations, I am very glad I made the move back to being medicated. At some point I do intend to stop taking them, but I don't want to get ahead of myself - how long you take any medication should be completely up to you though. Things aren't perfect, I still have ups and downs, sometimes I still have really bad downs, but that's ok. Everyone has ups and downs, the fact that I still experience these reassures me that the meds don't just completely numb all genuine emotions - I don't want to take these meds to be super happy-clappy and unaware of reality, I just want a little boost to help me pick myself up.

My advice on medication is pretty simple - it can help, if you find the right one. I don't think it is ever the only solution or a cure, but a means of taking the edge of the worst parts of your depression, whether that's anxiety or low moods or agoraphobia etc. I see medication as a way of enabling you to do other things that will make more of a long term difference - getting out, being able to work/study, seeing friends and socialising and, of course, seeking the help of a therapist. Finding a counsellor/therapist isn't always easy, but is really worth while, I truly believe that therapy is the only true way to get better and stay better. Ask your doctor about what NHS services are available in your area, there are also charities and other groups that offer help and support, and students may find that their college or university has a mental health support service. I exhausted all other routes and am now seeing a therapist privately, it is far from cheap and I rely on help from my parents to pay for that, but it has made such a dramatic difference to me and my life. I'm not sure I would have made the same progress without the initial help of the medication.
Also, make sure you have a doctor you trust and get along with. You have to be able to talk about your needs and feelings and how you are finding any particular medication. Don't suffer a medication that doesn't suit you - it really isn't a one pill fits all situation. I know it is easier said than done - in your worst moments communicating how you feel can feel like more than you can manage. If you find it helps, write down what you want to say, then either use it as a prompt or just give it to the doctor to read. If you really feel the doctor you are seeing isn't helping you, don't be afraid to ask to see another doctor. I have seen loads of different doctors and therapists and have turned up with letters and lists on many occasions.

Always put yourself first. You deserve to feel good and enjoy your life. Please believe that.

If you have any other questions please do get in touch and I will see if I can help.

Best Wishes and Hugs,

Betty
x

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Balancing Act

Sorry for being a bad blogger again. Since the New Year my life has been a bit hectic.
My suspension of studies began on the 1st of January, and is currently ongoing. What that basically means is I'm working my butt off still without getting paid. I'm probably working even harder than when I was getting paid because the quicker I get everything done the sooner I can go back and start getting some money in again! Unfortunately the first two weeks of January were completel written off as I had flu :( Really bad flu, even for me. I couldn't think straight or do anything much except sleep, blow my nose and drink. I did begin to feel quite low during that period, not just because I felt so ill but because I began stressing about all the work I wasn't doing. Luckily, the sheer relief of feeling better kinda took the edge off that and I threw myself thoroughly into working.
The month since then has been very up and down. Sometimes I feel great, like I'm achieving loads in my work and that things are back on track. Sometimes like I'm going nowhere really, really fast and that failure is inevitable. I can experience both of those mid sets in the same day, within hours of each other. That on its own is really draining!
I really need to talk to my supervisor about the next stage, what I'll be doing when I'm officially back. I'm dreading it, but am thankful that I can, at least initially, do it via email. I find it so much easier to communicate in writing, especially in situations where I'm nervous. I can explain myself better in writing, make sure I say everything I need to, clearly and am less likely to just cave in and go along with whatever the other person thinks is best :/

What with Christmas, illness, work and this hideously cold weather, my exercise regime has completely gone out the window. Luckily, I haven't gained much weight yet. I'm still skeptical about the mood benefits of exercise, I feel pretty good straight after but that fades pretty quickly :/

I'm still seeing my therapist. I've had a lot of really good, productive sessions lately. I've realised a lot of things about myself that I can work on and I have really felt like I've bettered myself through it. My last session wasn't as great, I left feeling a bit weird and mixed up again, but that might just have been hormones.

Anyway, that's an update on me. Hopefully I'll get back to some more regular posting again.
Thank you for all still following.
If you have any questions you'd like me to offer my opinions on, either privately or on here, let me know either in the comments or by email.
Love