Category Archives: mental health

How to be disabled… All the things no one tells you about being sick:

Since my health deteriorated I can’t help but feel like I was massively thrown in at the deep end. Doctors offer little life advice and mainly medical advice- we don’t get told how to cope, manage and access services. Speaking to many many chronically ill people through the creation of this blog, I have discovered so many, like me, are unaware of our rights as disabled people.

Now I hope I don’t need to say this, but I’m going to mention it anyway. Disabled people ‘perks’ are not perks- they are there to make life more accessible for disabled people and to bring us up to an even-playing field. Please do not take advantage of any of the below and only apply for what you need.

Some of the following suggestions need a more in-depth explanation in individual posts- for example PIP, benefits, PA and care support. I will cover these more in the future. Talking about the more ‘official disabled stuff ‘ can take up a lot of spoons!

I’ve learnt a lot about the world since being sick. Disabled life is expensive. It takes double the amount of time to do everything. The general public can be weirdos. Talking about your access needs or educating others isn’t being selfish.

Let’s start by stating this: It is against the law to discriminate against someone because of their disability.

Disability Rights UK is a great place to go for any legal queries or advice regarding work or access.

Disability Equality Act 2010: ‘You are considered disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.’

Disability Equality Act 2010.

Disabled people are allowed to work, study and access the community. We are allowed to live a fulfilling life and reasonable adjustments should be made to ensure we are able to do so. Ofcourse our health conditions can often limit our choices but reasonable adjustments should be put in place to aid our abilities.

Reasonable adjustments:Reasonable adjustments are changes to the work environment, employers, shops, local authorities and schools that allow people with disability to work safely and productively. Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, ‘disability’ includes: physical, psychological or neurological disease or disorder. illness, whether temporary or permanent.”

Scope has some amazing resources for more depth into this on their website. Also note that options available to you alter from county to county and town to town- annoying right?!

They like to make things a faff! Remember that, however once support is in place it will be life changing.

https://www.scope.org.uk/advice-and-support/days-out-tips/

Discounts: The cost of being disabled is high! People often feel we are ‘lucky’ for being entitled to discounts. I mean. No comment.

Brighton has a great scheme run by the charity ‘amaze’ they offer ‘compass cards’ which entitle disabled young people and their friends, family and carers discounts and freebies on local attractions, leisure centres and cafes. Google to see if your town has something similar! I do think a lot of funding for things like this has to do with external factors such as age, income etc…

Carer Access Card: https://www.accesscard.org.uk/carer-card/

Music Festivals free carer tickets: Accessing ‘normality’ can seem like it’s a whole world away. Attending social events is never easy and music festivals are up there with one of the hardest, that being said… There is an absolutely fabulous charity called ‘attitude is everything’ they team up with all big music festivals across the UK such as community festival and reading festival to ensure music is accessible to disabled people. Their support is amazing on the day as well as answering any concerns leading up to the event. They offer support such as accessible toilets, viewing platforms, camping facilities with electricity for over night events, first aid, free carer ticket with proof of disability (whether they are a formal carer or not). Just find the accessibility tab on the festivals website to fill out online forms or call/ email them directly. In my experience each festival have been great.

Many other music gig/ concert booking services also offer a similar services including carer tickets. The link below is an example, but always contact the ticket provider. Viewing platforms, quiet rooms, queue jump, seated not standing are all examples of support available at music gigs no matter how big or small.

https://help.skiddle.com/hc/en-us/articles/360005129531-I-d-like-to-purchase-a-Personal-Assistant-Carer-ticket

Cinema card: The CEA card entitles you to a free care ticket if you would be unable to attend without the support of a PA. As well as this, individual cinemas will have set schemes in place to support any access requirements you have.

Accessible theatres: Everything from disabled friendly viewings for autism or dementia and toilets, PA/carer tickets all to seating and transport.

English Heritage offer some free support for disabled people and their carers accessing any of their sites.

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/

Similarly National Trust do the same. You can sometimes hire scooters for all terrains if you may have an issue with wheelchair accessibility aswell as a guide or a golf buggy. Just ask.

Access plus one national trust

Accessible walks in nature for those in wheelchairs: http://walkswithwheelchairs.com

Getting out and about as a disabled person can be a huge challenge and whether you have a learning disability or find yourself wheelchair bound all needs are valid. Social isolation is a huge thing for disabled people and sometimes the thought of ‘faffing about’ trying to arrange a day out is not worth your energy. So many larger organisations are beginning to realise this and there is more support in place to aid your access needs. Not everything always runs smoothly, but knowing your own needs or having a carer/ friend know your needs can help.

Remember the judgement you receive from others is their problem and not yours. Until someone has spent a day in your shoes, they cannot comment.

BE KIND!

Care teams: Care coordinators are few and far beyond. Speak to your GP about whether or not there is a possibility to have a medical practitioner or team look at your care holistically. I am not the best person to get advice on this as I don’t have this in place!

Appointments: I’ll be posting a ‘navigating hospital appointments’ post soon as there are lots and lots of pointers surrounding this.

PALS– Patient liaison service at your local hospital or their main switchboard are always a good place to start with queries and complaints.

Ergonomic Equipment: If you are working or studying, you could be eligible for a free Occupational Health needs assessment to enable you to stay in work or education with more support to nurture your disability, from this you may be able to get a chair, desk, computer equipment, assistant, software etc.. to aid your disability in the work place and ensure reasonable adjustments are met to help you meet your potential. OH cover everything from undiagnosed back pain to brain injuries, cancer to autoimmune conditions.

Disability Equipment: Below are links of sites which have a multitude of daily living aids to support your independent living. There are aids for almost everything you could possibly think of, which help you and your carers at home. You do have to pay for these aids, but you may be VAT exempt due to your disability- your PIP money can be used to purchase items. (I’ll discuss PIP more soon)

VAT Exemption for disabled people: https://www.gov.uk/financial-help-disabled/vat-relief

https://www.completecareshop.co.uk/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwiYL3BRDVARIsAF9E4GchK4J-jJJcU4SPquobm8WMubar1Uv8D63XwKUV6TMKL0aax9KXxlUaAoiFEALw_wcB

https://www.mobilitysmart.co.uk/daily-living-aids.html?gclid=Cj0KCQjwiYL3BRDVARIsAF9E4GdkvBzq0JMCZZqDu3foWQ52cHZ4BBIwDXsp3xc1lGAcLTHcGUirFPwaAsPtEALw_wcB

https://www.nrshealthcare.co.uk/articles/news/daily-living-aids-products-information-and-advice

https://www.manageathome.co.uk/around-the-home

https://www.tenura.co.uk

Amazon also have lots of options- if you message the seller, you may be exempt from paying VAT. Ofcourse not only for help with aftercare, but it is also always better to buy directly from the disability company ethically.

Carers allowance: The UK government funds people on low income who are ‘unofficial carers’ this can be a friend or family member who does or doesn’t live with you but offers care support for at least 35 hours a week.”You could get £67.25 a week if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week depending on their benefits and whether you earn under £128 a week.”

Adult Social Care: I had a few referrals here and am going through the PA/ Direct Payment process- I will do a separate post on this soon but for now, the resources below may be useful.

https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/being-control-getting-personal-assistants-pas

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-care-and-support-guide/money-work-and-benefits/personal-budgets/

https://www.gov.uk/apply-needs-assessment-social-services

Disabled Facilities Grant: You could be entitled to up to £30,000 home adjustments to make your house adaptable for you.

DSA: Disabled students allowance. If you are a student you can apply for DSA. This is not physical money. They offer you a needs assessment and then discuss software, paid mentor support, equipment etc which could help you in your studies. The idea is to ensure disabled students are not disadvantaged and on an even playing field with their peers. You apply for this through student finance. I’ll discuss this further in another post.

PIP: A specific pot of money given to disabled people based on the impact of their health on their daily life and not a diagnosis alone.

I will be creating a ‘PIP for dummies’ guide very soon’ Personal independence payment is a big stressful faff and the system is not made in favour of the disabled people applying for it! I understand PIP can be particularly overwhelming for those who are sick. My tips for now. Get an advocate or friend/ family members support. Contact a local charity for help. Appeal. Don’t panic, hang on in there and get an advocate or carer to help… more on this soon.

Benefits: If your disability affects you so severely that you are unable to work, you can claim benefits. There seems to be a lot of stigma about people claiming benefits and people abusing the system. Know you are entitled to access support without judgement. Only you know what you are like on your worst day! I will explain these in more depth in future, but for now- citizens advice bureau and the below links should help a little. Sadly for some benefits really aren’t enough to live off so external support can be needed too.

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/disability-and-sickness-benefits-check-your-entitlements

https://www.gov.uk/financial-help-disabled

Transport: Travelling on public transport is really hard as a disabled person- this becomes even harder when travelling alone and having to deal with the general public! Allow yourself extra time and be mindful that not everything always runs smoothly.

Below is hopefully every link you could ever need for transport!

Disabled persons bus pass: You could be entitled to free bus travel everywhere in the UK. Google ‘Free disabled bus travel’ or ‘disabled bus card’ then your town and it will come up with a link to your city/ council town hall- you can usually print the application online and post it or go into your town hall and there is a department to do it there. *top tip- if you go into the town hall they will take a photo of you for your ID- you might want to know this before you go!

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rights-of-disabled-passengers-on-transport

COACHES: https://www.nationalexpress.com/en/offers/coachcards/disabled

LONDON TRAVEL: https://tfl.gov.uk/forms/12387.aspx?cid=accessguides

FREE BADGE/ CARD FOR TRANSPORT: https://tfgm.com/public-transport/please-offer-me-a-seat

GREATER ANGLIA TRAVEL: https://www.greateranglia.co.uk/about-us/news-desk/news-articles/‘offer-me-seat’-badges-now-available

GREATER NORTHERN TRAVEL: https://www.greatnorthernrail.com/travel-information/travel-help/priority-seat-card

WEST MIDLANDS TRAVEL: https://www.westmidlandsrailway.co.uk/travel-information/accessible-travel

THAMESLINK TRAVEL: https://www.thameslinkrailway.com/travel-information/travel-help/priority-seat-card/can-i-get-a-priority-seat-card

SOUTHERN RAIL: https://www.southernrailway.com/travel-information/travel-help/priority-seat-card

LONDON TRAVEL: https://tfl.gov.uk/transport-accessibility/please-offer-me-a-seat

SOUTH EASTERN RAIL TRAVEL: https://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/travel-information/on-board/priority-seating

RAIL CARD DISCOUNTED TRAVEL: Disabled persons rail card 1/3 off travel

PLANNING A JOURNEY: https://www.gwr.com/plan-journey/journey-information/passenger-assist

AIRPORT SPECIAL ASSISTANCE: Contact the airline and airport you will be travelling with and tell them the dates and times of your flight- ask for special assistance- remember this needs to be done before you travel. I’m going to do a ‘how to be disabled- abroad’ post soon.

Brighton has a scheme called ‘helping hands’ your area may have something similar, have a gander.

Motability scheme: ‘The Motability Scheme enables people to get mobile by exchanging their mobility allowance to lease a new car, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle ( WAV ), scooter or powered wheelchair.’ (PIP again!)

Toll bridges and congestion charge: You may not have to pay or be eligible for a discount. Disabled people often have to drive to travel long distances for appointments etc.

Below are some examples:

Toll exemptions. You may be exempt from paying toll fees. Many disabled people cannot access public transport easily, and therefore need to drive more, spending more on petrol, parking etc…

https://www.gov.uk/toll-concessions

Congestion charge is free in London for Blue badge holders and any other car travelling in their party.

https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/cc-blue-badge-before-you-begin-proxy-30923

DON’T PAY TAX ON A VEHICLE USED TO TRANSPORT DISABLED PEOPLE: https://www.gov.uk/get-vehicle-tax-exemption-disability

Assistance dogs aren’t just for people who are blind, companies such as canine partners can aid you in your independent living by matching you with an assistance dog.

Watersure uk: The WaterSure Scheme can help you if your income is low and you use a lot of water due to your disability. They can also warn you if there are any issues which may leave you with out water. Many gas/ electric companies do the same.

RADAR KEY: A blue key with a heart shaped top. Many disabled people need clean, fast access to toilets. They open the majority of locked toilets in the UK. Open disabled toilets in parks and public places as well as restaurants etc which may support the scheme. These are between £3-4 and available from many care shops, lots of big boots, and online simply type ‘radar key’ into google and there are lots of links. If in Europe, there is a similar scheme called the ‘eurokey’.

BLUE BADGE: If you suffer from mobility issues, struggle to walk more than a short distances, anxieties around long distance walking which could lead to issues for your disability such as bowl incontinence or autism you may be eligible for a blue badge. This enables you to park in blue badge bays and on double yellow lines- subject to the towns rules- please always check the rules of the town you are in, as you are still likely to get a ticket. I will do another post on life with a blue badge. YOU DON’T HAVE TO DRIVE OR OWN A CAR TO GET A BLUE BADGE!

Disabled id card: A formal ID to prove your disability

‘Disabled Band Reduction Scheme:’ https://www.gov.uk/council-tax/discounts-for-disabled-people

Sunflower scheme: The hidden disability sunflower scheme- started in airports but now implemented in shops, you can pick them up free in some big retail shops and supermarkets at the customer service desk or buy one here. I LOVE THIS SCHEME BUT THERE NEEDS TO BE MORE AWARENESS ON IT!

Not all disabilities are visible: Google ‘Not all disabilities are visible’ there are tonnes of resources and information from car magnets to badges, lanyards and stickers. Etsy is a great place to support small local businesses.

http://www.ncphlexicare.com/claim-your-free-blue-heart-badge

Cards tailored your disability need.

Access leisure card: Many councils have discounts or free leisure facilities for you and your carer. I have linked the Brighton one below as an example. Some schemes allow up to 3 people to attend with the disabled person free of charge.

https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/leisure-and-libraries/sports-and-activity/leisure-card

PRESCRIPTIONS: Medication can be expensive!

As much as we are super lucky we don’t live in places such as the US, where we pay thousands in medical fees- if you regularly need lots of medication – prescription prices definitely do add up. £9.15 per item.

Here are a few ways you can save money on prescriptions.

If you are being prescribed something which can be sold over the counter such as a mild excema cream, paracetamol based medications, antihistamine, nurofen, ibroprofen gels etc, it will be cheaper to buy it over the counter than receive it on prescription. It will save both you and the NHS money.

See the link below to see if you are entitled to free prescriptions.

https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/help-with-health-costs/get-help-with-prescription-costs/

Medical exemption certificate, Maternity exemption, low income exemption, HC2, HC3 form are examples of free prescription entitlement.

Prepayment prescription Certificate: If you are not medically exempt, you are able to pay in ‘bulk’ for as many prescriptions as needed prepaid. £29.65 for 3 months. £105.90 for 12 months.

APPS:

Apple Products: I’m not sure about Android but apple products have a range of accessible features. Accessibility in Settings can enable larger font etc. One feature I like it assistive touch- I have the little grey button on my screen as my hands hurt trying to stretch for the buttons all the time- you can turn the volume up and screenshot, restart etc all with this button.

Putting your medical information including allergies in the Health section of your phone can be good for 999 calls as it can be accessed if your phone is locked and you are unresponsive.

Writing ICE after emergency contact details.

Accessaloo-finding clean and accessible toilets. If you know me well you’ll know this is always super handy for me in a rush! ‘Navigate, add, save, rate & review accessible toilets’

Wheelmate– finding clean accessible toilets as well as disabled parking- app users can enter details of their finds.

Accessable– Originally called DisabledGo- Access Guides with accessible information for disabled people, carers, wheelchair users. Includes restaurants, airports, hotels, hospitals, toilets and more.

Access your life: Pre loved medical equipment for sale and mobility aids as well as reviews by disabled people. https://www.accessyourlife.co.uk/

Medical id: These are genius. Your id will come with an individual pin code on the back of the red circle piece. You then log in online and enter all your details of operations, allergies, diagnosis’ etc. They do have cheaper options, gold, other designs etc.. The idea is that you have your medical details on file and if you were to be in an emergency situation where you are unable to communicate or respond medical professionals or the ambulance service will recognise this symbol. It is a universally recognised symbol which commands attention. In my opinion the best place for the id is on your wrist as a bracelet or on your neck as a necklace- this is because this is where our pulse is checked. That being said they do have cards, keychains etc… Make sure to regularly update your ID details on file online. THEY COULD LITERALLY SAVE YOUR LIFE!

https://www.universalmedicalid.co.uk/cat_uk/medical-ID-bracelets-62?gclid=Cj0KCQjwiYL3BRDVARIsAF9E4Ger1RtATf0TKfgnSCoxuaPdGIcMddZq9XAWQn8AYjN7nKKb4VGeIQ8aApDuEALw_wcB

I chose a sterling silver necklace due to allergies and added the little elephant on cause it’s cute!

https://www.theidbandco.com/Medical-Bracelets?gclid=Cj0KCQjwiYL3BRDVARIsAF9E4GeC3tEf74IGnJtYneDM9VKh99JPeERDfAF-6hNm3GwIlB7ePTdeL3EaAumwEALw_wcB

Many charities offer information cards that look a little bit like a debit card or a gift card, examples would be:

I am autistic card

autism alert

I just can’t wait cards:

Check with a charity that works with your condition as they may have something similar to the cards above.

I am also happy to send you a free PDF like these, which you can print out on card or I can post to you one with or without a lanyard for a small fee.

I can’t think of anything else right now but I will keep updating this- the links will remain here and I will create a little leaflet which should be more accessible to read.

Any questions about any of the aspects mentioned or not listed, please do message me.

OTHER POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY:

Mental Health Awareness Week: MY TOP TIPS!

To continue my posts for my Mental Health Awareness Week.

As I’ve spoken about in the past, I have had alot of therapies, counselling, support etcetc.. within my short life with regards to coping with stress and anxiety. I thought for mental health awareness week it was only right to share my favourite coping mechanisms.

Chewing Gum

Distraction from your thoughts is really importnt- whether you chew gum, click a pen or fiddle with something- detracting your thoughts elsewhere is a good idea.

Medicate if necessary

There seems to be a huge stigma around medicating for mental illness- I was put on medication for my mental health and have been on a variety of different ones ever since. It is a big decision to make and requires regular slow monitoring. Medication is not a cure for mental health issues, however, along side therapies it can be of great support.

Lavender

I just find lavender so calming! I have lavender oil in an air purifier/ diffuser. lavender pillow spray, a bag of lavender in the box I store my bedsheets in. For me I’m very sensory- smells really make me feel better. If you ever walk into my room you’ll be hit with a concoction of oils, melts, incense, candles, lush products, air fresheners- all sorts. I like everything to smell nice as it’s comforting.

Write your thoughts down-

Sometimes we react to situations before we think. Writing down frustrations can ease tension with others and help us rationalise our thoughts.

Brain Dump-

Feeling stressed:(???? Write every word that comes to mind on the paper- even if its the most totally random word ever, it helps to get everything out your brain! Categorise them into things that are in your control and things that are not. Rip up and throw away any worries which you cannot control- taking them out of you brain and into the bin. Organise a plan surrounding each small worry to eventually cross them off your worry list..

Have a plan so you don’t become overwhelmed-

Sadly in life there are things we have to do that we don’t want to. The quicker and more efficiently you can get these tasks done, the sooner you are able to do something you love. Planning what needs to be talked about in an important doctors appointment or what you need to buy in the shops on a Saturday when you’ve got three toddlers running riot with you can help maintain structure and allow tasks to be completed quicker. I’m awful at remembering things so I strongly recommend writing conversations or reminders/ to do’s down for later you. Feeling prepared for challenges helps ease anxiety.

Don’t worry about future you-

As Cringey as it sounds, no one knows what the future holds- we cannot fly ahead into the future or teleport to the past. Focus on the now. The present. Your happiness. Your life now. DO WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU RIGHT NOW AND FOCUS ON THE REST LATER.

Your Grades are not the most important thing in the world- exam anxiety-

Test or exam anxiety is one of the most common forms of anxiety- I used to faint, cry, hyperventilate, be sick in exams. WHY?! Has anyone ever asked me for my grades for XYZ? No! Whether it’s a small test at work or your A levels your grades do not define who you are as a person- it is likely you will be able to retake, ask for advice or ignore the results. Why we put so much pressure on kids from such a young age is beyond me!

Name 5 things you can see, hear, smell, touch- Grounding Technique

This is a great calming strategy- say them out loud.

Talk to people

Talking to friends and family about how you feel can be scary and you may feel you don’t want too burden them with your problems- therapists are a good second option if this is the case. They are qualified and paid to deal with other peoples issues. The act of hanging out with friends and talking often can raise moods as we become distracted and occupied with fun. Don’t feel you have to speak about issues as such- you can just generally have a chit chat! When my panic was at it’s worst, the act of someone asking ‘are you okay’ or me saying ‘ i feel really anxious/panicky’ would usually trigger a panic attack. My friends and family knowing how too behave to make me feel safe and conversations to distract me was beneficial. Communication is great.

Get out the house-

My Agoraphobia stemmed from not leaving the house in bouts of anxiety and depression. Very relevant to current times, it is important you leave the house when possible. Open the front door and sit on your drive if you don’t feel up to going miles from home or simply walk down your road. Your brain becomes conditioned to ‘liking’ being inside very quickly and it will only detriment your mental health. You do not need to go on 5 mile walks every day or sit in the garden 24 hours a day but simply getting out and about a little will maintain your social interaction with other humans even without speaking to anyone, the act of simply seeing another pair of arms and legs is useful to your brains coping strategy.

Don’t avoid your problems

LAUREN! This is one for myself. There is a cycle I tend to live my life by with relation to my physical health- boom and bust, all or nothing. Similarly I follow the same pattern with my mental health- I subconsciously ignore all my stresses until I hit breaking point- release all my feelings and then return back to neutral. This tends to repeat itself. Keeping your thoughts in only makes for emotional mood swings and subconscious changes in your behaviour.

Take a break and try again in a little while

Breathe in for 5 seconds and out for 8.

The idea with this is basically ‘breathe out more than you breathe in to maintain stable breathing’. As we become anxious we close up. We want to have bigger, deeper breaths. If you find yourself becoming tight chested or panicky focusing on maintaining your breathing is good. Weirdly for me if I didn’t have my sole focus on this it used to trigger panic (something to do with the OCD and counting breaths I’m sure!)

Know you aren’t alone

There is always someone who will speak to you, even if its a stranger online!

Understand others struggle too

Know the facts not your made up scenarios

Understand poor mental health can make fantasy feel like reality. We often make things worse than they are in our heads, assume people think certain things about us or read into behaviours strangely. Without knowing the facts we start to believe our own thoughts! Worried about something or someones opinion of you- ask them?

Drink lots of water

Water is amazing for everything. Skin, Brain. Bladder. I used to get very very light-headed, pins and needles or faint- I find water a great energy boost to ‘bring me back’ Again it’s another great distraction method- focusing on your gulps of water as opposed to things happening around you.

Have regular snacks or a mini squash bottle to maintain blood sugars-

Similarly carrying small snacks or a mini squash bottle is useful as we tend to feel low when we are hungry/ lacking in vitamins.

Communicate

Breathe out your nose- this will make you giggle!

Have a positive playlist

Have all your favourite music in one place. I have spotfiy playlists for every mood/ scenario!

Do something nice for someone

Doing something nice for someone else helps us feel better about ourselves.

Give yourself a gift-

We treat others to nice gifts or surprises- why not do the same to yourself.

Write a nice letter to yourself

Spa nights at home

This is one of my favourites- whenever my friends are feeling rubbish we have a spa night- I run the bath for them with epsom salts and candles, bubbles and bath bombs- spa sounds and fairy lights- colour changing lighting. Since doing beauty courses I’ll do facials or gel manicure/pedicures. These are my favourite types of evenings. So girly and my friends love it! My uni halls room was literally known as the detox room- everyone would go on their nights out be incredibly hungover and then come over to my ‘spa’ and eat pizza. AW I miss Uni! Corona go away.

Write your compliments

The most lovely lady on Facebook told me this! We are so quick to remember any negative comments about our appearance yet we don’t accept positive comments. I cannot think of one compliment in the last few weeks, yet I know I’ve received so many- since writing down my compliments, it enables me to see what other people think of me and maybe slowly I’ll start to believe it! (SIDE NOTE don’t comment on peoples appearance negatively- just let them be!) Give out compliments to others often!

Document your day went well today?

Write about one good thing from each day.

Find a fury friend-

Ahh… I wish I had a pet, they’re so good at comforting.

Get Creative/ paint or colour

Art is therapeutic!

Celebrate your small achievements

Haven’t brushed your hair for two weeks but you did today? WELL DONE!!

Cut out negativity from your life- it’s okay to prioritise your own mental health

I’ve always been a bit of a Negative Nancy, I’m trying my best to become more of a Positive Polly! Distance yourself from anyone that doesn’t fit to your new mindset until you feel strong enough.

Create a kindness kit (happy box)- see my blog post on these)

You are in control of your life- don’t let anyone else be.

I hope some or at least one of these tips will help you.

Love yourself, Look after yourself and be kind!

L xxx

Mental Health Awareness Week- Panic Disorder

I thought I’d explain a little about my experience with Panic Disorder in my second post for mental health awareness week:)

“Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder where you regularly have sudden attacks of panic or fear.”

Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times, this does not mean you have an anxiety disorder and is likely to be merely a natural response to stressful or dangerous situations. Welldone you. Your brain works properly. Our bodies are built to react to situations that make us feel uneasy. Those with Panic disorder have a chemical imbalance which leads their bodies to be in ‘fight or flight’ mode regularly with no triggers.

Fight or Flight, Freeze?


A tiger is about to attack- do you fight it, flight (run away) or freeze- don’t move? Your instincts will act quickly and respond therefore the decision is not in your hands.

A perfect example of ‘Fight, Flight Freeze’ is when you slam on the brakes when the car in front of you suddenly stops, you do not stop to think about your decision. Your body reacts to its own instincts quickly to protect you… In someone with Panic disorder the body doesn’t understand its potential dangers and therefore is over sensitive in its responses. As someone who has lived with anxiety disorders I always include freeze as I feel fight and flight aren’t always what actually happens!

I speak in past tense as I would say I am pretty much over the panic stage of my life * touch wood* & gosh am I pleased! So how did I do it? It was not easy! I did a previous post on accessing therapies. Exposure Technique & CBT along with medication ( I tried tonnes- this was definitely about finding what worked for me).

For someone with panic disorder, intense sudden feelings of anxiety, stress and panic occur very regularly often for no apparent reason. It can effect quality of life greatly & be exceptionally inconvenient.

Symptoms of Panic Disorder are apparent during an anxiety attack or panic attack which is where feelings are suddenly intensified.

Feelings of high anxiety whilst awful and very distracting are different to anxiety attacks. Anxiety attacks become uncontrollable. People with other anxiety disorders can have panic attacks but it is likely they have more of a trigger & do not come out of the blue like in Panic disorder.

Symptoms include:

  • A racing heartbeat
  • Feeling faint
  • Excessive sweating
  • Cold Sweats
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Short of breath
  • Hyperventilating
  • Trembling
  • Hot flushes
  • Shivering
  • Chills
  • Shaky limbs
  • Dizziness
  • Pins and needles
  • Numbness
  • A need to go to the toilet
  • Cramp
  • Ringing in your ears
  • A churning stomach
  • Tingling in your fingers
  • A need to escape a situation
  • Feeling like you’re not connected to your body
  • A lack of control

For me, I experienced anxiety most of the day- these symptoms would be toilet issues, nausea, stomach aches, feeling constantly on edge or dizzy.

When I had an anxiety attack, symptoms would exacerbate, I would run as far away from a situation as I could until I dropped my body to the floor- My reasoning? If I fainted, I couldn’t go anywhere as I’m already on the floor. I would feel a wave come over me- some days I could feel it coming on building for a few hours, other days in seconds.

My Panic

My main symptoms of an attack were: cold sweats, hyperventilating- couldn’t speak, dry mouth, dizziness, blurred vision, weak legs. After I experienced a panic attack I would feel a sense of relief. You know sometimes when you’ve been sick? You feel better for a short period of time after being sick as you’ve got it all out? Then your next round of nausea begins before you are sick again. This is the best way to explain how my panic cycle was.

Perseverance and Resilience are important in overcoming your mental health condition. Accepting your set backs but getting back up again is what will keep you going.

“The number of attacks you have will depend on how severe your condition is. Some people have attacks once or twice a month, while others have them several times a week.”

Why me & not them?

It is not totally known what causes someone to have panic disorder, but factors such as these may play a role:

  • Genetics
  • Major stresses or Traumas
  • Being more sensitive to anxiety/ stress or prone to negative emotions
  • Certain changes in the way parts of your brain function and it’s chemicals

Phobias:

Many people with panic disorder experience phobias. No this isn’t simply being ‘scared’ of spiders. It’s a fear. The thought of your trigger being within 100 miles of you & your body goes into meltdown.

There are hundreds of phobias some specific to things like spiders, lifts or snakes- for me I had Agoraphobia and Claustrophobia. This basically meant small spaces and big open spaces. Weirdly the spaces didn’t have to be that small. Cars without windows being open. Classrooms with the door shut.

AGORAPHOBIA: extreme or irrational fear of entering open or crowded places, of leaving one’s own home, or of being in places from which escape is difficult.

CLAUSTROPHOBIA: extreme or irrational fear of confined places

People are very quick to throw words round such as ‘claustrophobic’ ‘depressed’. School kids are famous for the ‘jheez don’t have a panic attack comments’ or the ‘omg I’m gunna kill myself’ comments. Not only are they misusing words. Incorrect. Unnecessary & careless. They can be exceptionally triggering for people with mental health issues. The boy who cried wolf? If you make jokes about things like this- if god forbid you ever found yourself in a situation where you needed support people may not be so understanding.

So I guess that’s Panic Disorder in a nutshell. Work on yourself as a whole and things should get better, get medical support + don’t expect it to be an easy ride:)

Mental Health Awareness Week- How I got better & Accessing help.

This is a post in a series for mental health awareness week 🙂

I went from this… daily.

My Birthday 2017

To this…

Please remember things do get better & life will become easier to handle. It did for me and it will for you. There is so much support available to you it’s just about knowing how to access it and being in the right frame of mind to do so. Work on improving things when you’re having a relatively good day – if you try and tackle life on a bad day not much gets done and things can be overwhelming.

The best bit of advice I have to give with regards to mental health & supporting people with mental health conditions would be…

‘you have to want to get better and want to fix things otherwise things won’t get better’.

I of course still struggle with my mental health and it might comfort you to know this- I’ve just had a lot of practice in ‘feeling better’.

At 15 I was diagnosed with ‘Panic Disorder and Social Anxiety, with Agoraphobic and Claustrophobic symptoms.’ I later developed a diagnosis of depressive disorder (clinical depression). I guess the knock on effect of not leaving the house much due to panic contributed to this!!

I am not ashamed to say I have struggled and you should not be either. My mental health issues left me having 6/7 panic attacks a day everyday at it’s worse, not washing my hair, brushing my teeth, being too scared to leave my bedroom, staying in the house for months at a time, fainting left right and centre, not making it to school/ sixthform or spending the day in isolation as the thought of being near anyone or anything made me physically sick. I experienced pain, tears, suicidal thoughts and anxiety provoked feceal soiling regularly (that means pooing myself).

Getting help:

The idea of getting help for your mental health can be incredibly scary. Charities, Doctors and Nurses can help you to some extent, with getting better a lot resides on ‘homework’ completing self help tasks and activities suggested by professionals.

I was referred to a Psychiatrist who was a slightly odd, but wonderful man- in his late 80’s, incredibly intelligent, very quirky. He prescribed me a range of medication which we regularly reviewed & recommended books & blogs. My family were exceptionally supportive & my mum, dad & step mum alternated between taking me to appointments of which I am eternally grateful.

I also had regular appointments with the most lovely Psychologist once or twice a week. She would laugh at me to encourage me to understand silly thoughts and comfort me in moments of frustration. Therapy is a weird one. I spent years under her care and she knew absolutely everything about me, yet I know nothing about her at all. I couldn’t tell you if she was married or had kids or where she was from & I think this is really important in a good therapist. Finding someone completely separate from your family and friends. We focused on CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) & the exposure technique- I genuinely think this technique gave me my life back! It’s very easy to say ‘don’t cry,’ ‘just do it’, ‘just go you might have fun’ I don’t think I actually enjoyed any social events for years. It is only recently I find my self having fun.

What is exposure technique?

“Exposure therapy is a technique in behavior therapy to treat anxiety disorders. Exposure therapy involves exposing the target patient to the anxiety source or its context without the intention to cause any danger. Doing so is thought to help them overcome their anxiety or distress.”

You repeat this process of exposure until the anxiety is no longer severe. Eventually the aim is you access the trigger with no anxiety and start to enjoy yourself!

Exposure technique works on forcing yourself into a situation which makes you feel uncomfortable! So for me, I had to go to friends and families houses, restaurants (gosh this one was a nightmare) Nandos was the absolute worst! I had to walk half way down my road without panicking, go to the shop up the road but not go inside. Go inside the shop, buy something, sit with a group of people, go to a party etc… I was sent on weekly missions. I had tasks set. Funnily for me- As a people pleaser- I felt intense guilt if I didn’t complete the task set & this therefore encouraged me. On weeks I couldn’t complete my exposure task, I felt I was wasting my parents money and my therapists time therefore I’d do them.

Tasks would include stages which we would build upon. Stand at the bus stop. Watch a bus drive past. Get the bus with someone (funny story here- my dad attempted this ‘challenge’ with me something that seems so minor now but was definitely such a big deal to me- I cried, resisted spending hours building up to it… waited at the bus stop anxiously with my dad… waited some more…the bus didn’t come! Ever. This happened every-time we attempted it. I loved this! I didn’t want to get on the bus at all anyway!!! Sometimes life works in your favour) However! The longer I spent avoiding situations such as taking the bus, the harder it was to over come and the more I struggled. I eventually got to the final stage of getting the bus alone.

Some things in life are unavoidable, there are no other options, they’re hard but they have to be done- prime example- in Venice there were water buses to get around- this was the only option (I would’ve suggested we hired a car or got taxis otherwise). My opticians is in the shopping centre- I have no choice but to go to the opticians to get broken glasses fixed etc..

What is CBT?

“Cognitive behavioral therapy is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve mental health. CBT focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems.”

CBT FOR DUMMIES IS A GREAT SERIES OF BOOKS WHICH WORKS ON SELF HELP THROUGH CBT.
Really recommended
Really recommend
Useful books

What is mindfulness?

  1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
  2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

I hated mindfulness. It was not for me! That doesn’t mean it won’t work for you 😉

My Therapist worked with all three of these. She was incredibly patient & understanding- I must’ve been a very frustrating client to work with! Baby steps got me to where I am today. Things don’t get better over night and I definitely still have some issues, they’re just different now!

I had support through school & college of both educational mentoring/ pastoral support and counselling. If you’re in school and are anxious about accessing support these student support services can be a good first port of call and they also usually have email addresses which helps ease anxieties when communicating!

Three tips I took away from my school counsellors:

  • Headphones, wear them everywhere, t1ake them everywhre, have your own bubble, when you begin to feel the panic set in put them in your ears. I used to listen to hypnotherapy in my ears, my favourite music (weirdly some music triggered panic attacks) or just silence.
  • Chewing gum- This gives you something else to focus on other than the feelings of panic.
  • Tablet in my pocket: My small antipsychotic in my pocket- I can play with it, feel it and know it’s there if I need it. I managed to get weird special consideration for exams so although I could not take my phone in I took headphones, gum, one tablet in each pocket a pebble and a small soft toy- weird but I guess its a sensory thing- whatever works for you! No one knew that didn’t need to that I’d have these things on me!

I haven’t managed to shake some of my coping strategies yet and still use these behaviours however less obsessively. I always have the anti panic tablet on me but I haven’t taken one for over a year. Having it in my pocket is my support to know it’s there just incase but I also have the brain power to know I do not need to take it. I used to panic about panicking! I’d carry three pairs of headphones as one may not work, I might lose one. It was ridiculous I know now! But it worked. Having 3 pairs of headphones, 3 packs of chewing gum and a tablet in every room, pocket or bag stopped me panicking OBVIOUSLY?!?! If you checked any pocket of mine now- the tablet is almost always still there & so are the headphones (but just one of each!) If I don’t have them on me now I won’t panic, I use it as a sign of strength!

Appointments:

As my support was through private insurance, they only offer you 10 sessions. ( I think I might’ve done a short post about why I didn’t go with the local Camhs (child adolescence mental health service) before?- basically the receptionist petrified me on the phone as she was so rude and 15 year old Lauren refused to use the service. *eyerolls* )

My mental health was pretty abysmal so private insurance waived the 10 appointment rule and enabled me to see them every week right up until I went to University. So 3 nearly 4 years. Towards the end of my therapy sessions we ‘weaned me off seeing them’ this sounds silly but it was sort of to see if I could cope on my own. Gosh I sound like such a baby reading this back! This was tough. I cannot lie. I struggled. The only thing I would leave my house for was for these appointments. I was a massive planner & had lists of lists. I would insist on being driven to the door of everywhere I went alone and have someone wait with me before and after. If they weren’t outside the door waiting for me when I had finished I would panic. The thought of having to leave the house alone petrified me. As I reduced my sessions, I saw my therapist fortnightly, monthly, every five weeks- until I stopped asking for appointments- I felt I had nothing to talk to them about! Great.

Specialists believed my anxiety was brought on by a lack of control of social situations triggering OCD behaviours. Funnily Tourettes is often seen in people with OCD too! There are days I still feeling myself slipping back into negative mindsets feeling generally low, this is okay! I allow myself to have these days. Through years of therapy, I now have the tools to manage them.

I am not ashamed of the old me. I am sad I had to go through this & miss out a lot of my teenage years- it is part of what has shaped me and has given me so much resilience. I do not remember the last time I had a panic attack. If you knew ‘the old me,’ you’d be absolutely amazed with this information.

Let’s not glamourise mental health conditions & start to understand the raw truths of how they can make people behave. Mental health has a huge impact on our physical health, be it through stress behaviours, IBS or pain flares.

Understand mental health conditions can affect anyone and everyone has their own issues. Offer & accept help.

Nhs links

https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-psychological-therapies-service/

Through having therapy I now laugh & when I genuinely find things funny, explore, adventure and have the best friends ever.

Through being mentally unwell, I have become empathetic, calm, organised and understanding.

Be kind to each other, be supportive & understanding. Ask for help.

Lauren xxx

NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL DISABLED 2020.

I’ve noticed people are very quick to focus on the negative side of disability (including myself), people refer to me as ‘the girl with tourettes’ at uni or tell me they’re proud of me, I inspire them, they don’t know how I do it- (I have to lol), whilst compliments like these are always lovely to hear, I can’t help but think I am infact just a ‘normal’ person who has additional challenges. Everyone encounters struggles in their lives- mine just happens to have happened at a young age and may last a long time. Having a disability (or 3) changes your life dramatically and the way an able- bodied person will live is exceptionally different to someone who suffers illness.

It is clear to me, many people who have not experienced illness themselves or been impacted by a poorly family member struggle to understand the concept that disabled people aren’t babies, have aspirations, goals & intelligence. We as humans are all very quick to focus on the negatives surrounding life. All things doom and gloom, the rubbish stuff that comes along with disabilities- be it symptoms, societies views or just simply feeling rubbish about life.

I think it’s important that I share why I think disabled people are amazing. Many employers are quick to think ‘I won’t hire them they’re disabled they’re unreliable,’ despite this being against the law hey ho! I believe so many disabled people are incredible, they come on par with other lovely humans. Focusing on personality type as opposed to abilities is important. If you have a driven disabled person, why should they be belittled? A person’s personality affects their work ethic, someone who is able bodied may not have half the qualities a disabled person may have and vice versa. I want to share the positives, the qualities that many disabled people have acquired, obtained in their human systems due to the powers of being disabled.

DISABLED NOT LESS ABLE

Important

Disabled individuals have intense willpower.

Disabled people have alot of empathy, they have experienced the worst pain, nausea, diahorrea, bleeding, bruising and are therefore able to understand and empathise with others.

Disabled people don’t give up– they can’t. They show resilience. Giving up is not an option when you find yourself chronically ill. You have to keep going to appointments, physio, taking meds or you’re going to find yourself feeling worse and worse.

Disabled people think outside the box, Life isn’t always the most accessible, this means that disabled people have to be quick thinkers and be able to create their own peculiar, yet functional ‘life hacks’. (I’ll do a post of some of mine soon!)

Disabled people understand how to care for others as they’ve spent long periods of their lives needing to be cared for.

Disabled people are excellent first aiders. (although I’ve discovered I’m not strong enough to do CPR on my first aid course, I definitely have some great medical knowledge that the average Joe won’t have. I bet I can stop you fainting, bleeding, panicking, crying etc..

Disabled people are opinionated: Disabled people spend much of their lives advocating for themselves. I think its so important as a human being to have an opinion. People with a disability usually have a very strong sense of right and wrong due to finding themselves in vulnerable positions.

Disabled people are strong minded: They know what they want and not much will get in the way of what they would like to achieve. We are determined. The only thing likely to stop me is infact my health.

Disabled people can be very organised: Ha. I say ‘can be’, I used to be the most organised person ever… since becoming chronically ill, I am a nightmare!!!! I frustate myself with the inability to organise my medication, cook proper meals and remember things. Many disabled people are exeptionally organised, as if they do not keep their medication and paperwork sorted they would find themselves in a big fat mess. Not organising your life as a wheelchair user can lead to ‘trip hazards’ in the home. Not managing your medication well can be exceptionally dangerous.

Disabled people can have a great ‘3rd opinion’ on situations: I like to think I have two opinions, my first thought and my opinion as ‘the old me,’ ‘the healthy me’ and the opinion of someone who suffers with mobility and access needs. Having a mindset where you are able to see things from different points of view is a great quality that comes with being sick!

Disabled people are problem solvers: A prime example would be how to get around physically inaccessible situations. They are quick thinkers, able to foresee all the things that may go wrong and preplan for them. Disabled people aren’t phased by much and are able to approach emergency situations in a calm matter. Disabled people understand how to ‘fix’ problems such as coming down off medication, forgetting medication, breaking things, being unable to do things, everyday struggles and dilemmas- disabled people are used to facing.

Disabled people are understanding, important and helpful.

According to Census UK, only 18% of the UK’s working population have ticked the disability box-, yet 22% of the UK population are considered disabled. I understand many disabled people are too ill to work, however do people not tick the disability box due to the fact disabled people are worried of their employers potential discrimination due to their disability? Does disabled always mean they are not as good at their job? NO! Disability does not affect your personality anymore than your personality affects your personality!

I hope this post makes you appreciate all the positive qualities in yourself or disabled people in your life.

Keeping busy during COVID-19

I am planning to self isolate due to my blood tests all being funky the past few months- still unknown + after following this advice on the ME association website…

“The key points are:

1.  From now on anyone with coronavirus symptoms (i.e. dry cough and fever) should self-isolate, along with every member of their household, for 14 days.

2.  Everyone now needs to be taking strict social distancing measures, which involve avoiding:unnecessary social contact with other people.

AVOIDING: unnecessary travel, meetings and public gatherings, going to bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres etc.

3.  The Government are advising that those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (Covid-19) infection are particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.

In addition to the elderly and people who have pre-existing medical conditions (CS note: ME/CFS included), pregnancy has been added to the list – although information on the effect of this virus on both pregnant women and the unborn child remains uncertain.”

I’ve written a big fat list of ideas for if you find yourself stuck not knowing what to do. Here’s where normally abled bodied people may begin to empathise with the chronically ill and elderly. We are pretty good at spending all day in our beds + yes our mental health does suffer!

I am now into day four of self isolation. I am isolating myself as much as possible. Brighton have some incredible systems set in place including whatsapp groups of neighbours on each street with first aid, safe guarding training, people who are just genuinely lovely and want to help others.

DAY 1: Freshly done nails mid changing sheets.
DAY 2: PIZZZZZAAA PARTYYY

For when you start to go a little stir crazy…

Plan art projects

  • Posters
  • Cards
  • Letters
  • Paintings
  • Drawings

Play Sims 4

  • Download it on PC with origin.

View online first aid videos and take notes

Learn a new skill

  • Educational
  • Fun

Take an online course

  • There are lots of free ones + cheap ones

Organise work/ uni folders

  • Colour code them
  • Organise in sections
  • Create title pages
  • Contents

Go on kids BBC bitesize and fresh your science knowledge.

Teach yourself a 1 player game

Cook something new

Watch a YouTube tutorial

  • Cooking
  • Makeup
  • Art Skill
  • Computer game

Learn to do cats cradle by yourself

Plan your weeks

  • Give yourself a schedule or routine

Yoga at home

Excercise workouts/ videos at home

  • Lucy Wyndham- Read has some good free Hiit workouts.- YOUTUBE

Go in the garden (if it’s not raining)

  • Do some gardening
  • Mow the lawn
  • De-weed
  • Clean the patio
  • Jet wash anything and everything

Make a pretty mask to protect against catching germs

  • Make sure its secure enough to work

Make a budgeting list

  • Money might be uncertain but theres lots of free things in the world you just need to work out you expenditures
  • Excel spreadsheet your spendings

FaceTime friends

  • Group FaceTime works for up to 30 people

If you have a business, sort out admin including money, records, up to date learning

Floss

Learn some basics of a new language

Sharpen your knives

Educate yourself on issues by reading charity websites/ blogs

  • awareness is important

Stretch

Look up happy news!

Teach yourself a card trick

Sew holes up and buttons on clothes.

Create a Bullet journal

  • You could spend days doing this! Pinterest has some cool aesthetically pleasing tips.

Create your own puzzle with paper/ card and pens

Read a book

Watch a film

  • Add some to your watch list

Binge watch a series

Start a diary of emotions

Buy from local online shops!

Bake cupcakes

Meditate

Monitor your health symptoms

Call an elderly person and have a chat.

Volunteer.

Virtual dinner date / coffee date.

Get up and go on a walk in the countryside

Catch up virtually with an old friend

  • Have a virtual coffee date

Learn some BSL or Makaton.

Beauty Self Care 💜

Wax or Shave

Hair mask

Do funny makeup looks

Practice a new hair / makeup look

Fake Tan

  • Exfoliate
  • Tan
  • Moisturise

Give yourself a Facial

Tidy up your brows.

Learn a new beauty skill

Paint your nails

  • Gels?
  • Nail art?

Give yourself an at home spa pedicure

Moisturise everything

  • Coconut oil masks wrap cling film on top.

Create your own natural beauty products

  • Scrubs
  • Lipbalms
  • Face masks

Design a tattoo

  • I’d never get a tattoo but I think its pretty fun to draw them!

Have a bubble bath

  • EPSOM SALTS!

De-clutter + Organise 🛠

Tidy all kitchen cupboards

Donate any unwanted dry food to food banks

  • Arrange collection if you aren’t going out.

Hoover

  • Don’t forget the skirting boards

Deep clean bathrooms

  • Under or around the bath

Clean your oven

Clear out your wardrobe

  • Arrange Donation Piles
  • Keep Piles
  • Give to friends/ Family

Re organise furniture in a room

  • I do this all the time + alway do my back in so be careful please!

Having weekly activity aims

  • Health
  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Mental Excercise

Teach yourself an accent or 3!

Brain training or Mental maths

Improve a skill you already have

Write ANYTHING!!!

Learn some origami

Print old photos and create a scrapbook

Edit your Spotify playlists

  • Have one for each mood, genre, era

Put things online to sell

  • Depop
  • Ebay
  • Gumtree
  • Facebook Marketplace

Delete old emails

  • Filter them in folders if needed

Delete old photos

  • Delete duplicates
  • Put into albums of events
  • Add peoples faces (comes in handy for birthdays)

Add peoples birthdays to your calendar!

Back up your whole life on to a hard drive

De clutter that random drawer of stuff (I have 3)

Chuck out the rubbish under your bed.

Make wish lists online – order them by clothes, beauty, diy, Home, educational etc.

Create Pinterest Boards

Fix that computer/ printer/ techy thing you’ve been ignoring for months

If you’re stills stuck for ideas or want to know what you could do to keep kids busy, let me know! I have tonnes in my crazy brain!

STAY SAFE, KEEP HAPPY + enjoy some downtime

xxx

HIGH SCHOOL

School Trip to Disney Land – Year 8

Without blowing my own trumpet I have always been moderately intelligent & very much a hard worker. Education didn’t come easy to me but I was always above average- I worked extremely hard to perfect myself. I have always loved writing therefore doing an English degree was an obvious choice for me.

High School was hard. The best and worst time of my short life.

My first ever anxiety attack was the year of my GCSES in my English class- my teacher screamed, I was at the front of the class and seemed to get the brunt of her spitty screaming. I thought I was going to be sick, All I knew was that I had to get out the class I thought I was going to be stuck being sick in front of the class. Ironically English was my favourite lesson, all my friends were in this class, we had a lot of fun, but we also were top set so were pressured more than we needed to be, fun wasn’t allowed, stop talking- it was all about getting an A or A*- to be honest every subject I did was like this. Grades are important but honestly nowhere near as much as they pretended they were in school. My mental health was torn apart from the pressures of getting good grades for the school. I put so much pressure on myself, I knew I could & should do well. I revised an obsessive amount, all day everyday. I was becoming very anxious & it frustrates me still now to know I spent so much time working so hard and didn’t do as aswell as I should have due to my own anxieties.

Friends: In school some of the people you think are going to be your ‘friends’ for life, frankly aren’t. School was a super sociable place which was great. When I was well I had so much fun, had tonnes of friends. I met such a mixture of people: all cultures & financial backgrounds it definitely helped sculpt who I am now & what I believe in. There were some truely lovely friends I made in school- who now I have little to no contact with-I’d like to be in contact with them now, unfortunately being mentally unwell I pushed people away. Took a lot personally. I’m not really that person anymore & at the time I didn’t really see things from any perspective other than from my own. High school has ALOT of pressures to fit in. People do what they can to please the ‘leader.’ Boarderline bullying. Subtle bullying as I say. If you’re in a friendship group then it can’t be bullying right? Wrong. People want to please, if that means being nasty to someone to impress others, they will. You could be the loveliest person in the world when you’re young but fear of not being in the ‘ popular’ group simply means you will do anything to make yourself the funny one, the most popular person, you don’t voice your own opinions even if you disagree with what is being spoken about. Atleast in my experience anyway. There is a lot of bitchiness, girls get a lot of hate in school and should have each other’s backs, unfortunately we were all too young to know this.

For around two years I was having 3,4 panic attacks a day – and when I say a panic attack I mean, I’d pass out, drop to the floor, hyperventilate so much I’d throw up, poop myself, have pins and needles all over my face & hands & not be able to see anything- you get the picture. Some friends were great. Some not so much. When you’re young and struggling to understand what’s going in yourself it’s a scary concept knowing your friends don’t really know what to do either. I was left alone hyperventilating on the floor many a time. I became friends with people I probably wouldn’tve been friends with if I wasn’t found by them on the floor multiple times. It was annoying I get it. At the time I took it to the heart. Now, not so much I can see that the social pressures of school means you are there to have fun with your friends and look cool- not sit with the weirdo collapsed on the floor for the 3rd time that day. I was no longer fun- I was more serious- boring! So to those few old friends that checked up on me even if it was just once it meant a lot. I think about you a lot.❤️ I don’t hate the people in school who treated me badly. How could I expect others to understand what was going on if I didn’t know what to do myself. They were young. They didn’t mean it. I just hope if anything as crappy as those few years of my life happens to them they have a good support network. Good friends and perhaps more knowledge now. This post would be fabulous to read if you’re still in school & your friends are ‘being a bit weird’ ‘not talking to you’ ‘not coming to school’ ‘cancelling plans’ etcetc…

Everyday before school- year 11

– Grades- I have always set myself very high expectations & I used to meet them. It is through being mentally sick where my A grade would slip to a B grade then my B grade to a C. The amount of pressure put onto school kids these days is crazy, let alone the added pressures I’d give myself. (I’d like to do another post on anxiety techniques and stuff like that as now I feel like I’m out the other side and my anxiety disorders don’t effect me in the same way on a daily basis).

Teachers always used to say if you put the work in then you’ll get the results you deserve. I disagree. That’s not the case. Yes you need to revise, but don’t over do it, don’t doubt your first answer in an exam, always have time for fun & relaxing aswell as studying. Guilt comes from doing no work at all. I was so overwhelmed-stressed. I did 10 subjects, was taking my Grade 7 Clarinet & living the life of a teen. I was predicted 10 A’s & A*s- despite the efforts I put in, my anxiety took over. I was diagnosed with panic disorder the year of my GCSES & received A*, A, A, B, B, C, C, C, C, D- or something similar. (I tend to block this time of my life out) Now these grades sound okay still. The pressure I put on myself meant that I did not get C’s. I wanted more than that. I wanted A’s. Acheiving a B wasn’t an achievement for me. It sounds so silly now as no one gives a flying monkey about your GCSE grades & to be honest no ones really asked for my Alevel results either! Why as an anxious 16 year old I was brain washed to think my whole life depended on 23 exams in the space of a month is beyond me. I passed out or had a panic attack in pretty much every single exam I did. Walking to school everyday I’d be sick, poop myself or simply have a breakdown and not be able to walk anymore. I was agoraphobic by this point. (Big open spaces, people, the outdoors NO THANKS) My amazing friends mum drove me to school a lot during my exam period and I am eternally grateful. She drove from the opposite side of town to pick me up. It was the little things that helped get me to school. Yet anxious little me still felt ridiculously claustrophobic in her car & if the windows weren’t open I’d start having a meltdown.

Year 9- the weirdest year- hormones are running crazy! I remember feeling so fat and gross in this! I was bloomin tiny!!!!

– Teen stresses: I felt I was so unattractive. Anytime I got a spot I’d be so self conscious of it. I’d carry blotting sheets everywhere (scared my nose would get oily) I had really bad excema on my eyes, although honestly I’m sure it wasn’t actually that bad! I’d have perfume, deodorant and body spray to hand- I didn’t want to be the smelly girl. My boobs were huge I was an E in year 7 & all the other girls still had little crop tops. I honestly was sososo sweaty all the time I’d never take my blazer off incase I had sweat patches?! I’d rather sit and boil. Although we did have stupid rules about Blazers in our school and they were very rarely allowed to be taken off anyway. PERIODS!!!! (I’m going to do a lovely post about this soon for those of you who are embarrassed to talk about women’s anatomy and nature – grow up or steer clear of that post!)

Achievements: Don’t get me wrong I loved school, I was a huge goody two shoes… always the one winning every award, getting all the badges & having their work printed out and handed to other students- it was embarrassing, I wasn’t proud I was embarrassed. Be proud of how well you do. As I’ve got older I’ve realised it was not the norm to be on every sports team, partake in drama productions, play instruments etcetc.. be proud you learnt these things. Be proud of your hobbies in school. You’ll miss them tonnes when you leave. I was the captain of the hockey team for 5 years of school. I haven’t played since the day I left. I wish I kept it up, I tried to attend hockey practice at uni. LOL my body didn’t like that- couldn’t walk for two weeks no joke. I loved it though. Having a chronic health condition means I cannot play hockey, netball, basketball anymore- hopefully in the future I’ll get better but for now there’s no way. I wish I kept them up for longer after school.

– Teachers: Now there’s definitely the good ones and the bad ones. Being a teacher is hard. It sucks. You don’t get paid for the amount of effort, hours and love you put into your job. My mum was a teacher for 22 years and never ever would I be able to do it after watching the 7:15am-19:00pm days she’d be working, let alone the whole evening of marking to follow. I applaud anyone who manages to get through a teaching degree and into class.

To be a good teacher you need to love it from your heart. I had a few teachers in high school who I’ll always remember for this. The ones who scream down the corridor are frankly a joke. There were teachers who really cared, they knew their students and what worked for individuals. The ones I remember are the ones who set aside their classroom at lunchtime for you fill it with fairy lights, blankets, meditation music- let you cry to them all day everyday, let you miss lessons because they can see you’re too stressed to go, sit with you while they paint their nails in their free period. The teacher who’d sign you off all day because they know you’re feeling overwhelmed with a project- the ones who’d find a one to one to sit with you for days on end helping you emotionally and educationally with coursework. These teachers although probably would get in trouble for all these things. They were the best teachers. You’d learn the most in their lessons because of the upmost respect you’d have for them. Screaming at me is either going to make me laugh at you and not do work or cry and not do work. You won’t win.

As a teacher in a Secondary School just know the kids are going to talk about you. Positively or negatively. If you spend all day reading from textbooks or whiteboards, screaming, reading grades out infront of the class, picking on the quiet kids with anxiety to speak out loud. You’re an imbecile. No one will like you. People won’t learn anything. You’ll destroy self esteem. Get creative, make learning fun. I have a handful of teachers in school I remember for simply knowing their students & not just their name. Having a good lesson plan that doesn’t revolve around revising for an exam in a traditional sense.

– Now: Things do get better. They will get better. I’m a different person now compared to who I was. Feeling rubbish doesn’t last forever it comes in waves. Make the most of your school experience, be happier in yourself and have your own opinions on the world. Join every club you can, if you don’t like if after you’ve tried it find something else you might enjoy. Keep it going after school if you can. Live and learn. Don’t be embarrassed of enjoying studying, just because it isn’t cool. Don’t be agreeable just because someone doesn’t like a subject or doesn’t try in a subject doesn’t mean you should be the same. English. No one liked it. I loved it- I studied it at degree level. I feel like I definitely wasted the last two years of school feeling anxious and sad instead of throwing myself into things- getting chatting to boys, going on more days out with my friends & enjoying time as a teen properly. Don’t regret anything x

LOL