Mental Health Awareness Week: MY TOP TIPS!

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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.


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.


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

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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


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.

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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.”

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!


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

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


mental health
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

Ticcing through photos.

The happiest people are the prettiest- always.

So! (Ready..)

I’ve been in a few support groups and stuff before and frankly I find them pretty depressing – personally, the majority of the time I like to try and stay positive whilst being chronically ill as my mood is so easily flipped to negative. So, I’ll tell you a little about myself and why I decided to write a blog.

I’m in my second year studying English Language and Linguistics at Uni of Brighton. I am also a part time beauty therapist (recently I have been working hard to complete courses to be able to fund being a disabled student woo hoo). My conditions do cause brain fog and fatigue so do forgive me if some things simply do not make sense to you!

At 14 I was diagnosed with Panic disorder and Depressive disorder which was a bit crappy; I didn’t really go out of the house much for two years – unless I had no choice. Many people struggled to understand, but through the support of my family, medication & multiple medical professionals, after a long haul battle I’d like to say I’m 90% over the panic stage of my life (touch wood).

My fairly new challenges in life have been ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) a diagnosis in 2017, Fibromyalgia with Hyper-mobility syndrome & a recent diagnosis of Tourette’s syndrome!!! (No, I don’t shout swear words out constantly, don’t worry). On top of this I have multiple hormone imbalances, such as vitamin levels and thyroid levels.

‘What is normal? I’m drinking beer through a straw as I spill stuff down myself constantly.

I have a blue badge which has improved my quality of life dramatically! I am so grateful for it. But I am still feeling slightly isolated. I have plenty of friends who are amazing but our energy levels simply don’t match up. It’s hard for people to understand why I sleep 26 hours a day or why I slur my words when I’m tired or appear in slow motion – as a 19 year old most my friends are out clubbing till 6am. I’m sure if you’ve ever experienced an invisible chronic health condition you are used to the ‘oh really, you can’t do that?’ and the ‘you really don’t look disabled’ comments that come along with the disability.

So basically, cut a long story short, I’d love to start being proactive in a positive way, to meet people with similar conditions to my own & share our experiences. My doctor alone has met 1 person with tourettes in 29 years of practicing medicine, and as for ME/CFS, I feel they are very misunderstood conditions. (No, not everyone is tired in the same way I am), (No, exercising excessively won’t help, as it is not down to laziness!) I’m hoping that with a little insight into my life, it could help improve others’ and my own mental and physical health!

It’s okay to feel shitty sometimes: I spent yesterday crying – as going back to uni with tourettes, anxiety and fatigue is my idea of hell. For me, my own negativity tends to bring me down so…

As I’m writing this, I am trying my best to surround myself with goodness & maintain my positivity. Feel free to follow my journey of tics and tips 🙂

So yeah- that’s me!