How To Be A Good Friend To Someone Suffering With Mental Illness

 

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As someone who has suffered with Depression, Anxiety and OCD, I feel like I can safely say this has led to some detachment, from my friends over the years. Especially when things were really tough for me. Getting ready to go out whilst suffering with depression, and feeling as if I had no energy for the smallest of things. Pair that with the added struggle of it taking me hours to get ready due to my OCD, it was just all too much. Too much to do the normal things and also too much to do the fun things, for example go out with friends like a normal teenager/ young adult would have. So what did I do? I just stopped. I stopped saying yes to things and I detached myself from people. Unfortunately at the age I was I felt not many people understood what I was going through, but that feeling is something everyone going through a hard time can experience at any age.

Can I really blame people for giving up on me when I’d said no to going out again and AGAIN. I understand how frustrating it must feel to constantly be trying with someone who doesn’t seem to want to do anything especially if they don’t explain and you don’t understand. At the same time that person needs someone more than ever even if they push you away and only want you from a far. So I thought I would try to write a list of a few things, that I think are good ideas to help you feel as if you are being a good friend to someone you may know is struggling.  You can feel so useless when its a matter of the mind, no plaster, tablet or trip to the doctors is going to fix it. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can be done to make that person feel loved and supported, it’s just a little trickier. This can also relate to family and partners to.

 ♥ Talk to them. Let them know that you are always there to talk to and you’re not just saying it. Check in on them if you’ve not heard from them or they’ve gone quiet and you know they’re going through some stuff. This will let them know that there not a burden and you really do care and want to listen. It sounds obvious but sometimes they won’t come to you, from fear that you won’t understand or you’ll be dragged down with their problems.

♥  Invite them places but don’t be too pushy. Don’t just give up on them after they’ve said no. Try to understand where they’re coming from, and even ask whats making them not want to go out. Ask if there is anything that they would be comfortable doing if it’s not the thing you’ve suggested. I know it may feel pointless but still inviting them out even if you are expecting a no shows you’re still here when they’re ready. Perhaps they don’t want to go to that party or group event but would prefer a smaller social setting with just you and them. Keep trying but give them space too, find the balance of caring but not making them feel forced.

 ♥  So they don’t want to go out? Suggest a cosy night in, in your favourite comfies with films, face masks and comfort food. That kind of evening doesn’t require much energy or preparation and is the perfect time for you both to vent to each other and have a laugh.

♥  Confide in them about your own personal struggles if you have any that relate. Just hearing someone around you has had similar struggles, thoughts and feelings can be such a comfort when you feel alone.

♥  Talk to them about getting help if they aren’t. If you think your friend is suffering with a mental health problem, and they’re not talking to anyone about it or receiving help, you should encourage them to. If you also think that person is in danger of hurting themselves or isn’t able to see they need it desperately, it’s best to confide in someone close to them like a parent or teacher.

♥  Let them know you’re thinking of them by popping round their house spontaneously, you could even take some flowers as a little pick me up. A lovely thing I recently came across is something called a buddy box, you can send them to someone who’s going through a rough time or even buy them for yourself. There full of little cute and comforting things, which they call a hug in a box. You can find out more about that here (https://www.blurtitout.org/). Sometimes when your feeling low and happiness seems a distant memory a little thing like that can mean so much. Even if it’s just for a moment, they will feel so grateful and happy to have you in their life.

♥  Send them a positive quote, I love a good quote and they’re everywhere on the internet. It sounds cheesy I know, but I could really relate to some of them when I was struggling. It can help you see things in a positive light for a change and give someone a different way of thinking about their situation.

At the end of the day you aren’t that persons carer and they don’t expect you to dedicate all your time and self to making them better. Only they can do that. I think some of these are a lovely way to make a gesture to show your there for them in that time of need.

 Keep smiling,

Anna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If OCD Was A Person

If OCD Was A Person Blog Post

I have been struggling with my OCD recently, which means I have been talking to people around me about it and explaining how I feel a lot. Which is a positive thing to do, bottling up your feelings won’t do you any good. Sometimes however people don’t understand how something mental inside your head, can cause someone so much distress and control them so much. It was then I decided to explain what OCD would be like as a person. This gave me the idea for today’s blog post. I thought it might help people who don’t understand the mental struggles  we go through, or can’t quite see why we can’t just ignore it. Maybe putting it into a human form of what OCD is like to us, inside our heads will help them picture it. Of course OCD isn’t another being. It is apart of our brains but it can really feel like there’s an evil being in our heads controlling us. OCD can be so dark it can feel as if it couldn’t possibly be apart of your own brain. Which is why thinking of it as a being who is causing you to suffer, can help you and others see it for what it is. A bully.

OCD makes people believe they are in constant danger, and need to perform mental or physical compulsions, if they don’t something awful will happen. E.g ‘if I don’t do such and such, someone I love will die’. Eventually someones whole day can be filled with unwanted compulsions, because the thoughts that something will happen are so strong. It can also twist someones thoughts and emotions so much so, that they don’t even know who they are anymore. If they stop questioning the thoughts how will they ever know if they mean something about their core self, or if they are real thoughts they enjoy. E.g A gory image pops into their head, it terrifies them and makes them question what if I could do that said image to someone’. This fills them with such distress, they won’t stop analysing and running over the thoughts in their head for hours a day. They believe these thoughts that most people don’t even notice, mean there a murder or psychopath. They live in fear of themselves when they have always been a good person.

So what would OCD be like if it was a human….

Picture a tall, dark person, the kind of person or being that would intimidate even the strongest and bravest of people. At the start of meeting them it would almost be as if they are there to keep you safe, ‘If you do what I say, nothing bad will happen’. Why wouldn’t you listen to them when they tell you it’s for yours and everyone elses benefit, there, there to help you see danger. They are also really good at convincing you, that YOU are the bad person here, not them. You NEED them. They are so good at twisting things, and making you believe you truly are an awful human being or that you never really knew who you were without them.

After a while, you realise your being controlled and manipulated, the person is just trying to break you down and control your every being, it started out small and now you can’t do anything without them interfering. They are stripping you of your life, you’re their prisoner. They are so good at manipulating you and torturing you with vivid scenarios of what will happen if you don’t do what they say or if they leave your life, its impossible not to listen. Picture the evil kind of person who feeds of people’s distress and lives for the control they have over someone. When you try to go against them and leave, the manipulating gets worse, they are so good at guilt tripping you and the fear they make you feel is so strong. They have the power to make you feel so hopeless, worthless, alone, controlled, scared and depressed.

That’s OCD.

Happy New Year to you all,

Anna

 

 

 

 

Make Your Own Road

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Just a quick post, found this picture and quote and it really made me think, so you guys get the pleasure of me babbling on about it!

Life is full of ups and downs, so is a road, but in life we have the choice of where are road is going to take us. There is never one route, we can build our own roads and futures, it might not be easy to turn around and take another route but when you get on that road you want, you will be proud of how far you’ve come and finding your way will mean the road you built for yourself, from all the hard times will be the best. Never follow someone else’s road, be yourself and create your own road, create your own future. Make your own positive road and if you’re not happy with the current road your on, take a different route, learn and gain strength from it!

Anna ♥

Sleep & Mental Health

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Sleep is a really important part of everyone’s health and well-being, but if you are suffering with mental health problems, sleep is probably more important to you than ever. So what is good sleep hygiene? when the words ‘sleep hygiene’ are used it basically means, the quality of sleep you are getting at night, are you getting enough? are you sleeping at the right times?  There are different stages to our sleep through out the night that can repeat themselves throughout but the main stages are: The first stages when you are in a light sleep and you are easy to awaken, you then go into a deep sleep, where your fully relaxed and difficult to awaken, the last stage of sleep is ‘Dream Sleep’ the sleep where you are most likely to dream and remember your dreams when you awake.  These stages are very important for your well-being physically and mentally.

During the many years I have suffered with Depression, Anxiety and OCD, a lot of the time I had a terrible sleeping pattern where I would be going to sleep at 5.00 am sometimes later than that, and I would awaken sometimes at the latest 3.00 pm in the afternoon. You may think ‘that’s still a lot of hours of sleep?’ but I wasn’t getting the same quality of sleep I would have if I’d gone to bed say 12.00 am and woke up at 8.00 am, I was sleeping most of the day and staying awake most of the night, our body’s aren’t meant to do this. From my experience I never felt like I was getting enough sleep when I was going to bed at these weird times, my moods where lower than ever and when people where coming home from work and relaxing ready for sleep, I was most awake because I’d only been up for the day about 5 hours, so that night I’d want to stay up even longer because to my body the day wasn’t over yet, I’d barely had any time awake for the day! My parents and psychologists all told me this would be no good for my OCD and Depression, but I didn’t see how it would make that much of a difference, I now know first hand since changing my sleeping pattern, it does!

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During the deep sleep phases of the sleep cycle, this is where your body is fully relaxed and your body repairs itself and builds new bone and muscle, it also strengthens the immune system. During the ‘dream sleep’ stages, your brain is more active which is why people are more likely to dream in this stage of the sleep cycle,  your brain renews itself so you are able to learn and take in new information the next day. Everyone has had a bad nights sleep or not got enough sleep and woken up bad-tempered, moody, fatigued and lacking in concentration throughout the day. Imagine all of those emotions on top of suffering with a mental illness, where your brain is chemically imbalanced as it is, your just adding fuel to the fire!

If you are an adult you should be getting 7.5-8 hours sleep a night, to make sure you’re getting the best sleep you possibly can, you should regulate your bed time, have a routine each night where you try to go to bed at the same time and awaken at the same time.  Try to relax before you go to bed, this will help you sleep easier, have a bath, read a book and try not to spend too much time in front of a laptop or TV before you go to bed (which I struggle with most).  Another myth is that eating before bed isn’t good for you and can effect your sleep, but in fact if you are hungry before you sleep this can make you restless and unable to get to sleep as your body wants food,  if you feel you need something to eat, try to eat something light.

Since sorting out my sleeping pattern I have seen a dramatic change in my energy levels and how alert I am. I am more able to cope with daily life, without it feeling like such an effort, my mood isn’t as low and I am a lot calmer with people. I am able to process my feelings easier, I feel more in control of my emotions, anxiety and OCD. It also helps me take my tablets for these problems at regular times making them more effective!

Sleep will not CURE all your problems, but it could make a big difference to you, this and cutting out caffeine, which I wrote a blog post on that you can read HERE and a healthy diet which I will do a blog post on soon. Getting enough sleep not only increases the chances of weight loss but if your like me and tend to eat to comfort yourself,  your mood won’t be as bad there for making you crave food less!

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Depression is NOT a flaw in character

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When you suffer with depression and you lose interest in everything you once we’re interested in and even lose interest in living your life it can be a tough thing to go through, not only have you got all those negative emotions and feelings going on, you also tend to develop A LOT of negative feelings and thoughts towards yourself. It can make you feel as if you just a ‘weak’ person for not getting up and getting on with life because you see people get upset and just pick themselves up you feel as if you should be able too. But that’s the problem with depression, it’s a chemical imbalance within your brain that you have no control over, it is not a flaw in your personality and it definitely doesn’t mean your weak. If anything it makes you strong for never giving up on your life, when you felt like you wanted to the most.

I think depression knocks a lot of confidence depression out of people, i know it did with me, I used to have questions and negative thoughts running through my head all the time ‘Why can’t I be like everyone else?’ ‘Maybe I’m just lazy’ ‘I know this is upsetting my family, so why can’t I just get on with it, I’m so selfish’. You feel as if you’re a burden on everyone and that your such a let down because you can’t hold down a job or can’t cope with getting up and having a shower or you feel like you can’t get out of bed and face the day etc, it makes you feel stupid and pathetic.

I think an important thing to remember when you or someone else is going through depression that it is NOT a choice and it is not a flaw in you or your personality, it is purely a chemical imbalance of hormones and emotions in your brain. Below is a brain scan comparing difference between someone’s brain suffering with depression and without, still think depression is a choice or a flaw in you or someone around you and not a chemical imbalance with hormones in the brain?

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It’s important you don’t blame yourself for something that’s not your fault and don’t label yourself with negative labels about you and your personality ‘weak’ ‘pathetic’ ‘burden’ ‘useless’ ‘stupid’ ‘lazy’ none of these hateful names are going to make your depression go away, it will only take you down a more negative road. You have to seek help, talk to someone and seek help, there’s therapy’s, books, medication and ways of treating depression, it’s not easy but you cannot deal with this on your own, you need love and support around you.  Always remember ‘Depression is a flaw in chemistry not character’.

Stay strong, your strong and beautiful, no matter what you think ♥

 

 

Depression | My Story

This is kind of part 2 to My OCD Story  blog post but this time talking about my experience of depression and what it feels like. I think depression is one of those things until you’ve felt it, it’s really hard to understand what it feels like and how bad it feels. Now I’ve experienced it and gone through it myself, I look back at times I’ve been upset and down and I can see a real difference to normal sadness everyone experiences in their life and depression. Its possibly one of the if not the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced. It’s so hard to explain what it feels like because there is so many feelings and thoughts that go along with the depression, but I’m going to try my hardest to explain what it was like for me.

If you’ve read My OCD Story blog post which I have linked above, you will know I have had bits of OCD all my life. It wasn’t until I was about 16 when my OCD was worse than it ever had been, I noticed a dramatic change in my mood. When I was at school and had friends around me I felt a bit better, I was already missing a lot of school because it took me so long to get ready and out the door due to my OCD. On top of that I wasn’t the best behaved at school, I was put on a special time-table and I was only allowed into school for 3 hours a day. This only isolated me more and I seemed to drift further and further away from my friends, I no longer felt confident and I felt very alone at times. As I went on to finish my GCSE’S and leave school I became more and more isolated, I couldn’t be bothered to meet people, I couldn’t be bothered to get ready to go out, it took me too long, again because of my OCD.

As I spent less time with friends and I no longer had school to occupy me I just felt like there was a huge weight on my shoulders weighing me down, my whole body felt heavy, I no longer saw the point in anything. I hated the way I had become, if someone asked me to go out somewhere or meet me I would instantly try to think of an excuse so I didn’t have to go. Not because I didn’t want too as such, I just couldn’t. Which is what I think people struggle to understand, how you know staying in and doing nothing isn’t helping you, yet you still can’t bring yourself to get up and do something about it. The times I did force myself to go out, I felt spaced out and like I was constantly thinking ‘I want to go home’.

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I think I was depressed a long time before I was actually diagnosed with it and put on tablets. I think its one of those things you’re not sure if what your feeling is bad enough to be classed as depression, eventually when I went to the psychologist and told them how I was feeling, I done a questionnaire and was told I had moderate to severe depression. It was kind of nice putting a name to how I was feeling, but I think when you get a diagnoses for a mental health problem you think knowing that, and being put on tablets is going to be some sort of miracle cure and everything will be ok soon. But it’s not.

When you have depression I think you either feel a million emotions at once, or nothing at all just emptiness and I don’t know which is worse. At times you feel so much hurt yet you also feel emotionless like you just want to give up. I think it feels like there’s a black cloud over your head permanently that no sunny weather could break through, sometimes you feel like you could cry forever and others you feel like you want to cry but can’t. It sucks so much confidence out of you and leaves you feeling a lot of hate for yourself,  its frustrating because no matter what anyone says you can’t get rid of this feeling.

I remember not having a job and doing nothing to help around the house, pretty much leaving my mum to do everything by herself. It was upsetting knowing she was struggling so much, yet I just couldn’t bring myself to get up and do things. I would just wake up sit on the sofa in my pyjamas and not move unless it was to eat or go to the toilet. This was my day until about 5.30pm at night, sometimes later waiting for mum to get home, when she would eventually make me get up and shower. I would put it off for as long as I could, something as simple as showering felt like a marathon. I felt so annoyed at myself I would and still do think to myself ‘Why can’t I just do it, maybe I’m just lazy?’ ‘Everyone else goes to work even if they don’t want too, why can’t I?’ I felt like I was just lazy and no one understood.

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All sorts of thoughts cross your mind when you hit rock bottom, ‘What is the point in life?’ ‘People would be better off without me, ‘I’m a burden’ etc and at times you feel like you would do anything to get rid of that feeling. I’m not going to lie, suicide crossed my mind, but I didn’t want to die, I just wanted the feelings to stop and my OCD to give me break for one second. I did self harm a few times during this time, I don’t know why, I think you hear of people doing it when there down and think maybe it will make me feel better or release all these feelings. It was also a way of visually expressing how much pain I was in on the inside without having to try explain it with words. I never really found it much help, at times I think it was a cry for help, not in an attention seeking way as most of the time I kept my arms covered. I was just so lost and confused with myself at the time. I feel like sometimes you hear and see things in films, Tv and on social media such as Tumblr, and you don’t think are worthy of classing yourself as depressed until you’ve done something self-destructive, because you feel like maybe your just overacting and being a drama queen.

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I’m 20 now and I wouldn’t say I am fully over my depression, but I am a lot better than I was, now feeling like I am coming out the other side. I can feel and notice the extreme difference in the way I feel to when I was depressed. I just feel like my mind is so much clearer, like the sun has started to shine through the black cloud that’s followed me around for so long. My body doesn’t feel as heavy and the negative emotions don’t last so long, I have better days than bad. I still have to fight hard to motivate myself and I still don’t have a job yet and I don’t have much of a social life any more but I am doing much better.

So it is true what they say ‘it gets better’ and to anyone who feels like there is no hope and they want to give up, it can and will get better, just be patient. I remember when people would say ‘You will be okay, it will get better soon’ and I’d sit there thinking ‘yeah ok, I’ve been waiting 4 years or more now for it to get better, you obviously don’t understand’. I am telling you I do understand, its horrible but if I can keep fighting so can you, it may not feel like it, but you can. No matter how many times you pick yourself up for it all to come crashing down and get bad again, keep going, good days will become more frequent and bad days will become less.

If  anyone of you reading this ever needs someone to talk to, message me on my Facebook page, Twitter or Tumblr and I will try my hardest to help. They are all linked on this blog page and to anyone who doesn’t understand depression, I hope this helps you understand it better!

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Stay strong,

Anna

What Is Recovery?

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Everyone will have their own view and opinion on what recovery is, until recently I hadn’t taken much notice of the word or what it meant, but I guess since I am feeling more positive with my OCD this past few months, I have asked my self ‘Am I in recovery?’ The thing is I don’t really think there’s a definite answer to the question ‘what is recovery?’ I think it’s a journey anyone with mental health will go through at some point, and it will be different for everyone.

I personally don’t think there is a time limit on how long it takes for someone to recover from mental illness and I’m not entirely sure there is such thing as ‘recovery’ I think in some cases it is a life long commitment and I don’t mean that negatively at all, I just mean you never stop learning about your illness and ways to cope, and I think it’s about being able to live a fulfilling life and making sure your mental health problems and in my case my OCD doesn’t take over again. I think it’s a life long journey, that’s not to say no one can ever fully recover and live an OCD free life, but I personally think OCD is the kind of illness that once you’ve got rid of one form, another form tries to creep in and stress might bring it out, or certain situations might bring it out of you. I think even if you are recovered you have to be aware that OCD might show its ugly face again, but to not be disheartened if that happens, to check yourself and remember how far you have come and remember you can fight it again. I think as long as you are living a fulfilling, happy life where you are in control of your OCD or whatever mental health problem you suffer with then that’s all that matters.

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 I think I am coming to the point when I think I could be just starting my journey to recovery, I feel more control of my OCD than ever and I feel like I have learnt so much about myself and my OCD already. I would consider myself ‘recovered’ if I could keep a job and know that if tomorrow or next week or at some point I was to have a bad day, I would be able to cope and carry on my day, where as at the moment my bad days often take over and I can’t carry on as normal. During recovery I think you go through so many emotions, some days I don’t even know if I want to recover or if I can ever see myself doing so, other days I am more positive and deep down I want too. It is such a scary feeling though I know recently I’ve felt every emotion going, happy, sad, frustrated, angry, scared, proud and most of all anxious.

I’m not going to lie, I am so scared of getting better and getting a job, just the future in general scares me so so much, but part of that is my OCD, wanting certainty and reassurance that everything’s going to be ok. OCD is normally future based, we live too much in the future and not enough in the present, that’s why a lot of our thoughts consist of ‘what if?’ If we were living for the now there would be no ‘What ifs’, which is one of the reasons why thinking of recovery and the future seems so frightening, there is so many ‘What if’ questions that can’t be answered.

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I think during the journey of recovery there are so many times your going to feel like you’ve gone backwards, but that is recovery, it’s taking the good with the bad but coming out the other side fighting harder and becoming stronger after every step back, I don’t think recovery is about having no OCD or no mental health problems but I think it’s about being able to live how you want to and noticing when you might need to take some time to go back over what you’ve learned and apply it before things get on top of you. Don’t expect recovery to be plain sailing and straight forward,  take each day as it comes and when you get to that day when you can smile and keep going through a bad day, keep going and never stop recovering.

So that’s my opinion on recovery, let me know in the comments what your views on recovery are or if you agree with me and  remember stay strong ♥