Monday, 26 August 2013

The Inner Workings of an Emetophobic Mind.

"Why is that person holding their stomach? Are they ill? Do they have a bug? Have they just done you-know-what?"

"Don't touch your mouth, don't touch your mouth, don't touch your mouth."

Washing hands: "1 banana, 2 banana, 3 banana, 4 banana... 20 banana - done! And that water was so scorching hot, my hands are red and sting. They're clean!"

"Is it cooked? There's pink there, I swear I can see pink. Do you think it's alright? Oh my God, what if it's not?"

"Have you washed your hands? With soap? And hot water?"

"What's that noise? Is that someone doing the deed?!"

"No I can't eat there. They only have a hygiene rating of 3."

"No I can't eat there. I heard someone got a dodgy tummy from there once."

"Can I not have the salad with that please?"

"Can I have that extra extra extra well done?"

"Is that beef or pork? I can't eat it if it's pork. Are you sure it's beef?"

"Did you wash that before you used it?"

"Has that been on that part of the board? I'm not eating that."

"There's a clump in that rice. Will just shove that to the other side of my plate."

"It's difficult to flush the toilet with your foot when you're wearing heels. Oh well!"

"Yeah I just opened the door handle with my dress. I know it looks weird, but just please stop looking."

"I won't eat the bread from that - God know who's touched it."

"Is that hot enough? Are you sure? It doesn't have steam coming from it. Maybe I'll leave it."

"Okay so I touched that handle, so now I need to remember - no hands near mouth or eyes. Not until hands are clean."

"Where's my sanitiser? WHERE THE HELL IS MY SANITISIER?! I'M NOT LEAVING WITHOUT IT!"

"Oh my God my stomach hurts. Was it because of what I had for lunch? Oh my God I've got food poisoning. This is it isn't it?"

"I feel hot. Do I feel hot to you? I bet I'm coming down with something. Oh God."

"Wait, I just need to grab my Phenergan."

"Are my Phenergan in my bag?"

"No I don't want that sanitiser. I have my own. And yes, it IS different."

"How long has it been now? Okay I think I'm safe."

"When did I last see [insert name here] - they've had a bug. I need to know. When did I last see them?"

"Has anyone at work got a bug, do you know? You don't THINK so?! I need a better answer than that! Are you sure? Really?"

"No I'm okay thanks, I don't want any of the salmon/mackerel/chicken/turkey/sausages/rice/salad."

"Do you mind if I just grab some crisps to put in my own bowl? I know it's odd, I'm just a bit funny with sharing."

"My stomach feels off. Somethings' not right. I think I'm ill. I can't cope with this."

"It's a good job I check the expiry date on everything."

"Didn't you use that to touch the raw stuff? Oh my God, how do you expect me to eat that?!"

"No thanks, I'll do it myself."

"Oh my God, Norovirus is EVERYWHERE. Why do they have to keep talking about it on the news?!"

"I can't wait for the Norovirus vaccine. I'll be first in line. As long as it doesn't make me do it."

"I'm not that hungry actually. Wait. I'm not hungry, I must be ill. Is that my body getting ready to IT?!"

"That water isn't hot enough. I'll do it." -boils kettle-

"I hate Winter. Just so much." 

"It's Summer. Why the hell are bugs still here?!"

"Kids are back to school this week. Can you make sure you wash your hands more please?"

"Did you know that Norovirus is spread in this way/the incubation period is/my hand sanitiser contains this ingredient and this much percentage of it?"

"Mmm... I love the smell of bleach!"

Saturday, 24 August 2013

This Weeks Update!

Well, my birthday was good! As you probably know from my last post, I was feeling pretty rubbish about everything in general just before my birthday, but I had a lovely day with my fiancé and got spoiled rotten. I've always loved putting up pretty cards over my mantelpiece and windowsills!

After the weekend, I started to feel a little brighter. I ended up handing in an application form for a job vacancy at my local Mind, where I've volunteered for previously. I've been out of work for a good few months now due to my depression and anxiety, but this is a job I have wanted and worked for for a very long time, so after spending hours on my application, I knew I'd at least tried my best. A few hours later... I received a phone call for an interview on Thursday! Eeeek! I felt all nervous and excited at the same time and started preparing straight away to try and get myself in the best frame of mind for Thursday.

In the meantime, I struggled with getting a hold of the youth mental health team, where I should have been referred to a good few weeks back now. I'd called the previous week where I was promised a phone call back, and heard nothing. This time, the phone rang and rang, and I decided to just leave a message. A call back a few hours later revealed they actually had no record of me on their system and they would give me a call back later that day or Wednesday.

I felt miffed to be honest - I'd been for my appointment a while ago and had been told my referral was urgent. The GP I'd seen to start this whole process had seemed nice and supportive, and I'd been seen by someone already for a basic initial assessment where I'd be given a timescale of about a week. If you've suffered/suffering from a mental health disorder, I'm sure you can appreciate how every day is a struggle, let alone a matter of weeks.

Anyway, a day later than advised, I got a call back. I'd been found, finally. I've finally got a case worker and have my first appointment with them next week. I'm so nervous as I've never been supported by this team before, and I'm anxious that I will have a similar experience as what I did with CAMHS a few years back. I'm trying my best to keep a level head and give it a shot, as I know I need to explore why I'm feeling the way I do, and it's important to me and my fiancé I get a more formal diagnosis for The Man so we can start seeing why he's loitering around so often.

Thursday came, and I woke up before the crack of dawn. Getting ready for my interview, The Man decided to lurk around, making me feel I was incapable. But there was this little spark in me, just something that reminded me that I have wanted this for so long, and I've worked so hard to try and get in this position. I knew I had been out of work for a while, but I was willing to give it my all, and more, to prove I was the right person for this job. I felt sick the whole journey there, but I was armed with a notebook full of information and having read the job and person specification until I was talking it in my sleep, I felt I had done everything I could.

And Friday? I got the call. They'd made a decision. *gulp*

I GOT THE JOB!!! I couldn't believe it when they told me, I honestly thought I would scream down the phone, but luckily I managed to hang up before I did! Cue dancing round the house and calling my man in floods of tears with the news. He knows how much I've wanted this and for how long. My illness has devoured me recently, and I've not seen a way out. But this it. I'm not saying it's a cure, but the reason I've been crying is because I AM useful. We ALL have a skill and something we're good at, and I realised that on Friday. Yes, I have a mental health condition, but it does NOT have me. I am NOT my illness. I'm Kimberley, 22, living with an illness. And you know what? There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

My journey is going to be a long one, and I'm not certain it'll ever end. I'm now about to start this therapy again, and I know it's gonna be bumpy. But you know what? I'm not going to accept that it will define who I am. I'm going to continue using it as a tool, to raise awareness, to speak out for those who feel they can't.

I will do this.


Friday, 16 August 2013

What will it take?

This morning, I'm feeling tired. I've not been sleeping properly again, and as we all know too well, lack of sleep just makes everything seem ten times worse than it probably is. I feel so tense my body aches, and I don't know what to do to relax. My head has been pounding, and I'm not one to typically suffer with headaches, so I know it's a sign I'm unwell.

I'm filled with guilt more than anything. I should be over the moon, this should be an exciting time in my life! I'm getting married in just over ten weeks, it's my birthday tomorrow, there's so much I should look forward to, but it feels like a certain part of my head is laughing at me. It knows that I'm failing at everything, I'm not able to organise or sort things out, I can't work, I can't sleep, my stomach hurts, and it loves all of that. It's like it's mocking me, telling me that I don't deserve this happiness, these exciting times. It confuses me and I can't focus or concentrate on anything, I can't commit to anything, and I just end up hating myself more.

Why can't I just be "me"? What IS normal? Will it be like this forever? What sort of example will I be setting for my future children? Have I done something to deserve this? If I have, what can I do to make it right? My head is buzzing with questions constantly, and I've no idea why. I wish I had answers, I wish I could find out why things are the way they are, and why my head works overtime all of the time.

The Man is back constantly now. He's gradually gotten worse, and now he's a permanent part of me, once again. He loves seeing me unhappy. He frightens me so much, I wish more than anything I could show someone how he makes me feel, what he does to me, how much he hurts me. I know I'm making him angry by writing these words, he doesn't like it when I talk about him too much, but what else can I do? Sometimes, I wish I could hear him, just to see what he wants. I'm frightened of being home alone, how ridiculous is that? Being at home I should feel my safest, and yet as soon as my other half walks out the front door, I feel scared. I know he has the reigns, and he'll choose what I can and can't do, just by being around. He owns my home, and he owns my life.

I just want some peace in my head, if only for a few moments. I wish more than anything all these doctors would hear me.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Kimmy's Wellbeing Tips.

I thought I'd do a little blog post about what I have found has helped me with coping with my mental health disorders - I'm just in that sort of mood today! It's important to note that I am not in any way a professional, these are simply some tips and tricks I have learnt that have helped me personally with my illnesses.

I have also posted some links at the bottom of this post of resources when you can find information, support and advice.

1. TALK.

This one speaks for itself. Please, please, PLEASE, just talk about how you're feeling. Whether that's a GP, a family member, a colleague, a close friend or even a Samaritan, make sure you can express what you're going through. Opening up about your illness may seem daunting, and understandably so (I've been there!) but there's plenty of support available on how to approach this subject. Letting your loved ones know about your illness gives them an opportunity to support you (should you want this) and to help you through this difficult time. Remember - if you had any other illness, you wouldn't be worried about asking for help.

2. TAKE TIME OUT.

I'm a strong believer in this. Taking a day or two out to recuperate is vital in giving you some head space. If your depression is making everything seem too tough, then throw on some lounge pants, grab that whopper sized bar of chocolate and stick on a Disney movie. You're not a bad person for wanting to shut yourself away from Facebook/Twitter/mobile phone for one day. If you have the flu, you wouldn't think twice about going to bed and staying there until you need the loo! It's important to realise there is a difference between taking the time out to recover and becoming more ill, so try keep track if possible. Set yourself a limit and then gradually add small tasks to build up your strength again. For example, "I've been feeling rather low this weekend, so Monday I'll have some 'me' time. I'm not going to commit to anything or anyone, and instead just take the day as it comes. On Tuesday, I'll make sure I'm out of bed at 8am and put one load of washing on. If I feel up to it, I'll make a phone call to a loved one." And so on.

3. KNOW YOUR OPTIONS.

Perhaps you've only recently been diagnosed or maybe you feel as though you want to see what other options are available to you in terms of support. It's important to make yourself aware of what's around you so you can make informed decision about your treatment and therapy options. Make an appointment with your GP to have discussions about medication, onsite counsellors or referrals. Remember, you can ask for a double appointment slot should you feel as though you require it. Look at local charities, such as Mind, who offer a variety of different support options and are a massive hub of information for those who suffer with mental health disorders and the people around them. Places such as Citizens Advice Bureau can help you with benefits (along with providing support on a whole host of other topics) should you not be able to work due to your illness. Surrounding yourself with this information will help you feel in control of your own personal situation, and give you the confidence you need to look after yourself.

4. EAT WELL.

Yes, a boring one, I know. I'm not very good at this part, but it has been proven that a combination of healthy eating and regular exercise helps with some mental health disorders. This can be very hard to do, especially if you are lacking motivation, but the reward is great. Try to avoid caffeine, foods and drinks with high sugar content and reduce your alcohol intake. Instead, try eating oily fish, plenty of greens, up your water intake, and get out in the sunshine. You don't have to spend two hours in the gym six times a week - just walking the dog for twenty minutes or having a dance while you're doing the ironing counts.Citizens Advice Bureau It doesn't have the be anything extreme, just enough to get your heart rate up. You'll feel good for making the effort and the endorphin's released will make you want to get that "high" again.

5. TAKE NOTICE.

If you can only do it once a day, take notice of your surroundings. Be aware of the "here and now", the present moment. Take the time out to eat a meal and taste every single flavour. Sit on the sofa and be aware of which parts of your body are connecting with the sofa. Go outside and sit in the garden, listen to the noises around you, feel the breeze on your skin. Listen to your favourite song and listen to every single note, every song word. Make a cup of tea and savour every sip. You'll learn to become more mindful which can calm the mind of thoughts, even if it's just for a few minutes.


Recommended Links:

Minds Like Ours - A growing community for those suffering with a mental health illness BY people with a mental health illness. They have a Facebook support group and a forum and are dedicated to helping raise awareness.

Mind - The mental health charity. They have an Infoline, a Legal Advice Service, information pages and your local Mind can help you with help and support in the area you live.

Samaritans - The Samaritans are there to talk 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Talk to them about whatever is getting to you, you do not have to be suicidal.

Time To Change - Want to have a conversation about mental health but not sure where to start? Go here! It's your one-stop-shop for all things "talk" with plenty of tips and advice on how to start a conversation.

Citizens Advice Bureau - They provide free, confidential and impartial advice to everyone about a variety of things including financial support, housing support, and your rights.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

"Failed by the NHS" - It's all over and done with!

Monday 29th July and my anxiety was through the roof. I'm talking hyperventilating, pacing, no eating, feeling sick, stomach doing somersaults kind of anxiety. All because "Failed by the NHS" was airing on BBC Three for the first time.

Those who have been reading my blog would know about my experience filming this documentary, and heading on down to the Lake District, meeting some incredible people who will always have a special place in my heart. The experience as a whole did provoke a lot of anxiety for me - travelling, meeting new people, talking into a camera, staying away from home are things I just generally struggle with. There were a lot of tears, a few panic attacks and several times where I sat and wondered what I was doing to myself. Why was I putting myself through this? What will everyone think?

I'm so grateful to Nine Lives Media (visit their webpage here) for the way they did the documentary. Not once did we come across as "crazy" or "bonkers" which I think I was concerned about with the whole BBC Three mental health season. It was real, down to earth and sensitive and I couldn't have asked for it to have been any better. Whilst we might not have had the time to share our stories in detail, we got our voices heard and our stories out there.

The feedback has been phenomenal. I have personally had an overwhelming response from fellow depression and anxiety sufferers who feel they can't speak out about their experiences, and I'm glad that I and the other contributors have been able to speak out on behalf of these people. My family and friends have been incredible. I was extremely worried about what they would think of this documentary, but I shouldn't have worried so much! I received lots of texts saying how proud they were of me, and the best thing was that they said they felt they could understand just that little bit more what sort of struggles I have to go through. I don't think I stopped crying with happiness for about 24 hours!

I was sad to hear that there are so many other people who have gone through similar experiences to myself and the other contributors in the documentary. We received lots of tweets and messages on Facebook about how other people have felt unsupported by the NHS mental health service and I feel for every single one of you. I know how tough that path is when it feels like no one can hear you. I hope that by doing this programme, we have spoken out for you all.

Of course, the title did strike a few chords with some people, thinking that we were belittling the NHS as a whole, which of course isn't true, and you would be aware of this if you'd watched the programme. I know of many fantastic doctors and nurses - I've used other NHS services several times and have had good and bad experiences. But this programme featured specifically on mental health services, which for some of us just simply aren't good enough. I'm so happy for those that have had a brilliant experience, I just wish there was a consistency across the country, and that there was better help available for those who need it and aren't able to access it so easily.

If you missed "Failed by the NHS" you can catch it on BBC iPlayer until 13th August. Here's a link directly to it - http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b037w0s7/Failed_by_the_NHS/

You can view mine and the other contributors' BBC Learning videos here. They feature on our individual disorders, and I urge you to watch these as they're very informative and only a couple of minutes long. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01djsr6

Thank you to everyone who watched and supported us, we're all so grateful, and it means the world. xxx