My Mental Health Story

It’s World Mental Health Day tomorrow which is a day to reflect, open up and raise awareness for around one in four people that struggle with mental illness per year.

“Mental health is everyone’s business. We all have times when we feel down or stressed or frightened. Most of the time those feelings pass. But sometimes they develop into a more serious problem and that could happen to any one of us. Everyone is different. You may bounce back from a setback while someone else may feel weighed down by it for a long time.”

So settle down for this one, get yourself a coffee, or a gin. It’s quite a long one….

t r i g g e r                        w a r n i n g 

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I do question how open I should be on my blog, I try my best to find a balance between being open and not revealing everything. I reached out to my followers on Instagram stories to ask if this is something you may be interested in reading. 96% voted yes and two lads I went to university with voted no, so I’m sitting here with my coffee about to share some of my mental health experience with you all.

I have had problems with my mental health for around 6 years now, I have always felt incredibly anxious, stressed and ‘depressed’ more than the average person and I didn’t think anything of it for a long time. My main coping mechanism for everything that was going on at the time was food, I gained a significant amount of weight in year 11 which of course everyone around me was beginning to notice. This was difficult to deal with, especially with the ‘fat’ comments from my high school peers but I just carried on no matter what and tried my best to suppress all of the emotions that I was experiencing.

I only decided to reach out for help in my first year of university, I didn’t seek help before then because first of all, I was scared. What if the doctors thought I was crazy? I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t really understand what they could do to help me, other than medication.

The breaking point came in which I had attempted an overdose, as I was lying there in my en suite bathroom, in what only can be described as the most intense pain and sickness I have ever felt, I realised that I really needed help. I kept that ‘incident’ let’s call it, hidden for a very long time, from my family and friends. I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail about that because I don’t feel it’s necessary. It led to some health complications afterwards and I found myself being quite unwell often.

Despite the very long waiting lists, I have had a really positive experience with the NHS mental health services. I saw the doctor and I was placed on a waiting list for an initial assessment. It was a very long, draining few hours of talking and explaining. I was so scared about the appointment so Michaela offered to come with me, she waited in the mental unit waiting area all of that time and she didn’t even complain once and I love her so much for that.

Through that I received support through a community support nurse, a psychiatrist and the crisis team. This support latest throughout my time at university and is still ongoing with a different service in Cambridgeshire. I’ve tried a variety of different medication which I will talk about in another post if anyone would be interested in that?

I won’t sugar coat it, the past three years or so have been rough. However, I am lucky to have friends that would always be down for a chat and would support me through those dark times. There would be days to weeks I would lock myself away in my bedroom and the girls I lived with were so incredibly patient with me and I will be forever grateful for that. If it wasn’t for Elliot, Micheala, Claire, Hannah, Emma, Lauren, Glenn, Ryan, Nathan and Reece, I don’t think I would have finished my degree.

I experience to this day psychosis, paranoia, depression and anxiety and my mood varies from day to day. I’ve learnt to open up more to my friends and my family, if I’m not in a great place, I’m more likely to tell you. I have my down days and I have more knowledge and experience now to see what triggers me. My friend Libby recommended Daylio to me which is an app which you log your mood daily. I have included my September chart below which shows some of the way my mood fluctuates:

 

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September

 

I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder which I am still learning about and understanding, the diagnosis has helped me understand myself and it has given me some relief as to why I act the way I do sometimes.

The symptoms of BPD can be grouped into four main areas:

  • emotional instability – the psychological term for this is “affective dysregulation”

This may include feelings of rage, sorrow, terror, panic as well as loneliness and emptiness.

  • disturbed patterns of thinking or perception – (“cognitive distortions” or “perceptual distortions”)

This may include upsetting thoughts, hallucinations, hearing voices and paranoia.

  • impulsive behaviour

This may include self-harm, impulsive sexual activity, impulsive spending, binge-eating and alcohol or drug abuse.

  • intense but unstable relationships with others

This may include fear of abandonment, emotional withdrawal.

Many people with BPD seem to be stuck with a very rigid “black-white” view of relationships. Either a relationship is perfect and that person is wonderful, or the relationship is doomed and that person is terrible. People with BPD seem unable or unwilling to accept any sort of “grey area” in their personal life and relationships. 

As well as the poll, I asked the people of Instagram if they have any questions, I’m not a doctor so the answers below are my opinion only.

I didn’t answer all of them as some I felt like I couldn’t personally advise on so I selected a few:

What are your favourite self-care practices?

Writing in my journal is one of my favourite self-care practices, getting my thoughts written down is a good way to just ‘brain dump’ other things I like to do is take a bath and mindfulness. Basically, anything that you find relaxing is good.

What’s the best thing a friend can do to help someone having a bad mental health day? / What’s the best way to be there for a diagnosed friend who is going through a rough patch? 

Being supportive is the best thing in my opinion, not everyone wants to talk and people have different coping mechanisms but being like “hey i’m here” can be really helpful to hear. Avoiding phrases certain phrases with someone struggling with mental health can be important too.

“Snap out of it”                “Things could be worse”       “Remember it’s all in your head” 

Stick to positive encouragement if you can. However, I completely recognize how hard it can be to support someone that may be struggling, they may push you away or lash out at you. If you are worried about someone in mental health crisis this link from Mind is very helpful.

What is your experience with psychosis? 

For those who are unaware what psychosis is, someone that deals with psychosis may experience:

  • hallucinations
  • delusions
  • confused and disturbed thoughts
  • lack of insight and self-awareness

I experience hallucinations but I experience them through hearing only. So you may be having quite a normal conversation with me and I am likely hearing lots of different voices speaking to me this makes it hard to hear what you are saying and doesn’t help my concentration. I sometimes can become confused and paranoid (for example sometimes I may think that certain family members or friends are plotting to get rid of me).

I have learnt with time to train myself for the voices to be quieter or not be there at all. I find that putting headphones in helps and sometimes I just take a nap if it gets bad – something I’m still working on!

Do you think there’s a stigma around mental health as it’s internal and can be “invisible”

I certainly do think there’s a stigma as it’s invisible but the more people talk about it and open up is helping reduce it. Campaign’s such as Head’s Together are so important and the more we talk about it the better understanding people have. Hence why I’m opening up about my own mental health to start that conversation.

What tips would you give those who suffer from anxiety?

Breathing techniques are really helpful and also mindfulness. If I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed listening to a podcast can be great to distract yourself from your worries.

How do you do it, girl? Mental health is such a bum – how do you get through every day? I need inspiration.

This made me giggle! I think I’m very good at acting like things are okay a lot of the time when they aren’t. I need to keep myself busy all of the time otherwise I can overthink things so I like to be constantly doing something. So making a plan each week e.g. Tuesday I’ll go out for dinner, Friday I will see friends keeps me motivated as I know I have things to look forward to. I think I drive people around me crazy asking for their ‘movements’ each week.

Thank you for taking the time to read this very long and open post! If you have any questions or comments, please comment below or tweet / instagram me! @jasminzenobia / @jasminwbu

I’d love to hear about your stories and experiences so please get in contact with me if it’s something that you would like to share.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call 111 option 2. 

Samaritans call: 116 123 

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#BoringSelfCare – a movement

If you type ‘self care ideas’ into Google, a wide variety of suggestions come up. For example taking a bath, face masks, buying some new pj’s or a cup of hot tea. All great ideas of course but that isn’t always possible for everyone.

When you have a pile of washing staring at you from your bedroom chair or you have plans with friends creeping up and you can’t quite bring yourself to get out of bed, then get in the shower, to get dressed and actually leave the house. Sometimes it’s just not possible and you need to strip back to basics. Let’s be honest, there is no face mask cure for someone who is struggling with the everyday tasks.

People may struggle with these seemingly ‘simple’ tasks for a wide variety of reasons, this may be physical disability or mental health related or you might feel run down and get yourself into a little bit of a rut where everything seems so much more difficult, everyone is different and has different experiences.

 

Hannah Daisy is an artist living and working in London. Her art is often based around mental health activism and she is well-known for creating the hashtag #boringselfcare which is a term she created to reclaim the real meaning of the term ‘self care’.

Hannah herself has experienced mental health problems, endometriosis and PCOS from which she draws direct inspiration for her art.

She is incredibly inspiring and her illustrations has created a movement and a community which many people that struggle with mental health problems, including myself have become a part of.

I reached out to some members of the #BoringSelfCare community Facebook group to ask what it means to them:

(The group is closed, however, I have linked it to this post for people that genuinely want to be a part of it)

“#boringselfcare is important to me because it is one of the most important things in maintaining my recovery. it is the angel standing on my left shoulder telling me to not listen to the devil on my right shoulder” –  Juliet Kim

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“To me, self-care is nurturing my divinity. It’s being quiet with myself and getting to know myself. It’s not so much boring as it is essential. It’s the foundation on which I can build the rest of my life.” – Keely Shantz

“To me #boringselfcare is taking care of my mental hygiene just as much as I take care of my physical hygiene. It means listening to what my body needs and taking time out of my day to just listen to myself. It means practicing self love and being kind to myself because of all the years that I did not” – Mia Kald

Visit @makedaisychains on Instagram to see more of Hannah’s #BoringSelfCare creations.

What do you struggle with when it comes to boring self-care?

Tweet me or comment below!

Hope you enjoyed this post

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Thoughts on Starting Over

Starting over is an incredibly scary thing… as much as I was looking forward to finishing university, after being settled in my own little bubble for three years, I was also very, very scared about the near and distant future.

As the realization approached that I have to start again, it was really hard. Life was forcing me into a reboot I was only partly ready for.

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Photo: Michaela Ormrod

Everyone at university is in the same boat, of course, the majority of people are leaving their university friends behind and moving back home to their hometowns, I didn’t move back home and started a job in Cambridgeshire where I don’t know anybody apart from Elliot, of course and his lovely family. Plus, the thought of moving back home made my stomach turn inside, I had very much outgrown where I had grown up.

I had a bit of an initial ‘start over’ panic in my first few days in my new home, after unpacking I went on a bit of a vicious clear out where I felt I had too much stuff and I put old, read books on Depop, got rid of the majority of my wardrobe and all of the things that I felt were metaphorically weighing my down.

I threw myself into a wide range of activities which kept me interested for approx one week until I decided that they weren’t for me and the list is forever growing… Yoga classes, meditation classes, the gym, slimming world, embroidery and a few more.

I also went to aerobics class, when I turned up to said class, I soon noticed I was the youngest in the room and when the woman was saying “touch your toes” I was the only person that wasn’t in a deep sweat. Yes, I stayed for the entire hour in the elderly aerobics. As much as I can laugh about it now, I did cry when I got home at the thought I will never make any friends in this new place I call home.

I realized how much time I spent with my friends at university and even though I’m now in work until 5:00pm each day, I feel like I have so much time spent alone. I have become accustomed to having people around me all of the time and the luxury of being able to see my closest friends at any time of the day or night. Apparently it’s no longer acceptable to order a takeaway at 1:00am on a week night? Who knew?

I’ve been living here for six months now. I’m still not quite settled, I’m looking for a new job, still looking for some friends (HMU if you want to be friends) and it’s been a rather turbulent six months.

Starting over feels good though, it’s good to have a fresh start and look forward to new opportunities, learning more about myself and meeting new people.

My main thoughts about starting over: 

  1. Exposing myself to new things and new people is a good thing and it’s healthy to fight that anxiety and show up to that aerobics class, even if it doesn’t go as planned.
  2.  Nothing is permanent and things are constantly changing.
  3. I need to be kinder to myself and not expect too much after such a short amount of time.

I hope you enjoyed this post, comment below your starting over experiences!

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A Trip to Hill Farm PYO

Happy October!

October, November and December are by far my favourite months, the colder, autumnal and snowy months always beat summer in my opinion.

Of course, as October approaches we can get more festive and I have always wanted to visit a pumpkin patch so we took a trip to Hill Farm PYO in Peterborough to pick some pumpkins!

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If you have no idea what the procedure is when visiting a PYO farm (we didn’t either) you collect a wheelbarrow, walk into the fields, pick your pumpkins and any other veg you want and then you get your pumpkins measured at the farm shop to determine the price.

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We only managed to find the pumpkin field so rather than picking other veggies, we just got lots of photos (priorities) but you could buy fresh produce in the farm shop after you had gone into the fields.

There were some adorable babies in wheelbarrows having little photo shoots with pumpkins too which was the cutest sight.

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Are you visiting a pumpkin patch this October?

Tweet me or comment below! @Jasminzenobia

 

Hope you enjoyed this post

Papergang September Review

I’ve heard lots of good things about the Papergang subscription box. Created by brand ‘Ohh Deer’ it’s a monthly subscription box of yes, you guessed it… stationary.

Every month they deliver the box in a collaboration with a different artist. The September box specifically was designed by one of my favourite artists Gemma Correll and it was an overall theme of mental health.

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I really loved the design of the box overall, I thought the messages on it were great and it was really exciting to get through the letterbox.

Each box costs £10.95 per month (not including shipping) and you receive 10% off the Ohh Deer brand all of the time, which is a great perk if you’re always buying stationary like I am.

You get a lot for your money in my opinion, you’re receiving products exclusive to you that are certainly worth over the price you are paying for the subscription.

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In the September box you received:

  • 4 A6 sheets of illustrated stickers
  • A free tea pigs sample
  • A4 art print
  • A notepad
  • A desk pad
  • A poster/calendar
  • A November ‘good things coming up’ card
  • Papergang iron on member patch

I think the amount you receive is great and I loved the Gemma Correll designs, I would have liked to have some more variety in the box as I think a lot of the products included the smiley face illustration, which I do love but some more designs would have been great too.

Hope you enjoyed this post

Jas x

 

My University Experience

I’ve officially finished my three years at university, which is incredibly scary looking back. My graduation is approaching and I’m both looking forward to it but also dreading it. I wanted to write a blog post, to sum up, my university journey and reflect on the ups and downs of this crazy experience.

The First Year of university is arguably one of the hardest years that I’ve ever had to face. I left home for the first time, I was forced into an environment where I had to make new friends, discover a new way of learning and settle into a brand new city, which I had only visited a total of twice before I moved here. Stupidly, I had only visited the campus, I hadn’t ventured out into the city on those open days I attended. My Dad and my step-mum Jo dropped me off at my new accommodation and I remember feeling so scared on the drive up, with the car packed full of stuff. I remember seeing plenty of other students, similarly with their cars full driving up the A1 to their university destinations.

The first year was certainly an experience, exploring Lincoln and often getting lost on my way to lectures, went on many nights out and met some incredible people and characters.

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Flat 14 (minus Lauren) 

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My Journalism Gal 

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First Year Night Out 

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The lovely Emma & Michaela 

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Elliot on one of his many trips to Lincoln 

The second year was overall better, I was more settled and familiar and I had moved into the second student accommodation, Brayford Quays. Which I’d highly recommend, the staff are lovely and my room looked out onto the water which I love. The university work in the second year peaked. It was more challenging and lectures became harder and you were no longer spoon-fed information like you were when you were a first year.

Friendships that I had built had certainly strengthened too which was lovely to build on after the first year. I did love my flat in second year, it was so much fun and we were always out doing something.

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House Girls 

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Flat 14 (Minus Connor) 

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Liam and I at the Journalism School Ball 

I have a lot of good memories from the second year. It was a good balance between doing university work, working part-time as well as having a good social life.

The final and third year was obviously, the most challenging. The work itself really stepped up and the idea of the future, getting a real-life job began to loom. I spent the majority of my time in the library, living off Boots meal deals and when I wasn’t in the library, I was at home, likely in bed. I also spent a significant amount of time in Waterstones cafe, writing my dissertation and meeting up with friends. Michaela, Emma, Claire and Hannah would often meet me and it was a space I felt really calm and relaxed in. Ryan, Nathan, Reece and Michaela would usually meet me in Waterstones too and inevitably get dragged to spoons for a drink.

I went through some tough times and I was lucky to have such understanding house girls as well as Lauren who would sit with me for hours in Angel cafe until I felt a little better.

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Bierkeller

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House Girls 

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Pre-Night Out Photo 

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BBQ life

Overall, looking back I did enjoy my university experience. I wish I chose a better course and I wish university didn’t cost as much as it did but I’m glad I went and Lincoln will always have a place in my heart (cringe).

Thank you for reading this rather long post.

Jas x