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Hello Again

29 December 2016 | Post A Comment


For a while I have been avoiding writing on here because I know anything I am going to say will be depressing. And to write anything else would be untruthful. But the longer I go without writing, the harder it is to start again, the words won't come. 

I’ve started drinking again. Now on a triple gin and tonic the words are flowing. 

I hope you have had a good Christmas. I hope you were able to enjoy some quality time with family and had lots of time to relax. I hope it wasn't too stressful and you were touched positively in some way by the season. 

Depression has created a dense fog between myself and the festive cheer and so I've just sat back and allowed it to pass by. Christmas has at least served as a kind of distraction. It breaks up the monotony of a life controlled by this horrible illness

Since coming off my medication I have found I cannot cope. Depression has fiercely returned with a massive punch in the face. I can feel it’s constant hold on me, it’s dragging me down deep.

The most difficult part of my day is getting out of bed, and I haven’t normally even been managing that. I spend my days waiting for them to be over and then I do it all again. I just want it to end. 

Since being off medication I can feel everything. At first I thought it was great but unfortunately now it’s just despair, frustration and sadness that I feel more than anything. It overpowers everything else. My head shouts and my body shakes and all I want to do is scream it all away. I hate it all. 


Alcohol helps. It numbs the terror. And it gives me hope. I can no longer comprehend why I would choose to struggle without it when it so reliantly lifts me out of my dark place.

Things You Can Do If You Want To Hurt Yourself

19 December 2016 | Post A Comment

At it's core, All Things Beautiful is not intended as a support system. But I am aware that some people may use it that way. This makes me feel some level of responsibility and pressure. (I spoke in more detail about my aims for my blog in this post.) 

A couple of days ago I published this post about scars. It was a difficult topic to write about. I wanted it to be brutally honest yet aware of the sensitivity of the topic and how it could be interpreted by others, particularly the vulnerable. Although I don't hate my scars, of course I wish I never felt the need to cause them in the first place. I don't in any way want to put a positive spin on hurting yourself. 

If you are struggling at the moment and feel the urge to cause yourself harm in anyway, these are some things that may help. I think it's really important to try and work out why you want to hurt yourself in this moment. 

Do you want to feel something real or crave feeling? Try to focus your breathing or follow a meditation video. You could also squeeze hard on an ice cube or have a freezing cold shower or bath. 

Are you angry or frustrated? Rip paper, punch pillows, smash ice cubes, scream if you need to. Run as fast as you can. Write words on your skin. 

If you feel very sad. Listen to sad music. Cry really hard. Talk to someone about how you feel. Accept the sadness and cry yourself to sleep, you will feel some relief when you wake up. 

I know this can sound too simplistic. If you simply have an overwhelming urge to hurt yourself, just try any of these things, it might really help. Remember this feeling is temporary. Whether you act on it or not, the urge will at some point lift. You can do this. 

Christmas and Mental Illness

17 December 2016 | Post A Comment

To most people, Christmas is a time of happiness where you can enjoy socialising with friends and family and eating lots of delicious food. But for those with mental health issues, Christmas can be one of the most difficult times of the year, full of dread and anxiety. 

I remember the Christmas when my depression was at it's worst. I remember the intense ache in my face from forcing myself to smile for too long. I remember the sickness of trying to eat Christmas dinner but not quite managing it and my uniform falling off me when I went back to school. I remember how my internal pain felt intensified by the happiness of everyone around me. 

Even when things aren't quite as bad, Christmas still has a way of magnifying emotions, negative or positive. Big social gatherings trigger anxiety, huge spreads of food can be terrifying for sufferers of eating disorders and the extra pressure to be having a good time makes it easy to slip into the depths of low mood and depression. 

When the hectic atmosphere that surrounds Christmas gets too much, mental struggles can feel frighteningly exaggerated and then comes the guilt. We desperately want to enjoy the festive period as much as everyone else but our mental barriers make us feel isolated and it's difficult to get past them. We feel guilty that we can't be completely present in the enjoyment of friends and family and we feel like we've ruined what could possibly have been a good time for ourselves too. 

If you are dreading Christmas because of mental health issues there are some things you can do to make it easier. I'd recommend talking to the person you feel closest to and explaining what you will find most difficult and how certain activities could be altered to make you feel more comfortable. Plan ahead of time so you feel more in control of what's happening. Lower your expectations and try to make others aware of what they can expect of you, be that leaving early from a party or missing out on a few things. Use the Christmas period to actively challenge your mental illness. Push yourself a little without going too far and try to gently extend the boundaries that your illness allows. You can also use this time to heal and relax with the people you love most. Do your best to help them understand. 

Christmas is a difficult time for lots of people for a variety of different reasons. If Christmas is full of joy and excitement for you, that's really great but be aware that this isn't the same for everyone. Make an effort this Christmas to be more open minded and sensitive to other's needs. Be kinder than is necessary, it can make the world of a difference. 

My Relationship with Scars

15 December 2016 | Post A Comment

With mental illness doubt is often a dominating emotion. You doubt yourself, your worth and your feelings, you doubt what others think of you and you doubt the experiences you have been through. 

A couple of years ago I was left with bad bruises on the inside of my arms and the backs of my hands from blood tests after my traumatic experience in hospital (you can read about it here). They were my only visable physical reminders of what I had been through. To me, these bruises validated my trauma. I was in a bad place and my unwell mind took various stages to process what had happened. When the bruises faded I was devastated, my personal validation had gone. 

When I was younger I was very aware that adults seemed to be obsessed with the scars that I left on my body. Therapists constantly reminded about how the scars would make me feel when I was older. My mum made me apply bio oil regularly to encourage them to disappear. I thought everyone wanted to remove my only evidence of the pain I was going through. Teachers wrote reports about how they were worried about me because of the cuts and scars on my hands.

I felt like they all missed the point. Mental illness is so isolating and invisible. If I could display on the outside how I felt on the inside, I would, and it would look like viscous scars. 

My body is littered with evidence of self hatred, anxiety and despair. I can look at each scar and remember clearly the moment it was inflicted. They remind me of what I have been through and what I have survived. 

Sometimes a particular scar will catch my eye and the memory associated with it will come flooding back. Sometimes I look at the oldest, most faded scars that only I can see and feel sadness remembering the emotions that drove that young girl to cause herself harm. Although I don't necessarily agree, I am now able to understand what the adults in my life were trying to say. The scars tie me to that sadness and distress and the permanence can sometimes be upsetting. But I am not ashamed or embarrassed. 

We all started life with nearly an almost blank canvas. Scars are proof that we have lived. The scar on your right foot when you fell off your bike, the chicken pox scar on your back that you can only see in a mirror and the acne scars on your face from a hormone fuelled adolescence. 

Scars are the story of a life lived, on the body that lived it. And I think that's beautiful.

Phobias

10 December 2016 | Post A Comment

The way phobias are presented in media and society really pisses me off. On I’m A Celeb, every ‘celebrity’ is asked what their phobias are and most of them respond with a list. I can not possibly imagine what it must be like to have multiple, true phobias. One is more than enough for me. 

I have had a phobia of swans for as long as I can remember. It was definitely a true phobia for at least 10 years and now I would say it is probably borderline after lots of therapy. 

For most of my life I have avoided going near bodies of water where swans might be. I have countless stories of how I have run away screaming from various situations involving swans.

You probably don’t think swans are all that common but once you have developed a deep fear for something, you will notice that thing everywhere.

It wasn’t just real swans in person that terrified me. Swans on television, photos of swans, models of swans, mentioning swans could all bring on extreme panic attacks. There were times I couldn't watch television with anyone other than my family for fear a swan would come on and I would start hyperventilating. I had a list of films and tv programs that I could not watch (The Notebook, Hot Fuzz, You’ve Been Framed, nature programs, anything involving canals or lakes) and places I couldn’t go. My high school had to take down all artwork of swans off the walls after one time I didn’t quite manage to keep it together and ended up a screaming hyperventilating mess on ‘swan corridor’.  

It was just another thing that ruined my life that felt like I had no control over. 

I tried to learn everything I could about swans. I thought this would give me the superior edge over them. Did you know a swan will mate for life? You might think this is quite nice but it’s only an evil plan to maximise it’s potential offspring. Swans can fly as fast as 60 miles an hour and if you ask me that’s just way too fast. If you have a phobia of something, every aspect of that thing is terrifying. The fear of the thing overpowers everything else and defies all reasoning. It is completely irrational and extreme. It is not a simple fear. 

Therapy was exhausting. I had to start by reading books about swans until my anxiety calmed to a manageable level. I then worked up to sitting in a car in a car park near a lake. Weeks later I stood within eye sight of the swans until the panic peaked and then faded. Through this exposure therapy I am so much better than I was. Phobias are relatively simple to treat compared to other mental illnesses but that doesn't mean it's easy. It's terrifyingly difficult. 

Please, stop saying you have a phobia if you don't. It leaves us truly terrified phobics feeling even more isolated in our irrationality than we already do.

Easy Ways To Make Your Life Easier

6 December 2016 | Post A Comment

Stop making excuses

Care less about what others think of you

Be kinder than is necessary

Have a routine

Do more of what makes you happy

Spend less time on social media

Delete your social media

Remove negative people from your life

Eat what you want to eat

Quit complaining

Listen to more music

Take up hibernation 

Talk about ideas, not people 

Learn to accept yourself and your problems

Don't spend all your money

Get help

Sleep more

Keep things simple

Medication

4 December 2016 | Post A Comment

For the past couple of months I have been on Mirtazipine, a class of anti-depressant helpfully labelled as 'other'. If you have read this post, you will know why the doctors thought I'd be better off staying away from SSRI's, the most common form of anti-deppressant. I can tell you how SSRI's work, but I couldn't tell you how Mirtazipine works. A quick look on 'drugs.com' says "the way this medication works is still not fully understood", a deeper look into it on google makes me feel incredibly dizzy and anxious. It seems to mess around with all sorts of chemical reactions that are going on in my brain that I'd rather not know about, especially as no one else seems to understand what they're doing either. 

The first couple of weeks were awful. I nearly used the word 'horrific' but I'll leave that as the word to describe my experience on Citalopram. The first weeks on Mirtazipine were not quite as bad as that. I did end up having to go to hospital after blacking out in the shower with horrific stomach pains and had fainting and dizzy episodes for weeks after. I have felt sick almost constantly since I started taking them, which is only starting to get better now and I have had a general feeling of drowsiness and lethargy which rarely lifts. I've had blisters on my tongue and have experienced significant weight gain and a ridiculously high appetite. I have to time when I take my tablets well as I am effectively 'knocked out' about an hour after taking them for around 12 hours. Yes, I sleep well, but it's a horrible feeling of loss of control. And I have to constantly plan my mornings and evenings around them.

I hate taking them. They make me feel ill and they cast a foggy haze over my entire life. I have decided to come off them.

This is easier said than done. 

I have been reducing them for around 3 weeks now. At first I felt so bad all I could do was stay in bed, feeling utterly depressed. I couldn't engage in life at all. This makes me want to come off them more. I don't think I should be on anything that can make me feel this bad. 

My mind is beginning to feel 'lighter' and I am enjoying depending less on medication. But I know that by coming off the medication, symptoms of depression and other difficulties will be harder to deal with. 

I can continue with the medication and put up with the negative side effects or try again at a life without them.

I really don't know which I would hate least. And that's sad.

Writing

2 December 2016 | Post A Comment

One of my favourite aspects about relaunching All Things Beautiful has been rediscovering my love of writing. School nearly ruined it for me. I remember writing exams were completely focused on writing to a formula. Creativity and passion were forgotten about and even discouraged if you wanted to score well. 

I feel like a real passion for writing is hard to come by. And the education system has made it that way. I used to read a massive number of blogs daily. This has now gone down to just a couple as I get so frustrated by the carelessness of the writing. I no longer want to waste my time reading words that contain no life or soul.

With this relaunch I didn't want my writing to go unnoticed. I want it to be a priority, I want it to get noticed, I want it to matter. 

Writing is a form of communication. We can use words to motivate, heal and empower. We can use words to tell stories. The words we choose and the order we leave them on the page is our power. We can all learn how to enhance this power, how to make it more effective. I now want to dedicate as much time as I can to writing and expressing what I want to say in the most effecting way possible.

I've put together some tips for how I write. They are just advice from what I personally do and some of them are geared more towards writing for an audience. Break them all if you want, that's the fun of it. 

1. Write without thinking, let your thoughts spill out onto a page. This is your beautifully imperfect first draft. Now go back and edit, edit, edit. 

2. Re-write every sentence until you cannot find any further faults.

3. Read your writing out loud.

4. When you don't know what to write, just write exactly what you feel.

5. Write what you need to write. 

6. Write what you need to read.

7. Take it seriously, but not too seriously.

8. Write in different styles, tenses and formats to different effects. (For example, I wanted to address my alcoholism in a post but didn't know the best way to do it. So I wrote it in the form of a letter, addressed to alcohol. Read it here. I also used present tense to write a post about what a 'good day' looks like for me here.)

9. Replace multiple words with one word that says the same thing.

10. Write controversially, break rules.

11. Think about what you are trying to say, then say that. 

12. Use a thesaurus constantly. Every time you go to use the 'very' or 'really', lookup the word that follows and use a stronger synonym for that instead when it is more effective. 

13. Read a lot.

14. People are lazy. Don't make them read long sentences or paragraphs- because they won't.

15. Get rid of words that you don't need. 

16. Avoid repetition, unless it is for effect (I love using intentional repetition)

17. Exploit negative space. Write short sentences, write short paragraphs to emphasise points. 

18. Think hard about how you end your post, this is what will be remembered. 

19. Do things differently. Finish a list on 19.

My Aims, Distressing Content, And Stigma

30 November 2016 | Post A Comment

My mental health hasn't been that great the past couple of weeks and this is reflected in the content of my blog. When my mind is in a darker place, my content is going to go there too. 

This is because my main priority for All Things Beautiful is for it to be an authentic insight into mental health. With any work I put into this blog, honesty is at the very front of my mind and this is incredibly important to me. My second aim is to help people. I feel I can do this through my blog in a number of ways. I can provide comfort and hope that things can get better and I can give people an insight and understanding into mental health so they can either understand themselves better or better understand others, or both. 

My first priority can sometimes conflict with my second. I don't want my blog to become a depression blog. I don't want my loyal readers to read a new post every other day about how terrible I am feeling again. To make reading my ramblings worth your time, you need value. And insight is value, education is value. But so is hope and comfort. I think the second part of my aims for the site is sometimes being neglected with my focus on the first. Sometimes my being honest and open can be somewhat distressing or upsetting. 

When I write, I write from the deepest part of my being and I want the reader to be effected. 
If you are effected by my writing, I believe I am doing something right. But there needs to be balance, I don't want to just effect you with negativity. I want to make a difference to how you see the world and others in it.

Some days I wake up and I can feel my thoughts are in a better place and I can put all my effort into writing more uplifting posts like this one and this one and this one. They are among the posts I am most proud of.

I often get comments on how brave I am for sharing what I share on my blog. Exposing the depths of my mind to the internet does sometimes feel scary. But being in the depths of my mind is scarier. And by sharing I might help others, and I might help myself. And I have nothing to hide, I am not embarrassed by my mental health. I am actively trying to fight stigma. I think it is this attitude that has the power to beat it.

I wrote this post as an extension of what I discussed in last weeks newsletter but I thought it was important for my wider readership to understand too. If you would like a wider understanding of what goes into my blog it would be great if you could sign up below. I also include motivational challenges and quotes and I hope it's an email you will look forward to receiving every Sunday. 

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This Isn't A Happy Post

28 November 2016 | Post A Comment

Happiness has become this great ideal that we all feel inclined to strive for. We are taught to believe that a life full of happiness is the goal and it's placed on a pedestal as the ultimate emotion. We try to walk a path that leads to it and this becomes our focussed life mission. We want our days to be filled with it.

But I don't want to live a life full of happiness. I want to live a life that is full.

Life is the feeling of butterflies in your stomach when you're about to do something you shouldn't, or really should, do. It's the feeling of appreciation and gratitude of what we have, regardless of if it purely brings us happiness. It's the tears from listening to a piece of music that speaks directly to your soul. 

I want to feel completely overwhelmed by feelings of curiosity and fascination of the world. We should want to experience being utterly consumed by fear and then the feeling of falling into the release when we emerge from the other side. Life is about being filled with love and passion so powerful it literally takes your breath away. I want to feel my inside drop with that sense of immense relief at good news. 

We should strive for reaching an unburdened sense of peace and calm and accept feelings of indifference and contentment. We should allow ourselves to be engulfed by the reckless abandonment and freedom of life at night. We should want to know what it's like to walk into a room and feel confident and self assured and also how it feels to be uncertain and vulnerable. In order to appreciate joy we must know intense sadness, pain, despair and hopelessness. I just want to feel, as much as I can. 

I want to experience the intensity and vastness of human emotion so I know I have really lived. I want to feel it all. I am not interested in being confined to the believed luxury of happiness alone. 

If There Is No One There

26 November 2016 | Post A Comment

The eyes of my reflection staring back are no longer my own and the voices in my head sound less like mine. They are busy and shouting, deafening in their urgency. My breath comes in gusts and my heart threatens to break it’s cage. My skin burns with a thousand fire ants travelled from California with the sole intention of searing my flesh. I want to dig them out with my nails, it will feel like such a blissful release. 

I just want to be alone. Where I can give in to self destruction because it makes me feel better. 


I just want to be alone. Where my thoughts can hurt no one but myself.

If there is no one there to witness my suffering, would it really exist?


If there is no one there to hear me cry, am I really crying at all?

A Ladder Of Words And A Hole Of Thoughts

24 November 2016 | Post A Comment

I'm trying to write my way out of this hole. Use the words to build a ladder and leave the thoughts behind. They're too heavy to climb out and they fall to the bottom, scratching at my limbs as I try to escape. I'm making progress. I have an idea and I grasp on to it. The words are flowing, I am struggling to keep up. 

My thoughts on their own can't reach me but they're starting to climb on top of each other up the side of the hole like a growing dark mass. The stronger thoughts make it to the top and fight harder for my attention. 

The thoughts are beginning to shout. "You aren't good enough!" Because they are my thoughts, it's difficult to ignore them. "Your ideas are worthless!!" I try to climb higher away from them. I try to write about my thoughts in an effort to understand them but the words start to leave me. I can't make sense of them anymore and all I can hear are the screaming thoughts.

It takes all my effort not to fall back in. The strength needed to hang on to the words and carry on becomes increasingly difficult and succumbing to my thoughts becomes more inviting. 

I know my thoughts, falling back in to them is easy.

This Post Made Me Pull Out My Hair

22 November 2016 | Post A Comment


This is the post that has been causing me so much difficulty. I have been trying to write it for days and it won't come out right. Here is the heavily edited version that I desperately want to delete. 

I think what I am trying to say is that this is incredibly difficult and hurts me more than I can say. Please, try to understand...

This post has taken about 7 hours to write. Probably less than an hour of that time was spent writing, the rest was spent pulling out my hair. 

For about 10 years I have suffered with compulsive hair pulling, a condition known as Trichotillomania. I remember the day I started with incredible detail. The day that marks a rift between two sides of my life. The me that was free of this compulsive addiction and the me who is trapped and ruled by it.


For the first couple of years I tried everything to stop doing it on my own. I tried to count in my head and promise myself I would stop pulling once I got to a chosen number. This didn't help and just intensified how weak I was against my brain's compulsions. I tried to damage my fingertips so it hurt too much to pull. I recited silent mantras to myself over and over again. I repeated these statements to myself, whilst pulling, for hours. I sat on my hands, I constantly wore a scarf round my head, I tied my fingers together, I wore gloves. 


Once, for a couple of weeks I started picking at my scalp to relieve the urge to pull. I grasped onto this as hope of a replacement habit. Surely this would be better than constantly pulling my hair. But after about a week my head was constantly bleeding and I was getting severe headaches from scratching so deep and I went back to the pulling. 
In one desperate attempt I resorted to pinching the skin on the back of my hand with my nails as hard as I could every time I pulled, hoping I would relate pulling to significant pain and eventually stop. After a couple of days, the back of my hand resembled a mountain range and was red raw. I couldn't bare the pain of anything even touching it, so pinching was no longer an option. It wasn't working anyway. 

I have had months of therapy dedicated to the problem. I had to monitor time spent pulling and record my feelings at the time and what I was doing etc. This was impossible to keep up because it meant I was literally spending every second either pulling my hair, or writing about pulling it, whilst pulling it. Keeping blu-tack in my hands helped for a day before the strength of this distractive alternative wore off. Wearing a scarf wrapped tightly around my head helped at times when I was doing more involving activities but made me feel even more terrible about myself. 


The more I try to stop, the more overwhelming the urges become and resisting is impossible. Actively trying to stop causes all other areas of my mental health to get worse. My OCD gets infinitely worse. I'd rather spend hours pulling out my hair than deal with crippling OCD. When I allow it to happen and don't fight the urges I probably pull for around just an hour on average a day. I have had to accept this. 


When I am anxious, stressed, bored, tired, or on my own, I pull more. 


Throughout the years my hair has been a mess. My hair is always uneven. There were times at high school where big sections of my hair were missing or growing back. And high school kids aren't always kind. For a teenage girl, this doesn't do much for confidence or self esteem. 


Often when I start to pull my hair when I am on my own, I get stuck in what I have come to know as my 'bubble'. It gets impossibly difficult to break out of it the longer I stay 'inside' pulling. I usually can only stop if someone comes into the room and breaks it. This is so desperately frustrating and the amount of time that I can remain 'stuck' is terrifying. 


When I pull my hair for a while without stopping I will most likely get a bad headache. Sometimes the headache is severe and I am left crying in pain whilst constantly fighting the urge to pull more. I can only wait in despair for the headache to lift. 

Of all the different mental conditions I've suffered and battled with, I think this has to be the most misunderstood. This is possibly the most embarrassing and frustrating. It is my most persisting and furiously determined struggle. I can not imagine a life free from it, free from it constantly tearing me apart. Maybe all I can ask for is for someone to understand. 

Frustrations.

18 November 2016 | Post A Comment

I've tried to write a happy post. There is a half started post in my drafts entitled 'nice things' but I nearly threw my laptop out the window. I can't write about nice things because right now my head is not a nice place and I don't think it's possible for nice things to come from it. Mum and Dad, I wanted to write a nice post for you, I'm sorry.

My mind is a mess. It's been a mess for a long time. My mind is a house that has too many things stored inside and not enough storage. It's the type of house that no matter how many times you try to deal with the mess, it comes back, seemingly from nowhere. The burglar alarm goes off all the time at just the slightest breeze. The windows are broken and sharp at the edges. It needs constant scaffolding just to keep it stable. It's falling apart. 

Why are we given one mind and expected to live with it? Why was I given this one?

With a physical illness you are able to separate. With a damaged lung, you are not your damaged lung. With a damaged mind there is no separation. It is with me in all that I do. I am my damaged mind. 

Anxiety, depression and their many friends have been with me for as long as I can remember, they won't leave me alone.

Life hurts. The effort I put into it completely exhausts me. Every day is such a struggle. Why am I locked inside this constant cruel test called life without being given the right tools to beat it? 

Give me an illness I can understand, please, give me one I can explain. Let me swap my messed up head for a messed up body so you can tell me what's wrong with it and how it can be made better- if it can be made better. Give me an illness that can be seen. Please, give me something I can point to when people ask me why I am not working. Give me something I can escape from. Give me something I can hate so I can no longer hate myself. 

Rock Bottom

16 November 2016 | Post A Comment

I remember the first time I thought I had hit rock bottom. I was crying to my Dad, trying to explain how I didn't feel real anymore, but struggling to find the energy to summon the words I felt so strongly inside. I was having multiple panic attacks daily. I was exhausted and I was terrified. The only positive thought I had was that this was as bad as it was going to get. I couldn't possibly imagine a darkness or feeling of utter despair worse than what I was feeling in that moment.  I remember thinking "it's not possible for me to feel any worse than I do right now".

But it was possible.

I remember so clearly the minutes of terror and hopelessness as I sat curled in a ball in the school toilets, screaming as I tried to get the sound of the alarm out of my head. The moment I realised I was in pitch darkness and the alarm was a real fire alarm and not imagined was my new rock bottom. I had to summon the energy to stand up and walk out of the school building where I knew thousands of students would be stood in silence, waiting. Crowds were my absolute worst nightmare and when faced with the options of staying in a potentially burning building in pitch black or going outside to a crowd of people mid-panic attack, I chose burning building. When the teachers eventually came in to look for me it didn't take long for them to locate the source of the screams just outside the bathroom door. After it was all over and my mum had been called to take me home I remember thinking "at least it can't get worse than this".

It did, numerous times over.

My first night alone in my new flat after my parents moved away. I was far from stable enough to live on my own, I wasn't ready. But I was stubborn, I wanted to do it. I had been drinking all night to get to sleep and had woken up covered in vomit. The next thing I remember is lying in the bottom of the shower with blood dripping from my numb stomach whilst being pounded with freezing cold water. It wasn't the time for a motivational cold shower. I felt a crushing loneliness and despair. I wanted everything to be over, I felt beaten. I lay there violently shaking for what felt like an eternity thinking "surely, it can't get any worse". 

And it didn't. Things came terrifyingly close but I think that has remained my rock bottom. I don't expect it to stay there. I am fully aware that one day in the future could be worse than any other I have faced up to now. I can't imagine it, but then I couldn't imagine they could get worse before. 

The difference is, I now know I can survive it. I know because I have survived what I thought was my limit before and then survived worse and worse. And each time made me stronger. I could now survive my first rock bottom like a walk in the park. 

Surviving the worst and then worse again has given me strength I never knew was possible. Strength that I know can carry me through the worse again. The worst has pushed me to a place where nothing can touch me and now I can go to that untouchable place any time I want. 

And if life can get worse than I ever thought was possible, what's stopping it getting better than I ever thought was possible?


"And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life" -JK Rowling

Life Lessons

14 November 2016 | Post A Comment

An old teacher taught me to keep going and to focus on the improvements, no matter how small they are.

My councillor taught me I'm braver and more insightful than I think I am.

My Dad has taught me that regardless of what I do I will remain loved. He has taught me to take pride in all that I do. 

My Mum has taught me to put other's before my self and to always be kind.

A friend taught me that anything is possible, you have the power to make things happen. She's taught me to live in the moment, to be free-spirited and to care less about how others might judge me. 

My boyfriend has taught me how to accept compliments, how to love and be loved and how to smile again. 

My sister has taught me to believe in myself and to have the strength to forgive.

A little boy taught me that I am able- "You can do it Beth, you're really good at driving, you're just even better at getting lost a lot".

A friend taught me to be excited by life.

My best friend has taught me how to be confident.

My Grandma has taught me to be strong and humble.

Someone I met at a beer festival taught me to think about my motive before I speak.

My favourite little girl taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to and sometimes I shouldn't cry because I might make her wet.  

My old dog taught me to be loyal to those who show you kindness.

A stranger taught me to not make assumptions, you never know the whole story.

My violin teacher has taught me that striving for perfection is unhealthy and unattainable. That talent is not everything, hard work is more important. He's taught me to spend as much time as possible doing what you love (and how to bow straight...).

Thank you to everyone in this post who has taught me so much and the many other people I didn't include. I want you to tell me in the comments, on Facebook. or by emailing me at bethhinds59@gmail.com some lessons that people have taught you in your life that have really made a difference.

A 'Good Day'

12 November 2016 | Post A Comment


On a good day, I wake up feeling groggy. It's a couple of hours before the drowsiness of my medication will wear off but my eyes don't sting and I haven't had a sleep full of nightmares. I head downstairs and get a healthy breakfast of natural yoghurt and granola and then have another, because my tablets make me want to eat constantly. I feel disgusted and make a promise that I'll start starving myself tomorrow. 

I get started on my to-do list for my blog. It takes me over half an hour to write it out multiple times until it's 'perfect' and then get started. After 5 minutes, I am pulling out my hair. I get stuck in the bubble that has become a comfort. The bubble has incredibly thick walls that have built up over 7 years of pulling. I get stuck inside and can rarely break free unless someone else breaks it. It's easier to pop from the outside. Inside, time becomes meaningless and thoughts disappear. This is a good day, so I manage to break free after 45 minutes and look down to see my desk and clothes covered in my hair. This is a good day, so I go and have a shower. The bubble doesn't work so well when my hair is wet. I have a shower and let the freezing cold water do it's magic. I can do this, I am strong.

After my cold shower, I get ready and head to the car to do the weekly food shop on my own. Something I can only accomplish on a good day. It takes a lot of energy to drive and I constantly battle the voice in my head that's punishing me for every little fault. I lift my foot of the clutch too fast, 'I'm an idiot', I miss a chance to pull out, 'I can't fucking drive'. When I finally arrive at the supermarket I wait in the car and count the people coming in and out the shop. I add the amount of people that go in and subtract them when they come out, when the number becomes minus, I take a deep breath and go inside. 

The bright colours, lights and movements all hurt my eyes and tempt my anxiety to rise out of control but I look at my shopping list to try and concentrate on what I have to buy. I listen to music to keep me calm or ring my mum to get me through. I feel like I need to leave at least four times because I convince myself that I am going to be sick. Twice I go to leave the shop only to tell myself I'm being stupid, again, and return. I try to dodge the alcohol aisle which brings another wave of anxiety and frustration. Keep going, don't look. The whole time I feel like a failure but I carry on, it will be over soon.  

When I get back to the house I put away the shopping and try again to tackle my to do-list. I try to keep my mind busy throughout, listening to music, podcasts or youtube videos. I try to start conversations with Rob and talk about lighthearted things because I want him to know that I'm having a good day. I try to concentrate but it's hard, inside my head I am fighting a battle to not over analyse and catastrophise every single thing he says. After about an hour or so of work on the blog, the hair pulling starts again. I tie my hair in a tight bun and continue to work until I can no longer cope with the head ache the bun has caused. 

I have a bath for a couple of hours, again, wetting my hair to relieve me of my urges and attempt to read a book. Chances are the book is full of triggering topics, whether they're about mental illness or not and I spend most of the time fighting away my thoughts that are determined to ruin my good day. After a couple of hours in the bath, it's time to make tea. 

I wash my hands until they hurt after each time I touch packaging of raw meat. I wash the utensils I use to cook with multiple times throughout the preparation and when the water splashes the other clean utensils, I have to wash them too. Because today is a good day I try to not let this cause me too much anxiety although I am only too aware that carrying out all these washings is reinforcing my worries that I will spread the bacteria of raw meat. After eating I put up with mild to moderate stomach cramps for two hours until I know I am safe from food poisoning and the cramps magically disappear. 

I take my tablets and go to bed, trying to stay awake for as long as I am able to before the sedation takes over and I lose control again. Startled by every noise, I physically jump and then spend the next 3 minutes trying to calm down my racing heart. I try to relax. I am exhausted. Today has been a good day. 

"People say 'take it one day at a time'... Days were mountains. A week was a treck across the Himalayas" -Matt Haig

35 Things To Do When You're 'Bored'

10 November 2016 | Post A Comment

1. Go on a spontaneous road trip
A long car journey with the perfect playlist, good company and a well stocked glove compartment of snacks gets me really excited. If we get lost, even better!

2. Have a conversation with someone on the phone 
I usually hate the thought of speaking to people on the phone, it makes me really anxious so I try to avoid it. But if there is a close friend or family member I haven’t seen for a while, it can make their day to give them a ring and I usually quickly feel more comfortable and can relax into a good conversation.

3. Go shopping in a new city 
Going shopping in a beautiful city with lovely weather can make a great day out with stops at cafes, visits to bookshops and treating yourself a little.


4. Borrow some books from the library 
At a good library you can really take your time to go through the shelves and get some books you’ve meaning to read for a while. I think borrowing a book is always a good idea if you’re not sure what you think of a book and don’t want to commit to buying it. Without a doubt, it’s a perfect excuse to get lost in a maze of books for a while which sounds like a good way to spend time to me!

5. Write a bucket list
It could be a list of things you want to do in the next 10 years or everything you want to accomplish and experience before you die. And then start making plans to complete it!

6. Exercise 
If the thought of this fills you with dread then maybe start small. Get up and do as many star jumps as you can do, do a beginners workout, run up and down the stairs or go on a walk. If you're crazy you could go to the gym. 

7. Take a long bubble bath
Out of all the things on this list I think I am most experienced at this one. I've been taking 3 to 4 hour baths most days lately... But I've been getting lots of reading done and thoroughly enjoyed them! A kid's bubble bath is obligatory for overflowing bubbles and feeling like your reading in the middle of a cloud.



8.  Bake Cupcakes
You should definitely try out this recipe for amazing apple and cinnamon cupcakes. The cupcakes are really easy but are very unique and delicious so great ones to try out as a creative alternative to simple vanilla buns. 

9. Listen to music in the dark 
I love listening to great music. Using really good quality speakers or headphones in the dark is such an enjoyable experience. I feel like when you limit your senses to just one it enhances the whole experience and you can become totally immersed. 

10. Organise an area of your house
If it's your kitchen cupboards, or that drawer that you always just throw everything in, spend the next hour or so giving it a good clear out and put in place a efficient organisation system.

11. Get a piercing 
If I'm feeling a little lost or feel the dark cloud pass over me but have a real urge to break out of it, I usually feel compelled to get a new piercing. The pain and adrenaline boost often gets me out of it but probably isn't the most sensible idea in the world and I'm starting to run out of ear space... If you don't have any or many, I'd recommend getting some!

12. Watch a new film at the cinema
I'm usually rubbish at watching films and get distracted really easily until I've lost my grip on the plot and then give up or fall asleep. This rarely happens at the cinema as I feel obliged to really pay attention. I feel like it's a great escape from reality for a couple of hours and a good excuse to eat popcorn and sweets.



13. Watch a Disney film
This is an especially good option if you're feeling low. Try and choose a film from your childhood for lots of nostalgia.

14. Start a blog
Start a blog and you'll never be bored again. You won't understand until you start but once you do, a million and one things will be added to your to-do list, there is always something to do and the connections and engagement you gain will make it all worthwhile.

15. Make a fort
At the beginning of my relationship with Rob, when asked the question 'what do you want to do today?' I often replied with the answer 'let's make a fort!'. And we're still together, so maybe that's the secret to a lasting relationship. Either way, building a fort is always a good idea. Gather your blankets and create something amazing!

16. Play a board game
Getting a couple of friends round and hosting a games tournament is the recipe for a night well spent. 



17. Eat at a new restaurant 
It's easy to stick at the same restaurants you know you love but next time you dine out, try a new one. Even better, go for a new cuisine you haven't tried before. 

18. Go out for milkshake
If you can, go to one of those heavens dedicated solely to milkshake and choose the milkshake of dreams.

19. Write lists
If this post doesn't give it away a little, I'm a huge fan of the list. I write lots of different lists through out the day. Goal lists are my favourites but they are also a great way to get organised. 

20. Research a topic you know little about 
Maybe you heard someone mention something that sparked your interest or you want to understand a topic better that has come up on the news, whatever it is, research it. You can learn about anything you can imagine on the internet or even better, pick up a book on the subject for a good overall insight.

21. Put together a reading list and start reading it
I shared my Autumn reading list here and am slowly making my way through it. Going through a reading list is very satisfying and is a good way to focus your reading.



22. Do something that scares you
Start out small, do something that makes you a little nervous. Then go bigger. Quit your job and follow your dream even if it terrifies you, travel on your own, talk to your crush. Go out and do something now.

23. Make a new playlist of your favourite songs on Spotify
Make your ultimate get ready playlist, a playlist that helps you sleep or just a playlist full of your all time favourite songs. Check out my playlists here if you like.

24. Arrange a trip
Whether it's a night away, a trip to the coast or a week long holiday abroad, get a trip in your calendar with your favourite people and start looking forward to it.



25. Make pancakes
Whisk 100g sieved plain flour, 2 eggs and 300ml milk. See how many times you can flip them and laugh when they fall on the floor. Add nutella, maple syrup, lemon juice and sugar.

26. Go shopping just to try on clothes you would never normally chose
You don't even need to buy them. Have fun trying on fashion looks you would never pick out and be surprised with what styles suit you!

27. Collect and count all your loose change 
There's probably a lot of loose change collecting under the sofa, in coat pockets and the footwell of your car. Collect it all together and see how much you can make.

28. Write about a traumatic or negative experience
You can keep it to yourself or share it with the world. Writing about a bad experience is a great way to come to terms with it and turn it into something positive that can help you as a person. I wrote about my traumatic experience on anti-depressants here.

29. Do something kind for someone else
It can be small, or it can be big. Try to help someone out who is in need or repay someone for kindness that they have shown to you. 



30. Paint a wall in your house
Pick a statement wall in your house and paint it yellow to make you feel happy when you look at it, blue to bring a sense of calm or any other colour you fancy.

31. Deep clean your house
Get on some comfy clothes and spend the next couple of hours deep cleaning the house or your bedroom until it shines and smells amazing. You'll feel such a sense of achievement and want to invite everyone you know round to your beautiful place.

32. Organise a party
Don't wait until a birthday or big celebration, have a party for the sake of having a party. 

33. Break a bad habit
If you have a habit you've been trying to break for a while you might need to think of a step by step plan to beat it. A good trick is to try to replace a bad habit with a habit that is less detrimental.



34. Practice a musical instrument or begin to learn a new one
There are so many benefits to learning a musical instrument. Try a couple and see what you like. You could even try to teach yourself some simple chords on the guitar or learn simple pop instrumentals from YouTube on the piano. 

35. Play hide and seek
Find someone to play with you and then find them again in a game of hide and seek. Do it in your house or even better, outside or in Ikea for hours of fun.

I planned on making this post 100 things to do when you're bored but this is definitely long enough! I challenge you to do one of the things of this list now, which one will you pick? What things would you add to the list?


"When you pay attention to boredom it gets unbelievably interesting." Jon Kabat-Zinn