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    Mental Health

    Living with mental health issues

    Living with mental health issues is strange. It’s painful, lonely, sad spontaneous and even exciting!

    I never knew I had mental health issues until I was diagnosed around 5 and half years ago. I knew I was different. I felt different things to other people, I would process information differently and think and act very differently to others around me at times. But I had no idea exactly what I had or what was ‘wrong’. In my teens, looking back now, it’s very evident that I had anorexia and anxiety but why it was never picked up I’m not sure. I know I have been a master at hiding symptoms for many many years so I guess that’s why.

    Living with mental health issues is very different for everyone. Someone could have an identical diagnosis to me but still suffer in slightly, or even very different ways. We are all different after all. I do find that immediately when people find out about my illnesses they have preconceived ideas of what I should be acting like. They think they know what I think about or even assume I should look a certain way. It is so annoying but I am not cross with people because this is exactly the problem. We haven’t spoken about mental illnesses open and honestly – ever – until the past few years so people just don’t know the reality of living with mental health issues. This is why I am very open and very honest. I think It’s vital for people to know that anorexia doesn’t always mean a stick thin teenage girl who lives off of lettuce. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) doesn’t mean you are manipulative and a danger to others. And depression doesn’t always mean you lay in bed with the curtains drawn crying all day. Of course some of this might be present in peoples suffering but not always. There is so much more to mental illnesses.

    I find some days I absolutely hate what I have to live with. The obsessive food and weight behaviours and self hatred that anorexia brings and the ‘all or nothing’, black or white thinking that BPD brings about. However, saying that I am thankful. I feel that it was obviously meant to be. I was strong enough and am strong enough to deal with it all and spread the message far and wide about mental health.

    I want to live in a world where people don’t have to wear a mask. I wore one (and sadly sometimes still do) but I want that to stop. If you’re struggling, feeling down or overwhelmed I want you to be able to tell someone – anyone, with no fear of judgement. I want to live in a world where you can discuss your mental health struggles without be called “brave”!

    I continue to say to people if you are struggling tell someone. Whether it’s face to face, someone you know well or an online support group. Charities are great places to start – Mind, Time to change and Beat are some I have found useful.

    Living with mental health issues is different for everyone, so never assume you understand exactly what someone is going through. Just tread gently and be there if they need you. Be kind and don’t judge – it’s as simple as that.

    Stay strong and stay safe. Remember to be kind always, you never know what battles people might be facing.

    Love Amy x

    Mental Health

    Mental health and body image

    Body image is the perception that a person has of their physical self and the thoughts and feelings that result from that perception. These feelings can be positive, negative or both, and are influenced by individual and environmental factors.

    Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and hated and despised what you see. Have you ever been physically sick at the sight of your body reflecting back at you.

    Well I have.

    Mental health and body image

    Despite even getting down to frighteningly low weight and BMI I have always been convinced that I am over weight. I have far too much fat, stretch marks, bumpy bits, hair…. you name a body part and I can point out why I hate it.

    It started very early on – early teens is when I first remember really looking to change my image. I would be restricting food, over plucking eyebrows, dying hair, shaving, waxing, wearing too much make up, I just wanted to look different and not like me. I have always been very tall (I am 5 foot 11) and skinny or slim so I am not entirely sure where this self hatred came from. I was nicknamed the ‘Lamp post’ and ‘stick insect’ at school, I was bullied for being tall, for wearing braces, having hairy legs, pretty much everything, so I do believe this had something to do with it.

    Being told over and over again for years on end that you are not good enough, a disgrace, fat and disgusting takes its toll. Even if you begin by not believing it, it will eventually wear you down and you feel like you have no choice but to believe every single word. This is what anorexia does to me. She, Ana, as I have called her, is always there hiding in the background but sometimes she is so loud I cannot ignore her. It’s not a case of thinking positive and ignoring it or her and it’ll go away. I wish it was that easy.

    I do also feel that the media has an awful lot to answer for when it comes to negative body image. I can’t blame the media and say it’s the reason I hate myself but it 100% makes it worse a lot of the time. I am not stupid, I know most images online and in magazines are filtered and airbrushed within an inch of their life but I still look and desperately want to look that ‘good’. Smooth skin, hair free, thick bouncy hair, tiny waist and a thigh gap! I get obsessed to the point where I start researching surgery or procedures I can have or buy to make me have what these beautiful perfect people have. Luckily I don;t have an awful lot of money so am not able – most of the time – to arrange these things. I does worry me sometimes that if I do come into some money I know for a fact I will be looking into these things a lot more and going ahead with them.

    I am desperate to do therapy to improve my mental health and body image but unfortunately I keep coming up against so many barriers in the NHS which is so awful for me and my family. I do want to get better and I desperately want to look in the mirror and like or even one day love what I see! I can’t imagine at the moment that it will ever happen but I really want it too. I absolutely love Stacey Soloman. She is such a positive role model and I would love to have the confidence she has. I do try and put some of her tips from her latest book into practice which helps on my good days and I am thankful for that.

    I think my my mental health and body image will always be a work in progress as it will unfortunately be for many people. Especially in the filtered and airbrushed world we live in but listening to those inspiring people who are going against all that or even seeing a therapist – if you can – will definitely help bring back a love for you and who you are. Inside and out.

    I am a great believer in complimenting people. Whether you like their hair or the new shoes, tell them. It will honestly make them feel so good. I know it does with me.

    Remember to always be kind to others, you never know what battles people might be facing.

    Stay strong.

    Love Amy x

    Mental Health, Parenting and Lifestyle

    Pregnant for the 3rd time and the emotions I felt.

    This is a post that I didn’t expect to write, not for another few years at least but here I am.

    I am pregnant for the 3rd time. I wasn’t exactly overjoyed straight away. But is that ok?

    I have a 15 month old and a 6 year old and my husband and I had discussed the possibility of having another but not until my youngest was about 3 or 4, when our money situation was better and my mental health was in a better place too. But sometimes things don’t work out exactly and you want or plan.

    This pregnancy was an absolute shock. Not planned and I was taking contraception. Having another child was a million miles from my mind. But it’s the feelings and emotions around this pregnancy that have shocked me the most.

    Pregnant for the 3rd time and the emotions I felt.

    It was almost impossible to accept or even talk about my feelings in the first 12 weeks. Even now I feel a bit ashamed. I’m scared of what people are going to say about me but I feel like I need to be honest. I genuinely was not excited at all. I wasn’t sad or angry I felt agitated but mostly I didn’t really care. There was hardly any emotion or feeling at all.

    I had terrible morning sickness (more like all day sickness) for the first 12/13 weeks which left me feeling horrendous. It made me a rubbish mum to my boys, as I was either always attached to a toilet or feeling extremely ill and exhausted. Cue terrible mum guilt.

    This led to resentment I am ashamed to say. I felt like this baby that I didn’t even want was ruining my time with my boys! It wasn’t fair!

    How awful, selfish and ungrateful does that sound right!?

    But I have to be honest these were my feelings. We even paid to have an early scan at 8 weeks and I still didn’t feel excited.

    I’m not happy or proud that this is how I was feeling but I know from speaking to other mums that I am not the only one that has felt like this.

    I was speaking to a close friend who has 4 children and told her how I was feeling and she said “You know what that’s normal. I felt this too. So many women do feel like this too, It’s just that no one talks about it!”

    That stuck with me.

    No one talks about it!

    It’s the same as so many other things, mental health issues included, just because no one talks about it doesn’t mean it’s not present all around you. People need to talk about all of these things so much more. Talking about it normalises it. We need to start saying to each other that yes pregnancy is an amazing gift that we are so grateful for, but it can also be shocking, flippin’ hard and guilt inducing if it’s not planned.

    Pregnant for the 3rd time and the emotions I felt.

    It doesn’t make you an awful mother or a heartless human being to admit this. You’re not being ungrateful, you are being honest with yourself and trying to make sense of everything. It’s ok.

    I found it very nerve raking writing this post – Pregnant for the 3rd time and the emotions I felt. – But I felt it was so important that I did.

    I am now 16 weeks pregnant and after having my 12 week scan I can now honestly say that I am excited and over the moon to be pregnant again. The morning sickness has disappeared and I am feeling pretty ok mentally.

    Of course I am still nervous about having 2 under 2 and the impact it’ll have on my family and my mental health but I am so lucky to have a very supportive husband and some incredible friends that are always there for me. I am so incredibly grateful for them.

    I think it is so important that no matter how you’re feeling, you must talk about it. Whether it’s a partner, a friend or medical professional. I promise you will not be the only one that feels the way that you do. Also, remember what you’re feeling isn’t ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ it’s your feeling, your emotion so it’s real.

    Despite the fact it has taken some time, we, as a family are now completely overjoyed with pregnancy number 3.

    Take care and stay strong.

    Love Amy x

    Mental Health

    Back from a mental health break

    This is my first blog post in 3 months. I am back from an all important mental health break and for that I feel like a failure. Which I know is ridiculous. Without going into too much detail I was going through quite possibly one of the most difficult times I have ever experienced. Not just because of my mental health issues – there was much more going on – but as anyone that struggles with their mental health knows, it always seems to make things so much worse and harder to cope with.

    Having this important break from social media and my blog wasn’t a conscious decision either, I simply didn’t get a second to think about it and if I did I couldn’t stomach it. Everything else took over and I thought of nothing else.

    Back from a mental health break

    Having mental health issues and dealing with crisis situations is so hard. I’m not saying it’s easy to deal with difficult situations easily when you don’t have issues but for me, my anxiety and BPD seem to push me and drain me to the point of complete exhaustion.

    So ask for help!

    HA!

    I wish it was that easy. Anyone that knows me will know that asking for help is almost an impossibility for me. Not because I don’t want or need help. Not because I’m too proud. I just don’t think I deserve help. I would feel like a burden and be eaten up by guilt, so for me it’s easier to struggle on.

    But, anyway, hopefully that difficult period is over and I am back to normality. I have some exciting things coming up in the future, my new pregnancy (blog coming next week) my charity Clear Mind Happy Mind that I am working on with a friend has some exciting things planned and lots of new content for my blog.

    I have even started doing self care every day!! Shock!

    Watch this space.

    Take care and stay strong.

    Love Amy x

    Mental Health

    How it feels to be let down by the mental health system

    I have just recently had an appointment with my new CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse), my 7th in 5 years. I had an 8 month wait despite being in a vulnerable situation, having just given birth and suffering post natal depression for the second time. Anyway, I decided to give this CPN the benefit of the doubt.

    But, unfortunately the short meeting was full of promises that things will change, they don’t know why I haven’t been contacted and forced apologies for why they no longer offer the services I need.

    I literally want to scream sometimes – this is how it feels to be let down by the mental health system time and time again.

    How it feels to be let down by the mental health system
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    Mental Health

    Living with anorexia – what I’m really thinking

    Living with anorexia is hell! It’s hell because of the obvious, starving yourself, calorie counting, obsessiveness, over exercising, laxatives, diet pills but also because there is still so much stigma and misunderstanding around it. Yes that’s right there is still stigma there! Despite many people telling me there is no stigma – there is.

    Going from a size 8 to a size 12/14 when I was pregnant, was so hard the second time around because I was so aware that I wasn’t just going to pop back down to size. I was so anxious as my bump (and everything else) grew. Learning to accept my body changing was so hard, clothes not fitting me was hell! I would get incredibly anxious at just opening the wardrobe.

    Anorexia is also incredibly lonely. I will pretend that all is well and that I am ok but actually inside a storm is tearing through me. My plans and rules for the week are whizzing around my head, leaving me preoccupied and forgetful. I’m planning how I will avoid foods. How will I fit in more exercise. How many diet pills and laxatives I can take. Doing this kind of planning makes me feel in control and makes me feel safe.

    Living with anorexia - what I'm really thinking

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    Mental Health

    Back from a mental health break

    **Trigger warning**

    So it’s been 6 weeks since I’ve posted a blog post. But I am back from a mental health break.

    It’s felt strange not posting but I know why I took a break – I had to really. It wasn’t something that I thought a lot about, it was, unfortunately something I didn’t have a choice over. I had become so stressed. I was overwhelmed, depressed and anxious. At it’s worst I hit rock bottom. The black clouds had descended over me and I really felt empty and numb and that is the scariest place for me to be.

    Back from a mental health break

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    Mental Health

    Being positive when dealing with depression

    Being positive when dealing with depression is hard. Near impossible at times, believe me I know. But trying to pick out a small bit of of positivity in the sea of black can be so helpful and lead to more positivity and openness to recovery.

    I can understand that reading this some people will be all for it but others might well be telling me to do one! I get it. I am, majority of the time a positive person. I always try to turn negative situations on their head. I try to find a positive reason or solution to problems, I’m a glass half full type of person, even with my depression. However, when my depression and other mental illnesses start to become heavier, when they are weighing me down and turning the world black, I too find it almost impossible to think of anything positive at all. Even the positive things people might point out to me I will turn negative and find a reason why I don’t deserve them.

    Being positive when dealing with depression

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