Our Mental Illnesses Are NOT Your Cute Personality Quirks…

Seriously people. The next time that I hear”Oh I must tidy up, I’m so OCD today” or “Oh she’s up one minute and down the next – she’s so bipolar!” I am going to stuff my walking stick right up that person’s asshole and turn them into a fucking lollipop. I swear I am.

Listen up people. Suffering from mental illness is no triviality and neither is it a fucking joke. I have struggles with several mental health issues, OCD and bipolar being two of them, so it really does set my teeth on edge when I hear someone coming out with an off the cuff, totally fucking moronic comment like that.

When we said we wanted mental health disorders to be spoken about more, we didn’t mean for you to appropriate them into your everyday conversations.

Lately (and unfortunately), it is becoming something of the norm that mental health disorders find their way into everyday discussions, and not in the way we’d like them to. I can’t count on my hand how many times I’ve heard someone who’s had a minor inconvenience or mishap go on to complain about how ‘depressed’ they are. Not only is it infuriating, but it’s hurtful.

For those diagnosed with depression, you’ll know it’s not something that suddenly happens after something goes wrong, or you’ve had a ‘bad day.’ It’s a constant state, you’re trapped in it, and it is definitely not something that can be used as an adjective.

No, Sarah, just because your boyfriend hasn’t texted back in three hours, doesn’t mean you’re not depressed.

You are upset, sad, down, blue (see ‘unhappy‘ in the thesaurus for more synonyms) but you are certainly not depressed.

However by comparing your sadness to a mental health disorder, what you’ve done is silence the kid three seats down from you who’s been dealing with this disorder for months, who’s struggling to wake up every morning, who’s on medication just to get them through the day.

You’re comparing a moment of sadness in your life, to a lifetime of theirs.

But it’s not just depression that is used as an adjective, it’s next to all mental health disorders. I remember sitting in class once whilst a group of teenage boys were stalking a girl’s Instagram page. They reached a picture of her where she looked skinny, slim, and thin, and all they could think to say was, “Wow, she’s so anorexic!” I was thinking to myself, “Really? Out of all the words to call her, you had to relate it back to a mental health disorder?”

The list goes on; calling someone who organizes their work neatly on a table ‘OCD’, calling someone who’s mood has changed from the last time you saw them ‘bipolar’, not getting a good nights sleep and complaining that you must have ‘insomnia.’ They are not adjectives, they are our real mental health disorders that real people face. We have not come forward about them for you to simply misdiagnose yourself after one incident.

So next time you feel the need to compare your sad moment. tidying of your room or unexpected mood swing to a mental health disorder, open a thesaurus. There are plenty of synonyms; use a different one.


Things You Take For Granted…

There are many things in this life that we all take for granted and are not in the slightest bit grateful that we have the ability to actually do them and do them without even thinking about it.

Little things like brushing your own hair and brushing your own teeth are so underrated… until you cannot do them by yourself. I cannot brush my own hair. My carer is awesome, but has so much to cope with that little things like my hair get forgotten about. Then I end up feeling guilty that I have to ask. Then half an hour later I have to ask again as it has been forgotten and so on and so on. I end up in floods of tears as I feel like I’m nagging for something that is so simple that is so simple, I should be able to do this for myself. Yet I can’t. I try to lift my arms up to get my hands to my head and my shoulders crack and searing agony shoots across the top of my body. My shoulders will not move more than an inch before they crack and pop, and if I’m not careful, they will dislocate. That, my dear readers hurts like a bee-otch I can tell you. I can’t brush my own freakin’ hair and I hate myself for it. I feel so freakin’ useless because of it. I really miss just being able to lift up the brush, style and go.

Brushing my teeth. That, like most of the hygiene related tasks that I can relate to is so difficult. On the good days when I can stand at the sink, I have an electric toothbrush, but when I can’t make it? I have to use listerine strips.

All of these little things. Hygiene, dressing, getting to the loo and even pampering yourself. Little things that you take for granted when you are “healthy”. You simply do not realise just how much you miss them until you can not do them, and the effect that this can have upon you as a person can be quite devastating, it really can.

I miss ironing. Yes, I know that you will all recoil in horror, but I genuinely did love ironing. I would put on some classical music and happily stand there till it was all ironed. Socks, underwear, towels, the lot. Even something as mundane as housework. Even things you hate (for me that was hoovering) but ironically I even miss that.

I guess that my point here is that you do not realise just how valuable little mundane aspects of your life truly are. Things that you would do without even thinking about it. Spreading your own butter on a piece of toast. Opening a can of fizzy juice. Those are the kinds of things that you do not miss until they are no longer a part of your everyday life.

I’m slowly learning how to cope with this aspect of my illness, and every day that passes, I become a little more adept at coming to terms with what I no longer have the ability to do due to my illness. I’ll never be completely over it but in life, we must learn to adapt when our circumstances change and we cannot prevent it.

I guess that what I am trying to say is this. Never, ever be upset or ungrateful about little things. Be glad, be happy that you can pick up that iron or push that hoover. Be glad you can make your own cup of tea or coffee. Be glad you can stand in the shower and not have to sit on a chair and have someone wash you while you are there.

Give thanks every day for the small stuff. Never ever lose that, and always love your life.

Well, I guess that is all for this time so I’ll finish here.

Be kind to each other.x

Misophonia – The Hatred of Sound…

So, what is this weird assed sounding condition that you’ve never heard of before? Misophonia literally translates as “hatred of sound”. It really is a horrible thing to suffer from and the impact of suffering from it can only be truly understood by another sufferer of the condition. It truly can be a nightmare to live with.

However, a person with misophonia does not simply hate all sound. People with misophonia have specific symptoms and triggers and are sensitive to only certain sounds and occasionally to visual triggers. Any sound can become a problem to a person with misophonia but many are some kind of background noise. People call the collection of sounds that they’re sensitive to their trigger set. It is possible to add to one’s trigger set over time. Exposure to a trigger sound elicits an immediate negative emotional response from a person with sound sensitivities. The response can range from moderate discomfort or annoyance to full-fledged rage and panic. Fight or flight reactions can occur. During a trigger event, a person may become agitated, defensive or offensive, distance themselves from the trigger, or act out in some manner.

I first began to realise that something was “wrong” with my hearing my hearing when I remember being so infuriated by the sound of my ‘father’s’ chewing that I could have quite cheerfully have gouged out his eyes with a rusty spoon. I very quickly came to realise that eating/chewing sounds from anyone would begin to infuriate me so much to the point where I literally have to leave before high fiving them. In the face. With a chair. It gets to me that point where calmness is not an issue and I have to back away from the sound.

I have been lain awake being tortured by the sound of my own heart beating. Obviously it is a good thing to know that your heart is beating. But I’ve been thrashing around for several hours, trying in vain to escape the sound. Imagine being filled with an irrational hatred of that sound, or of pretty much any sound? Hearing people breathing/snoring literally makes me want to slap them with a wet kipper.

The one sound above all others that fills me with utter rage is whistling. The sound seems to find it’s way right down into the middle of my brain and stay there. Hearing someone whistle really does fill me with murderous rage. I’ve had to say “either you shut up or one of us leaves the room”. My hatred of the sound of it is so bad. Other sounds also affect me. Cracking fingers & knuckles, making noises with lips, tongue and cheeks and people pronouncing words the wrong way on purpose like “horsey worsey”. Aaaaaaaargh! Baby talk also drives me crazy!

The sound of fingernails scraping down a chalkboard is unpleasant to many people.

But this is a very mild example of what people with misophonia experience when exposed to a trigger sound. It lacks the intensity a misophonia sufferer experiences and doesn’t have a strong negative emotional component. Not liking something, even if very strongly, is unlikely to cause a person to feel like lashing out at the source of the offending sound. Also, it is unlikely to produce an actual fight or flight reflex. The people closest to the person with misophonia often elicit the most problematic triggers. This can make personal relationships difficult and stressful. An environment known to include trigger sounds can limit social activities because the person with misophonia anticipates problems. Consequently, a person with misophonia can pull back from family and friends in an attempt to reduce the symptoms that they experience when triggered.

People with misophonia are aware that the sounds that trigger them don’t bother other people.

A person with misophonia does not always have any control over their work environment. A coworker munching on food may be too distracting or even produce a full-fledged panic attack. An environment that will not or cannot accommodate the needs of a sound sensitive person can result in anxiety for the person with misophonia. It may also challenge supervisory staff. At times, the sound environment can be enough of a problem to make keeping the job intolerable. A school environment can be similar; having a long-term negative impact if it interferes with the ability to learn or socialize. When exposed to a trigger sound, some people feel the need to mimic what they hear. Mimicry is an automatic, non-conscious social phenomenon. It can have a calming effect and make the situation feel better to the person experiencing stress. There is a biological basis for how mimicry lessens adverse reactions to triggers because it evokes compassion and empathy.


Those with misophonia can be reluctant to share their symptoms and triggers.

To them, sharing can have uncertain outcomes. Sometimes, people purposefully mock those with sound sensitivities. Also, they may make exaggerated trigger sounds in order to intentionally cause distress. Unfortunately, some family, friends, co-workers, and others minimize the problem. A person with misophonia is sometimes told: “try to ignore that sound,” or “you’re just being difficult,” or “don’t let it get to you.” Suggestions like these are not helpful. It is not simply a matter of making a conscious decision. People with misophonia cannot ignore their triggers any more than a person with epilepsy can will themselves not to have seizures. On the other hand, there are those who are supportive and offer encouragement. Anyone with a problem or difficulty appreciates a helping hand now and then. If you know someone with misophonia and want to help them cope with the disorder, all you need to do is ask what you can do to help.

List of Common Triggers:

Please note, some say that reading about triggers has the potential to make one take on new triggers. This is only true for some people and is not universally experienced by all people. Also, some people avoid hearing or imagining sample trigger sounds for the same reason. If you think that learning about new trigger sounds could in any way be a problem for you, then there’s no need to read the lists below.

Mouth and Eating: “ahhs” after drinking, burping, chewing, crunching (ice or other hard food), gulping, gum chewing and popping, kissing sounds, nail biting, silverware scraping teeth or a plate, slurping, sipping, licking, smacking, spitting, sucking (ice, etc.), swallowing, talking with food in mouth, tooth brushing, flossing, tooth sucking, lip smacking, wet mouth sounds, grinding teeth, throat clearing and jaw clicking.

Breathing/Nasal: grunting, groaning, screaming, loud or soft breathing, sniffling, snorting, snoring, sneezing, loud or soft talking, raspy voices, congested breathing, hiccups, yawning, nose whistling and wheezing.

Vocal: humming, muffled talking, nasally voices, overused words such as um or ah (repeated words), sibilant sounds (S, P, T, CH, K, B sounds), singing, gravelly voices, bad singing, soft whisper-like voices and whistling.

Environmental: clicking from texting, keyboard/mouse, TV remote, pen clicking, writing sounds, papers rustling/ripping, ticking clocks, texting and cell phone ringtone.

Utensils/metals: dishes clattering, fork scraping teeth, silverware hitting plates or other silverware and rattling change in pockets.

Plastic: water bottle squeezing/crinkling, breaking hard plastic and bouncing balls.

Wrappers: plastic bags crinkling/rustling, plastic bags opening or being rubbed and crinkling food packages.

Cars: sitting idling for long periods of time, beep when car is locked, car doors slamming, keys banging against steering column and turn signal clicking.

Heavy equipment: lawnmowers, leaf blower, air conditioners and chain saws.

Impact sounds: other people’s voices, muffled bass music or TV through walls, doors/windows being slammed and basketball thumps.

Animal noises: dogs barking, bird sounds, crickets, frogs, dogs or cats licking, drinking, slurping, eating, whining, dogs scratching themselves and trying to bite their fleas and claws tapping.

Baby: Baby crying, babbling, adults using baby talk and kids yelling.

TV: loud TV or radio. Body Movement related: Foot shuffling (dry feet on floor/carpet) or tapping, finger snapping, foot dragging, heels, flip flops, knuckle/joint cracking, eye blinking, nail biting and clipping, eating, chewing, fidgeting, hair twirling, movements out of the corner of eyes, repetitive foot or body movements, jaw chewing/movement.

I can honestly say at some stage or another in my life I have come very close to causing serious damage all because of one of any of these noises. This is why I wear noise cancelling headphones and simply listen to Classic FM.

So if you have never been officially diagnosed with misophonia but what I have talked about sounds like a clip from your own life, then feel free to leave a comment and we can chat. Misophonia sufferers are not alone.

Why the sound of chewing drives you crazy… no, really!

Bullying in the Workplace…

I have a longstanding history of being bullied. I was bullied by my so called ‘father’ until I broke all contact with him at the age of 16. Why was he a bully? Apart from the fact that he was a violent, alcoholic asshole, I honestly don’t know. My best guess is that he made himself feel bigger by making me feel small. I was badly bullied at school, from the age of 9 to the day I left at 16.

All of this had combined to give me some serious self confidence issues. I felt less than nothing. It was heartbreaking for me. I always tried my very best to be a valuable person, to integrate into whichever team or group of people I was in and to blend in.

It never happens to me. I never blend in. I am always the one that may as well have a flashing blue light above her head and a bullseye painted front and back.

I had wanted to be a nurse for a long time. Yet my father did not like that idea and was making every effort he could get to bully me into going to uni to study Law. When I got my first college form, he swept it out of my hand and demanded they were changed to Law, Sociology, psychology and his favourite chemistry. (No’ frikkin’ way jose!) He threw me out of the house two weeks after my mum’s funeral. I was 16 years old. The woman who he threw me out for was the woman he left my mum for. I’m glad I didn’t have to be around to see her move into that house and into my mum’s bed.

I had one relationship with an emotionally manipulative bully, whom I managed to escape from. We were together for just two years. Then when I was 19 I met what I thought was the love of my life. He treated me like a princess, married me, and turned into a carbon copy of my ‘father’ – a violent alcoholic. Within a few weeks, I was so under his control I wouldn’t lift up my head unless he spoke to me.

I know all of this is not relevant to workplace bullying. But it is relevant to me as a person and it is important to understand my past in order to understand why my workplace bullying affected me in the place that it did.

I qualified as a nurse at the end of 1995. I was so very excited to have finally become a nurse after three long years of study and hard work. I had always wanted to work in medicine – surgical wasn’t for me. So I was thrilled to get a job on a medical ward.

My first shift was a very quiet one as it was Christmas Day. That was not too bad. I felt a little like a square peg in a round hole, but I put that down to the awkwardness of it being my first day on the ward.

My second day however, everything changed. The deputy ward manager was working with me and asked me to go and get her a specific bag of IV fluid as her patient’s IV was almost finished. It took me about five minutes to locate it as I hadn’t been given a proper tour of the ward and shown where everything was. When I got back to her with the bag of fluid, she screamed at me in front of the whole ward, patients and staff, “Are you dumb?”

That was soul crushing. I could feel the tears stinging the back of my eyelids. I mumbled a sorry and managed to make it to the staff toilets. Then the tears came down thick and fast. I couldn’t believe that she had done that to me in front of the whole ward.

This was the beginning of almost a year of intense bullying and victimisation for me. There was a clique of staff in that ward and if you didn’t fit in to it then you were ostracised and ignored every single day. I was only ever spoken to if it was to make a direct work request or to belittle me. I was ignored, had backs turned to me, was given all the worst shifts and it got worse with every single day that passed.

The bullying got so bad that I would walk around with my head down. I walked to my patients’ beds with my head facing the floor and would only look up when I got to them. It got so bad that I used to cry every single time that I had to go in to work. Then it would intensify and no matter how I tried to be a good nurse and part of the team they hated me. Big time! One of the few people I was friends with there, who was subject to the same kind of bullying told me that one of the staff had said every time she saw me she wanted to slap me. That made me feel awful. It must be me. My husband beat me and now a colleague wanted to? This made my life hell.

Then I found out that one of the junior staff on the ward was going to be moved to a different ward and oh boy did I hope it was me. I couldn’t bear the atmosphere there anymore and was getting more upset day by day.

Then I found out it was me to be moved. First of all, I was told that a draw on names had been done to “make it fair”. A part of me thought oh, ok, at least that makes it all fair. Then it came to the surface that wasn’t the case at all. That horrible cow who had bullied me to the verge of a nervous breakdown had set it up so that my name was guaranteed to come out. I was thrilled to be moving from that hell hole of a ward but the fact that these horrible people could be so mean and pathetic as to set me up and then lie about it like that? I almost felt as if it was a kick to the stomach.

I moved to the new ward and even though the staff were super nice, they were worried about me.

I was referred to occupaitional health and put onto nights (which I loooooved!)

However, one night two very senior managers arrived on the ward asking to see me! *gulp* Oh boy what had I done??? Then they told me to get my cigarettes as I might need them and got ma a mug of coffee! This really was not a good sign!

They were both very kind and put my nerves behind me right at the start. They were here to talk about the the bullying that I had endured for over a year. It seemed to be fate that so many people had gone through the bullying. That so many people were affected was horrifying to me. I should have been and opened my mouth to the nurse director but I didn’t. I started do feel like utter crap for this!

I slowly talked about my experiences and about the fact that my lack of action over the other people was eating me up inside. I got told that right up front it wasn’t my fault, as every single one of us (there were many) that had been victimised by this woman and her clique of cronies all felt the same. We all wishes we had spoken up, but we were all too scared.

The more we talked, the more memories came spilling out. It was like picking a scab. You really wanted to stop, but once you had started, then you had to keep going until all of the scab was gone. I remembered all the little details like them making a tray of drinks (tea and coffee) for them and there was never a cup for me. Offers would be made to go to the canteen on Sunday morning and I was never asked. If I overheard and asked, my order would be conveniently be forgotten every single time. A million and one tiny things very quickly built up and they pushed me right to the edge of breaking. I hadn’t realised just how close to breaking I was. I turned out that this interview was the catalyst that pushed me over the edge and into the abyss.

I sobbed for about thirty minutes non stop as they finished the interview and they were really good. They held my hands and said I may need to give evidence of my experience at a tribunal which made me sob even more but I understood why. They also said I could go home for the night as I wasn’t fit to finish my shift and they would understand if I needed time to heal.

That time to heal turned into almost three months off work. I couldn’t face it. I felt sick to the stomach about going back there and even when I did go back, I didn’t feel confident for a long time.

This whole experience sickened me to the core. Instead of being brave and reporting things, I let them multiply until I became very ill and that was what left me off work for so long.

I’m telling my story now in the hope that I can inspire even one person to have the courage to speak up and speak out about the workplace bullying that they are either witnessing or undergoing.

I am now medically retired due to physical health issues. However I have seriously bad anxiety and paranoia which are attributed in part to the way that I was treated by that group of people at work. I would seriously urge anyone who is going through workplace bullying to please go to someone and speak out. Don’t make the mistakes I did and end up so ill that you cannot function. Don’t suffer. Speak up and speak out for the sake of your sanity. Please don’t suffer alone.

My blog can be found here: https://arwenfreebird.wordpress.coma

Self Care and it’s Importance in Mental Wellbeing…

This might make you laugh. A person who is certifiably mad… yes madder than a mad thing from the planet mad… as mad a box of badgers… as mad as cheese… and any other description that you can come up with… yep, I’m mental. So how the hell can I talk to you about self care and mental wellbeing? Well that is exactly what I’m here to try and do.

I’ve never thought that I’ve had much of a talent or gift for writing. I never thought my brain was that much of a clever thing, being more of a lump of wet putty hiding out in a corner, rearing up like one of the zombies from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video and screaming noooooooooo! I will not think! I will not be creative!

This time around, it really does have to be my poor soggy wet grey lump that does some thinking about looking after itself and indeed the rest of me.

Self care has always been an alien concept to me. From a very young age I have always been thinking of other people and what makes them happy. Never what makes me happy. Never what is good for me. I’ve always neglected myself in favour of what is right for other people. I guess I was a nurse and a carer before I even knew it.

My grandfather always used to say to me that I was born with an old soul and that I was destined to care for other people. When I was a little girl, my dolls and teddy bears were constantly bandaged in various ways and being “nursed” back to health, only to be bandaged up again. I used to love to help grandpa to look after the animals on the farm and I learned very quickly how to recognise signs of distress in both animals and humans and how to be able to help alleviate that stress.

From a very early age, I knew that I wanted to be a nurse. My ‘father’ was adamant I would be a barrister but he lost the right to tell me what to do when he kicked me out of the house two weeks after my mum’s funeral when I was 16 years old.

It wasn’t an easy time for me and there was a lot of struggle and stress involved. What happened then is another post for another time however and not what I’m aiming to talk about at this juncture. I’m trying to talk about my mental health right now.

I first started to display OCD tendencies at the age of almost 10 years old. It started out that I had to scrub each part of my body fifty times before I would feel clean. If I couldn’t manage the count to fifty swipes of the flannel then I wouldn’t feel “even” and both my mother and my grandmother would be hurt. That is the fear that was eating away at me. Then I became obsessed with the idea of putting bleach in the bath to get me clean. I got as far as pouring it in and getting one foot in before my grandmother came in and stopped me from doing it. Ever since that night, I’ve been unable to stomach the smell of bleach. But because I couldn’t do it? I pulled out bits of my hair for hours until I fell asleep

That was the development of my trichitillomania. Whenever I get anxious about something or can’t do what I need to do, my hand automatically reaches up to the side of my head. I always tend to go for the same two spots every single time that I need to do it. So I have two patches, one on either side of my head, where the hair is very short and wispy.

This is where the self care starts to come into the equation. I bought myself some pretty hair ties, the type you can do in a bow or a knot on top of your head. They work really well to hide those patches. What else I discovered was my passion for brightly coloured wigs. I probably own wigs with every colour you can think of in there somewhere. I’ve got a wig head that I can brush and style them on before I put them on my head and it really does make me feel like a different person.

That, to me, is a vital part of self care. Knowing the things that make you happy, whether they are big or small.

Then I talked about my recent foray into the wonderful world of Lush in a recent blog post and how looking after my skin has made me feel so much better.

The key here is not to try to take huge leaps into doing things for yourself. Spend some time thinking about you and what it is that you like and what it is that makes you happy. Those little things can make all the difference. I realised two things recently. The first is, it’s ok not to be ok and the second is you can put yourself first.

Be kind to yourselves.x

A Review on My Latest Lush purchases…

Well dear readers. This was the time that I decided that I was really going to make an uber conscious effort to look after my skin. As I have slightly sensitive skin, but not too bad, I wanted to try a brand of skin care that would not only care for my skin in a kind and environmentally way but would also smell the dogs doodah’s 🤣🤣🤣

So what was the choice then?

Without any shadow of a doubt I knew right away that I would be going to none other than the amazing, the incredible Lush!!! (Damn, I should be on some kind of commission here!) 🤣🤣🤣 But all joking aside, Lush have always wowed me with just how amazing their products are. The only little downside is glitter and bits stuck into the bathbombs. It just means that will go down into the ocean. Day-um Lush, you smell good enough without any of that crap. You don’t need it!!! My favourite Lush bath item is a melting marshmallow moment which you just plop into a hot bath and climb in there to be transported on a smell of wonderfulness. I also love snow fairy shower gel. Its like a melting marshmallow bomb to make you smell ooooooooh pretty. I buy about three bottles a year when it is released as it only ever comes out at Christmas. Hold up… I’m not supposed to be talking about melting bath bombs and marshmallow smelling ones at that! I’m supposed to talking about my ravaged skin and what I’m doing with it.

All items are from Lush and all are financed by myself.

The hands have it..

Well, they did in this case! I woke up one morning and looked at back of my right hand looked really dry skinned. It looks like injuries that have healed and the surrounding skin has gone a little to wrinkled. The left isn’t far behind.

So for my hands I chose Helping Hands. This stuff is a blessing. If you look at their website they openly admit that they created the cream with nurses in mind. As a nurse who has developed a latex allergy through over exposure and who’s hands will crack and bleed whenever they get dry. I always used to get Diprobase from my GP but this time around, I just wanted to try something that was non chemical and heavy duty, as my hands are, 75% of the time, awful. So, Heavy Duty here we come! There is honey, lavender, chamomile and marigold, linseed, almond butter, cocoa butter and shea butter. All of this mixed together to create the most wonderful smelling cream! It looked like I had new skin within minutes of using it! I will advise you is not to put any on if you meet to hold a pen in the next ten minutes. It is so rich, it does take a little time to soak in. But I love, love, LOVE, this hand cream and it gets a definite 8/10. It costs £8.25 for 100g so it’s a real bargain. Please trust me when I tell you that you need only the tiniest amount and it goes for miles!

On to the face…

This was the main subject of my little self care project. I have to slap my skin into shape before  wrinkles invade and my face looks like it needs plowing not moisturising!

To start off, I needed to choose a darn good cleanser. I’ve always had a bit of a thing about beauty and make up products smelling good, so it had to be Lush’s Let The Good Times Roll. It has the most amazing buttery popcorn smell you want to stick your finger in the pot and eat it instead of putting it near your face. It is really simple to use. You need take a piece of the cleanser, probably the size of a sprout in the palm of your hand and then add a couple of drops of water at a time until you can mix it into a paste. Then run the paste all over your face and neck whilst avoiding your mouth and eyes. When you are ready, rinse it off with warm water and pat your face dry. As soon as I have dried my face, I can feel my skin, especially on my cheeks tighten up and feel fresher. I do have to resist the urge not to lick my face though! Oh my it smells sooooooo good!!! A definite 10/10 on this one! It costs £7.50 for 100g and is worth every penny.

So, from cleanser to toner and sticking with Lush here comes Eau Roma Water. This is like a kiss in a spray bottle for sensitive skin. It has rose water which is excellent to calm and reduce redness while lavender water calms and softens the skin. It is £9.50 for 250g and you only need to spray a small amount to go a long way. A 9/10 product here!

Finally we move onto the serious business of moisturiser. The boss bitch of any make up routine! Given that concern over my increasingly ageing skin was the reason I started with this little self care routine, I wanted to be sure that I got the right one for me. So I read the website carefully and also looked at other people’s views of the moisturisers and finally I decided upon Imperialis. My skin can be greasy one day, then bright red, dry and itchy the next day. It really does not know what it wants to do sometimes. This cream is exactly right for me! It has lavender, St.John’s Wort, sweet violet, sunflower, elderflower and mullein which help to balance, restore and calm the skin. It’s another one of these miracle creams that you only need a tiny bit of and it just goes forever! I love it so much! I cleansed, toned and moisturised at 10am this morning and my face is still amazingly smooth! It costs £15.95 for 45g. A definite 10/10 product!

One other thing that I love about Lush is that they take all of their plastic back and reuse it, so it stays in the same cycle and out of landfill. Brilliant!

It seems somewhat crazy that such a simple thing as cleaning your skin in the morning could have such a positive impact on your mood. But self care is one of the most important things anyone who has a mental health issue can do. Care for you. Not everyone else. You matter!!!

Well, I guess that is all for now dear readers. I hope this review was worth your time. See you soon!x

Cut off from the world by my own head…

Mentally, today is not a good day for me. I feel cut off from the entire world by my own head. I am feeling my illness stomping around inside my head, looking to see what damage it can do today.

I see my illness as a complete entity. It’s female as well. Don’t ask me how I now that, I just do. She is a mean and nasty bitch. She takes over part of my head, whether it be my paranoid part, my bipolar part or one of the many other parts she could go for and manipulate.

I just feel that it is so important to get this down before I get too unwell. My carer is with me so the boys are fine (they are 18 and almost 17) and both autistic. As long as they have a games console in front of them and someone pushing food at them along with the occasional can of coke, they are happy.

So back to the she bitch otherwise known as my mental illnesses. She seems to be quite keen to be giving my bipolar a good poking and she has been doing since around 4pm yesterday. Instead of listening to my head and getting the hell off Facebook and getting some rest, I carried on and eventually being that stupid I allowed myself to be triggered over a stupid bullshit news article. I posted in in outrage that could happen in the free world, that people could allow this to happen. Then, one of my best ever friends (and rightly so) posted her reaction to the post.

I lost my shit because I thought that I had upset her ( I know I haven’t now) but at that time it was horrendous. That insidious creeping guilt.

Then my head bitch took over. It almost feels like she locks me in a cage inside my head and I’m rattling at the bars and shouting that I’m in here but people just cannot hear me.

She starts to wind up whichever part of my illnesses that she wants to and she loves to make my life hell. It’s like she has a long list of the things that my ‘father’ and my ‘ex’ used to say to me and she reels them off one after the other so I’m constantly being told just how bad I really am. Then there are times when this illness decides to speak for me. She becomes a spitting, snarling demon who says the most horrible things to those who are closest to me and I cannot stop her at any time. This just breaks me inside, it truly does.

Why am I laying myself low and open to possible inspection and judgement? Because I believe that it is hugely important for people to be aware of what mental illnesses can do to a person and how we can be laid low by this uninvited visitor in our heads.

If you read this and you are feeling the same as, or worse than I do, then I urge you to get in touch with your GP. As soon as you can.

There are other things that you can do within the UK. If you are feeling so low that you can’t see a way out then please get in touch with The Samaritans Their number is 116 123 and it is free to dial from a UK landline or mobile. It’s important to know that the number will not appear on any phone bills, so nobody can check any phone calls that you have made.

There is the SANE line on 0300 304 7000 and they run from 6pm to 11pm 365 days a year.

The silver line on 0800 4 70 80 90 aims to help people over the age of 55. They run 24/7 365 days a year.

CALM is a line for men feeling distressing thoughts and feelings. They are on 0800 58 58 58 and run 5pm to 12pm 365 days a year.

Switchboard, the LGBTQ+ helpline on 0300 330 0630 which runs from 10am to 11pm 365 days a year.

Papyrus HOPEline on 0800 068 4141 are there for under 35’s who are struggling with thoughts of suicide or self harm.

Whomever you talk to, I beg that you talk to someone. Please don’t make the mistake I made and say nothing until it’s too late. There is always somebody who will listen.

It is vitally important that we take the lead and make people hear us. That we show people that mental health problems are nothing to be afraid of or stepped around and ignored. #timetotalk

I’m now needing to get the hell off the internet and cry.

Be kind to yourselves.x

Unboxing my February ’18 Blurt Foundation Buddy Box (subscription box)…

My box arrived yesterday and was wrapped in plastic, which was a little bit of a downer as I couldn’t neatly open it to repurpose it. There was a tear in the corner of the bag. Looking suspiciously like someone had tried to peak inside. However, as the boxes are plain brown apart from some gold lettering and pictures on the lid, it wasn’t possible to see what was in the box. Whoever peeked probably thought, “Dirty cow’s been buying sex toys!” 😜😜😜 However in all seriousness I would like to see some recyclable/biodegradable outer packaging. That would be nice.

Why do I have a Blurt Buddy Box? Quite simple really. It’s my friend Jenna’s fault. Yup. Blame squarely at her door, on her shoulders, however you want to say it. Hahaha, just kidding. Love you dude!

So who are Blurt?

Well, quite simply put, Blurt are like a big cuddle you can get on the internet when you feel like your black dog is snapping at your heels. Whether you are newly diagnosed with depression or have known for a long time, we all occasionally need help. Blurt are here to give that help.

What are Buddy Boxes?

Buddy Boxes are a subscription box service that exist to bring some self care and happiness through your letter box once a month. They also help The Blurt Foundation raise much needed funds to continue its hugely important work. They cost £21.50 a month and postage is free within the UK. They do ship internationally but I’m not sure about costs. They do a Buddy Box which has five items and a Buddy Box Lite which has three. Obviously the Lite box is much cheaper.

I stress at this point in my post that I was not provided to me for free. I received a box from a very kind friend who has bought me a subscription for my birthday.

What’s on the box?

As I mentioned before, the box is a sturdy looking plain brown postage box (fnarr fnarr) and the top of the box is embossed with two gold llamas and the words Buddy Box.

(See what I mean? Sorry my camera just wouldn’t take this picture any better.)

What’s in the box?

I gave said box a jolly good sniff before I took the lid off. There was a definite smell to it but I couldn’t quite make my mind up what that smell was.

February’s box theme was “You’re the llamas pyjamas”.

As the box lid came off, the smell became much more noticeable and distinct. Not an unpleasant smell but not the nicest smell ever. (My favourites being cinnamon, ginger, and patchouli). The box was covered inside with white paper with black llamas drawn on it and was quite cute. Both the gift box and the llama paper could be repurposed so huge brownie points awarded there for sure.

As I peeled back the llama paper, there were two postcards sitting on the top of the contents. The first one was an orange one detailing the contents of the box (which I deliberately avoided looking at so I didn’t spoil my surprise). The other one was blue, with llamas on, along with the words “You’re the llama’s pyjamas”. It’s blank on the back, so that one can be kept in a collection or sent to someone to cheer them up.

Then I located the source of the smell. The stronger it got, the more unpleasant it got. It turned out to be a “fortifying green bath lotion” from MOA. The scents were peppermint, fennel and fir needle. The only smell out of those three that I like is fir needle. I loathe the smell of fennel especially as it smells like aniseed. However I’m not sad about it. You can’t like everything in every box every time right?

Next comes a llama keying craft kit that you can make yourself. It’s super cute!!! However as I have physical conditions that restrict my hand movement, my partner in Buddy Box crime, Jenna, has very kindly volunteered to make the llama keyring for me. She can have my bath lotion as a thank you for that. Strange girl… she likes aniseed.

Next comes a small sachet from “Conscious Water” which is a water enhancer. It has a hint of lychee rose flavour. It’s a tiny sachet, only 5mls but it does flavour your water. The taste isn’t unpleasant, but I don’t think that I would buy it again.

Then my absolute favourite part of the box. A pack of three llama’s pyjamas stickers! They are a decent size too so can decorate drawers, walls, folders, whatever you choose. I am a sucker for stickers I am!

Then we come to the fabulous book. It is called Believe in Yourself and is full of affirmations and things to boost your self esteem. I love it. Sat and read it though with a cuppa. Going to keep it next to my bed so that I can read it when I’m panicking. It’s invaluable.

Just some random page examples.

Finally we have the little “Blurt zine” that has uplifting things in it. It’s only four pages at A6 size so don’t expect it to be huge.

This is the first subscription box that I have ever had and on the whole, I loved it! I loved the whole experience of opening it up and finding the treasures within! OK, I didn’t like the bath lotion. Big whoop. I’m exchanging that in order to get help to have my cute little llama made for me (thank you Jenna!). We can’t expect to like everything, every time as I said. I loved this and cannot wait for March’s Blurt Buddy Box to arrive so I can tell you all about it. Take care and love yourselves people!x

The Demons Inside My Head…

I have many demons running around inside my head. Most are as a result of the abuse that I’ve been through, both as a child and as an adult.

I’m not looking for sympathy here and I’m not trying to hold a pity party for myself. I’m trying to talk about what I’ve been through. Doing it on my blog seems the easiest way for me to do it. I feel physically sick if I try to talk about all the demons inside my head when I am face to face with them. I guess that is why I spend a good half of every Psychiatrist appointment that I have staring at my hands and crying without being to say a single thing.

As I said, I’m not fishing for sympathy and I’m not looking for pity. This is literally the only place that I have where I can vent and I don’t have people looking at me with tears in their eyes. I loathe pity from other people. It makes me a sad victim and whilst I am happy to admit that yes I am a victim #metoo I am not going to admit to anyone that I am pitiful. That is am emotion that I carry round inside of me every single day, and I don’t need more of it from other people .

After an abusive childhood, I fell in love with a man who turned out to be a carbon copy of my first abuser. I escaped from an abusive and violent relationship sometime ago and after that escape, I was sent for counselling. I forced myself to keep it together because I was terrified of any involvement from other agencies. My only priority was to look after my boys and to keep the three of us together as a family and as safe as possible. So I fought with every last ounce of my strength until I managed to get back to my home town, which was a safe distance away. Once we were safe distance away and the court case was resolved in our favour, I felt like I could get on with life.

But there was one slight problem here… as I tried to fight on through life and be all “normal”, cracks started to appear in my armour. I was conscious that I was permanently exhausted and I went to see my doctor. Half way through the exam, out of nowhere, I cracked and burst into floods of tears. I didn’t tell my doctor everything. She already knew enough of my history. She told me I was seriously clinically depressed, and started me on an antidepressant.

After four months, I was getting worse and not better. I was self harming. I had suicidal thoughts and was having real anxiety and panic attacks. I was switched onto Citalopram and told to come back in another three months. I lasted eight weeks. I was back at my doctor’s door in hysterics. I was put onto a third antidepressant, Venlafaxine. This medication also has, supposedly, some anti anxiety effects. After eight weeks on this medication, my mood started to lift a little bit, but my anxiety was horrific. I was also extremely paranoid, having peaks and troughs in moods that could be very severe and I was having flashbacks. These were like it happening all over again. There was touch, taste, smell, everything. The night terrors were also hugely debilitating and left me exhausted through lack of sleep. I was so physically unwell (another blog post for another time) that becoming mentally unwell in the way that I did was really scary for me.

After being forced to change doctors because of a move, I was initially terrified of how a new doctor would see me. This turned out to be the best thing that had happened in a long time. The new doctor did a referral to a Psychiatrist which my old doctor had been refusing to do for a long time. I was so relieved but so scared at the same time.

I had to wait months for my appointment (such is life) and finally the day came. I was shaking like a leaf and sobbed the whole way through. The doctor I saw was not the consultant, but his registrar. I would be seen by him several times and then seen by the consultant. The day finally came for me to see the consultant and he looked liked santa! That’s the first thing my addled brain conjured up for conjecture. He was really sweet and walked me step by step through all of the notes that the other doctor had taken. He thought about things and then he said to me that the reason that I had been feeling so ill is that I had several conditions making me that way.

The evilest of all of my illnesses is bipolar. I suffer with bipolar one which is the more severe of the two. This is due to the fact that I have manic episodes that last for longer than a week at a time and also severe depressive episodes. Mine is also rapid cycling, which means that I have more than four events of severe depression and mania a year. This illness leaves me unable to lift my head off the pillow. I don’t care about eating or dressing and I can’t do anything at all. Yet when I am manic? Oh boy, I’m not good to be around! I’ve been told it’s scary.

Along with my Bipolar 1, I have also been diagnosed with C-PTSD. It’s complex because it stems from more than one event. Even now, the flashbacks are very real and can bring me to my knees. Next comes the Parasomnia (night terrors to me and you). Dreams so vicious and so violent that you wake up in tears, shaking and have palpitations. Next we have severe social anxiety, panic disorder and paranoia which rule my life and can cripple me on a daily basis. I hate it so much. Then comes my OCD. Something that rules my life so much, there are days when I cannot move without completing the rituals in my head. Then come my phobias. I have several, so I’ll try to remember them all and what they actually mean. The most debilitating one for me is agoraphobia. The ONLY time that I leave my house is for a medical appointment and even then I have to be sedated. Then comes arachnophobia (hate spiders!), claustrophobia, dentrophobia (dentist), haphephobia (being touched), nyctophobia (fear of the dark & night time), telephonophobia (I am terrified of speaking on the telephone) and I’m also terrified of strong winds, but I can’t remember the name for that one of the many. Last but by no means least is Misophonia. I have an irrational loathing of certain sounds, which leaves me wanting to stick a fork in the noise maker’s eye.

I’ve since been started on a number of psychiatric medications which do help a small amount. Yet nothing takes it away. I’ve had every therapy in the damn book and still I suffer. Every damn day…

So as you can see. The demons in my head are alive and well.

Things those of us with anxiety wish you knew…

Mental illnesses like general anxiety disorder (GAD) don’t discriminate, no matter what your race, background, or socioeconomic status is. That said, women are 60 percent more likely than men to have an anxiety disorder, so chances are, you or someone close to you is dealing with it. It could be anyone — even that gorgeous, friendly woman you sometimes commute to work with. When it comes the “type” of person wrestling with this illness, don’t get sucked into what the media portrays — there isn’t one type.
People with anxiety disorders are struggling behind closed doors more than they are in public, and just because they seem put together when you meet them for weeknight cocktails doesn’t mean they’ve got it all figured out. Having suffered from acute anxiety — it was tied up with my binge eating disorder (BED) — since I was a teenager, I have learned a few things about getting people to understand the struggles I go through. The best gifts I ever received from friends were space and understanding. The more you hover over somebody with anxiety, the quicker you will push them away, the faster you will make them feel like they’re abnormal.
The assistance we do need isn’t always what you think it is though, like taking us to the doctor. We might just need a pair of ears to hear us out — or some alone time. The most important thing is to love us unconditionally and never make assumptions about our condition.
Here are 11 things people with anxiety want you to know.
1. Social Gatherings Are Hard
Parties are no fun. Neither are baby showers. We would rather watch paint dry than go to a big wedding where everyone is dolled up — and chatty. With anxiety disorders comes stress in large social situations, particularly when it’s an event where everybody is smiling and celebrating a happy life event. If we turn down an invite, it’s not because we don’t love you — the party might just be genuinely overwhelming to us.

2. Sometimes We Just Don’t Feel Like Laughing

People who see us on edge automatically assume that the best thing to do is tell a joke, or do something silly to make us smile.
There’s a difference between forcing us into laughter and lightening the mood; the former always comes off as inauthentic — because it usually is — while the latter can be done naturally, without making us feel like we’re being treated in a loony bin. Don’t force us to laugh, please.

3. This Doesn’t Define Us

Please don’t whisper about us behind our backs and label us according to what kind of anxiety disorder we harbor (I swear, I was once dubbed Nervous Nancy). This disease doesn’t make up our entire identity; that’s a fact we lose sight of at times, which just makes us feel worse about ourselves, so try to steer clear of insensitive comments and nicknames. Instead, remind us of all the reasons we are wonderful — no harm can come out of that.

4. Things That Don’t Affect You Bother Us

I’m talking about those little, tiny, minute occurrences that you probably don’t even give a second thought to, like having you come over to our apartment for the very first time. Our brains are wired differently, and we might even be dealing with some chemical imbalances, so those small things make our minds run wild while you can merely shrug them off and continue on with your life. If we seem a little nervous, please don’t make fun of us, or make us feel guilty.

5. We’re Physically Exhausted

In case you haven’t heard, the mind and body are intricately connected, so if one is facing difficulties, the other will visibly suffer. People with anxiety disorders tend to live in a hyper-tense state, especially when they’re not getting the treatment they need. This causes the heart rate and blood pressure to rise, and our digestive system might not be working properly. Be gentle with us if you see that we’re tired and cranky, because we probably didn’t sleep at all last night.

6. We’d Appreciate The Space To Vent

It’s hard to find a good enough friend or family member out there who can listen to our troubles without passing any judgment whatsoever. If you could be that person for us, we’d love you forever. The more we bottle stuff up, the more likely we are to have a panic attack or end up locked up in our bedroom, surrounded by Ben & Jerry’s. Plus, nothing is worse than being honest, only to see the person across from us with a disgusted look on their face. Try not to be supportive and non-judgmental — and remember, you don’t have to fix it.

7. We’re Trying Our Hardest

Just because you don’t see us running to a therapy session every Wednesday doesn’t mean we’re not doing our absolute best to work on this mental illness. It’s really, really hard being trapped in this head constantly and not fully understanding all the emotional phases that pass by. Please don’t assume that we aren’t aware of our troubles. We. So. Are. And we’re doing our best to heal ourselves, in our own ways.

8. We Appreciate You

Yeah, it’s hard to say out loud, but we love all the support and encouragement you give us. We might not show it, and that’s only because we get so caught up in trying to make sense of the chaotic, demanding world around us. So, thanks for late-night chats and the text messages that are meant to bring us out of hiding on a weekend night. We’re trying to get better at saying thank you more often.

9. We’ll Never Be Just Like You

There might be a “normal” mold out there that you and many other people fit into — and we may never be granted citizenship on that land. There’s nothing wrong with that, so don’t make us feel like there is. We might never be interested in Halloween parties or Saturday morning yoga classes, no matter how rad you think they are. Let us be our own people, and, I promise, we’ll have a much better shot at getting along.

10. We Don’t All Need Medication

It far too common: people struggling with a mental illness are told that we should think about a certain kind of medication. But what works for your younger, manic depressive cousin may not necessarily work for us. Some respond well to anti-anxiety prescriptions, while it exacerbates the symptoms of others. Instead of telling us we need to take pills, ask us openly if we’ve ever considered it. We’ll tell you where we stand.

11. You May Never Know The Whole Story

Countless parts of illnesses like GAD are suffered behind closed doors. We don’t like being the center of attention, so we do everything we can to hide all the awful things we’re going through; this could mean that we aren’t going to tell you everything when you ask us to share our personal stories. Don’t take it personally — we’re either not ready yet to reveal corners of ourselves, or we’ve decided that there are some things we’d prefer to keep private.