What a Lonely Life…

I’ve been feeling very lonely recently. Despite the fact that I have people that I can talk to via messenger or WhatsApp I feel so freakin’ lonely it is unreal.

I’m not a person that likes to be with a lot of people physically. I am happy with my family – my manshape (as I call the other half) and my two boys. This is all I need. I don’t need to be surrounded by loud chattering people. I have a condition called misophonia (which I have blogged about before) and being in a loud social situation can be hell for me. I find it so difficult to cope with. I’m a hermit, a loner, a recluse. I just do not blend well with other people, I really don’t.

Yet I love to chat with people online. It’s a great way for me to facilitate a social circle whilst maintaining my privacy and keeping to myself.

I’m severely telephone phobic and can’t bring myself to talk on the phone unless I absolutely have to. The rest of the time, my carer will speak on my behalf. Even looking at the phone which is sitting on a little table at the end of the living room – I can feel my pulse picking up… my anxiety is climbing and I’m starting to panic. I feel safe with my mobile phone because I know inside my head that all it is used for is writing my blog pieces, texting and using WhatsApp. That is my safety blanket with it.

I had to take a break for half an hour in writing this as my anxiety got to be way too bad. My carer has got me upstairs and settled me into bed and I have had a Valium. I’m slowly starting to feel a little more human now. Well, as human as is possible for me (which is not very).

Back to the point of this piece. I’m feeling inexplicably lonely. What is wrong with me? I don’t want to go out and socialise. Agoraphobia and a love of my own company have seen to that. But for some bizarre reason I feel so disconnected from myself and feel like I am in free fall just spinning time and space with nothing to anchor myself to.

I can’t cope with Facebook or Twitter. It is all just too much. I feel overwhelmed by the number of people on there. I don’t feel very together at the moment. Not one bit. I feel very down. Like my bipolar is going into a crash. When that happens, I can’t cope with anything or anybody and I need to hide away. The weird thing is that I still feel lonely and afraid. I know that as my mood gets even lower, then that feeling will slowly dissipate and I will just feel numb and hollow inside. That is all. Nothing else.

I can’t reach out to anyone at all. Life is very regimented for me. Yet another issue – my OCD. I can’t reach out because people just don’t seem to understand just how bad things can get for me and how low down this illness can actually take me. So I guess I shall be lonely all on my own today. Thank you very much for reading.

Be kind to each other.x

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Why Take Those Stupid Pills – They Won’t Work You Know (NOT)…

I’ve had many people say that they think that antidepressants are just chemical wastes of time and do nothing to help you. Au contraire! It took me three attempts to get the right medication for me. OK, I had better tell you which ones I had. I will do so in a minute.

I’ve just heard so much stuff recently about blah blah, antidepressants bad, blah blah antidepressants evil, etc etc. I hear people saying things like “Ooooooh, you don’t need those pills! Just get up and go for a brisk walk in the fresh air!” Ummmmm, no. Just no. That is not a cure for severe depressive disorder. If you haven’t been there, if you haven’t suffered and had the big black dog barking at your heels then you have no idea at all what the hell of having a major depressive illness is like. You just don’t.

When I first acknowledged my depression in 2005, I had already been suffering with it for 15 years. My abusive marriage is what caused me to spiral down into it. Events from my childhood also played a major part in this whole thing.

So, this all came to light when I was seeing a clinical geneticist at my local hospital. She noticed that I could not stop crying and she just said to me, “Has anyone ever validated your emotional pain for you?” That was it. The damn burst and I was bawling like a newborn. She called my doctors surgery then and there and made me an appointment. I was taking the first step towards finding out just how crazy I really was.

My doctor first of all started me on Prozac. The famous, so called “happy pill”. It did absolutely sweet fuck all to make me happy. All I had were increasing thoughts of self harm and suicide. The self harm had been here before but not the suicide. This was a whole new, and very frightening mindset for me.

After around four weeks of hell on Prozac, my prescription was changed over to Citalopram. Absolutely no difference whatsoever. I was beginning to feel afraid that I would never be able to feel happy again.

After another four weeks, I was started on a drug called Venlafaxine. After around three weeks, I slowly started to feel only slightly better. If I’m honest with you guys? That was a win for me. Given the fact that I’d spent the last couple of months wanting to kill myself, a little bit less depressed was a bonus.

After a little while, my psychiatrist massively increased the dose and it did start to make a significant difference to my mood. There was one other thing. My GP has told me take the medication at bedtime, which I had been doing. My Psychiatrist looked at the box in scorn as he wouldn’t believe me. He insisted nobody would do something like that. Then he saw the pharmacists label on the box and believed me. He said straight away I had to start taking the medication in the morning. Taking the medication at night when I would be asleep wasn’t really the best way to do it. It needed to be in my system at the appropriate time for it to do any good.

Then came a new challenge for me. I began to develop mood swings. I would go from being so low that I didn’t even care about washing. Eating was another thing I didn’t give a flying fuck about. I started to develop the swings in mood from very low and unable to focus to so high and manic that I was like a toddler jacked up on E numbers. *sigh*. It became more. So much more, I became hypersexual and totally loud and overspent in piles of things I never needed. High heeled shoes. Me. I can’t freakin’ walk, why do I need high heeled shoes of all things?

My Psychiatrist diagnosed me as having Bipolar 1 with rapid cycling. I was started on Lithium. I was on it for a long time and then had Depakote added in to my treatment plan. Not too much longer after that, I had got to the point where my worst side effect, a tremor, meant that I could not even hold a cup of tea to drink it or a pen to write a letter. I went in to see my Psychiatrist ready for a battle about Lithium but when I asked about stopping it, he did! Just like that, and upped my dose of Depakote instead.

One thing that also began to develop was my anxiety. It became more and more severe. It got to the point where I would be physically puking if I had to leave the house. I was in the grip of full blown agoraphobia (I have many others but we’ll save those for another time). My anxiety rules my life. It has done for years now. I take Buspirone and I also get 7 Diazepam a month to help me when I have to leave the house. I can’t get out without them.

Of course with anxiety on one shoulder, paranoia wanted to come along and sit on the other one. She whispers in my ear every single day about how shit I am, how ugly, how stupid, how useless… her sister, anxiety, she likes to make my heart pound and my muscles quiver as I feel sick with fear.

I experience hallucinations. Mainly of spiders crawling all over my arms. I have severe arachnophobia and the ones I see are always the size of my fist and hairy. They are terrifying.

I have also been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder and have frequent existential crises. One of the real hard things to deal with is C-PTSD. The many traumas that have contributed to the mess inside my head are responsible for this. Raised male voices are usually the worst trigger. Night terrors also serve to trigger flashbacks too. I take a sleeping pill every other night to try and get some rest. I was also started on Quetiapine to try and help me sleep and help with some of what was going on inside my head.

I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say that my mental health medications have saved my live. I know other people who feel the same way. Many other people. Please don’t be guilt tripped out of taking mental health drugs by people telling fresh and exercise are all you need (of course they are great as a tandem treatment). Don’t be afraid to tell people how you feel. Reach out. Take that help. Don’t do what I did and end up nearly dead before I sought help. Go get help. Now. Please?

What a Lonely Life…

I’ve been feeling very lonely recently. Despite the fact that I have people that I can talk to via messenger or WhatsApp I feel so freakin’ lonely it is unreal.

I’m not a person that likes to be with a lot of people physically. I am happy with my family – my manshape (as I call the other half) and my two boys. This is all I need. I don’t need to be surrounded by loud chattering people. I have a condition called misophonia (which I have blogged about before) and being in a loud social situation can be hell for me. I find it so difficult to cope with. I’m a hermit, a loner, a recluse. I just do not blend well with other people, I really don’t.

Yet I love to chat with people online. It’s a great way for me to facilitate a social circle whilst maintaining my privacy and keeping to myself.

I’m severely telephone phobic and can’t bring myself to talk on the phone unless I absolutely have to. The rest of the time, my carer will speak on my behalf. Even looking at the phone which is sitting on a little table at the end of the living room – I can feel my pulse picking up… my anxiety is climbing and I’m starting to panic. I feel safe with my mobile phone because I know inside my head that all it is used for is writing my blog pieces, texting and using WhatsApp. That is my safety blanket with it.

I had to take a break for half an hour in writing this as my anxiety got to be way too bad. My carer has got me upstairs and settled me into bed and I have had a Valium. I’m slowly starting to feel a little more human now. Well, as human as is possible for me (which is not very).

Back to the point of this piece. I’m feeling inexplicably lonely. What is wrong with me? I don’t want to go out and socialise. Agoraphobia and a love of my own company have seen to that. But for some bizarre reason I feel so disconnected from myself and feel like I am in free fall just spinning time and space with nothing to anchor myself to.

I can’t cope with Facebook or Twitter. It is all just too much. I feel overwhelmed by the number of people on there. I don’t feel very together at the moment. Not one bit. I feel very down. Like my bipolar is going into a crash. When that happens, I can’t cope with anything or anybody and I need to hide away. The weird thing is that I still feel lonely and afraid. I know that as my mood gets even lower, then that feeling will slowly dissipate and I will just feel numb and hollow inside. That is all. Nothing else.

I can’t reach out to anyone at all. Life is very regimented for me. Yet another issue – my OCD. I can’t reach out because people just don’t seem to understand just how bad things can get for me and how low down this illness can actually take me. So I guess I shall be lonely all on my own. Thank you very much for reading.

Be kind to each other.x

I Hate Myself…

I look in the mirror and you know what I see? I see a monster. I hideously ugly monster. I honestly make myself feel sick when I have to look in the mirror. If I could avoid them, I wouldn’t have a mirror in my house but the boys need one. I want to puke when I see my own face. I can hear them both. You’re fat… you’re ugly… you’re hideously foul and they are right. When I see myself in the mirror, that is all I see.

Why do I see this? Apparently, according to my psychiatrist I have something called body dysmorphic disorder. I loathe my face and my body. My physical appearance really does make me sick to my stomach.

I have an awesome partner who tells me that I am beautiful every single day. My problems is that I just can’t accept/believe that it is true. I try very hard to avoid looking at my face. When I have no choice, and I do see it, I actually want to vomit. My foul features and fat and horrible body are enough to make anyone vomit. I just hope that the men who did this to me never ever feel the way that I feel right now. Because I wouldn’t wish this on my own worst enemy.

Be kind to each other.x

Things You Think a Spoonie Won’t Notice – But We Do – And it Hurts…

Being chronically ill is absolutely draining and it can leave a person utterly wrung out to a degree that you can’t imagine. We can be wiped out for most of the day after we have cleaned our teeth (true story – I was literally crawling back to my bed with tears in my eyes). It is a truly shit experience.

Now if you have ever felt this way, you will understand where I am coming from. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, it’s going to be a head scratcher for you. 12th May is Fibro awareness day. Fibromyalgia is the bane of my life. It has destroyed me in so many ways. So I will happily sit in my wheelchair and stamp my booted feet to raise awareness of this utterly vile shitbag of a disease. If you are newly diagnosed then there is a really rather brilliant piece written by a rather fabulous lady called Christine Miserandino. The piece itself is called “the spoon theory” and you can find it here…

https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

Seriously, if you really ache to understand why your partner/best friend/colleague feels the way that they do, then I urge you to go ahead and read this piece of writing. Of course, there are many other pieces written and available on the internet, but I have found Ms Miserandino’s to be the best about.

Where do I start with how my illness has decimated my life and just how certain I am that I know people look at me when they think I’m not looking and mutter some poisonous bullshit under their breath when they think that I cannot even hear them. Well guess what bitches? It’s my body that doesn’t work. I have one ear that can hear just fine and that is more than enough to hear you (if you wanted to know, I sustained hearing loss in my left ear after a firework was thrown at me and exploded near my head).

I was a qualified nurse for 15 years. I worked long and hard shifts and spent many days trying to advance my professional ability. I ended up working as a Macmillan nurse before I escaped a very violent marriage. I ran back home with my kids to Scotland and then mcy diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis (received in 1998) began to make life real hell for me as a nurse. The time came, after that , for me to take a different career pathway.

I had to give up the career that I had loved for fifteen years and that just hurt so much. But my body just was not able to cope with the physical demands of a career like nursing. We had been through a hellish time and I needed to be around for my kids. I took up a part time job in my local food mini market (Co-Op for anybody British).

The kids settled after a while and I was able to extend my hours and earn a little more for them. However, my body had been pushed beyond its limits thanks to the pressure of being a carer and then a nurse as well as all the years of physical abuse that I endured, and in February of 2009, my body finally knocked me on my ass.

I woke up one morning and I couldn’t move. I could only just about flutter my eyelashes and that was it. My partner was amazing. He got me to a doctor who sent me straight in to hospital. After a butt load of tests and scans, I was rocked by a long, long list of diseases. As well as my rheumatoid arthritis which I knew about, I now had osteoarthritis in my spine and neck. I had Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I had osteoporosis, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Type 3, and had also had a stroke and a cardiac murder as well as a small congenital hole in my heart.

This list of diseases has changed my life for the worst. I am now wheelchair bound and need a carer to help me do pretty much everything that I used to be able to do for myself.

So here are the things you don’t think that we notice but we do: When we park in a disabled parking space and our carer comes round to our side of the car with our wheelchair, we see you looking at us like we are just lazy and we don’t need to use that space. Believe me, if I had a choice, I would push my wheelchair into the North Sea if I could! I need that parking space and have more right to it than the yummy mummy in her Chelsea tractor who has just popped in for croissants and coffee on the way home from dropping little Tommy at school. Where is her dirty look? Is it because you think I look too young for this chair? I see your dirty look, and it hurts.

We see you give the dirty look to the young woman or man who desperately dodges into the disabled toilet in the queue at the cinema. You judge them as lazy or not deserving of using the disabled loo. Well just think… that person may be in desperate need of changing their colostomy bag before it bursts all over the cinema foyer. Think people!!! Your selfish judgement can really cut like a knife!!! When that person gets into the bathroom with tears stinging their eyes, they feel ostracised for their illness. As they open the bag to empty it, someone from outside yells, “Eeeeew, what’s that stink?” The person in the toilet? They notice what has been said.

You look at me in my wheelchair. You judge me. I’ve heard people whisper “She’s too young to be in a wheelchair” (I’m 45 – what age do have to be before my butt cheeks can kiss the holy grail of a plastic cushion that is going to make me sweat like a pig all day?) You think I like being stuck in this chair? I hate it with a fiery passion I really do!

So next time that you see someone that doesn’t belong somewhere in your judgement just stop and think. That Spoonie may have a damned good reason for doing what they did. We are invisible illness warriors, but your words can cut us down. THINK before you speak! We hear you every single time… and guess what? It hurts.

Be kind to each other.x

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