How to help…yourself


Yourself.

When it’s no longer just been a down day or a bad couple of weeks. Now you realise it’s turned into months and you’re feeling low all the time or like me you feel nothing…numb. How do you get help? How do you help yourself?

Firstly, I want to say it took me until I was 20 years old to get help, so I get it. It’s really really difficult to do something about it especially when you have no reason to feel this way and also don’t have words to explain how you feel. If you look back to my very first blog I refer to my emotion as “it” because it didn’t fit under any of the emotions we use as humans to express things. “It” kind of looks like a mixture of fog, grey clouds and a black hole all in one and I mean what does that even look like?

Tell someone

It took me to break down over a stats homework to finally pick up the phone to my dad and say I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had no explanation as to why, I had nothing more to tell him than I didn’t want to do it anymore. (Fortunately, I have the most amazing Dad and he knows exactly what to tell me and what to say in that moment.) But without a doubt it was the first step to getting better. Telling someone you can really depend on and trust whether that be a family member, a friend, maybe someone who has been through it will be the best decision you make, I promise ❤.

Whoever you choose, know they are ready and willing to listen. The people who love you DO NOT want you feeling this way so as scary as it is you will be pleasantly surprised. In fact, they have probably been worried about you for a while and telling them you will see the relief wash across their face as they now are going to be able to help you which is something they have wanted to do for so long.

Go to your GP

I tell you to do this and YOU SHOULD but I want to also point out that GP’s don’t always know what to do. It isn’t their fault, they have a 10minute slot with you before the next patient comes in, they have to know nearly every condition under the sun as well as trying to keep up with the latest medical research. Mental health isn’t a quick 10minute fix and most of them know this but still more than likely they will offer you medication, give you a few websites to look up and give you a phone number to refer yourself to a psychologist (which is a 6month waiting list).

All this information and what do you do with it? You’re too tired to get yourself out of bed never mind google these websites or pick up the phone to make an appointment? My advice would be to get the person who you told to help you. My mum was great and tried to help me get a psychologist, so she did a lot of the phone calls to get me the help I needed which was blessing because I used to shake until I felt sick if I had to phone someone. If possible get someone else to make the phone calls, help arrange the appointments and maybe even go with you to them…it might be good having some moral support beside you?

In terms of medication, I am fortunate enough that I study psychology and had a fair idea about the pros/cons of medication. I opted for medication because I needed anything to try and make it better without having to wait for another 6 months but even that was a journey in itself and you can read that in the road to recovery. Also, I think there is definitely a biological basis to mental illnesses so from the research I read I wanted to give that a try. However, now my first advise to anyone who has asked me about medication is try not and take it as a first option!! Hypocritical of me as it is exactly what I did but after experiencing it all myself I think other therapies are crucial in getting better like CBT is great and I would highly recommend!!!

The other stuff

So, you’ve told someone, you’ve been to the doctor and it is going to take time believe me I’m still going through the process and I don’t think I’ll reach the end anytime soon. So, what do you do if you need a bit of encouragement and motivation now? Well, read others stories, follow Instagram pages that inspire you, listen to music that makes you feel excited to do life again. I’m going to give you a list of books and websites that I have found really useful over the years and return to again and again when I need something to motivate me there and then.

Books:

  • Depressive illness: the curse of the strong by Tim Cantopher
  • Reasons to stay alive by Matt Haig
  • The heartache that no one sees by Shelia Walsh
  • Spurgeon’s sorrow: A realistic hope for those who suffer depression by Zack Ewsine

Websites:

If you have any questions about any of it or want me to go into detail in more of it shoot me a message

Much love,

Hannah

xoxox

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How to help…

…a friend?

Being a friend watching from the outside I know how difficult it is to know exactly what to do when your friend hasn’t been themselves recently. You don’t know how to approach it but you also don’t want to ignore it.

Approach them as you usually would.

I know this sounds obvious but at time when you’re worried you can get ahead of yourself and ask 101 questions. Anyone with mental health issues knows the last thing they need is to feel as if they’re under police investigation. So just ask them the normal things, how they’re doing? How is work/studying/school? Have they got plans this week? Don’t pry don’t push just be normal. It’s a difficult thing telling people for the first time that you haven’t been yourself especially when you have no reason as to why it is so, just give it time.

 

Do something they know they would appreciate.

Buy them a coffee, spend some quality time with them, make them dinner whatever you know they will like. Don’t make a deal of it just do it as a nice gesture. With mental health issues whether it be anxiety, depression, schizophrenia etc. the person tends to believe the lie that they are unloved or no one likes them. Doing the small gestures that don’t seem that big a deal to you can change the world to them and remind them they have someone around them who is willing to stand by their side when they need it most. They are so much more likely to talk to you when they remember you really do care about them.

 

If they tell you  

LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN!!! I cannot emphasise this enough. The person struggling has being trying to figure it out for years and I’m sorry to say but it is highly likely that you’re input isn’t going to fix it. I do not doubt they have already thought of everything you are about to tell them. Sit and listen, don’t try to interrupt or put words in their mouths, don’t give them a solution – let them talk. It’s probably taken a lot of courage to tell you so please give them your full attention (*n.b. cup of tea may be necessary at this point*).

 

Advice

Firstly, I guess I would say to reassure them that you’re there for it whenever they need and you’re so glad that they’ve told you. Ask them if there is any way you can help, if they’re finding it difficult to get up in the morning you could offer to make them breakfast so they know they have a reason to get up and they also have the joy of seeing their friend without the hassle of deciding what to eat. Do they need to get out for a while; should you plan to meet up and go for a walk. Do they want to do more exercise; you could do a gym class together. The list is endless so think outside the box.

Secondly, it may that they just needed to get it off their chest and that has helped already but on the other hand you may realise they need more help than you can offer. Don’t force them but suggest to them to visit their doctor (**side note – I know it isn’t always the best thing and I will write a blog tomorrow in more detail about that**). You can offer to go with them for moral support or ask them if they want you to book the appointment because sometimes even lifting the phone to talk to someone can fill you with absolute fear that makes you speechless. The whole idea is make the process for them getting help as easy as possible for them.

 

At risk

If you think someone is at risk of hurting themselves then YOU NEED TO TELL SOMEONE. I can tell you from experience it is not the nicest thing in the world to do and it’s terrifying (sorry for not sugar-coating). I know the fears that they’re going to hate you for a while and they probably will but remember this is someone you care too much about them to let it pass you by. You’re doing them a favour. Usually, it is best to phone a family member their close to who you know would be good help but if you have absolutely no idea who to get in contact with then here are a list of helplines that you can get in touch with 24/7:

Samaritans: 116 123

Childline: 0800 1111

PAPYRUS: 0800 068 41 41

 

We’re all in this weird thing called life together, look out for each other

Love,

Hannah xoxox

When revision takes over

Revision time is always a period when my mental health takes a turn for the worst. I don’t actually know why this is because I LOVE studying (nerd.) but it always leaves me feeling really low.

So here are a few hints and tips I’ve learnt over the last 8 years when it comes to exam time….

1) PLAN PLAN PLAN

Seriously… plan. Sometimes it gets so overwhelming with so much to do and so little time – we all know the feeling.

So firstly, I have a massive poster on my wall where I write all the days of my exams in and shifts for work to give me the overall view/time frame.

Secondly, I have my dairy which is basically a daily planner. Every night (or sometimes morning) I plan my day to a T even to the time it will take me to get places. Okay, this sounds a bit insane but honestly my psychologist suggested it and it has been life changing!! Previously, I would stress myself out because I would plan one thing right after another then realise I didn’t have the time to actually get between the two events. Also, I used to study for hours on end without and break and it was really unproductive so by planning I always factor in times for a break.

2) Plan coffee breaks (tea, hot chocolate, cold drinks what ever takes you fancy)

This is the perfect excuse to catch up with all those friends you’ve been too busy to see throughout the year. I love this time because it means I have something to look forward to in the day and it means I get to see some of my favourite people ❤ this never fails to help ward off mental illnesses.

3) Go for walks

I just do not do well sitting down all day cause I get so bored so when I realise I’ve been sitting down too long I get up and go for a walk – whether that be outside or just a wee nosey round the library it always helps me refocus. Also in case you didn’t realise I LOVE taking pictures so going for a walk always gives me some insta content (LOL). So…. Get your self up off your arse and use the legs you were given, get some fresh air and let your brain re-calibrate.

4) Have a good music playlist

Music is life. Well for me it is as I honestly listen to it 24/7 (I swear there is even music in my dreams). If you are like me and need music to study make sure you have a playlist that makes you feel like that independent women (or man) that you are. You need those songs that make you feel as if nothing can stop you and you are on top of the world. So before you start those long library slogs or before the one start tomorrow make a really REALLY good pick-you-up playlist!!!

5) Targets

Sometimes we go through a 7 hour library day and come out wondering what we actually got done?! You ended up feeling so deflated and unmotivated meaning you feel like CRAP! Set (realistic) targets then by the end of the day you can tick them off and actually look back and realise you absolutely smashed the day. If you don’t reach them all – that’s okay there is always tomorrow or maybe you tried to cram to much into that day. At the end of the day if you’ve ticked off one of your targets you did more than you thought.

6) Change your environment

Finding those four walls around you are making you go insane and you’re starting to hallucinate. Get your stuff and get out. You don’t need to imprison yourself to the same place day in day out, it you find you’re no longer getting anywhere go try somewhere else. Maybe a coffee shop, a different library, a friends house, go outdoors and take some reading you need to get done, your living room. The list is endless – be creative with it and you’ll surprise yourself with how much a different environment can help.

7) If you’re unproductive –STOP!

People hate hearing that – I’ve heard all the comments “Oh, I don’t have enough time” “I have sooo much to do” – okay cool but seriously the more you sit and stare at the screen the less you are going to get done and I’m telling you this from experience. I used to push through and got maybe a total of 2 slides from a lecture done in 3 hours. Now when I know work is going no where I do one of three things – go to the gym, make food or read articles. Everyone is different and enjoy different things so find things that you enjoy doing that take about and hour or so note them down then use them.

8) Laugh

CHEESY AND CRINGY.

I know but do you have a picture/video that always makes you laugh? Maybe your like me and the memes people tag you in make you laugh out loud. Just remember no matter how down you feel find at least one thing in the day that will make you laugh. Every smile counts ❤

Happy revision guys,

Hannah xoxox

 

 

Behind the scenes

I’ve never been very good at opening up. Yea big coming from me but honestly hiding behind a computer screen opening up is a lot easier than in person.

Let me show you two pictures…..

 

 

These were both from the same day 6 hours apart. The first one – the one the world sees; a smile, make up on, dressed up and confession edited (as if you didn’t already know).  The second, the one we never want to show the world, a tear stained, unfiltered/untouched face. The image of what is really underneath the smile.

I’m guessing you’re wondering why I’m showing you this? Well, because I want to show people the realness and consequences of mental illness, what it’s really like when you’re having that low day/period. What it feels like after the day is done, your make-up comes off, you’re in your pj’s and you’re alone.

I’ve opened up for the world about my illness, I’ve told those closest to me and I message people when I’m not okay but still…still I have these days when I can do nothing but crawl away to be by myself and sob until my head hurts, eyes are raw red from the tears and there is no water left in my body. Opening up is no longer an option but friends understand it isn’t because I don’t think there isn’t someone I can tell because there are more of you out there than I could ever imagine that are ready to pick up the pieces whenever I need.  However, the most difficult part of these days is the fact for being so open I just can’t find the words to talk – I become temporarily mute.

Please please please for anyone who finds themselves in a similar position and reading this don’t feel disheartened on these days. Don’t feel like it it’s a step back because simply, it’s not. Recovering from any illness, there are going to be days harder than others but the good days are coming, they really are I promise. Every once in a while it’s okay to be alone and cry, half the time it lets me wake up feeling so much better because all the emotion just needed released. One note, just don’t let it become habit.

6 hours apart…how can it change so quick? Hmm, your guess is as good as mine. Honestly, one day I can wake up and feel like I’m ready to skip, flip or cartwheel down the street then half way up that street I want to pull my hood up over my head, look to the floor and walk as fast as I can until I get to the end of it. Fellow sufferers, my friends, friends of sufferers I know it’s hard to take but our mood can change in an instant. We understand it’s so difficult for you to know what to do but just know you being there is enough, we may not seem like great company (sorry) but it helps having someone there even if it isn’t to talk and just do your own thing. Other times we need to go and be by ourselves. It’s never a reflection on you or what’s happened, it’s all in our heads – give us time we’ll come around again. The best thing for you guys as friends, supporters, hand holders to do is just read the situation and learn what is best to do for that person when it all changes so suddenly.

But… generally guys, keep doing what you’re doing because even if you feel insignificant in the situation you have no idea how much good it is doing underneath the surface.

Finally, for those suffering, take comfort. Even for those who think I outwardly appear to have “recovered”, I still have those times of struggling and times when darkness takes over. I have come a long way since this all began and it has taken years to get any degree of better but it’s not complete and that’s okay. I’m not as strong as I look all the time but as Shawn Mendes says (cringe)

“Hold on…there is so much life ahead of you”. 

God didn’t say it’d be easy

After spending a week in Trent Vineyard, Nottingham, surrounded by people who love Jesus and hearing their stories of faithfulness despite pain and disappointment I’ve come to understand a bit more how following Christ doesn’t promise being exempt from misery.

I want to start off by saying I don’t believe God gave me my depression, a fallen world did. He is a good Father who adores us and although I suffer he still conducts good works through it. It is easy for us to cry and yell at God for the hurt and pain that we experience from life, we are permitted to do so (Exodus 2:23; Psalm 61:2; Matthew 27:46) – even Jesus cried out to his Father – and he does listen. However, a lot of the time we miss the good that God can do in the midst of despair and pain when we are obedient.

I’m not taking away from the fact that it is not going to be easy, as I have said before God confirms over and over again that we will face trial, tribulation and persecution (Acts; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, James 1:12, Romans 3:3-5). We just have to open our bibles and we see the constant conflict and persecution God’s children went through for years.

Read the story of Moses (Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy), it took 10 plagues before Pharaoh let the Israelite’s go (Exodus, 7-11). It took 40 years before the Israelite’s got to the promised land (Joshua 5:6). Moses, a faithful man of God, did not even get to enter this promised land because of disobedience (Numbers 20:10-13, Deuteronomy 34:4-5). Thankfully we have Jesus to thank that we are no longer punished for our sins as Moses was but that is a whole other topic all together. What I wanted to establish with you is that this belief “following Jesus means everything will be good and easy” is false and this is my conclusion after only one story in the bible.

We watch as Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 12 -21) waited 24 years, convinced she is barren, before they receive their promised son. The story of Joseph (Genesis 30-50) follows a similar pattern. Joseph sees two dreams (Genesis 37) as a young man where he declares his brother’s sheaths bow down before his and then that the moon and eleven stars bow down to him. This is followed by years of torture where Joseph is sold into slavery and later lands himself in prison (Genesis 39). By no means did Joseph have it easy but he remained faithful by holding on to the promises God had gave him and by the end of the story we see Joseph rise to power as the dreams God had given him came to pass (Genesis 41:27 – 45:38). In the book of Job, we see Job lose everything (Job 1:13-22) his family, his livestock, his friends and his health (Job 2). He cries out to God in a depressive manner, he can’t see any future in front of him, he begs for death (Job 3) but in all this he still remains faithful to his Father God. In the end God doubles his fortunes but he had to go through the pain of losing everything to gain everything (Job 42:10).

In the new testament, we reach Paul the apostle (Acts and the many letters he wrote e.g. Corinthians, Philippians) a man who faced severe prosecution while preaching the Gospel and still persevered. A man thrown in prison and finally was beheaded for Christ. Even God’s own son faced trials. Jesus faced the rejection of his people (Luke 4:14-30), the shame of carrying his own cross (John 19:17; Matthew 27:32) and the pain of being nailed to the cross (John 19:18; Matthew 27:38). If that doesn’t show hardship well then, I am at a loss.

You see throughout the bible are stories, historical accounts, of the trials faithful women and men faced. This is what gives me strength.

When my depression hits I feel like the Israelite’s in the desert not being able to see the promised land. Through periods of lowness when I am just waiting for something good to happen I feel like Abraham and Sarah waiting for that child. When someone makes a comment (not out of malice but it still hurts) I feel like Joseph who was laughed at by his brothers. I can relate so closely to these biblical heroes because although their life was thousands of years ago we still face the same challenges today.

But as I get to the end of these stories I see the glimmer of hope and how God still used these painful situations. In my own story I have seen the work of God as he allows me to help other people battling the same illnesses by sharing my own story, encouraging people and being able to help people. It doesn’t make it any easier, it doesn’t take away my pain or my feeling of worthlessness or my low self-esteem and every day I still battle with the impact of depression. However, by focusing on his word I can at least bring good in a bad situation.

God didn’t give me the mental illness but he still used it for his good. 

I encourage you; look for the good. Look for the ways you can turn these situations around. Most of all however what I want you to take from this is that you have a Father in heaven  who adores you and is keeping his promises even when we can’t see or feel it.

“… And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” 

Matthew 28:20 

Love,

Hannah xoxo

 

How to cope….

How to cope….

When depression hits what do you do?

Recently, this has been something that a lot of people seem to be asking about. As many of you know there are times when we feel we cannot get out of bed or face the day ahead. We don’t want to go on that night out we have been looking forward to for weeks or the thought of having to go to work leaves us feeling overwhelmed to the point we will break down in tears.

These are a few things I do in these moments  and ways that I can still get myself out of beds in the morning.

 

  • Music

Music is my life. Honestly, I listen to it day in and day out and I used to put on the music that fitted my mood, you know sad slow depressing music but I realised the negative impact it was having. So, I changed that. When I feel down one of the best things for me is to put on song that makes me want to dance. I have a playlist called “keep smiling” which I put on when I can’t drag myself out of bed. Although it won’t fix it all at once it usually helps me enough that I can immerse myself in it enough to start the day off and get out of my cave aka bed.

  • Shower and put on your favourite outfit

Even if it has taken me four hours to get out of bed I hop straight in the shower, I put on my music and take some time to myself before having to face the day ahead. Even if it is only in and out it always leaves me feeling a bit better and more refreshed. I then have a go to outfit that I know never fails me. It isn’t anything special just black jeans and a grey polo neck but I know that when I put it on I will never doubt what I’m wearing or wonder if I look “good” in it. I feel comfortable and that is SUPER important.

  • Exercise

This word used to have so many negative associations with it for me. I would force myself to go to the gym and always beat myself up if I didn’t work hard enough. Now I have learnt to only work as hard as I can manage that day but afterwards I always feel that bit better for doing some exercise. Some days all I can manage is a walk, others I need to go to the gym and push myself. It’s all about knowing how you feel that day. What I am sure of is no matter whether it was the toughest work-out I’ve ever done or it was just a 20 minute walk it makes me feel better.

  • Treat myself

Okay so I’m on a student budget and can’t be treating myself to holidays or clothes all the time. For me, my treat yo’self is getting a coffee, having a diet coke, buying a nice lunch or making one of my favourite meals. It doesn’t have to be anything big but I know that when I have something to look forward to that day it makes it feel achievable.

(**one thing I would say though is try not to treat yourself with alcohol – it’s a depressant and if you’re feeling low it isn’t the best idea)

  • Pray

I know not everyone understands this and the reason I believe in God, my Father, is a blog in itself. When I feel as if I can’t go on anymore I turn straight to him and it is yet to fail me. If I’m in my bedroom all by myself I wrap my arms around my legs and cry out to him, if I’m out and about it’s all in my head. God never says it was going to be easy, he just said he would be there for you (John 16:33; Philippians 1:6).  So far, he has always been there for me.

  • But most importantly….TALK

I have never been good at this and I will be the first to hold my hands up and admit this but talking always helps. I have people in my life I know I can trust and can go straight to when things do not feel they are going my way. It can be frustrating because I don’t always have a reason for feeling this way and that is what makes it so difficult to open up. Learn who the people are in your life who you can just tell you are feeling like crap that day and they’ll be there for you.

Sometimes though it is WAY too difficult to open up and I just can’t do it. For these days, I’ve started a document on my computer and I just open it up and type all my thoughts down. Half the time they aren’t coherent and I’m going around in circles but even just the act of BLURTING IT OUT helps release me from my despair enough to be proactive in feeling better and eventually lead to being able to tell someone.

Everyone has different ways to cope and please be aware that these are only mine. Nonetheless I hope that some of you can find that they might be able to help you out as well.

Much love,

Hannah xox

Maybe this will help…?

 

So here are a few things that a lot of time we want people to know but can never say when depression mutes us.

Family and Friendships

We love you lot, believe me we really do. Most of the time you are the glue holding us together and turning our tears into laughter. In the middle of our depressive bouts it’s what we need the most even when we fail to admit it.

But you see at the same time it can cost us a lot of energy and we’re really sorry about the consequences of this.

If you ask us to go somewhere and we all of a sudden ‘don’t feel like it’ isn’t because we don’t want to see you or spend time with you. It’s because to us it feels as if you have just asked us to run three marathons back to back.

If we don’t reply, it isn’t because we don’t want to. It is because our brain makes us believe that replying to that simple question is equivalent to writing your 10,000 word dissertation in 1 minute.

Despite our inability to communicate or express what our head/emotions are experiencing, knowing that you will be there to pick up the phone when we need means more than you giving me the world could ever mean. We want you to know at these times (well always but especially in these times) we appreciate all you do more than you can ever imagine.

Just hold on long enough until we have the energy again to tell you how much your friendship is worth to us.

Boyfriends and Girlfriends

We distance ourselves from ourselves because of the destruction our thoughts cause. If we don’t want to know ourselves how could we ever want anyone else to know us.

Whenever you tell us we’re beautiful we don’t believe it. Not in the “oh tell me again” but in the you fear looking at the mirror because what you see staring back at you is disgusting. Don’t even get on to the fact that you ACTUALLY like us – in our world that is as if you just told us you went to the moon and back in a day.

A lot of the time though this is what we crave the most – someone to feel that extra closeness with that we can sit and cry next to but they will (try) not to demand an explanation for it or feel it is in relation to them.

Yes, a lot of the time we tend to seem annoyed at you or sharp or snappy and once again we’re sorry. But if it is in any way possible to put a positive spin on it you can take it as a compliment. The reason you seem to bear the brunt of our illness is because you’re one of the few people we trust in life. You mean more to us then most people in the world and we don’t mean or want to push you away but sometimes we aren’t that great on controlling our feelings of anger, frustration or isolation.

Please bear with us – we’re trying.

University and work

Surprisingly, it can go one of two ways either we use it to distract us and thus spend every minute of the waking day studying or it seems so impossible we cannot drag ourselves out of bed.

You see that assessment that your stressing over – we are too. However, for us it feels as if someone has just told us to pull around a 44-tonne lorry with only a rope for a week.

The thought of a day at work can make us want to crawl into a dark cupboard, curl up and get someone to lock it so we never have to face this place known as society again.

It isn’t that we don’t enjoy studying or work in fact most of the time we do. Rather it is our belief that we are unable to carry it out. Sometimes we don’t think we are capable enough to complete what lies ahead and other times it just seems an impossible task that would take years to complete.

Please when we are in the midst of our melt down don’t tell us we are being ridiculous and we’re capable of it because honestly we are not in any way going to believe it right there and then. Just help us out if possible and let us get on with it. We’ll get there.

 

Most importantly just know we’re trying.

Sometimes trying is really REALLY difficult.

But we’re still trying.

xoxox

 

 

The end is nigh

So the day I have been dreading for the past fourth months arrived – the first day of final year.

The question all summer was whether to complete it or not and now well I guess it is happening.

A month ago the answer was looking very likely it was going to be a no … yet here I am staring ahead at 9 modules and a maxi project.

How did I get to this point? Hmm that is a great question. Honestly I don’t know but I wanted to write one last blog (for now) to share some realisations which have come out of the last four months.

  1. Make time for yourself

Sometimes in life you need to take time out to do you.

To focus on yourself and figure out what you need.

That is what my summer entailed – I focused on me. I got two new piercings, I got a tattoo, I travelled the UK (basically), went on three holidays, cut 10 inches off my hair but most importantly I (tried to focus) focused on getting better. Honestly, it has been a long four months and for the most part the “getting better” seemed impossible. The medications weren’t working once again, I tried new ones that in reality made me even worse. The best way to explain how I felt for the most part of this summer is I was drowning in water for three months but just as I was about to drown I’d get a gulp of air that would allow me to stay alive and hold on that little bit longer.

Now through the ups and downs of four months because I took time to look after myself I finally can see that getting better is an option.

2. Life can suck

Honestly, life can really suck at times. There are circumstances and people we want in life that aren’t going to happen/be there, the new medication that you had put all your hope on made you worse and you know what that can really, really suck.

I have spent the majority of 2016 feeling that my life just sucks. There have been so many situations that have just not went my way, so many relationships that have broken down, so many people walked away, continual trial and error on treatment with no result and it was just crappy to be honest. The situations along with the depression leave me feeling worthless, ugly, stupid, untreatable and a monster. But it doesn’t last forever and at some point it will pick up whether you can see that far ahead or not.

So what I’m telling you is that I realised yes life sucks at points but it won’t suck forever and you can believe me or not on this but just around the corner a blessing is waiting for you.

3. Every wound heals
Before writing this I came back to my blog “Life Lessons” and found this….

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This continues to be one of the most challenging years of my life but I remember in that point of life I felt there was never going to be a time when those wounds would heal. Those feelings were part of a tornado that was spinning me round and round in circles with no clear end to the storm. Here I am 5 months later saying they’re gone (mostly). I look back to the summer and realise that slowly without me noticing the friendships were being repaired, mistakes have been fixed and opportunities continue to come despite the ones I missed. A smile crosses my face as I realise no matter how badly we mess up and think we ruin something there is always a way to fix it as long as you and others are willing to.

So for you guys who feel you have messed up pretty bad – don’t worry you really haven’t. Face up to what you have done, do what you can to mend it and it will all heal but it takes time. After all time is the only healer.

4. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

If people had told me at the start of 2016 there were situations that would happen which wouldn’t absolutely destroy me I wouldn’t have believed them. There were circumstances in my head that I thought when they came about I wouldn’t be able to deal with them and would just give up, bury my head under my duvet until I was ready to pull myself out of bed only to get a one-way flight to Belfast. Those situations happened, they passed and 1) I’m still alive and 2) I’m still in Glasgow. I walked away from them with some hurt, some pain, and some sadness but I never thought it was possible that I would walk away stronger. But, it happened.

I don’t recognise the Hannah I see when I look in the mirror now and I don’t mean because I have a Mom bob but because of how far I have come. The girl last year seems like a fictional character one that I made up in my head. Although she isn’t, I hope it helps others out there realised that your mental illness won’t define you forever and you can become the person you know you are.

I know those thoughts when you don’t feel like your time will ever come to get better and you feel like you are the one exception to treatment with no cure in sight but keep holding on, please. Your true friends will always be by your side, wounds always heal and when you walk away from a difficult situation you will see how much stronger you have become even though you don’t feel like it in the middle of the turmoil.

Now I have been lifted out of the water and onto the sand where I can look at the calmness of the sea and appreciate it for what it is. Who knows how long it is before I return to this water but for now I’m enjoying being on the shore watching the waves from afar.

Peace out,

Hannah xoxox

The road to recovery

The road to recovery…

Is a very long one.

It has been 9 months now since I first was put on antidepressants.

It has been 4 months since I told the world about my illness.

It has been 2 months since I started seeing a psychologist.

And it has been 1 day since starting new medication.

But I am nowhere near recovered.

 

In January, I felt like I was walking on cloud nine. I finally understood what happiness was the way other people (I believe) experience it. In my naivety and despite people warning me that there would be bouts of depression I thought I had reached recovery. I have never been so wrong.

I guess for the last two months I have found it easy to hide my depression and act likes it’s better. Believe me we get pretty good at it, but I realised in hiding this I am completely missing the point of what I want to change. I talk openly about my depression and how it has affected (past tense) my life but I always fail to tell someone in the moments when I am sitting in my room arms curled round my knees tears trickling down my cheeks. I try to again put on that mask say I’m better when really what I want you guys to know is I am on the road to recovery but I am not there yet and that’s ok.

So here, I want to tell you more about the road to recovery and for you to realise it is all going to work out just fine despite sometimes you feel as if you are looking into the abyss of hopelessness.

I started my anti-depressants in September after I called my dad one afternoon from the library in tears because of a stats homework (so unlike me). This, I suppose, was the point when I finally admitted it was all falling apart inside. For the next four months it was continuous trips to the doctors with the dosage being pushed up and up. Finally, as most of you know in January the medication worked (along with my main man Jesus) and I finally felt happiness – I felt healed. But it doesn’t stop here, I realised this was only the prologue to my story.

Over exams, I found myself going back into the universe of nothingness. I was numb, couldn’t feel anything. Maybe it was life circumstances or maybe it just occurred on its own but without realising it the depression, which I had been so sure had gone, crept subtly back into my life. My concentration had improved and so studying wasn’t a problem. I was preoccupied and this is more than likely why I didn’t notice this illness slowly crawling back in. By this point I had also agreed to see a psychologist (who is absolutely amazing btw!) and over the weeks we came to realise although I maybe felt better I was far from recovered. We agreed the medication wasn’t working, the numbness was still pretty prominent. I was just better at coping with it than previously. So yesterday off to the psychiatrist I went and this brings us to the present moment. My meds have been changed; it is time to try something new.

Right now, I am finding things tough. I realise that I have come a long way but there is so much further to go. The trick is to remember to keep your eyes up looking ahead. IT IS ALL GOING TO GET BETTER and this is coming from someone who at times can’t even see the end of the day.

I’ll admit I felt disappointed. Part of me felt I had failed everyone who knew the situation – I was meant to be better. I didn’t want to admit it wasn’t as put together as I make it out to be. However, mostly I felt let down by God. I mean, in the first place God is the reason I have the strength to share my story and get through this year so why would he let this come back?!  But this isn’t the truth of the matter.

Firstly, in terms of faith I came to accept maybe it isn’t my time to be fully cured and there are more lessons to be learned from this illness. Also we live in a fallen world just because I know Jesus does not mean I am exempt from the evil – I realised rather than screaming at God “WHY?!?!” it can be used as a testimony of faith. It allows me to understand others to help them better than if I had never had this experience.

But really what I want to say to you guys out there who can’t see the hope; who feel like recovery doesn’t exist – know it does. It’s a marathon and you’re only in the first mile but every mile takes you closer to the finish line.

Recovery is a process and it can be an extremely long one. It takes endurance, strength and perseverance and that my friend is why you are one of the strongest people out there. Of course we get frustrated when it doesn’t go the way we thought it was, there will be tears and struggles on the way.

It isn’t easy but it is possible.

Just remember there are so many different options of help out there use them all and find what works for you. Tell people for accountability and do the things you love to do. Here I am having tried various different medications and various therapies still trying to get the right one. Some days it does feel easier to pack it all in and live with the depression but DON’T! because….

You are going to get there.

You are fighting the toughest battle.

So that makes you the strongest person.

Treat them as Gentiles and Tax collectors

“…let him be to you as a Gentiles and a Tax collector.” Matthew 18:17

I walked out of church this Sunday with a skip in my step all because of this verse.

 

This year has been a battle of forgiveness; learning to forgive myself and others.

Myself, well I found that slightly easier. I was able to write down all the things I needed to forgive myself for and learn to deal with the mistakes head on. I could forgive my flaws because I knew I could fix them and I suppose came to understand God’s forgiveness for me.

Forgiving others; that is another story.

This has been a year of ups and downs as many of you know and within it there has been a lot of relationships hurt and broken. I knew I needed to forgive them and well I was trying, quite a lot. However, something was missing. I was able to forgive them outwardly; I could be civil, have conversations and act like it had all blown over. Inside my thoughts were different. I would remind myself of how I had felt hurt by them and get frustrated at why they didn’t seem to face the music of their own actions.

Really, I was acting forgiveness without actually forgiving.

On Sunday, as the speaker came to his final point he read the verse “…let him be to you as a Gentiles and a Tax collector.” (Matt 18:17). A friend and I turned to each other with raised eyebrows as she said HARSH. To be honest, hearing this at first I had a slight smirk – I thought “knew it, I have the right to feel this way – I can treat them as “gentiles” and “tax collectors”.” The problem, I was thinking of the way the communities treated these people not the way Jesus treats them.

As the speaker continued he brought us to the stories of Jesus’s actions towards these people:

  • Healing the daughter of a Canaanite (Matthew 15:21-28)
  • Heals the Centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10; Matthew 8: 5-13)
  • He called a Tax Collector to be his disciple (Matthew 9: 9-12)
  • He asked Zacchaeus (the chief Tax Collector) if he could stay at his house. (Luke 19:1-10)

So what is the common factor in all this stories?!

HE SHOWED THEM LOVE.

I realised, I was missing love. If someone asked me had I forgiven them, easy – the answer was yes. If they asked me whether I loved them. Ha, well that is where the hesitation came. But on realising Jesus showed them love it was a light bulb moment for me and in this same moment I felt I could finally answer the question Yes I did love them. Why? Because I grasped the understanding of Jesus’s love from this one verse. I was now able to say with confidence that I really did love them and know that I didn’t feel the resentfulness or hurt. I was finally able to know that if they came to me with any problem, just general chat or to be friends I could be there without wanting to go through everything that happened. It had all truly passed all because of love.

Later I came to Colossians 3:13-15.

“…forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…”

Which summed up forgiving perfectly.

Forgive

Love

Peace

This sounds like one of those cheesy mems/good quotes but you know what?! It’s true.

We need to forgive with love so we are at peace.

As christian we want to reflect Jesus right? So let’s forgive as God has forgiven.