A new start, a new blog

Helloooo!

Wow, it’s been a long time since I wrote anything on here!

 

For those of you that have followed me for a while, you will know (although you may not remember as it was yonks ago), that I decided to take a step back from this blog and instead I wanted to shift my focus on to my YouTube channel around a year ago now. This wasn’t anything personal – just a need to focus on something else for a change (not mental health), and also to try a new medium.

That’s gone really well for me, honestly. My channel is doing really well and I really enjoy making videos. Seeing something creative come together is amazing, and I’m finally starting to find my niche I think. I also love that a few of you watch me over there too, I do notice you and I do appreciate you.

However, part of me misses writing. There’s something about writing that can’t be replaced by anything else. I miss you guys and I miss the encouraging words I was once given by some truly devoted people to this blog. I miss just laying my thoughts out there without the need to physically say them out loud in a video, because sometimes saying things out loud is too damn scary.

This blog isn’t right for me anymore, that’s just fact. I’ve outgrown it, I’m not excited by it, and By Lauren Hayley is no more. That person is no longer on my radar. By Lauren Hayley is me, but an old me. I will continue to keep this blog and reflect on my old posts occasionally, but this will (most likely) be the last post that I write here – which is kinda sad, but it feels right.

So to fulfill that writing desire, I have decided to begin a new blog – a new chapter – and that’s really the point of this post: to invite you over there too. www.laurensowter.com won’t just focus on mental health (I should make that clear), but it will occasionally, as it’s still a massive part of my life. I still have a LONG way to go in terms of my anxiety, which I talk about a little bit in my most recent post.

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To make matters confusing, my blog isn’t on wordpress which means you can’t follow me in the usual way, however by signing up to Bloglovin’ you can follow me there (by the way, it’s totally useful for your blog to do so regardless – it opens up a whole new audience for you).

I hope to see some of you there and occasionally I hope to have our same old discussions about our temperamental brains. This blog has been so good to me and a part of me does miss it, but growth and change is good and I’m excited for the new chapter.

I’ll leave alllll my contact details below so that we don’t lose touch, and that’s me done.

Goodbye WordPress, and all 2,645 of you that have made WordPress brilliant!

love lauren x

YouTube: www.youtube.com/lozhayley 
Blog: www.laurensowter.com
Bloglovin’ Profile: www.bloglovin.com/laurensowter

Twitter: www.twitter.com/laurensowter
Instagram: www.instagram.com/laurensowter
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/laurensowteryoutube

Email: laurensowter@gmail.com

SMALL STEPS ARE MASSIVE

Agoraphobia is undoubtedly one of the most misunderstood anxiety disorders; with many people assuming it simply means ‘being afraid to leave the house’. However, agoraphobia can be better defined as an intense fear of being in a situation where an escape is not easy. For me, this has included using cash machines because of the length of time you’re stuck waiting for your money and can’t leave; it has included being in elevators, cars, trains, cinemas, using pedestrian crossings; not being able to stand still because of the need to keep running; being unable to cross the road because there’s too much traffic, and a million other small and complex things that would take me way too long to list; but equally impacted my life beyond belief. The result of all of these things was what left me housebound. It wasn’t that the outside world was a scary place to me, it was that my disorder had gradually dictated all the things that I couldn’t escape from and the only option I had left was to remain inside. Leaving the house for the first time isn’t the end of agoraphobia, it’s merely the start, the first step; because agoraphobia is all of those things. Agoraphobia is being too scared to cross a bridge and it’s feeling like you’re going to faint when you’re waiting in a queue. Agoraphobia is being feeling suffocated when crammed in a small room and feeling lost and vulnerable in an open space. Agoraphobia is most definitely not simply ‘being afraid to leave the house’. But by adding together each small step, things can and do get better. Because small steps are massive.

 

World Mental Health Day

I hope you are all well. I don’t yet feel ready to come back to the world of blogging, but being that it’s World Mental Health Day, I did post a different kind of video on my YouTube channel this morning – and I thought I would share.

xxx

See you later, alligator

Quite often when I go quiet and don’t blog for a while people assume I’m not OK; like I’m too sad or anxious to want to blog.

I know I’ve been quiet recently, but really the reason behind that is quite the opposite. I’m nowhere near ‘better’, but I’ve been feeling hopefully and making progress recently. I’ve pushed myself into walking further than I have in a long time, I’ve started painting again, I’ve started my YouTube channel – I’ve just started doing things I enjoy for me and began to recover.

The reason I originally started this blog was to have somewhere to rant, lay out my feelings and speak to some fantastic people who understand all of what I’m going through and it’s great for that. I do occasionally also share some random aspects of my life and more positive stories, but it was never the main purpose for this space.

And so really, the reason I’ve been quiet is because of that – because I’ve been more positive and happy than I have been in a while. I have been busy getting better.

I love being on here and getting to know all of you great people, and I’m sure I’ll be back to using this blog more often soon – as everyone knows, recovery and general mental health comes in waves. However, I just wanted to write this post to reassure everyone I’m OK firstly, and secondly to take some of the pressure off me ‘having to’ write posts frequently.

I love being an advocate for mental health and I love that people feel as though they can come to me with their problems. I still get emails and tweets daily from people who want some advice or just a general chat and please don’t stop doing that, it’s great.

On the flip side though, I think I immersed myself into the world of mental health so much that that’s all I have been able to think about recently. Everything in my life has been concerning my anxiety or mental health in general. I have been meeting with great organisations and talking to fantastic people constantly, and I’m not by any means saying I am going to cut ties with them, but it’s taken me until now to realise that I think I need more than that.

I have been so wrapped up in mental health services and everyone has been telling me how proud they are of me for doing it, that I think I’ve forgotten all the other stuff I enjoy doing. For instance I can’t remember the last time I did a piece of art that wasn’t mental health related because it was just pretty.

Having to think about my own mental health and other’s mental health on a constant basis is too much for me right now. The whole reason I suffer from such bad anxiety is because I over think situations, and so I don’t need to be in a situation right now where I have to think about it even more.

This is not goodbye. I will be back soon, but I just wanted to let you all know where I am at and the reason I have been so quiet. I appreciate you all and I promise I’m OK!

Speak soon!
L x

Progress

I have been fairly quiet lately on my blog so I thought it was time for a long-overdue update. I’ve been super busy with starting up my YouTube channel, trying to learn new coping mechanisms and pushing myself to get better.

For those of you that frequently read my blog, you will know that the last month has been particularly difficult for me. I’ve had agoraphobia for over a year now, but this last month has left me virtually housebound; doing anything or going anywhere has been pretty much impossible.

This has also left me incredibly emotional. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this sad all of the time. The smallest thing can happen or be said and I burst into tears. It’s like I’m walking around (clearly not far!) with frustration, anger and sadness in me at all times, waiting to burst out.

I wake up feeling dread every morning and I cry myself to sleep every night. I snap, I get mad and I cry; all day every day, just wondering around my small first floor flat.

So on Saturday, I lay there in my bed crying at four in the afternoon. I lay there feeling as I always do right now – disappointed and annoyed that my life has come to this. It had just occurred to me that my upcoming trip to my hometown next month to see my friends and family was in jeopardy. If I can’t make it to the end of the street how can I survive a four-hour car journey home?

And then, something just snapped. Or clicked. Or a combination of both. I quickly downloaded a meditation app on my phone, put in my headphones, and went out; in the middle of a thunder-storm.

I felt nervous and there were points where I felt beyond uncomfortable, but not once in the forty minutes I walked did I have a panic attack. Not once did it all become too much that I had to go home.

Instead, for the first time in around a month, I walked without feeling like I was going to pass out, without feeling like I couldn’t breathe or my heart was going to burst through my chest. I just walked, like a normal person.

And again today I did the same thing. The only time I nervously rushed was in Sainsburys, and by doing that it just made me drop my purse and all my coins across the shop floor making me stay in there even longer. But ultimately I was fine.

These things may not seem like massive deals to most people. Walking down the street isn’t an achievement to the majority of us. And I still have a LONG way to go, but regardless of all that, I feel like I’m turning a corner, so that’s something to be proud of.

I feel a little bit of hope for the first time in ages. I feel like maybe getting over this is possible after all. As for the sadness, that’s still there. My brain’s just had enough I guess. But I do also think that’s what’s driving and pushing me forward, and I do have a little help from some extra serotonin around my neck to cheer me up.

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Youtube Channel & Mental Health Patch Update

A bit of a random post today guys!

Firstly, I know a lot of my followers will be interested in the outcome of my email to the Girlguiding UK association last week. I messaged them after hearing about a mental health patch being introduced to Girl Scouts throughout the US to find out if there was anything similar in the UK.

You will be all happy to know that the project is in negotiation, and they hope that Rainbows, Brownies & Guides will be able to earn mental health patches by the start of 2016 as apart of their training, which is fantastic!

Secondly, I know this won’t interest the majority of you, but I have just started a youtube channel. This isn’t going to be mental health based; instead I’m going to focus on makeup/fashion/upcycling – all the other interests in my life. I’m sure there will be the odd mental health vlog though as it’s a major part of my life.

I love speaking to you guys about mental health over here, but I want a place to talk about all the fun stuff too, so I’ve finally got around to finding somewhere!

If you are at all interested, please click on the picture below for a link to my first video, and I would really appreciate some subscribers so I’m not sitting talking to myself! 🙂

Speak soon!

haul

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV4Vz4i–6k

Happy 1st Birthday ByLaurenHayley & Day 1 for ProudMummaBear

Today my blog is one year old which definitely calls for a celebration in my mind!

I never thought I’d fall in love with blogging in the way that I have.

I never thought a single person would be interested in anything I have to say.

But instead, one year on, I’ve had 7,315 likes on my posts, I’ve had 30,918 visitors check out my blog, and I have 2,613 loyal followers. (I’ve literally just looked up those figures and I’m shocked – thank you, guys!)

I’ve also had thousands of beyond amazing comments from some incredible people.

I’ve helped people and I’ve been helped by people.

This blog has given me somewhere to be myself and express my feelings, it’s given me friends, advice and the opportunity to work with some fantastic organisations to improve mental health services.

It’s given me more than you could possibly imagine, and for that I thank every single one of you, and make Nutella cake to celebrate!

Here’s to the next year, and the next cake!

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On another note, today is a very special day for my mum too when it comes to blogging; as today she wrote her first blog post! Go check her out and give her a follow for more mental health talk and a super awesome person – ProudMummaBear

Quote 3

Annie from Gentle Kindness has challenged me to share with you my three favourite quotes. This is super easy for me as I LOVE quotes. So here’s my final one:

Look to the future and be happy in the knowledge that you will make a success of your life – my mumma

OK so yes, my final quote is a bit of a cheat; it’s neither written by someone famous nor is it well-known in the world. But it was written by the most important person to me back in 2007 when I was going through a tough time – and it’s my favourite.

My mum is my biggest supporter and the one person that genuinely thinks I can do or be anything – you’ll see her comment on my posts regularly as ‘proudmummabear’ – she’s the best.

Quote 2

Annie from Gentle Kindness has challenged me to share with you my three favourite quotes. This is super easy for me as I LOVE quotes. Here is number two:

Be the change you want to see in the world – Gandhi

Whilst yesterday’s quote was tattooed on my ribs, this quote is pinned on my wall in the biggest letters you have ever seen. We can constantly sit and discuss the things that are wrong with the world, or we can stand up and do something about them.