I know what to write about!

For the longest time now I’ve really wanted to write a book. At the start of every new year when the clock strikes twelve, I think ‘This is it. This is the year I’ll finally do it‘, but I struggle for ideas or somebody else gets there first with the ideas I do have.

It’s really important to me that I write something that people actually want to read. It’s been such a long time coming that if I’m going to do it, I really want to do it properly and make a success of it. I only ever dream big. I don’t see the point in starting something if it’s only going to be mediocre.

I want to be proud of what I do, and write about something that matters to me. I want to make a little bit of a difference in people’s lives, which I hope I also sometimes manage to do here on my blog. Those wishes are quite a tall order though, so year after year I sit here thinking ‘nope, still not good enough‘.

But now, finally, I think I’ve got it. I think I know what I want to write about.

I don’t want to reveal too much as of yet. But what I will say is that it will be mental health based, very personal to me featuring never seen diary entries from my childhood, uplifting and hopefully appealing to many of you on your journeys.

After my bad day yesterday, I really needed some excitement – although I do have to admit, I’m pretty sure the bad day gave me the inspiration, so I guess I should be thankful.

Expression

I don’t know about the rest of you, but one of the things I find most difficult about living with mental illness is the lack of ability to express myself.

When ever I’m annoyed, upset, stressed or angry – I can never find the ways to say it. And this then contributes to the annoyance, upset, stress and anger even further; as well as irritating the people around me.

If me and my boyfriend ever argue; this is where the little things become mountains, because I can’t say how I feel. He takes it as though I’m ignoring him and won’t tell him what I’m thinking out of choice, but it’s not that – it’s not that at all. And eventually, the persistent asking of “just tell me what you’re thinking” leads to an outburst of momentary hate where the only words that can come out of my mouth are “fuck off”.

I physically cannot find the words no matter how hard I try. I can’t express what the feeling is that I’m feeling. I don’t do it on purpose; it would be much easier to just say what I need to say and then move on, but I can’t.

I want to improve on this but it’s impossible; because when it comes down to it and I’m in the moment I still can’t find the words no matter how much I want to. It’s definitely one of my biggest faults when it comes to being in a relationship. And it’s ridiculous double-standards because as soon as something’s wrong with him, the first thing I say is “just tell me what you’re thinking” – and I’m annoyed when he has no answer.

Creativity and Mental Health

For me, creativity is a massive part of expressing my feelings when it comes to my mental health. Creating abstract representations of my disorders or how I feel allows me to release the negative thoughts and create something interesting in the process.

hope

Hope (2015) 

mha designs

Mental Health Awareness Designs (2014)

I draw, paint, write – anything and everything! It’s the most therapeutic thing in the world; I can sit in complete silence and not have one thought pass through my head for hours when I have a paintbrush in my hand.

Does anybody else have any methods to relieve stress and negative feelings?

Quote of the day

…and then I fell apart, and it was the most beautiful moment ever, because right then, I realised I could put the pieces back together the way I wanted them to be.

Mental Health Art

Just under a year ago in June 2014, I created this series of art work. The six images were each designed to depict a different mental illness or the symptoms associated with it; and they also mock some of the negative stigma that go hand-in-hand with suffering from these disorders.

I designed the series in black and red because for me, they’re the two boldest colours that there are. The black represents the illness, isolation, secrets and negativity that we face from the rest of the world; whilst the areas of red represent the glimpse of hope, which no matter how small is brighter and more predominant than the illness.

We need to stop shaking our heads and silently being at war with the uneducated comments we hear; we need to stop making peace with the idea that mental health issues aren’t as high priority as physical illness, and instead – we need to actively stand strong and fight for better.

nknk

I hope you like them, to view the rest of my art portfolio, click here.

Guest Post for Lifeofmiblog

Here is the guest post I wrote for Michael at Lifeofmiblog earlier this week. Michael suffers with Depression and talks about this as well as many other topics on his blog – It’s fantastic, so please check it out!


dnd

I have Borderline Personality Disorder, Cyclothymia and severe anxiety. I have these things, but it’s important to remember that I am not these things.

You cannot allow the disorders that you have become you, because you undoubtedly lose enough of yourself due to them already. BPD makes me angry, touchy and sometimes aggressive with the people around me; Cyclothymia makes me manic, depressed and all things in between; and anxiety takes away my basic human rights, with crippling fear smothering me and therefore stopping me from doing anything with my life.

These could be (and sometimes are!) soul-destroying things to live with, and so if this is the only way we can identify ourselves, what’s left? What’s the point of being here? Instead, you have to think about the things that you are, instead of the things that you have.

I am motivated and ambitious, I’m sarcastic beyond belief, and I’m creative, artistic and I’m detail-orientated in everything I do. I fall in love easy, but I don’t make good friends often; those that are in my life will be forever. I’m stubborn – way too stubborn – and don’t let arguments go as quickly as I should. But everything I do I do whole-heartedly, putting all my effort into it; and yes – I’m one of those people that are crazy enough to think they can make a difference in the world.

So instead of becoming my disorders, I try to manage these things that I have so that they don’t become a part of my being. I try to control the obstacles and hurdles that my life is constantly throwing at me; it’s not a fair war if you don’t even try to defend and protect yourself. It’s not as easy as I’d like it to be (if it was, mental illness would cease to exist), and it feels like a never-ending battle, because just when I think I have something mastered, something else comes along.

Another fear, another episode, another month where everything becomes too much.

But I keep trying, and that’s the main thing. I keep striving and pushing, waiting for the world to reward me and give me a break. I study as much as I can about my disorders, I research, read and I study for a mindfulness diploma. I learn to meditate, source remedies and techniques to practise, and I write almost every day on my blog relaying my thoughts and letting them all out of my already-cluttered-brain. I paint, I draw, I exercise, I cut out caffeine, and I make an extra effort with those I love.

Researching my disorders has given me an understanding of what’s going on in my mind which is absolutely priceless to me and mindfulness teaches me to think in the moment, not allowing the past or future to influence where I am right now. Meditation slows my breathing down alongside the absence of caffeine, helping my anxiety beyond belief. Creativity and writing makes my mind joyous, exercise makes my body joyous, and people – well they’re a support system that I wouldn’t want to do without. The biggest mistake too many of us make is pushing those that love us out of our lives.

But most of all, regardless of all these things, I remember who I am and what I am. I remind myself of all the things that make me, me. And my somewhat poor mental health definitely isn’t even a small part of that. That’s all I can do. Some may say that it’s all a distraction, but I believe it’s just a part of the journey to recovery. Like with any other illness, we’re all just looking for a cure.

Good morning

20150526_094407Morning’s are weird for me at the moment. During term time I couldn’t wait for it to be the holidays so that I could just rest and take it easy – things were really getting on top of me and I was struggling to keep my sanity with the pressure of finishing the year well building higher and higher.

But now term time is over, I have what I want: time – and now I have nothing to do with it. I’m faced with a couple of months ahead of me with barely any shifts at work or anything to do. Everyone else around me works full time, so I can’t bother them or be in their lives 24/7.

Any suggestions?

Reality

Tonight I watched the film, Still Alice. I don’t wish to spoil the plot for those of you that would like to see it, but the basic premise is about a woman who is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s, and it’s a realistic and harrowing portrayal of what it’s like to live with the disease. As you all know, I don’t suffer from Alzheimer’s myself – and I’m under no illusions that I have any idea what it’s like to live with it – but somehow this film struck a chord with me.

It was the lack of control the character had over her brain. The way in which she so desperately wanted things to be better and normal but her mind wouldn’t allow those desires to become a reality.The constant and every day struggle and fight that was happening in her head. The helpless looks on everybody’s faces around her as they had no concept of what to do to help. The way it consumed her and stopped her from doing the things she loved the most.

And so now I lie here, in complete darkness, trying so hard to get to sleep and stop these thoughts racing through my mind. I can close my eyes for a matter of seconds before they’re wide open again, thinking about my own life and the similarities we all have to each other no matter our condition.

At one point in the film, the character bluntly states, ‘I wish I had cancer’ – a difficult sentence to comprehend to the average person. I actually watched the film with my mum, and at this point she almost laughed. I don’t know if it was shock or a nervous reflex, I didn’t ask, but I’m sure most people’s first reaction would be: how could somebody say that? How could somebody say that they want a disease that kills millions? How can somebody be that lost within themselves that that’s a thought that even passes through them?

But right now I’m not going to sit here and edit my thoughts before I write them down. I’m not going to lie or say what I’m supposed to say. Instead I’m going to say that I get it. I didn’t feel shocked or nervous when this line was read out. I felt understanding and almost comforted by the commonality between us. I know it’s a controversial thing to say; I’ve lost and am currently losing family members at the moment to the disease, and one of my best friends lost her mum to cancer just last year. It’s an awful, agonising, painful and traumatic thing to have, or to watch someone else have. I am in no way trying to belittle that and I do not at all wish that I had cancer. But I do get it. I get what she meant.

I understand what it’s like to have your illness belittled over and over again. I understand what it’s like to be made to feel ashamed of it because it’s an illness of the brain and not something ‘real’ like what cancer is. I understand what it’s like to want to die; to end it all because being here is just too damn hard, and surely cancer would just be quicker and less painful – because nothing can be as painful as this.

I can’t watch suicides/attempted suicides in films or TV programmes, and I don’t like talking about them fiction or otherwise. Everyone knows that I’m unbearably squeamish and so most of the time people assume this is why. But that’s not really it. Suicide scares me to watch or hear about or think about in any real capacity because it’s a reality for me. It’s something that I can sympathise with and although have never got to the point where I have ever carried out any suicidal thoughts, I do understand what it’s like to be in that head space. I feel it. It’s hard to explain in words but it makes me panic and my heart beats at a million miles per hour. It’s like watching someone else die a painful death due to a disease that you have yourself.

Still Alice may be about a person living with Alzheimer’s and the harsh reality that that brings, but I think that anybody suffering with any type of mental illness would find similarities between the character and themselves. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Hopefully now that these thoughts are laid out here, I can finally get some sleep! Have a great day/night – depending where you are in the world!

Empty Spaces

A piece of writing I found today, written in 2008 (aged 16) – whilst suffering with a depressive episode

Me, around the same time this piece was written

Me, around the same time this piece was written

Sitting in an empty space is the only time you can gather your thoughts and allow your imagination to run wild.

This is where the best ideas can come to you, everything starts making sense and things seem much clearer than they did when there were other voices and interruptions in the way. But those four plain, cold, white walls can either be a blank canvas of inspiration, or they can be a lack of distraction from the demon inside you; filling your brain with negativity and pain. The secrets, lies and heartbreak that you managed to block out in the noise and chaos of life suddenly dawns on you and you can feel yourself drowning deeper and deeper and deeper until you find yourself lost in a surreal in between of life and death. You can feel yourself breathing heavily and your heart’s still pumping blood through your veins, but they’re the only signs of being alive.

Sitting in an empty space is the only time you can gather your thoughts and allow your imagination to run wild – but for some people, it’s the most horrific place to be, and it can put you in the most dangerous state of mind you could possibly be in.