#MHAW2015 LET’S TALK MINDFULNESS: PART 3

Now that you all know what Mindfulness is and were it comes from, I guess the next thing you should know is who Mindfulness is for?

pointing-finger1

Would it be useful four your mum, your daughter, your friend or your neighbour? Would it be useful for you?

There is a very simple and quick answer to this question – yes. I mean look at the pointing finger.

On the whole, Mindfulness is used to treat people that suffer from depression-based mental health conditions, and the breathing exercises that a person will adopt when learning the practice is also fantastic for people with anxiety issues.

So this covers depression, generalised anxiety, phobias, panic disorder, OCD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder – and so much more.

Really though, it can be used to treat anybody – mentally healthy or otherwise. I think everybody could do with a little less stress in their lives, right? And the best thing is, Mindfulness can be used on anybody of any age, which could dramatically improve the services that young people receive. Doctors are quite rightly reluctant to give out medication to children, and you’re stuck in between adult and child services when you’re a teenager – which in my case meant that at fifteen years old my counsellor had me looking at drawings of dinosaurs to help me understand anxiety – it wasn’t fantastic, let me tell you.

caveman-chased-by-dinosaur

Whether or not Mindfulness would work for you is a completely different and more complex question though. Firstly, do you like the sound of it? Is it something you’re open to or does it just sound like nonsense? And secondly, can you do it? Mindfulness takes a lot of practise and dedication, do you have a strong enough desire to give it all the time and attention that it takes?

Whilst it could be useful to you, if the answer to these questions is ‘It sounds like rubbish and I have no time anyway’ – It isn’t for you. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of things out there that are.

If you’re still on board so far and want to find out more, come back tomorrow for more info on how Mindfulness actually helps.

Thursday: What Mindfulness does to help you
Friday: Does Mindfulness actually work? Pros and Cons
Saturday: Success stories
Sunday: My experiences with Mindfulness

love lauren x

donate

I have Agoraphobia

If you read my earlier posts, you’ll see that I say time and time again that I have Claustrophobia. In a nutshell, I’m scared of being in confined spaces. But there was always something that didn’t add up with the term Claustrophobia – there was always something more to it than just that and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Problem is, for me, it doesn’t have to be a confined space. It can be a space that’s metaphorically confined. Such as a cinema or an exam. I can get out. But it’s not the done thing to do. Or it can be a large space that I can’t get out of. Like a train.

It’s only very recently that I stumbled across an actual definition for Agoraphobia.

fear

If you’d have asked me a year ago what Agoraphobia was, I’d have said quite simply ‘the fear of going outside’. But it’s so much more complex than that.

It’s the fear of being in a situation that you can’t escape from or get the help you need.

If I’m in a lift I can’t get help if I need it. If I’m on a train I can’t get off if I need to. If I’m in an exam, I can’t run out if I need to. If I’m in a queue, I can’t just leave and stand outside for a second. I’m trapped. But not actually trapped. 

For some people, they equate safety with home – and that’s why Agoraphobic’s have a reputation for having a fear of leaving the house.

For me though, I can leave the house. Outside is OK for me. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t feel comfortable somewhere isolated where I couldn’t get phone signal, but the average street is OK. But I can’t do buses, trains, sometimes cars, planes, lifts, cinemas, exams, long queues, and most recently – I can’t go higher than the first floor in a building.

It’s the most draining and inconvenient thing I’ve ever gone through. It’s only been within the last nine months that it’s got terrible and it’s just a living nightmare.

I can’t go home from university to see my family. I can’t get a bus into town. I can’t go on holiday. I can’t go to lectures at university because they’re like a cinema setting. I can’t even go to seminars if they’re on the top of a tall building.

It’s the most isolating phobia and illness I’ve ever come across.

The reason for writing this post is to impart some understanding. I guarantee half of you reading this now will also have the same connotations as I did about the phobia – ‘people with that don’t leave the house’. But it’s a complex and frustrating and terrorising fear that’s so difficult to comprehend until you have to face it yourself.

It’s not something I’ve really spoken about much; I tend to focus much more on my BPD and Cyclothymia. But now I think it’s time that I battle this too – and therefore it’s been added to my fact sheet page for you guys to get more info – BPD, Cyclothymia & Agoraphobia Fact Sheet

lovelauren

We’ve reached 50!

It’s been 16 days since I came up with the concept of The Mental Health Art Auction and allowed bloggers to begin getting involved!

mental health art auction

The auction doesn’t take place until August, but we have already reached our first 50 sign-ups and so I’m so excited to see how many fantastic people we can get on board by the time August rolls around.

Thank you to each and every one of you – you’re incredible.

1. Borderline Blonde
2. A Day with Depression
3. As We Seek, So Shall We Find
4. Onomatopoeicbliss
5. Luke Hood
6. Lost-One
7. Blissfully Crafted
8. Asparagus Speaketh
9. Manic Medic
10. Lifeofmiblog
11. David Susman PhD
12. The Elephant in the Room
13. Shirley’s Heaven
14. Behind the Wall
15. The Prozac Queen’s Court
16. Quickenings – Memoirs of a Prodigal
17. Borderline Med
18. Behind the Wall
19. The Grand Optimist
20. Stuart Middleton
21. Under the Surface
22. Locked Out of Life
23. CJ Stewart Art
24. Real Life with Bipolar Disorder
25. Pride in Madness
26. A Real Look at What Some Would Call Crazy
27. Under Reconstruction
28. Depressionless
29. Common Sense Secrets for Health & Nutrition
30. Gifts By Anne
31. Make BPD Stigma-Free!
32. Jeff’s Deep Thoughts
33. Inspire and Illuminate
34. Don’t Let Me Get Me
35. For Equal Rights
36. Plumleaf Golden
37. The Bipolar Bear Blog
38. Working Through Bipolar
39. Fabulicious
40. Dicastlewriter
41. Screaming Out to the World
42. Psychology Ponderings
43. Alice has Thoughts
44. Tales of…
45. Life of a DIY Shopaholic
46. Sketch’s Blog
47. The Pretty Little Sparrow
48. Confessions of a Depressed College Student
49. Let me tell U a story
50. Be Brave, and Talk

If anybody else is interested in signing-up, we’d love to have you on board to raise awareness, fight the stigma and raise money for charity. You can find more details here.

lovelauren

A cluttered and cramped tunnel

hap

This is a thought I quite often have. Is it possible? Or is this a never-ending battle which I’m never going to be free from?

Sometimes there’s no end for me in sight. Actually there never is. I can never see the possibilities infront of me. There’s always too much crap in my head to allow me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I guess that’s the definition of mental illness in a roundabout way – it’s just a more cluttered and cramped tunnel so that it’s harder to see the light in the distance.

But it is there. If we keep pushing, fighting and striving to reach it. It has to be. There are so many stories of people that no longer fit the criteria to be diagnosed with their conditions and people that genuinely don’t struggle as much as they used to. There are so many people standing in that light that never thought it was possible, and so the possibility must be there for you and I as well.

tunEvery year I say to myself ‘this is it, I’m going to get through this’ and every following year I make the same statement after failing the previous. It’s difficult and it’s draining to keep living with these fears and these thoughts that haunt you.

It’s scary to be inside a mind of a person that doesn’t understand true happiness, that doesn’t know what it means. It’s ridiculous. How can I not know what true happiness is? How can I have never felt happy for longer than a week, or cried in a positive way?

It makes me want to throw it all in and admit defeat a lot of the time as that light grows weaker and looks further away than it ever has before. But whilst there’s still a glimmer of hope, I will continue to say to myself ‘this is it, I’m going to get through this’ – because I have to believe that in order to survive, and one day, that fighting spirit will make sure I do get through this.

lovelauren

The relief that comes afterwards.

*Trigger warning*

Now for those of you that saw my post last week, I was incredibly nervous about my exams that were taking place this week.

I haven’t been attending classes because my agoraphobia has become so bad, and therefore I’m incredibly far behind. But on top of that, I also have the agoraphobia to contend with during the exams.

Let’s be real – My finance exam on Tuesday can get a big black cross through it. It sucked. If I passed, I’m surprised and I’ll be extremely happy with the lowest grade possible. Finance hasn’t ever been my strong point. I can’t retain numbers and the fact that I was so far behind with my attendance meant I stood no chance.

That’s OK though. Retakes aren’t the end of the world and I’m pretty much at peace with the idea for the first time in my life. I was going through a horrible time and it wasn’t something I’m naturally good at. Anyone else would have done just the same.

download (1)

Today though – I had my law exam. I’m not naturally good at law – remembering all the acts and latin terms isn’t my strong point (overall this semester wasn’t really my strong point as I’m sure you can tell!). But my biggest issue was the exam itself.

I’ve taken these exams in separate rooms to limit my anxiety and I’m really glad the university have been nice enough to let me do that. But today’s exam was taking place on the second floor. No big deal right? Except for someone with agoraphobia that’s a bloody long way from the door. I’m trapped.

But I did it. My heart was in my mouth. I felt like I was going to throw up and it took me half a bloody hour to walk up two flights of stairs without feeling the need to pass out.

But I did it. I sat through the two exam and I did it.

And do you know what, I did well. My last minute hectic revising worked, and they literally asked me everything I knew the answers to.

Occasionally, just occasionally, life cuts you some slack and you can achieve more than you thought you ever could.

  • Beat the anxiety
  • Most likely passed overall

tick

lovelauren

A letter to my brain.

shi

I’m so fucking annoyed with you. Beyond annoyed. Furious. 

You’ve spent as many years as I can remember making everything harder for me. Making me scared beyond belief and making me sadder than I thought it was possible for a person to feel. You’ve made me feel ashamed, helpless, irritated, confused, paranoid and snappy for a large proportion of my life.

You’ve made my relationships harder with everyone around me, and you’ve made my relationship harder with myself.

It’s like you’re not apart of me. You’re cruel and twisted and awful, so you can’t have a connection to me – because I’m not cruel. How can I have something that cruel living inside of me?

Sometimes you give me the confidence to achieve anything. I could conquer the world. But you put ideas into my head that are too big. They’re beyond my knowledge, experience and they require all the money I have, but you convince me that I can do it. I can do it – I could say that a million times. I love you so much in that moment because everything’s fine. It’s better than fine, it’s amazing.

But then you dramatically and visciously tear down these ideas with belated rational thinking. And the world becomes even more fucked up than it was to start with.

You make me want to give up. You make me hate the life I lead because it’s too difficult. It’s too difficult being in my head. It’s painful and it’s exhausting – dealing with this shit all the time.

So you know what, brain – shut up. Be quiet. Leave me alone.

Let’s stop all this shit. Give me normal. A break from my reality. Make me brave enough to do what I want in life, give me confidence in my abilities, but also give me the strength to know my limits. Make me happy with what I’ve got – because I have a lot and I have no reason to be sad, and allow me to breathe freely for the first time in a long time.

I’m not asking you – I’m telling you. This shit ends now.

I’m sick of you. So stop making me sick.

l

Struggling

*Trigger warning*

How does it feel when you have an anxiety attack?

It makes me feel sick and dizzy. Like I haven’t got enough control to stand up and I’m not really sure what I’m looking at anymore. My heart is beating through my chest so hard it feels like it’s going to drop out onto the floor and my instinct is to run. Run as fast and as far away from the point in which I’m standing. It feels like death is creeping up on me. It’s happened a million times before but it’s always just as petrifying – it feels frustrating, it feels overpowering and it feels dumb.

Up until recently I would have told you I’m Claustrophobic. I hate being trapped anywhere. You know the usual – lifts, being locked in small rooms etc. But now that it’s growing and I understand the reasons behind the fear, the word Agoraphobia seems to suit much better.

images

Agoraphobia (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh) is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.

With agoraphobia, you fear an actual or anticipated situation, such as using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line or being in a crowd. The anxiety is caused by fear that there’s no easy way to escape or seek help if intense anxiety develops. Most people who have agoraphobia develop it after having one or more panic attacks, causing them to fear another attack and avoid the place where it occurred.
– Mayo Clinic

It’s getting worse and it has been for quite some time now. The once labelled Claustrophobia that prevented me from getting into a lift, now stops me from getting onto a train, a bus and sometimes even a car.

It stops me sitting in a crowded space or standing in a queue. I’m nervous when a door is shut, If I’m isolated, if I’m shut in; or if I’m on the top floor of a building.

And that’s where my problem lies today. I have exams this week. Tomorrow and Thursday. My tutors have been kind enough to offer me a separate room to take my exams, as the thought of sitting within a busy crowded room makes me more anxious than the exams themselves. However, I just went to visit the two alternative rooms to find out exactly where they are so that I don’t get lost tomorrow.

One of them is on the second floor. Not one set of stairs. Two. I got to the top of the first set and it hit me. That feeling of sick and dizzy. The lack of control and the blurred vision. My heart felt as though it was going to fall out and I did exactly what my instinct told me – I ran. I ran as far and as fast as I could.

So I’m too Agoraphobic for the special requirements that have been specially put into place for me? Now what?

Day 21: How many people know about your diagnosis?

31 Days of BPD

I’m an open book. I’ve never been good at keeping secrets and keeping things private. I’m not ashamed of who I am or what I’ve done in life.

When I was first diagnosed with BPD and Cyclothymia, BPD awareness month was just starting – so I shared some quotes on my Facebook page for everyone to see and also told them that this is what I had. And as for the anxiety, I couldn’t hide that from people even if I wanted to. It’s there for the world to see because it stops me from doing so many normal things. Why not educate people on why I can’t sit in a crowded cinema? It’s unusual so explain.

mental-health

Most of my friends know that I’ve suffered a lot over the years, so why not give them the reason why. There’s also a link to my blog on my Instagram; so my friends can click on it if they wish and see more in depth what it’s like to me.

If anything, my diagnosis was a relief rather than a burden. I liked the idea that there was a name for something that was causing me so much pain – and when there’s a name, there’s often a resolution. That was exciting to me.

I have this disorder and so sometimes life is harder than I wish it was. Sometimes I completely and utterly hate my life. Sometimes I love it. The brain is a fucked up thing – but that’s all it is. A diseased brain that isn’t functioning the same as everyone elses.

People wouldn’t judge you if you had any other illness with your brain would they? If you had a tumour or epilepsy or you had a stroke. And they won’t for this either.

This isn’t a choice. I do not choose to be this way. It’s an illness. Don’t be ashamed. It kills just as many people as those other life-threatening illnesses.

So my point is, if you haven’t told anyone. Tell someone. One person that you trust. Give them a little credit – their reaction won’t be anywhere near as bad as you anticipate. There’s so much focus on the stigmas associated with mental health (and don’t get me wrong, they’re there and we need to get rid of them), but if someone loves you they won’t judge you; so don’t let that put you off speaking about it.

The relief you’ll feel is incredible – and it gives you someone to talk to in your darkest hours. I wouldn’t give up my mum, boyfriend and best friends being there for me in those times for the world. It makes the world an easier place to be in.

lovelauren

Day 17: What are five of your biggest fears?

31 Days of BPD *Trigger warning*

I suffer with anxiety and so I have a few fears that relate directly to that –

  1. Claustrophobia
  2. Agoraphobia
  3. Fear of choking

These impact my life massively. Any small closed space, or even a formal setting where getting out would cause a fuss scares the life out of me. Trains. Elevators. Exams. Cinemas.

And the fear of choking has caused an eating disorder in the past. I was 17 when I stopped eating and luckily only 18 when I managed to control it. It was never Anorexia in the traditional sense, because it wasn’t about body image, but I didn’t eat at all. Every time I put food into my mouth, my throat closed up. Causing me to drop 2 st (28 lbs) pretty quickly.

aa

Then VS Now

Five years on, it still affects me but I’m OK. I eat enough and if anything I’m probably the biggest I ever have been (which isn’t at all big but I’m naturally small). But it still worries me. I’m always the last to finish a meal because I chew everything until there’s nothing left of it, when I look at a menu in a restaurant I evaluate which foods are less likely to choke me – it’s exhausting. This definitely isn’t as much of an issue currently as the Claustrophobia and Agoraphobia though. It’s just an underlying worry.

Really most of my fears are adaptations of this one fear:

4. Control

I always want to be in control. And if I’m not it petrifies me. If I’m choking I’m not in control of my body. If I’m stuck in a room or situation I’m not in control of what happens to me. A few things happened in my early teenage years where I wish I had more control and maybe some of the horrible situations wouldn’t have happened. I think this affects me a lot and when I think about it, it’s really the route cause of a lot of my anxieties.

Lastly,

5. Never having children or marrying

I can’t blame my mental health disorders entirely because that wouldn’t be fair, I have to take part of the blame, but they do make me impossible to be with sometimes. I push people away out of fear that they’ll leave anyway – and my way is less painful.

My poor and quite frankly amazing boyfriend has to put up with a hell of a lot. I never stop pushing him. I trust him completely 100% in terms of being faithful, but I don’t trust his word at all when it comes to staying. I have real problems when it comes to trust – most likely stemming from the people that have let me down in the past. The four people that have hurt me the most in my life were all my family, and if they can do it, anyone can.

It sounds ridiculous because I’m almost helping my fear become true, but it’s like a self fulfilling prophecy and it’s almost become a fact in my own head. This is something I need to change desparately because I wouldn’t put up with me.

But anyway. That’s it. My five biggest fears. What are yours?

lovelauren

Control

*Trigger warning*

Anxiety is something I haven’t spoken about much on this blog. It’s much more centered on the BPD and Cyclothymia, but anxiety is a part of my every day life.

I have an overwhelming fear of not being in control. This manifests itself in Claustrophobia – because I can’t get out, and Agoraphobia – because I metaphorically can’t get out.

I haven’t been on a train in 8 months. Trains are the easiest and cheapest connection between my life in Leeds, and my family in Ipswich. I can’t sit on a train without having a panic attack because I can’t get off it if I need to. So I can’t get to my family.

I can’t sit in the middle of an exam. Or stand in the middle of a crowd. Because I can’t get out.

I carry water with me EVERYWHERE I go. Without fail. If I don’t have it. I will have a panic attack. I can’t even go to the toilet in a restaurant without taking a bottle of water with me. I can’t go to the bar without taking a bottle of water with me. I can’t walk across a room without talking a bottle of water with me.

It’s irrational. It’s draining. And it’s every single day.

It makes my life impossible and undesirable. And when you throw in a mix of depression and mania and all the things that come with a personality disorder, everything is beyond difficult.

I’d like to quickly thank the current members of The Mental Health Art Auction that I’m conducting in August. It’s been less than 24 hours and we already have some fantastic bloggers joining the fight.

mental health art auction

The reason for doing this is so that something positive can come out of all this rubbish that can be my life at times.

The rubbish that can be everyone’s life. 

It’s giving me something to look forward to – and for that, you’re all amazing. 

Borderline Blonde
A Day with Depression
As We Seek, So Shall We Find

Onomatopoeicbliss
Luke Hood
Lost-One
Blissfully Crafted
Asparagus Speaketh
Manic Medic
Lifeofmiblog
David Susman PhD

If you’d like to join The Mental Health Art Auction fight, please let me know.
https://bylaurenhayley.wordpress.com/the-mental-health-art-auction/

love lauren x