It’s never enough

I always feel like I’m not enough. Not good enough, not smart enough, not trying enough.

Sometimes it’s in the back of my mind other times, if something triggers this.

Someone doing something amazing whilst I feel I’m sitting there stagnant or going backwards.

Rejection upon rejection upon rejection.

Waiting for emails. Emails of yet more rejections or hopefully good news.

Scrolling down linkedin or legal insta to find everyone getting training contract offers when you have nothing.

Everyone else having confidence to start various initiatives and you not.

Because who would care? Who would help?

People say you don’t network in the right way.

You can’t maintain relationships with people because you pushed all your friends away in the second year of university when you had zero mental health.

You are just simply not enough.

I don’t know how much of this is my poor self esteem as a result of never feeling heard as a child. At school, by my family. A result of emotional neglect/abuse. Or how much of it is a result of being chronically ill and when your chronically ill society expects you to be extroadinary.

To reach goals that most people don’t reach and be an inspiration.

If you don’t your just lazy. A burden on everyone.

It doesn’t help that I genuinely want to reach said goals.

Personally I think it’s a combination of the two causing my feelings of never enough.

I already push myself so much to do things and to function and to live life as close to how I want it as possible that when I see other people meeting standards that I expect of myself I feel like I’m not enough. People say I should do more or atleast insinuate it but there is no way I can fit more in.

I need to try and climb as it’s the only exercise I can tolerate and being conditioned makes a massive difference to my pain levels. It also gives me life.

I’m leaving my job but up until said point I am having to drag myself through 8 hours a day. 8 hours where the pressure in my head feels unbearable, Where my vision will start to fade on sitting up and where the brain fog is so thick that I don’t really trust myself.

I’m doing law things alongside.

Moving home to try and take care of my health before I start my LPC.

I can’t fit more in.

I find it funny that we are expected to be inspiarations but if a healthy person got my symptoms for a week it’s okay for them to do the bare minimum.

Why is this? Why has society developed in this f*cked up abelist way? I know I’m not the only one who suffers because of it, so if you do to you are not alone and you are enough.

You are sick enough for help: Mental Health Awareness week

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It’s the end of mental health awareness week and honestly we shouldn’t need one but there we go, we still do. Although we have come a long way there is still a significant amount of stigma out there.

Today I want to talk about, well write about how we all have mental health and there is never a point where you are not sick enough for help. Be that therapy, counselling or medication or even just that little bit of extra support from family, friends and collegues.

Mental health is just like physical health. Sometimes it can be good, sometimes it can be bad, sometimes it can be somewhere inbetween and just like physical health we shouldn’t ignore it if we start to feel it going because if we do ignore it, it will likely get worse and have a knock on effect on other aspects of our life. If it gets worse, it’s harder to then get back under control.

Just like physical pain, it’s better to take action when the pains a 3/10 because once it gets out of control more and more needs to be done.

Ignoring your mental health and sacrificing it above all else in life isn’t a badge of honour, it isn’t a way to show how brilliant you are or how hard you try. Your not being pathetic if you take time out, get therapy, take medication that’s okay. You are valid. You are worthy. You are not wasting the time of healthcare professionals. Even if you live in the UK and are reliant on the NHS. If you think you are having enough of an issue with your mental health that simple self care isn’t helping and only you know that you are worthy of help. See your GP, self refer to therapy.

I know living in the UK it can be hard, especially as a teenager because CAHMS often only help you in a timely manner if your on your death bed and even then…. I won’t waste words ranting about CAHMS though.

Many trusts now offer self referral to therapy, although limited in their use for people like me with currently mild/moderate anxiety and depression this can be really helpful  I have a lot more anxiety than depression though! I’ve been really quite anxious these past few days just because my family don’t understand ME but the second I try to explain they start spewing abelist language on me. That’s an anxiety that’s hard to overcome, when the people who are meant to support you most don’t see nor understand your illness but it’s kind of your fault because have you really tried but the issue is your too anxious to try.

That was a tangent…

Although there’s still waiting lists it’s not the 6 months to many years that can be found with other forms of mental health treatment on the NHS.

You are sick enough, you are worthy and you are deserving. Remember it’s better to prevent these issues arising at all, through rest, be selfish once in a while. Self care is important, you shouldn’t burn yourself out trying to be everything for everyone.

The problem with Illness Bingos

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These bingos have been floating around Instagram for years, they’ve only recently popped back up into the stories of those whom I follow. Maybe due to pandemic caused boredom.

I find these bingos problematic, on many counts. Both the physical health ones and the mental health ones. This isn’t an attack on anyone I’ve seen doing them or anyone creating them because I’m sure many people don’t realise the issues with them. It’s just a harmless piece of fun right? Maybe… to you. But there are some real issues associated with them that I’d like to discuss.

With both the physical and mental health bingos create some sort of sick competition as to whose the sickest. Who can score the most with symptoms, treatments and comorbidities. There has been this toxic competition going round certain parts of the spoonie community before and it’s simply not okay. A place that many come to for support and a sense of community. A place that many people come to in order to feel less alone. It’s supposed to be a safe space and not a source of ones own illness imposter syndrome.

This can be even more damaging with the mental health bingos. It’s already common with mental illnesses for people to believe they’re not sick enough for treatment. These bingos make that worse.

Mental health bingos can also be hugely triggering, especially eating disorder bingos which often give ideas for behaviours that can be used or use numbers.

It hurts my heart to see these in the recovery community, where someone’s followers are often highly vulnerable.

The thing with Instagram and especially stories is that it’s hard to avoid taking in this information. Unless someone puts a trigger warning on before doing the bingo and you can then choose to click off of the story.

I know how hard that is when we have limited energy and when we may not realise the trigger as it doesn’t trigger us. But if you want to engage in these bingos I believe it’s the safest way to do so.

 

Mental health in the workplace

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Maybe this isn’t the best time for this blog considering the majority of the world is either not working or working from home but I feel like the same points still stand. And if anything not working/working from home can bring up more anxiety, and I predict even more so when the time comes to go back into the office.

A workplace environment can bring up a lot of anxiety, and resulting depression. It may also lead to eating disorder tendencies coming back due to anxieties about eating in front of people, not having sufficient breaks or not being able to eat the same food.

I know my mental health is often associated around the workplace. Be it thinking no one likes me or thinking I’m not good enough. I’ve also found myself getting anxious over how often I get up from my desk in the office environment. Especially in the office I’m in right now, where my job does not require me to get up to go to the printer on a regular basis.

I find as a perfectionist, the pressure gives me a lot of anxiety. The pressure to be perfect. Which is hard when I have chronic illnesses that make being perfect impossible.

If you find your job is negatively impacting your mental health remember it’s okay. Especially if transitioning to a new role. Take time for self care, take time for hobbies.

Try and find the positives.

Many workplaces also now have mental health first aiders if you find yourself in a crisis at work.

Remember to open up to others. Don’t bottle it up. You’ll likely be surprised to find that other people have been through similar things. We all have mental health and although we won’t all experience a clinically diagnosable mental illness in our lifetime, everyone will experience certain lows and a level of anxiety. Also sharing a problem really helps, bottling it up only makes it worse. If you have no one to share with 7Cupsoftea is a good website for this!

Don’t stress about what you can’t control. I know many people have been and are still worried about their job security during this pandemic. You can’t control that. So try not let it eat you away. By all means come up with a plan but don’t catastrophise.

It’s okay to get help. By this I mean professional help. If you feel you would benefit from therapy or medication then that’s okay. You do you. Do whatever helps you. (Providing it is safe, non-destructive and isn’t going to harm you or anyone else)

Finally, don’t beat yourself up. Your not weak. Your not pathetic. Your not melodramatic. Your human. Beating yourself up is only going to make your mental health worse.

Stay safe everyone. Look after your physical and mental wellbeing and I’ll see you in my next blog.

 

Eating disorders are more than the stereotype often reinforced during this week.

It’s eating disorder awareness week,  and having suffered from an eating disorder myself I always like to acknowledge it in some way.  To be honest this year inspiration is running thin. What with my current job destroying my mental health and meaning those eating disordered thoughts are creeping back in and this ME flare up which is relentless could god forbid I could just phone up and call in sick when I’m still climbing. That internalised guilt is real as well as internalised ableism.

Anywho on with the post!

I’ve been in the eating disorder recovery community for years, own recovery My own recovery starting in the summer/autumn of 2013. I’ve been through many a EDAW and had to deal with those before and after pictures. Before I knew better, I may have even participated in this trend myself.

But I feel as though these pictures, this type of awareness misses the point. It caters to the middle class white skeletal female version of what an eating disorder is. It caters to and perpetuates the stereotype which is not at all relatable or a representative depiction of eating disorders  as a whole.

This image and reinforcement ignores the fact that anorexia isn’t the only eating disorder, as well as that anyone can get an eating disorder. Anyone of any race, size, socio-economic background.

Most dangerously these pictures continue the misconception that an eating disorder is just about weight. This is damaging on all counts but most importantly on the likelihood of and the success of treatment for the disorder. I know myself, only a tiny part of my eating disorder journey was spent underweight and less of that was spent emaciated. I did have anorexia and further through my recovery compulsive exercise and orthorexia but this isn’t the case for the majority of eating disorder sufferers. Many more have bulimia, binge eating disorder or OSFED who may never become underweight or may be overweight. This misconception is also damaging for those who are underweight or who will in the future end up under weight. It can make everyone think they’re recovered when ED recovery is about so much more than weight restoration. An eating disorder is a mental illness, thus to recover the mind needs to recover and this can often take years.

Instead of posting images that focus on weight I believe we should take weight out of the equation and think about warning signs and symptoms of an eating disorder instead.

These can include:

  • Being preoccupied with weight/shape
  • Being preoccupied with food
  • Denying themselves food
  • Secrecy
  • Going to the bathroom straight after a meal
  • Constantly making excuses as to why they’re not eating
  • Not eating in public
  • Hiding food
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Wearing different clothing than usual – i.e more baggy
  • Overexercising or exercising with the wrong motivations in mind.
  • Hoarding food
  • Taking laxatives/diuretics

There are many others, but these are just a few from the top of my head.  I personally use a traffic light system to maintain my own recovery. Green – alls good. Amber – I’m showing a few personal warning signs but not really acting on them. Red – I’m acting on my disordered thoughts. I find this really helps me keep check on myself.

I hope this helps raise some awareness and explain some of the issues with focusing on just one aspect of a very complex set of mental illnesses!

Fear of getting back on that rope

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Yes. I am aware. We are becoming a climbing blog which is dangerous because I have v few decent bouldering pictures left and 0 rope pictures so stock pictures it is until I get new ones taken!

Anywho. This is highly related to mental health, chronic illness and why I boulder. For people who have followed me for a while you will know that when I climbed competitively I had anorexia. As I competed regionally, these were top rope competitions. I was a top rope climber and I did a little lead which I fell in love with instantly and need to relearn and find people to do so with.

Back in the day, climbing got very tied up with my eating disorder. How tight was my harness? Had I gained weight? Heck does my harness still fit me? People with eating disorders are also often perfectionists, very competitive and have to be the best. And here comes my I used to measure myself by a climbing grade.

But I used to beat myself up if I couldn’t do x climb as well as y. I literally pushed myself through beyond excruciating collar bone pain, two weeks after my injury to get up a relatively easy overhang climb because my partner did it easily and I didn’t want to show weakness. I then even lied to my climbing instructor about the pain because I didn’t want to show weakness.

Now climbing with multiple chronic pain conditions – yes I do push myself through excruciating pain. Yes I have partially dislocated hips, toes and shoulders on the wall. But that’s now. Now when I am also making an effort to be very self aware. And that’s okay.

But in 2014. It wasn’t and I recognise that now. A hobby shouldn’t turn into yet another facet of a severe mental illness.  So I stopped competing and 2 years later ended up exclusively bouldering.

Bouldering – (although I was still way more obsessed with that number than I should have been, meaning I didn’t practice my weaknesses) was a way to escape from that connection. It also took away the harness. Bouldering allowed me to love the sport again and find myself. Through bouldering I found my freedom.  I never thought I’d see myself as a boulderer. I still often catch myself resending a problem and realising I’m climbing like a top roper. But bouldering gave me that freedom when I needed it the most. Strangely I find bouldering a lot more social too!

So now here I am. More in love with the sport than I have been since I was 15/16 and anorexic. And I want to get back on that rope. If I can fund it. It is also an integral part of at least  one of my 2020 climbing goals and maybe a 2nd new goal since realising how much I miss competing.

But I have 2 fears. One is mental health related. Will getting back on a rope suddenly make it feel more serious again and make me take it too seriously and will I as a result, fall out of love. Am I in a place where I will take each day as it comes and not obsess about getting that grade? I think I am. But what if I’m not.

The second is physical health related. Do I have the endurance? What will the payback be like? Now of course I recognise top roping will be easier on my joints than bouldering as no high impact falls or jumps. But what about my ME?

Now of course I don’t know unless I try. And yeah maybe it will be a waste of £9. Maybe the payback will be more than I can hack. Maybe I can’t even top the wall on the easiest of routes. Or maybe it will feel even more like coming home than getting back into the sport 6 weeks ago did.

There’s no way of knowing until I try. So even if I have to diarise it. I will take that leap. And I dare everyone reading this to take a leap too. With anything that has been scaring them but they also know, in their heads and they’re hearts that it’s what they want.

Learning to accept that things take time

Patience is a virtue

I don’t know who said that originally, but it is something that is always said. Especially to someone whom does not have patience as one of their strengths.

I am not a patient person. I expect everything to happen instantly, fall into place instantly, be instant.

But that’s not life, that’s not reality. Not for the most of us. Reality is you don’t finish your degree and bam start work. Security checks take time, DBS checks take time. Hey, the start date may not be for a while.

Things take time, and that’s okay! Don’t feel bad for things you can’t control and don’t let anyone make you feel that way.

I’m currently in this awful place of waiting. Waiting for a temporary job to start – providing I get the references and DBS. A job that I’m not actually well enough to do but I just need something so desperately and it’s something enjoyable that I would happily volunteer to do. Waiting to hear back from a graduate scheme that I’m really passionate about, which starts in October.  Waiting to hear back for a paralegal position and waiting for security checks for another provisional offer. (Although haven’t been given anything to sign yet and that ones all v vague as to start date). And the all important waiting for the module results.

And that’s okay. It’s stressful and it’s difficult but that’s okay.

In times like this you just need to take each day as it comes and seize the day! Really just appreciate the life you’re in and find opportunities for yourself. Spend time doing the things you enjoy and see what happens.

I find that makes it a lot more enjoyable and stops you falling into that – watching an entire season of friends in a day trap. Although, I do like to watch it whilst I’m doing other things.

If you have some savings take a short holiday – somewhere not too far away. I’m going away next week and honestly now praying someone doesn’t just email me like “here’s a job, start now.” Because I have plans for those four days.

A welcome break. An adventure. Call it what you will. I like to call it a bit of both.

My first time solo travelling. Yes I’ve caught planes alone and stayed in a different city alone, but never have I been to a country, where I can’t speak the language alone.

Plan your future. I feel uncertainty gives you a lot of time to think. Like me knowing that in my head and my heart I’m a barrister so if I’m going to self fund a vocational training course it should the BPTC. Not that I’d turn down an opportunity to become a solicitor. Maybe I should have thought of this last year and applied deferred but oh well. We’re thinking this year. Actually I’m thinking I might seriously go for it – once I have a stableish living city. An end of the country would be helpful right now.

Then I can train as a Barrister and go into academia later. I don’t know what money with because we all know I’ll end up trying the whole legal aid bar thing.

I quite clearly have big plans which, hopefully I’ll have the spoons to put into place. To set the wheels in motion and make it happen.

And, what I’m saying is it’s okay to take it slower for a while. It’s necessary actually. Especially if your suffering from chronic and/or mental illnesses.

It’s okay to not have it all figured out. And maybe, just maybe. If you take time out, take it slower – you’ll see new things, appreciate simpler things and realise new things.

So maybe, patience really is a virtue.

 

The one where I discuss loneliness and always feeling like an outcast

Essentially more of Han moaning about her fam to get the point across, also I’ve been watching friends, which explains the title.

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I’ve been noticing it more as I’ve got older and since I’ve matured into an adult in my family. That not being included in anything, not being listened to and not being heard. I’ve also noticed it in committee meetings, in friendship groups. When it comes to it no one ever hears what I say and I feel invisible.

And that’s it. That’s my life.

And then one wonders why I have mental health issues the way I do. Why I feel like no one cares. Why I struggle to make friends and talk to people.

Why I just feel so incredibly alone…

Especially now I’m seeing my brothers be listened to and included.

I wonder…. I wonder what it is that wrong with me.

I was inspired to talk about this because I ended up going to my nans this morning and now deeply regretting it. Thinking it would only be a couple of hours and now realising it’s taken up the entire day. At least all the energy I have to do useful things due to my ME/CFS. I had plans. But I went because… well I felt like I had to.

To go to not feel rewarded or valued and be intentionally left out. To not be included in any conversation. To now realise we’re staying for lunch and there’s nothing I can eat because I have to be plant based due to health issues.

I ate dairy yesterday and still regret it today because it genuinely feels like it just stays in my stomach forever.

To not know when we can go home so I can work on my interview prep that I have planned and after having been dragged on a dog walk I doubt I’ll have the energy to read, process information and write.

I can’t be the only one to feel this way. The only one to just not fit in…

The only one who just does not get on with there family full stop but until a job comes it’s way in a formal manner cannot do anything but live with them.

The one who desperately tries to please everyone but it’s never enough….

And I need someone to talk to. I think everyone needs someone to talk to if there in this situation. They need to feel loved, accepted, cared for. And society needs to help facilitate this. Going back to my previous post this may be a situation where social media is a force for good. But we also need real people in the real world to talk to.

I think this is why many people who report similar situation end up in abusive relationships… because it’s so easy to get sucked in and give the benefit of the doubt if you’ve never felt loved accepted or listened to.

Us more than ever, need safe spaces. Need an out, need options.

Need unconditional love. And at the very least – like minded people to talk to. To lessen the feelings of loneliness.

We need hope and faith that there is always and out and it will get better. At some point it will. Maybe not now and maybe not forever.

We need to see the light. To understand it’s not because it’s something wrong with us. And it’s also not our fault.

I find because of my experience I put a lot of blame on myself.

But anyway. I’m aware this post had no structure. I just want everyone to think. To think about what they could do to those of us in society who don’t look lonely but are. I want everyone to remember that they can’t see what happens behind closed doors and to look for warning signs.

Is someone quieter than usual, on the contrary are they being more needy than usual, are they acting out at school, grades dropping, self harming. Are they placing blame on themselves a lot, or making any other concerning statements? Less active on social media?

Keep an eye out on things and take action. It doesn’t have to be huge. It can be as little as just reaching out. But I do hope those in power to change things take action. Build awareness and programmes in the community to help us feel included.

Those of us left out. Left behind. Misunderstood. We deserve more.

Social media: Is it a force for good or does it harm mental health?

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Social media and it’s impact on us as individuals could honestly make up an entire dissertation or three. But today I am going to try to discuss social media and it’s impact on mental health, on community, on broadening horizons in one- hopefully not too long blog post.

First I want to say that the negative mental health effects of social media depend on mindset, on personality, on self-esteem. If you’re competitive, a perfectionist, have low self esteem social media, especially certain forms of social media will not be good for you. If you’re an empath you may be more negatively affected by it than others and may need to take more of a step back at time. To take care about what is appearing on your feed and really curate it to suit you.

In these cases seeing how much more successful everyone else is, seeing others balance 101 projects and still get 85s in their law exams hurts. It hurts, because most of us aren’t that “successful.” I put it that way because success does not have one definition – but society makes us feel that way. And I think when you see people being the person you wish you could be if it wasn’t for x, y or z it hurts.

Because yes. You can be anything you want to be – I truly believe in that statement to a point. But it shouldn’t be taken too literally.

I would love to be able to be a full time activity leader again because it would give me a summer job. But I can’t – it would objectively destroy me unless I was to solely do arts and crafts, movie nights and language games. But I don’t have that choice! It’s all or nothing.

When you take what is meant to be motivational too literally, when you compare yourself social media can be so harmful. Which is why It’s so important to check yourself and if one person is causing too much harm unfollow them.

One platform I find particularly damaging is Facebook. Because at least on my Facebook and indeed it’s intention is to only have people you know in your “friends list”. I get hurt when people don’ recognise my achievements as much as they recognise others. If I post to say I got a grade no one would care but other people even if they got lesser grades get hundreds of comments. And it’s not like it’s because it was harder to get those grades. It’s just the way it is – it’s the algorithm, it’s the amount of real friends, family they have.

It makes me feel incredibly alone…. especially when mutual friends comment but fail to comment on my post.

God that sounds self centred. But it’s why I am trying to use it a lot less. And eventually not atall because it is not a positive influence on my life. And I can’t make it  be.

Social media can however also be a force for good. A unifier. A way to connect with similar people whom you would not have otherwise connected with. It can make you feel less alone if you’re disabled and unable to get out of the house to see people much. If you have mental illness.

It can be a place for empowerment and broadening horizons. For finding new opportunities. It can too be a force for good.

I think it’s just really important to be so careful with how you consume it. So it stays that way.

Post-Exam Depression

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I’m not really sure what led me to start writing this, other than I think that this affects more people than those who let on about it. It makes sense really, putting everything into these exams, especially if your not good at self care and spend far too long working each day at the expense of everything else. Coming out of it and suddenly feeling low, hopeless or even scared makes sense, especially if your a person who already has a background of poor mental health. This is even more likely if you’ve just finished your final year exams and your suddenly compounded into uncertainty. We’re bound to find ourselves feeling this way.

And it’s so difficult to deal with. You have this desperate urge to be productive and get things done and you are – you do more than lay around watching TV all day, but it feels worthless. It feels useless. You see everyone on social media around you, living their best life, having a job, having an income, having a purpose…

And you, you have to try and keep the money you have and make it last so lets say goodbye to living that best life. Desperate for a long weekend abroad, at the very least, but can’t justify it financially because you have no job.

Admittedly, at this juncture I may have a full time job, which would allow me to apply for the LPC (Solicitor qualification in the UK), and take that alongside. Pending security checks, which I am currently stressing about. Maybe post exam anxiety is also a thing to.

I know they could take months. But here I am stressing about people finding my YouTube channel, which although no one watches at the moment other than me, myself and I – I’ve had my mum frequently hate on me for doing YouTube (back in the day where I had more than me, myself and I watching). I had her scaremongering, saying I wouldn’t get a job if I posted things on YouTube or any social media for that matter.

What if my past actions have destroyed an opportunity I was so, so close to getting. What if… I can’t bare to be moving back home long term. I function much better when I’m away from my family. And even if I didn’t – part of me feels like I’ve failed somehow.

I feel like people perceive me as lazy, unambitious, useless….

Because I’m neither doing my degree anymore, nor am I contributing to society.

And it hurts.

I’m not the sort of person who can just sit down and do nothing easily. I can no longer spend an entire day binging a TV show. And I guess that’s why I’m writing this now. My mental health needs me to be busy, but not self made busy, actually usefully busy.

Life’s difficult.

And I just want to send a message to anyone reading this who may be experiencing something similar, that you are not alone.