The Great Fire

One day, my mum and I went into our local town. We were only there for a short while, so I parked outside the shops on one of the main roads, where you can park for an hour for free.

When we got back to the car, the car wouldn’t start. I rang a friend who works with cars, and he immediately came out to look at it. The fix was easy… just tightening something up as there was an issue with a connection, and it had let a bit of fuel out.

Relieved that it was all fixed so quickly and that it had only been a simple issue, we went on our way to a supermarket in a nearby village.

By the time I had come out of the shop, I had begun worrying about the fuel that may have spilled out of the car… I couldn’t help but wonder, panic… How much fuel had leaked? Should we have cleaned it up? Should we have told someone?

My mum isn’t an anxiety sufferer, but with my incessant panicking, I had even convinced her that maybe we should have done something. I began wondering… who would we tell? Should we have told the fire department, would they be able to help with a clean up of a big fuel spillage?

I was worried it would set alight. It would be so easy… someone just flicking a cigarette end, not realising there was fuel on the floor. And then what? It could hurt someone really badly! And what about the other cars parked up too? It could be really bad. If there was a fire and then that spread to a parked up car…. Oh God, this could be bad!

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I told my mum I wanted to go home via the point we had been parked, and she agreed, just so that we could check it was ok, or to decide from there what we should do.

As we drove back into town, my stomach was churning – replaying every possible scenario of what might happen, who could be hurt, what the consequences would be for me. It was an accident. I never meant to hurt anyone, but nevertheless, I was responsible. I could have done something. I should have done something.

As we hit some traffic lights, we heard sirens from an emergency services vehicle of some kind. My stomach dropped. I felt absolutely sick.

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Finally, we reached the road where we had been parked, and as we drove up to it, there was absolutely no sign of where we had even been parked. Nothing. No sign at all of even the tiniest bit of fuel spillage.

The whole thing had been built up in my head. From essentially nothing, I had basically convinced myself I had neglected the safety of others and catastrophized, imagining people would be hurt and I would be in trouble.

This is anxiety. This is what it does. It does this over and over all day, every day with the smallest of things. It is exhausting. This is what it is like to live with anxiety. This is the reality of living with mental health issues, this is what it is like.

 

Positively Positive

Have you ever decided that you want to lose weight? Decided that you are going to go on a diet and you just need to decide what the start date of that diet will be?
You tell yourself every day that you need to sort your weight out, that you need to eat healthier, that you want to get into a healthy routine, that you want to shed that bit of weight you have been wanting to lose For the last couple of months? But your brain does not seem to want to co-operate?
The same brain that knows what it wants and how to get it, but the same brain that keeps putting up mental obstacles to knock your motivation and hold you back?
That is what it is like living with a mental illness and being told to ‘be happy and ‘think positive’. Our brain may know what we want, and even have ideas how to do it – but there are mental blockers In the way, holding us back, stopping us from being able to just flick a mental switch to ‘positive mode’.

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Telling someone with mental health issues to ‘think positive’ and ‘stop thinking so negatively’ is like telling a smoker to quit smoking.
We know that smoking is bad for our health, just like we know negative thoughts are bad for our mental health. The more we smoke the worse our health gets, and we know negativity breeds negativity.
We know that quitting smoking is the best thing for us and our health, just like we know thinking positively is better for mental health – but that doesn’t make it a quick fix option. The mental blockers are there preventing us from just switching that ‘positive mode’ switch.

We can try for days, weeks, months, years to get in to ‘diet mode’ and not succeed in losing that weight because of the mental blockers we keep fighting.
We can try for days, weeks, months, years to get in to ‘quitting mode’ and not succeed in quitting smoking because of the mental blockers we keep fighting.
We can try for days, weeks, months, years to get into ‘positive mode’ and not succeed in feeling positive because of the mental blockers we keep fighting.

But often, suddenly, without anything being different, other than the mental blockers seem to lift – the stars seem to align and we succeed to put ourselves into ‘diet mode’, ‘quitting mode’, ‘positive mode’. It feels like we are fighting to the same degree we were before, but the mental blockers are gone.

And for a while we start to lose weight, stop smoking, thinking positively.
But just like we can end up putting weight back on, or start smoking again, the negative thoughts can creep back in again.

It is a lifelong battle.

That is the reality of mental health issues.

That is why telling someone to “think positive” can great more of a negative effect.

Just because they aren’t being positive does not mean they are not trying to fight a hard mental battle.

Favourite Females on Twitter

I have mentioned before that, for those of you who follow me on Twitter, I have a Thursday Theme which is a day I dedicate to a particular theme and post tweets all day relating to that theme.

Remember you can follow me on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/My_SimpleMind

When I was approached by @Womenwithgifts https://twitter.com/womenwithgifts about teaming up for a Thursday Theme it felt only right to dedicate a day to our favourite females!

So that’s what this week’s theme is about!

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For each of my themes I use a hashtag that relates to the theme each week – Checkout the hashtags #ThursdayTheme and #FavouriteFemales so that you don’t miss any of the posts!

As part of the theme of #FavouriteFemales I asked my followers on Twitter which females they admired / liked to follow on Twitter.

Here are some of their answers:

@MaddDawgDailey’s (https://twitter.com/madddawgdailey) recommendations were:

@heldbygel https://twitter.com/heldbygel

@Plgrimnow https://twitter.com/plgrimnow

@Suziewong110271 https://twitter.com/suziewong110271

@PinksterC_87 https://twitter.com/PinksterC_87

@CrazyQdilla https://twitter.com/CrazyQdilla

@katelaurg https://twitter.com/katelaurg

He recommends them because “These are extremely strong females who have all experienced different forms of serious trauma and are letting their voices being heard everyday while helping others too.”

 

@Son68w https://twitter.com/son68w recommends:

@J_Ali8991 / @annetted6 / @UserNotFound084 / @CarolKettley / @Catherine3LLLs / @vicki_lawson5 / @familywebster4 / @VodkaGothBitch / @Paula_bigbush / @toonarby

“Because they all make me laugh and we’ve all got the same daft sense of humour”

 

@Derbyshireduck https://twitter.com/Derbyshireduck also has a number of females she recommends to follows for various reasons:

“My #favouritefemales

@yorkshiremumof4

-very helpful positive advice about blogging.

@imogen_chloe27

-talented writer& an intelligent thinker.

@blog_fibro

-stoic& inspirational

@BlanketFortBlog

-fun& makes me smile

@JewelleryTales

– so hardworking.”

 

And me personally? Well I follow SO many amazing inspiring females it is hard to choose though I do have to say:

After meeting them through the work we do for the @MHCrisisAngels https://twitter.com/MHCrisisAngels, 2 of the most influential women on Twitter for me have to be:

@Plgrimnow https://twitter.com/plgrimnow

@Suziewong110271 https://twitter.com/suziewong110271

I could write pages on why but I will try to sum it up in as few words as possible:

– They are caring

– They are real and honest

– They are passionate

– They are great mothers and role models

– They are dedicated & committed to helping others

– They are up for a laugh and have a great balance between taking life seriously bit not too seriously

– I have learnt from them & they are open to learning themselves

– They are true friends

 

So, which females do you like to follow on Twitter?

The Millennial Life

How many times have we heard the negative things about ‘Millenials’?
They get such a bad reputation that even people who I know that fall under the Millennial generation try and deny they are a Millennial – simply because it is a label, and a lifestyle reputation they have no connection with.

So who are these ‘Millennials’? Generally a Millennial is classed as someone who was born between the early 1980s to the mid to late 1990s.

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We are a generation who were raised in a time where it was still ok to play in the street and ride to the park, but where we had an array of TV shows at our finger tips on Sky TV or Cable; A generation who adapted quickly from the adjustment from video cassette movies to DVD players; The first generation to perfect their text typing speeds. We grew up in a world where Beanie Babies would one day be worth something, Pogs were banned in playgrounds due to them being a ‘gambling concern’, and where we were amazed that we could teach Furbies how to speak. In our childhood, the biggest worries were knowing who loved Orange soda, memorizing the lyrics to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and remembering to feed our Tamagotchis so they didn’t die!

With the introduction of the internet and home computers becoming the norm, we were also the first generation to excel at online communication – waiting for someone to finish on the landline so that we can use the old dial-up connection to join chat rooms, log onto MSN Messenger and perfect our ‘MySpace’ layouts.

We had it all. We had everything. And we were reminded of this.
In the UK, growing up we had exams around every corner – SATS every few years, GCSEs, A-levels… We had the best opportunities and we were expected to succeed and being constantly tested to see how we performed.

We are expected to succeed academically so that we can succeed in our careers – so that we can excel and be the best we can be.
We are expected to have some kind of recognised profession co tributing to society – Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers.

Without the qualifications, will people want to employ you? Yet with the qualifications but no full time work experience, will people want to employ you?
I have seen so many examples where people have walked out of University with degrees and ended up working alongside those without qualifications – working sometimes for a higher wage for their degree and sometimes not. Those with a degree of course, still having to pay off University debts so being on the property ladder is not something they can even consider whilst in their 20’s.

The house prices these days make it terribly difficult for people to get their step on the property ladder. A study from the financial Times https://www.ft.com/content/81343d9e-187b-11e8-9e9c-25c814761640 looked at the cost of housing, while “incomes have faltered”.

There are, of course, those who are fortunate enough to have parents who can help them out financially, to help them onto their first step (for me and my husband our support came in the form of us both living with my parents while we saved – something which is becoming increasingly common in millenials in order for us to be able to afford our own homes).
There are those who are unfortunate that can afford to get onto the housing ladder due to an inheritance following a bereavement – something else which happens less due to the longer life expectancies.

We are faced with the challenges we learnt from the lessons of previous generations where pension schemes can’t always be trusted and you need hefty deposits to purchase homes.

Women are expected to work full time, have careers and still manage a household. There is still shaming from previous generations if homemade meals aren’t cooked. There is still a judgement from previous generations when it comes to hired help in the form of cleaning companies – and this is for the ones who are fortunate enough to be in a position to earn enough to have that as an option.
Men are also expected to work full time and have a career and expected to be a ‘modern man’ – contributing to household chores.

Women are stigmatized whatever choices they make it seems – if they choose a career, why are they not having children? Or why is someone else taking care of their children?
If they choose to be a stay at home mum – why are they not working to provide for their children? Why are they not setting an example for their children?

Who adds to the stigma Millenials face? Well for one, The Media. Compared to previous generations, there has never been such an overwhelming media presence – News 24/7 – News on the TV, in Newspapers, Online. The Media have to make stories to feed the demand.
Social Media also has a massive role to play – playing the comparison game on Facebook is not productive and negatively affects our mental health.
As we are the first generation facing this lifestyle, we are the ones who’s mistakes will be learnt by future generations.

More of the issues Millennials face can be found in this interesting post about ‘quarter life crisis’ https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/dec/30/me-and-my-quarter-life-crisis-a-millennial-asks-what-went-wrong

It discusses the pressures we are faced with and how it impacts us mentally and is an interesting read.

While we as Millenials are very fortunate, we are constantly referred to as the ‘snowflake’ generation – when the truth is that we are like many other generations – we have benefits previous generations before us didn’t, but there are also challenges we face that other generations were not faced with.

My view is that every generation can learn from the previous, and that in a time when we will be living longer and become a world of multiple generations, we should each respect our similarities and differences.

New Year, Same Old Me?

So 2018 has ended, and what did it bring for me?

Well like every other year of my life, and like pretty much most other people’s lives, it was a year of highs and lows. It was a year that in some ways feels it has taken an eternity to get to the end of, and in other ways I feel like “are we really at the beginning of a New Year again already?”
So basically it is like Groundhog year I suppose.

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This year for me started like most others, it ended on some massive lows but some good things have also come from my year.

I guess the lows reflect my ‘real’ life and the highs reflect my ‘online’ life (generally speaking).

The beginning of the year found me continuing to encourage others that it is ok to need and ask for help – that there is no shame in not being ok.
All the while, I was failing to see the downward spiral I was on mentally. I was aware of it to some degree, but hadn’t fully acknowledged it. It felt ok to say others needed help, but not ok for me to ask for it. At least not to the degree I was starting to feel I needed it.

While I was telling everyone it was ok to seek help and support, it began to open my eyes to the fact I was not doing the same myself.

After a while it became too much and my ‘mental meltdown’ happened before work one morning. I finally cracked and decided I had to seek professional help to try and stop feeling the way I did, and to try and stop some of the behaviours I had begun due to my mental health issues.
I called the Doctor’s Surgery and sent texts to my husband and mum. I apologised for failing them. I told them I couldn’t do it any more – that I needed help to stop me feeling the way that I did.

When I went to the Doctor that day, I barely said many words, as it was mainly tears. He was very kind and very patient. He prescribed me with medication and referred me to a local team to decide the method of support I could get, where I attended an information session. After this they enrolled me onto 6 group CBT sessions.

Having to take time out from work to attend these sessions, I was completely open and honest with my manager about my mental health issues and he supported my need to attend the sessions. This was a big thing for me because my role had changed at work and in honesty it was contributing a lot to my mental health issues, something I only truly begin to realise more and more as time goes on.
In addition to this I opened up to one of my work colleagues who I am closest to and she was very supportive and understanding, having experienced mental health issues herself before. It is amazing when you open up about Mental Health, that others feel able to open up too. This helped my day to day work life massively as she understood and could help reassure my anxieties, encouraging me to put my own mental wellness first.

I attended 6 sessions of group CBT and the tablets seemed to be helping a little and alleviating some of the behaviours I was developing.

I had a small Twitter account which I began using more actively at the end of July and started tweeting about Mental Health. Through this I met the incredible mental health community on Twitter. More detail on this can be found in my previous posts (‘The Me In Social Media’ – Part One can be found here: https://wp.me/paaGKg-j)

This led me to meet some amazing people and also to create The Mental Health Crisis Angels on Twitter (you can follow us here https://twitter.com/MHCrisisAngels)

Around the same time, my job role changed again. As my confidence in what I was doing with the Angels grew, and I loved the new purpose I had found – things at work were getting worse. I was increasingly unhappy in my job, and discovered I was going to have to take redundancy at the back end of 2019. On top of this I had additional medical issues which, combined with my anxiety, was causing me to take regular time off work – something which was uncommon for me.
My Mental Health was getting worse again, some of the behaviours creeping back in like they had before.

That didn’t stop me finally doing what I had been wanting to do for years though – and that was starting my first blog!

Nor did it stop me continuing the work with the Angels, and going on to create a blog for the MH Crisis Angels before the year was out. You can follow their blog here https://mhcrisisangels.wordpress.com

2018 ended in me turning back to the professionals, but this time it will be Private rather than through the NHS – and that is where my 2019 journey will begin.

So what does 2019 hold for me?

🦋 To try and make the best of a bad situation at work – to try and turn things around and see where things go for my final months in the company
🦋 To continue my mental health journey towards having much better understanding and control of my mental health and wellbeing
🦋 To seek new work opportunities
🦋 To continue the work I have started with my own Twitter account, and continue to grow the MH Crisis Angels to provide as much support to those struggling as we can
🦋 To work on and grow the blogs for My Simple Mind and MH Crisis Angels
🦋 To keep working on myself as much as I can – to be the best me that I can be!
🦋 To encourage and remind people that it is ok not to be ok – whether that is someone else, or yourself!!