My mental health issues

With it being Mental Health Awareness Week, I thought it timely to write about what has been going on with me lately, in particular with regards to my mental health.

One week into the new year – my feet were itching and I was craving some sunshine and adventure, so we booked ourselves an amazing holiday to Malaysia in April, where we would celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. I was excited, I hadn’t felt this excited in a long time.

As January continued, a sense of unease came creeping in. Having dealt with (mainly social) anxiety for a long time I told myself that I always feel shit in January and February and that it would pass once March came along. I got myself some herbal remedies, went back to yoga class and brushed off that gnawing feeling as a seasonal thing.

Late February, one Sunday I had gone upstairs to lie down and read a book. My husband came up to check on me as I had just disappeared without saying anything… and that’s when it first flooded out. I was scared, anxious, crying. Something bad was going to happen. In the pit of my stomach I knew that something bad was going to happen. I didn’t want to go on holiday. I didn’t want to go to work. But I also didn’t want to cancel my holiday or quit my job. Something did not feel right. I am not an overly emotional person and I rarely cry in front of other people, including my husband.

Two days later I managed to get an appointment at a walk-in centre to see a doctor who referred me to online therapy. I began therapy but around five weeks after my first breakdown, it hit me again. That escalating dreaded, miserable, hopeless, nauseating feeling. I wasn’t eating properly. I wasn’t sleeping properly. And I had had a headache and jaw pain for about two weeks straight.

Cue another doctors visit. She asked me questions and sent me for a blood test, stating that I was showing severe symptoms of anxiety and depression. She also prescribed me anti-depressants and a sedative and told me to come back to see her the following week. As I was crossing the road from the surgery to get to the pharmacy my mind considered what would happen if I just stopped and let the oncoming traffic hit me. I didn’t want to die, quite the opposite, but if I got knocked down then I could rest up and not feel like I had to try to prove how bad I was feeling.

That weekend was my birthday and easter – two of my favourite things and yet I was in no mood to celebrate. I felt like a robot. Like I was physically present but void of any emotion, or any good feeling at least. Everything was going on around me but I wasn’t really there. Smiling was an effort. I don’t know how it looked from the outside but I ended up going AWOL from work because every day I woke up with a racing heart and a big black cloud over my head.

I returned to see the GP as requested and the reception I got was less than friendly. My blood tests were fine and it seemed as though she had more or less forgotten that she had asked me to return, she almost seemed angry that I was bothering her. My mum came with me so I know I wasn’t imagining the doctor’s unfriendly attitude. If I didn’t have white coat syndrome before then I’m pretty sure I have it now. I was in a much worse state than before.

What then followed was me being signed off work for two weeks and then cancelling our holiday. A holiday I had had on my bucket list for many years. Travel had felt like the only cool thing I had to show for my life and here I was not even being able to do that. I felt like shit. On top of the dread of the future that I was carrying, plus the fear of the ‘bad thing’, I was now laden with guilt for cancelling our wedding anniversary holiday, guilt about taking this adventure away from my husband and the sense I had let myself down.

In hindsight I should have seen this coming and believe me, I spent plenty of time punishing myself about it. In all honesty I haven’t been truly happy for a long time for various reasons but thankfully I got help before it got any worse. I would urge anyone who is feeling low to talk to someone about it, you may be surprised just how many people have been in the same boat as you and I’m forever thankful to my friends and family who have supported me over the last few months. I am also grateful that mental illness is spoken about more and with campaigns such as mental health awareness week it allows for more people to seek the help that they require.

For more information about mental health awareness, try mentalhealth.org

2 responses to “My mental health issues”

  1. So sorry to hear you’ve been going through this and that you had to cancel your trip! 🙁 I hope you manage to make the trip a reality – sometimes I find travel is the best cure (it certainly does wonders for my partner’s anxiety and depression). But make sure to put yourself first for a while and concentrate on what’s important. 🙂

    • Hey, thank you so much for the comment. Its strange because I’ve always been a better version of myself when I travel but this time I was beaten by my own mind. I’m alot better now than I was but I’ve still kind of lost myself a little x

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Quirky little gifts from Old English Company

It’s been a while since I’ve written about anything delightfully quirky so I thought I’d give y’all a little treat for your eyeballs – and perhaps a bit of gift giving inspiration! Old English Company are a stationery and homeware brand who create simple but stylishly quirky hand lettered designs, from prints and cards to mugs and pillowcases.

Having a little browse around I found some stuff that makes me happy, so I thought I would share that happy.

Everything is better in pyjamas

Everything is better in pyjamas. Who knew pillowcases were so wise? I totally support this statement and as I went to work in my pyjamas on Halloween I can confirm that this is 100% true.

Another saying I can totally get on board with would be this one – when life gives you lemons make a gin and tonic – on this lovely little coaster perfect for resting a cool glass of G&T on.

If anyone wants me I’ll be right over here in my PJs drinking gin and tonic ok?

When life gives you lemons make a gin and tonic

Of course I’m going to have to include something travel related in here too aren’t I? I love this print of Australia (and you know how much I love Australia!). I like that it has various places in Australia written inside the shape of the country. So clever!

Quirky little gifts from Old English Company

And for my animal loving peeps there’s some super cute tiger stuff to adorn yourself and your surroundings with, including these pins. I can’t decide which one I like best out of the two below… infact there’s quite a few enamel pins that take my fancy!

Old English Company enamel pins - tiger themed
But it just so happens that Old English Company are running a competition to WIN some rather fierce heart-shaped pins. So if you fancy adorning yourself in something new and shiny then follow this link to win a set of enamel pins – competition closes 30th May 2018.

Good Luck!

 

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Avoiding too much sun

At the moment most of us are longing for a little bit of sun, which is apparently finally on its way. We spend all winter looking forward to feeling the warmth on our skin and getting a little bit of a glow. We dream of being able to go out without piling on a thousand layers first. Of just being able to walk down the street in a t-shirt or dress, without having to take a jacket “just in case” and we can’t wait to sit outside in the sun reading a book and sipping an ice-cold drink.

Many of us have already booked summer holidays, perhaps staying with Elegant Address, and are counting down the days until even more great weather, with a much smaller chance of rain, and some of us are just starting to come out of a winter funk.

This is great. The sun is fantastic, and it should be enjoyed. Getting more sunlight can boost your mood and confidence and help you to sleep better. It can encourage you to get out and do some exercise, and it gives you vitamin D levels a huge boost, which can help to fight off and prevent infection and disease as well as improving your mental health. Being out in the sunshine also gets us out there with our friends and family more and could help you to get a bit of a digital detox.

But, there is such a thing as too much sun. Especially when you’re not used to it. Spending too much time in the sunshine can lead to sunburn and eventually, skin cancer. It can dry out your hair, skin and nails, give you headaches and make you feel much more tired than usual. So, it’s important that you get the balance right and avoid too much sun. This can be difficult on the hottest days or when you are on holiday, so here are some tips to help you.

Image via unsplash

Wear Sunscreen
Firstly, even if you are avoiding too much sun, even, in fact, if it’s not a particularly sunny day, you should be wearing sunscreen. Even in the winter time, it’s a good idea to wear a foundation or primer with added SPF, as the sun’s rays could still be doing harm. In the summer, wear a high factor and reapply throughout the day.

Avoid the Midday Sun
The sun is generally at its highest around lunchtime, so it’s best to go indoors from around 11-2. If you are on holiday, use this time to head to a café for lunch or to take an afternoon siesta. If you do need to be outdoors, being in the shade can reduce UV radiation by 50-95% so try to find a shaded area.

Wear a Hat
Wear a hat with a wide brim or even carry a parasol on very hot days. A hat like this will protect your head, face and neck and help prevent headaches. You should also protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that provide UV protection.

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Gin Festival Maidstone

Gins a bit trendy isn’t it? I must admit I’m quite new to the pleasure of a nice cold G&T but with all these creative craft gins popping up all over the place, it’s sure to become my tipple of choice.

So when the lovely peeps at Gin Festival invited me along to one of their events, I thought that would be my perfect opportunity to discover some new favourites. Along with my gin loving hubby, we went to the Saturday afternoon event at the Kent Showground, Detling, Maidstone. Although the Gin Festival has been going since 2013, this year was the first year it came to Maidstone – and it completely sold out!

Gin Festival Maidstone

When you arrive you are given a guide to the festival as well as your very own copa gin glass which you can keep and take home. I thought this was particularly good and wins some eco-friendly points from me on that! There is a cashless system in place so you are also given a wrist band which you can load up with money before or during the event to ensure a smoother process at the bars rather than faffing about with money.

What to expect

There were four brands giving out free tasters, they were: PJ Gin from Belgium – available exclusively from ginfestival.com, Tinker Gin – based in Yorkshire and launched in 2017, Anno – a Kent based distillers whose delish cranberry gin tasted like Christmas and Brockmans – an English gin ‘like no other’.

Well, I quite liked them all with a bit of tonic (which was from the Schweppes 1783 premium range).

Anno Gins at Gin Festival Maidstone

Beyond these tasters there were five bars to get your drinks at, as well as a cocktail bar, snacks, food and live music. There were also masterclasses on. We attended the one held by Dan from Tinker Gins which was really quite funny (and full of swearing hehe!). It definitely adds something when you meet the people behind the drinks and learn about their passions.

Tinker Gin masterclass at Gin Festival Maidstone

Mr QLP loves a G&T and enjoyed a Brockmans Premium Gin followed by a Tinker Gin. I chose a Boe Violet Gin which was very light and sweet, followed by a Marula Gin which was garnished with peach. We also tried the Elephant Gin because 15% of proceeds go to support African elephant charities, which is enough to make me want it, but its also garnished with the winning combo of apple and ginger – yum!

The UK's biggest gin festival

The guide book given out tells you about all the gins on offer and what they taste like as well as what kind of garnish and mixer you should pair them with. There were so many gins to try it actually made it difficult to decide what to go for! I was certainly intrigued by the Hidden Curiosities gin with peppercorns and the Sweet Potato Plum gin liqueur but I’ll have to try those out next time. My only niggle was that I had really wanted to try the Zymurgorium Sweet Violet gin as its supposed to taste like parma violet sweets but it had sold out just an hour into the event. Disappointing.

Gin Life

We ended the day feeling rather tipsy but bought ourselves a bottle of Brockmans to take home! I would definitely recommend Gin Festival and I’ll be sure to keep my eyes peeled in future for some of the gins I didn’t get chance to try!

Gin Festival are touring the UK so keep an eye out for an event near you!

Disclaimer: I was given free tickets by Gin Festival but all thoughts are my own.

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5 ways to improve your wellbeing

5 ways to improve your wellbeing – tried and tested by me!

As someone who suffers from anxiety, I try what I can to improve my mental wellbeing. After one particularly unsuccessful and unsympathetic trip to see my GP about my anxiety disorder, I decided to look more into alternative ideas and therapies. So I’m here to share with you some ways to improve your wellbeing.

1. Reiki

What is reiki? Reiki is a Japanese technique that promotes relaxation, healing and stress reduction. You lay fully-clothed and your reiki healer places their hands, non-intrusively, on parts of your body to channel energy.

I visited a reiki healer last year that a friend recommended. After a brief chat and a quick form to fill in, I lay on my back on a massage table. My reiki healer dimmed the lights, lit some incense and played some soft music. She then proceeded to place her hands on different parts of my body.

I’ll admit it felt a little strange at first to be lying in some random lady’s house but having always been a slight hippy at heart it didn’t take me long to relax into it. The session lasted an hour and I felt peaceful afterwards. Some people say they see colours and hallucinations while receiving reiki treatment but I didn’t experience that. However, once I had left my reiki healer’s house, as I was walking back to my car, I began smiling. A big genuine smile. I don’t know why I was smiling (I think I’m more resting bitch face) but I’m putting it down to the reiki.

2. Yoga

I’ve mentioned yoga before and I’m trying to make it a weekly part of my routine by attending a class every Wednesday. I always feel much more upbeat after a class, so much so that I vow to myself that I will start doing some yoga at home, either practicing what I learnt in class or following some youtube videos. It’s easier said than done though when your cat makes himself comfy on your yoga mat as soon as you roll it out!

yoga cat sat on the yoga mat
Yoga cat sat on the yoga mat

3. Nature Therapy

Nature therapy, or forest bathing as it is known is Japan, is basically the idea that being out in nature is good for your well-being, both body and mind. Studies have shown that being in nature and among trees can lower your blood pressure, increase your self-esteem and generally ease symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. I can safely say that for me, nature therapy works wonders and during these last few weeks when my anxiety has been sky high, the only things I am interested in doing are lying on the sofa watching tv or going for walks – I know which one is best for me too!

Image via unsplash

4. Meditation

Meditation is one of those things that sounds easy but really isn’t. After trying it at home without much success, I decided to attend a drop-in session. The theme for the session was contentment but my main reason for attending was to learn how to meditate. There were about 12 of us all sat on chairs facing the front of the room while we were guided by a lady who had quite an air of wisdom and calm about her. There was a Buddhist poem sung at the beginning and then she told us to place our hands in our laps, close our eyes and concentrate on the cool air we breathe in and the warm air we breathe out. There was some thought provoking chitchat, another meditation session and then a Q&A session with tea and biscuits.

The session I attended gave me some food for thought but I think I would have preferred an environment that didn’t remind me of old school rooms or a doctor’s waiting rooms, some cushions and candles would have been nice! But it hasn’t put me off trying again at home, and there are apps you can download to help you get into the mindset for it.

5. Spa day

If all else fails, get yourself in for a spa day. My go-to treatments are a facial and a back massage. A spa day doesn’t have to be expensive either, there are plenty of deals to be had if you shop around. Even if the soothing effects of a spa treatment are short-lived, it is so worth it even just for one worry-free day.


Do you deal with anxiety? What would your personal well-being tips be? Sharing is caring 🙂

5 ways to improve your wellbeing

10 responses to “5 ways to improve your wellbeing”

  1. I really need to get more into yoga… In fact I am writing it on my list for Sunday right now! I love acupuncture, I think actually it is the one thing that has had the most impact on my level of chill and well being

    • Acupuncture is something I am yet to try but my husband swears by it for jaw tension so I will defo give it a go sometime!

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