I am aware that I am part one into a four part series on ‘How do you manage good mental health and wellbeing’ but I just wanted to say this before I continue with it and explain what has been going on recently.
Friday 1st March – I have been stupid, I am not proud, it is not clever and I deeply regret what I have done. I have been lucky and am clearly on my 9th life. I feel the need to publish this in order that nobody will ever do what I have done. Please learn from a mistake that I have made which could have killed me. Four days on I am still suffering the side effects.
I have been struggling and found myself lost in a world where I did not see a way out of my own head. I feel like a robot being controlled remotely by outside influences which I cannot do anything about. I am not blaming anyone for my stupid, idiotic behaviour but the impending police medical board on Monday 4th March and the outcome has stressed me out more than you could ever imagine. Stuck in a lengthy process compounding the fact that I cannot handle it.
On Monday 25th February, I went out with a blister pack of 56 tablets. I have no idea why I took them out with me or what my intention was. I carried on as normal doing chores which needed to be done out and about. Acting like I had not a care in the world as I dropped a parcel off at the post office, yet inside, my head was bubbling over, racing away from me. I could not pull it back in or slow it down. It needed to be stopped. It needed to be numbed. The pain needed to go.
Shortly after, with a bottle of fizzy flavoured water in my hand, I took a pack of tablets from my pocket. Was this the answer? Would this help? My switch went, I had lost control and took a handful followed by another. I will not say what I took or how many (legal and prescribed).
I got up from the sofa with a racing, buzzing head and a massive headache. I fell into the wall. I could not see straight and I could not walk. I began to worry as I did not want anything bad to happen. I looked at Olly with guilt which deeply saddened me. Concerned, I thought to walk across to the Dr surgery and ask if what I had done was dangerous but I could not get there. I felt too ill. Next idea was to consult Dr google but I could not focus on my phone screen.
I lay on the sofa next to Olly as he slept. I closed my eyes but had black dots in front of me. My head was too busy, it would not switch off. I recall eating Nutella, bagels and two bars of chocolate.
Sometime later I took Olly out. I was able to walk better but was gripped by the worst headache that I ever had. I was hoping fresh air would help but it didn’t. I was hoping a hot chocolate would help but it didn’t. I was in bed by 7.30pm. I am not sure if I slept or passed out Monday night but I know I took Olly to the garden at some point.
On Tuesday I tried to carry on as normal and spent a few hours at the beach with Olly. I stayed with my partner that night. I needed to explain. I needed to be with someone.
On Wednesday I had a routine GP appointment. She asked how I was and I told her what I had done. Her face was all I needed to know how serious this was. She told me that what I had taken was extremely dangerous and I was lucky not to be found in bed dead. I should have rang for an ambulance on Monday. My GP made some immediate phone calls to toxicology as I waited, reflecting on what I had just been told. I was sent immediately to hospital where I underwent blood tests, examinations and a psych assessment. I was lucky to walk out with no lasting damage, just the side effects to contend with.
Tuesday 5th March – I have been asked many times why I did it? My answer, is that I lost control, I have no idea what I was doing. My switch went. The rational me exchanged for someone who had no care, fear, feeling or emotion. Someone who wanted to block out pain from a bubbling head. I had no intention to kill myself, yet I came close to an accidental overdose. This upsets and saddens me to know who and what I would have left behind. And for what? An appeal board, a job. It is easy for me to sit here now, 8 days on and spout this out to you.
Nothing is worth risking your life for. I was stupid thinking that I was invincible. I am still tired with a headache and I am mentally drained. The intense thirst and the dry mouth which I had has only recently subsided, but my head still hurts. It has been one of the worst weeks I have had, yet I have come through it. My medical appeal board was yesterday and I should know the outcome of this in two weeks time. Between now and then it is about keeping well and safe. I have help and strategies in place and checked in with my GP this morning.
Unfortunately I have not been able to exercise for over a week. I am hoping in the next few days I will be able to resume. Perhaps being as fit as healthy as I am saved me on this occasion. I don’t know.
Wednesday 6th March – I have taken myself away on my own for a few days. I need space to regroup and slow myself down. My head is still rushing around (I am sitting down yet I feel like I am running), so a time of walking, sightseeing with some reading, writing and seeing family is what I have planned. Feeling as I do I decided to leave my PE kit at home. I was hopeful of a run but realistically I knew that it would not yet be possible. It is clear that I am physically and mentally drained with the events of the last 9 days.
There are times when you just have to go with it and this is one of those times.
Hi all, just taking some time away for some self care after being unwell since Monday.
I will be back as soon as I can with the next in the ‘how do you manage your mental health and wellbeing’ series and to update you with what has happened.
For the time being I am taking a step back from my blog and social media.
Thanks for your continued support.
Stay safe xx
**please refer to blog ‘Supporting others’**
There is no getting away from the outdoors, it is there night and day, just look out of a window and you will see it. The four seasons show it in all its glory. We all have access to it, it is free to see and use (excluding attractions) and it is available to all of us. Some may hate it and some may not be able to experience it due to illness or disability. In the main it is there beaming at us to go and explore it.
The way each of us experience it differs. Some of you may be in a hurry on a commute, stressed about arriving at work on time or to get to that next appointment or meeting so don’t really look at what is around you. Ordinarily passing the same place each day, the same people on their same journeys. But what do you see? Is it your phone screen, deep in social media, emails or chat (if on foot) or is it the cars and building traffic around you, for some reason annoying you as you left home two minutes later than usual.
We have all been there, I know I have, too busy engrossed in a screen or too busy worrying about the day ahead or getting somewhere on time. How often do you say to yourself ‘how did I get here? I don’t remember passing (insert landmark).
If you just pause, look up and use your wonderful senses that you were given then who knows what you will find. People do not connect (in the real world) like they used to. A simple hello or smile to someone you pass may mean the world to that person who is lonely, not spoken to anyone for days, thinking of self harm. You never know what the person on the bus or tube is going through as you sit there or walk along preoccupied.
We live in a rat race of pressure, but what if we just step out of that for a moment.
I was given the idea to write about the outdoors by a few of you. One of you wrote ‘There is a science about having our bare feet on the earth that I read, that it literally connects us back to the source. I don’t do it enough but I do get down the beach, to the woodlands or up to the mountains when I can. Air and connection with true self is my medicine’.
How incredible is this?
It would be easy for me to link into exercise here but I will save that for another blog.
I have never been a ‘walker’. I would rather run or cycle but would only walk when I needed to. I would jump in the car to go up the road to the shop. The car is always there, it saves time, time which I could be spending on other things (busy things but often of no significance or relevance).
I love this ‘I deliberately do not drive during the day. If I am moving between sites I walk or use transport to clear my head to refocus and mentally prepare for the next task or meeting’.
I have never walked so much since being on sick leave. I cannot stay home, I hate it, hate being confined to four walls. In the early stages of my illness getting out was my escape. It was my escape from memories which my property held, knowing that if I stayed inside, I would be stuck, not able to move, consumed by deep sadness, staring down the bottle of wine or counting the pills which I had, working out what to take.
Getting out became my medicine and has remained to this day. I walked to places that I not been to before, I sat on benches overlooking the sea. I wrote pages and pages in my journal whilst out in the fresh air, often inspired by what was around me.
Think about what is around where you live and work. Parks, nature reserves, woods, fields, beaches they are all there somewhere.
It was when I was out walking by myself that I decided to get a dog. I isolated myself for many months not wanting to speak or meet up with friends but what I noticed was that dog walkers appeared to have their own little community.
Welcome Olly dog. What a life saver this little crazy fur ball has been. I soon went out and walked with purpose. I had a little life to consider and look after. I became accountable and on days when I really did not want to move from my bed of self pity, I had to get up as Olly would sneeze in my face to tell me (a thing he still does, over 2 years later).
I suddenly began looking at what I had on my doorstep. Beaches, rocks, seaweed (don’t ask), flowers, trees, wildlife. I fell in love with walking and to this day, I am always on the look out for new places to take Olly. Therapy for me and great exercise for him. People started to stop and talk to me. There was no escape as I started to engage. I began talking more to people and have built up some great friendships, including neighbours who I have lived next to for over 10 years and have never spoken to.
As one of you said ‘I was in a really bad place 2 years ago and then my dog came along. We are now inseparable. Our walks help a lot. Going to the local beaches makes me go out’
I am not saying that a dog is your answer as we all have different commitments and circumstances. I never even liked dogs! Walking without a dog for many is just as therapeutic. Plus you do not have to pick up poo.
(Olly likes horse poo)
On your walks, think about how you can bring the outside inside. Many people collect things, pick up pebbles or pick wild flowers. Kids (and adults) enjoy making daisy chains. Many enjoy photography. Simply being outside tendering to your garden, allotment, cutting the grass or washing the car are all activities where you can be at one with yourself and the world.
Research has shown that there are positive effects of spending time outdoors on our mental health and wellbeing, Trust me I am not making all of this up. In fact, a walk, run or stint in the garden can last for 7 hours after an individual has experienced it (countryliving.com 2018). This refers to feeling happier and in good spirits.
The same research points out that those suffering with a mental illness including anxiety and depression, benefit more from getting outdoors than others.
As one of you so kindly shared ‘Key to my survival is being outdoors, hiking, golfing, hearing the birds sing, appreciating nature, being thankful to be alive. The hiking has helped both my mental and physical wellbeing by clearing the shit from my head, and being able to just breathe’
Being outdoors can:
- Improve your mood
- Reduce feelings of stress and anger
- Help you take time out and feel more relaxed
- Improve physical health
- Improve self confidence and self-esteem
- Help you be more active
- Help you make new connections
- Provide peer support
Today I took Olly to a place where we go often. I walked with my head up and noticed things which I haven’t before. It felt different as I took the pictures which you see. It is amazing how going out with a different perspective changes your thinking.
Remember when out this weekend. Look around you. I challenge you to notice things which you haven’t before.
Thanks to all of your responses I have been able to chuck together a short series on ‘How to maintain a positive mental health and wellbeing’. These are your ideas with some of my thoughts and experiences chucked in. I have to say that this has been beneficial for me. Not only have I realised the importance of sticking to what I do through your encouragement but I am now able to embrace ideas which I probably would never have thought of.
Each and every response has inspired me. Thank you.
Whilst there may be some overlap between topics I will try and keep it fresh.
I have planned four titles which include:
- Connecting with the outdoors
- Connecting with movement
- Connecting with self
- Connecting with others
You see the key word ‘connect’ but I will also write about the importance of disconnecting. It will become clear (I hope).
You may ask why am I doing this? Well, my own views, thoughts and feelings can become stagnant. At the moment I am experiencing a heightened level of stress which is having a detrimental effect on my depression. I could easily sit here and bumble on about it but I don’t want to. I do not feel it is the time or place at the moment. This also helps me to know that I am not alone and writing is a therapy for me.
When I did series 1 of my blog take over, I was truly moved by what I read. Inspiring stories from incredible people who had faced heartache, pain and trauma but are still here to speak up about their journey.
There are so many people out there suffering, many of which do not speak out, many of which do not have support or who are struggling with coping mechanisms. This series is not suddenly going to cure you but I am hoping that everyone who reads it will at least pick up something which may be able to help.
I am no expert, I don’t profess to be a professional and I am not trained in this area. I am just an everyday person who has fallen in to the 1 in 4. I cannot cover everything and some things you may disagree with. I am not giving advice, I am just offering ideas and suggestions based on what people have said helps them through their own experience.
Please follow any professional advice you have been given.
As always help is out there, please reach out if you feel you need to.
If there is anything that you would like to see covered in future blogs or you would like your own story to appear here (can be anonymous) then let me know. xx
Over the next week I am doing something different and asking for your help.
It is as the title suggests. Yep, that simple.
What do you do to get you out of a low mood, or keep you from dropping down that rabbit hole?
How do you sustain good mental health?
It is up to you as to how you respond. You can either comment openly on my insta, twitter or Facebook. You can also private message me.
It can be one word or it can be 1000 words.
Lets see what you do and I will share and provide a write up.
Helping each other in an environment where we understand each other.
Thank you as always.
Sunday 27th January 2019 (12.57pm)
This is one of those days where I am not sure what I am going to say or type or even if I will hit the publish button for all to read.
I will just come out and say it… I feel so low that I do not quite know what to do with myself. I am sat in a coffee shop having just dropped Olly back at home after his morning walk. My head feels all over the place, kind of erratic but subdued not knowing what to do for the best. I have brought my book with me to read but even concentrating on that at the moment seems like a task.
I feel like I am carrying a heavy weight around me, something that cannot be shifted, or at least I have no idea how to shift it. Once again what is going on around me feels fuzzed out as people smile, chat and sip their drinks. I am sat in a corner on my own, quietly observing yet paying no attention. I wonder if people have noticed me, tapping away on my iPad. I wonder what the curious brain has thought?
It has been a week where I have pushed people away, apart from the odd day, not wanting company or conversation. Alone and lonely, some may say that is my choice. Is it? Is it my choice or is it a symptom of an illness which I cannot control but know I do not want. The only place I feel comfortable is when I am out running, swimming, biking or with Olly. It feels like it is my domain. Even exercise is becoming problematic, injuries which I have battled through and pushed to the max are really starting to cause me pain and slow me down yet I won’t stop, I can’t. I have turned down further surgery on my knees as I am bored of it. Bored of recovery. Bored of rehab. I have been through it too many times. People telling me what to do as if I am stupid, it’s all a load of bunkem.
I don’t know what else to say.
Wednesday 16th Jan 2019 (1.39pm)
I invite anyone to live in my head for 24-48 hours to try and understand and see what goes on. Inside is a world of battle, contradiction, positive insights, negative thoughts. A world where nothing stays the same for long, a world that is continually changing and fighting for what is right and for what is best. My head can flip and change from decisive to indecisive in a split second, leaving me in a place where I do not understand. I have gone from someone who would make critical life changing/saving decisions in a professional capacity to someone who cannot decide what to have for tea. I no longer feel in control of my life and and am more than happy for others to make the most basic decisions for me. All of this feels somewhat ironic for someone who is supposedly highly intelligent (obvs) (laughs) and highly functional (so I have been told).
Unfortunately my head and the way it acts has a significant impact on others. If I don’t get it, how are those who are close to me supposed to understand? I have no answer but I know that it is difficult for them too. When I wake up I don’t know ‘what Georgie we are going to get today’. Inevitably this causes problems as I withdraw, isolate and want no contact or conversation. It’s not right I know, but I cannot change the way I am. I wish I could, but after almost 3 years of medication and therapy I am still behind in many areas where I would like to be further on. Things take time, I know, but can I change a deeply imbedded thought, behaviour or reaction?
It is always the same. One area of my life tends to go well, whilst the other side of it falls apart. It is like I cannot have equal happiness. If that even exits? I know there is no perfect world or perfect life. I am not asking for this. I just would like some stability.
Deep down, I know what is the current root cause for my stress and that is the impending decision regarding work. I have said it many times before. I cannot go back to the police force. If I am made to then I wont, and by this I mean will take the option which I have planned. Not easy to say I know, but after 3 years of stress and uncertainty I cannot be left in limbo, shackled and not being able to breathe.
Things haven’t been great recently, my mood has been low, along with my motivation and tolerance. My mind wanders as I try to engage with people, it wanders into the deep dark hole, not of self pity but of sadness and doom. Many would have no idea of this but those who know me can see it. It is all in my eyes apparently. They do not sparkle, instead they vacantly shut down as my head races and searches at speeds I cannot fathom or comprehend.
This morning I saw my GP as we discussed work and how I felt. She understands, she gets it, she knows. It was a simple question which she asked me mid conversation ‘are you ok’ which almost floored me and required me to regain some sort of composure before answering ‘yes, I am’. There are things that I need to work out, some decisions may not be easy but whatever decisions I have to make will be for me.
On the positive side I have been given the opportunity to study and do some research around neuroscience and mental health. A perfect distraction to take my mind away from reality yet doing something worthwhile, and to me enjoyable. I discussed this with my GP who agreed that it was good to have something to focus on, work towards and give me some positive outlook about the future.
I had my medication increased and need to return to see her in 2 weeks time. As for now, my battle and the fight will continue. At times all I want to do is give up but deep down I know I cant.
Why cant I? Because this cake is waiting for me.
*Picture from Pixabay*
Tuesday 8th January 2019 (5.40pm)
Once again, thank you for so many comments after yesterday’s blog. I do not like to feel negative in my writing, but unfortunately that is the reality with mental illness and thats how it is.
I am humbled by those who took time out to write to me and share their experiences. I know today has been difficult for one person in particular and if by me saying how I feel helps in someway then I know there is a reason for me doing this. The biggest thing which you can take away is that you are never alone in this world where so many suffer. Unfortunately too many suffer in silence and I hope that I can draw upon a community where we all understand each other.
I could not believe the response when I did the ‘guest blog’ series and if anyone would like the opportunity to speak out on my blog then please let me know. This can be done anonymously.
I will never forget the words that Prince Harry once said, ‘Metal illness is not defined by class’. I have seen this in recent years as more and more people have opened up to me. I have read heartbreaking stories from emergency service professionals, teachers, doctors, artists, sports people, journalists, I could go on, but the bottom line is that it can grip anyone irrespective of where you are from or what you do for a living. It is an illness just like asthma or diabetes and I will always argue that the 1 in 4 figure is too conservative.
Over the Christmas period a police officer from my own force took his own life. I also read news of a paramedic in desperate despair who was unable to carry on and I saw the sad news on social media yesterday about a police officer from another force. There are too many people who either feel unable or ashamed to talk or to seek help, or are not getting the help asked for.
I have always said that I never really understood what mental illness was all about until I experienced it and that is why I am now able to do something positive to help others by continuing to blog and shout out on social media. I can see where the gaps are and I can see what is wrong. One day I will be able to do and say more.
As for me, my day has been better. I was determined not to have another day like yesterday and that is where my brain cells have to fight with each other. It is like Miss Positive and Miss Negative having a full on scrap amongst the grey matter. It seriously is draining and at times I want to knock them both out.
I got my butt back into the pool this morning and I rang the hospital to chase up my knee appointment (which I have got for next week).
A big improvement on yesterday.
Thank you, dig deep and stick in there xx
Monday 7th January 2019 (7.26pm)
I was hoping for a more positive start to 2019. December was not a good month. My mood was generally low, apart from the odd good or happy day. I am not into this new year, new me, new resolutions, new goals, as to me it is just another day and just another year. I do not expect miracle transformations over night and depression certainly does not know one day from another.
It is a strange thing ‘depression’, I try and explain my feelings to my partner but often I cannot describe how I feel. I have used words such as an incredible sadness x 10000 and a feeling of being so low with no self worth that I see no way out of such doom. It’s hard to make sense of how days fluctuate for no apparent reason. I have used systems to score my mood but I do not know where I am with this these days. What I do know is that at the moment my motivation to do anything is shit. There are things that I want to do and need to do but if today is anything to go by these things will be waiting a while. I put no pressure on myself but all what I have planned is stuff I enjoy. If only it was as easy as sticking a rocket up my arse.
I feel like I have wasted today. Apart from two nice beach walks with Olly I have done nothing. The run I wanted to do has not happened. A phone call regarding my knee appointment did not take place as I could not be bothered to speak to anyone. A trip to the bank to change my married name back to maiden name will have to wait.
As you know, exercise has been a big thing for me, but my motivation to even put on my PE kit is sadly lacking. I could not face park run on Saturday. Yesterday I went for my first bike ride since Ironman last September but my thoughts were often drawn to the negative rather than the positive. I cannot control what enters my head but I can supposedly control on what I ruminate on, though this is easier said than done.
There are things which I have reflected on to do with work but more of this again.
I did not want this to be a negative blog but I know many of you will be feeling the same and looking for ways to get out of the doom pit. You are not alone and you never will be. I have so many things which I am thankful for. As for now I will eat my cakes, put today aside and see what tomorrow brings.
Friday 21st December 2018 (12.09pm)
Its that time of year again, only 4 sleeps until the white bearded man in a red suit makes his way down the chimney to eat your mince pies and drink your whisky or milk.
Today is traditionally called ‘Black Friday’ or the renamed ‘Bleak Friday’ (I have read ‘Mad Friday’ today) where office workers log off, schools are out until the new year and it is time to celebrate. There will be many Christmas parties going on over the next few days. You may enjoy, but you may hate every minute of it. If like me I would go to show my face but feel socially inept. I didn’t get an invite to my works ‘do’ this year. Not that I would have gone anyway. The thought would have been nice though.
Whilst for many, Christmas is a time of excitement and joy, taking time out of the work place and spending time with family. For others, it will be a time of sadness, loneliness and dread. Some people will face their first Christmas without a loved one, others will be worried about pleasing those around them, putting on ‘the happy face’ whilst secretly wanting the world to swallow them up. Some will be worried about debt which they may have landed in to buy the new gadget or toy. The person sitting at the table with a hidden eating disorder will be worried about all of the food being put in front of them. Some will sit alone and not speak to a single person all day; whilst others may drown themselves in alcohol to dull the pain.
Some tips from me
I am no trained counsellor or therapist and these points are just some things I have thought about which may help. If you have your own coping mechanisms and ideas then please draw upon them.
1. Put yourself first
This is alien to most people, especially at Christmas when you are trying to make others happy. This in itself is draining and can lead to increase stress and anxiety. If you are becoming overwhelmed then remove yourself from the situation. Take a few minutes to yourself, practice mindfulness or any other technique which you use to rebalance yourself.
2. It is ok not to be ok
Remember you are not the first person or the last to feel the way you do. There will be many others in exactly the same position. You are not alone and you matter, no matter what you may think about yourself or the situation. Remember that it is ok not to be ok. You will get through it a better and stronger person.
If you need to talk to someone then please do. Never think that you are a burden, even on Christmas day. Friends and family would rather you talk it out then suffer in silence. Don’t let things fester in your head. A festering brain has a habit of making things worse. There are always professionals working so don’t be afraid to pick up your phone.
4. Do more of what you enjoy
Make time to continue to do what helps you. That may involve going for a run or walk, reading book, listening to music or writing. There is no harm in ‘checking in’ with yourself.
5. Everything in moderation
It is easy to overindulge at Christmas. Too much food and drink can impact on us physically and mentally. Also make sure that you get plenty of rest.
I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Stay safe and look after yourself.
Some contacts if you need them. There are of course more and perhaps some local to your area. **Taken from Heads Together**