Being a performer, being me, and looking forward. 

I’ve spent the day with a best friend of mine. We met through dancing classes about 15 years ago and our friendship has grown alongside our love of dance. 

We took class together at a London studio this afternoon and then watched an incredible peformance of Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man. (Seriously, it blew me away… GO WATCH IT!) okay, now I’m sidetracked… Where was I?

Right. Dancing. Lots and lots of dancing. So today was awesome. And watching shows always fills me with new inspiration and acts as a reminder of how much I utterly adore what I do. Being a performer is precious, and maybe that’s why lots of people are kinda clueless about it! 

As I’m typing this I feel full of positivity and my mind is thinking over plans of how I can work on myself over summer. I want this to be the summer for which I have no regrets. A summer where I enjoy myself and keep pushing to improve. I want to be stronger, fitter and better when this holiday is over. 

Does stronger mean sicker? No. Does fitter mean more tired from calorie restriction? No. Does better mean better at having OCD or an Eating disorder? No. 

Basically what I’m saying is that being me doesn’t have to mean being ill. I can be a person without all of that. I’m not entirely sure who that person is yet, but I know a few things about her:

The normal part of me likes clothing with animals on, likes playing with my hair, loves animals. The normal me likes chocolate. The normal me loves to read. 

That’s all for now. I am too lazy to proof read this, so enjoy the typos I inevitably made! 😂 xx

Turning point?

I get mood swings… Big ones. I know that depression and ed’s do this to lots of people, so in my therapy session yesterday I was trying to be sarcastic and brush off the hard things that happened this week, and then it all came to a head. I find it hard to touch things that have been touched by others, and yesterday I completely froze when asked to pick the pen up off the table. My thoughts were so much that I couldn’t even hear them. I couldn’t move or talk. 

All of a sudden I was just so angry that I couldn’t pick up a fucking pen! It’s ridiculous! I then became more angry at myself for not being thin enough and for failing for years now at achieving that. I felt like if I couldn’t do anything right then why the hell am I alive. 

“What are you thinking right now?”

Me: I just want to die. 

“What would you do?”

Me: I have loads of meds. I want to take them all and end it. 

“Do you feel like you could reach out to someone later if this feeling continued?”

Me: I don’t think I want to. Not being here would end all the problems. I can’t continue having to do all these things when I don’t even have any control afterwards. 

“You are suffering and I think you need to talk more. We can’t talk now but I’m going to ask a colleague and then I think you need to go to the hospital. What do you think about that?”

Me: I don’t think anything. I’m sorry. 

I spent a long time in hospital yesterday and spoke to several people. The despair in that moment was too much to handle alone. Today I’m left with the shock of how my mood deteriorated so fast, and also how easily a suicidal thought became a solid idea in my mind. 

One of my biggest difficulties with recovery is my belief that I’m not sick enough to merit change, but I think yesterday was a turning point. I’m going to spend my whole life going through these crisis points if I can’t get better. I must be ill

Friday facts: OCD 

Right now I’m writing this blog post about reducing obsessive compulsive behaviours because I’m doing it as we speak. I like repetitions and even numbers, that way I know I’m doing tasks correctly and being safe. My therapist asked me to see how I felt if I only checked once. No repetitions. 

Anxious. That’s how I feel. 

I suppose the theory behind exposure tasks is absolutely solid: the more you are in anxiety provoking scenarios the more of them you can tolerate. It seems so logically to simply wean off doing things that aren’t helpful to me, but let me tell you, it’s pretty damn hard when you actually do it. 

So far these are how I have managed my discomfort:

1. Leave the room. Being physically distant from where you tried out the different behaviour means you are less tempted to go back and “even out” afterwards 

2. Tell someone. Hearing from others that the fears are in your mind is a useful reassurance when you feel on edge

3. Accept anxiety. You’re uncomfortable, just like me right now! But that’s normal. Having feelings makes you human. Just let them be. 

Friday Facts: awareness week

Sunday marks the end of Mental Health Awareness Week (no idea if this is just here in the UK) but anyways…I decided to just put out some statistics that really hit home how much mental health issues need addressing:

1 in 4 will experience mental health issues at some point 

Early intervention halves relapse rates in Eating Disorders 

33% of ED sufferers will make a full recovery. The rest will remain very ill, or experience high relapse rates

Every thirty seconds, suicide will claim another victim somewhere around the world 

Depression is in the top ten reasons for being signed off work

In the USA people with severe mental illness die 25 years younger on average 

1 in 10 children have a mental health problem at any one time 

Under 10% of the population have a diagnosable personality disorder

Under 3% of people suffer from OCD

9 out of 10 young people experienced stigma when “coming out” with their mental health problems 

No feelings, no joy, no… Nothing

Since Saturday I feel like I’m just not really here. Nothing is making me feel as excited or happy as it should. It’s difficult to engage in conversation when you feel cold and empty.
There’s no particular reason for it, other than being stuck in the same old habits over and over. The negative thoughts are just running my world right now, and I just want it to end.
I don’t want to have suicidal thoughts. They cause me guilt because I know there are precious, wonderful things in my life. But whether I want the thoughts or not, they are here.
I suppose it’s just the emotional pain of feeling like staying alive means signing up for a lifetime of sickness.

Mental health services in the UK

It’s pretty cool that we don’t have to pay for medical treatment, but for things like therapy that require time to be effective, it can mean that waiting lists are long and you may not have a choice about your therapist.
For me the most important step was seeing the GP but this can be problematic if your doctor has little experience with mental health disorders. But remember, you can ask for who is good with mh conditions, and make another appointment you don’t have to settle for being misunderstood and turned away.
The NHS does have some brilliant therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists, but you have to get into the system first.

IAPT
For anyone who suffers with depression or anxiety, you will likely be put onto a cbt programme. Initially I had six “low intensity” sessions, and as I understand it, it’s commonly used as a way to give you a point of contact during the wait for the longer cbt.
For some people the 6 sessions are enough, but for me it wasn’t.
“High intensity” IAPT meant meeting a new clinical psychologist and having around 20 sessions over a period of about 9 months. This was good because you have more time, and therefore more chance to develop a better relationship and trust with your therapist. They also assess risk and ask about medications and you can ask them to phone your GP if you are thinking about going on medication. This took away the element of fear over explaining my situation in detail to a doctor, and made my transition onto medication much more smooth. On a personal note, I also struggle with anxiety when speaking so it was a life saver!

CAMHS
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
Oh CAHMS. Where to begin?! Well. Personally, my experience was PANTS. I felt misunderstood, belittled and let down. But that was all down to geography. Where I lived at the time, there was only a very small service. I imagine the waiting lists can be lengthy in larger cities, but the expertise and efficacy is (hopefully?!) far better.

Eating disorder services
Most treatment is outpatient in the UK. Inpatient treatment is primarily for physical management rather then therapy, aside from a few programmes for adolescents that I’ve heard of.
Again, and as with anything NHS related, the service you are referred to depends on where you live. The bigger the service, the greater the chance you can ask to change therapists if you don’t like your allocated one.
Groups and CBT are the main therapies used, but many other things are incorporated and many people (myself included) have had and continue to have treatment despite having other conditions as well.

Counselling
If you are a student you can usually find a contact number or email for a youth service that’s free in your area. These are typically time limited, but it was that first counsellor that gave me the courage to go to the GP and get specialised help.
There are also counsellors at some GP services, so don’t be afraid to ask 🙂

oops.. I forget about CMHT
CMHT stands for Community Mental Health Team. Every county should have one, and they are groups of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers and occupational therapists. They are usually classes as secondary care- meaning you wouldn’t be sent to them if you could be helped with a lower level of care. The CMHT deal with more complex cases, often taking referrals from those seen in a and e for suicidality, psychosis etc. Because they are a team, your care is monitored and discussed with the relevant professionals meaning everyone you see is kept up to date.

I think that’s about it… If anyone has any other good knowledge or thoughts then COMMENT and spread the word.
It can suck when you’re waiting and/or when you get to see someone and they are terrible at their job. It’s taken me about 5 years to get the right help- so you can do it too!
Xx