Tag: depression

Mental Health, Movement & Me

Okay ‘movement’ is essentially exercise but I like alliteration.

An important bucket list goal is to lose weight. A fair few stone in fact. This is so I can be in the correct weight limit to skydive PLUS look fabulous at 2 of my best friends weddings! Ok plus be healthy for my body blah blah blah.

Tim and I are doing this together as sadly my eating habits have rubbed off on him! We did no garlic bread for a month which we succeeded in. However we have probably made up for it throughout September. Especially as we’ve had it 2 nights in a row this week. And its only Wednesday. Whoops!

Tonight is the night we go to meet with a Personal Trainer! Eeeek

Well tonight we are doing one of his group sessions to go and see what he is like and whether we would work well with him. But potentially from October onwards we will have a PT session every week. Without fail.

I am hoping this will work. I have no self control when it come to food. I am emotionally attached to it. Reasons explained in Eating my emotions.

Also progress is measured in many different ways. Not only by weight on the scales but inches off certain body parts. Weight gain could be muscle gain. Plus there is a more hands on approach to helping me when I’ve had a bad week. At Slimming World I found staying to the sessions would help for that hour and then as soon as I got home I’d forget it all and binge eat. You know – treat night. This is not me saying that SW does not work. This is me saying it does not work for me! SW is not a diet it is a lifestyle. You have to stick to those foods and practises for the rest of your life to keep your weight off.

Now I understand that I may have to do that with my PT sessions, however I am hoping to still eat what I want when BUT in moderation. Also have some positive results each and every week. Even if it is I managed 2 more press ups within a minute than last week. The focus of ‘weight loss’ has been redirected from eating. And then because me and Tim are in this together there is no jealously over food. If I’m eating healthy then so is he!

It is said that exercise helps with mental health recovery. The endorphins you produce whilst running, jumping etc. reduces stress, makes you sleep better and improves memory. Even me waking up this morning and taking the dogs out for an early walk before work made me feel more refreshed and energised for the day. Therefore having someone who is behind me 100% and giving me 100% of his time towards me (yes ok Tim as well) will help boost me out of my mental health rut.

I have had plenty of message exchanges with our PT Mike. But that wont mean that I will make Tim walk into the hall first tonight and introduce ourselves. I gave him some background information about me as potentially I could be a really tricky customer. I told him about my anxiety and depression. He replied saying that he had just finished a course on those subjects and knows I will have good days and bad days. This made me relax a lot. As long as he knows what he is taking on then I’m all up for giving it a go.

I shall share my results and goals with you soon!

 

#5 Complete

I am now a proud business owner! Here is how I got to this point.

Way back in secondary school (junior high school for the Americans) you have to decide what you want to do when you grow up. That’s such a hard choice when at 14 you are worrying about shaving your leg hair for P.E. or stropping over your mum buying you the wrong school shoes.

Image result for teenage angst

So I made the decision then that I’d like to be a Sport Psychologist. I loved my sport and wanted to help the athletes be the best they could. I got good grades for me to go to College (high school for those over the pond) and here I chose the relevant subjects for this career path. Human Biology and Psychology. For a start, giving teenagers a substitute teacher is just bad news so it didn’t surprise me when my paper came back as Ungraded in Biology (it was a much harder syllabus and I admit I switched off and misbehaved).

Second year of College I had to choose another subject so I took Business Studies. Which I aced. It may have helped that me and a friend had to sit in with all the first years so we actually concentrated. Also by this point my friendships changed and my attitude changed towards the education system. You realise all your hard work at the previous school means jack shit! Plus I had myself a part time job and just passed my driving test. Money became more of a pull then essays and exams. I think I was working more than attending College by the time I left with some ad-hoc grades.

A huge topic is University (College in America) and personal statements. I had no interest whatsoever in going. I had no idea what career I wanted and Sports Psychologist was out the window. Therefore I made the decision to not go to Uni. I didn’t want to waste my parents money on something I wasn’t 100% committed to.

Fast forward by whizzing through ski seasons in Canada & Austria and then working in the leisure industry. Working behind the scenes with money at G4S in England and Ireland which ended up me being signed off sick with anxiety and depression. So even after 26 years I still hadn’t found my niche of what I wanted to do.

I do not regret not going to Uni. I’ve had my party days in different countries and cities with travel buddies and rugby pals. I earned myself some decent money to pay for luxury trips to different states in the USA including Hawaii, Thailand and Canada.  At interviews for jobs I’ve always been under qualified but my attitude and life experience has been the factor for me being the successful candidate. I think the interview panel get bored of hearing the same old shit. I know I would.

Whilst I was off work with mental illness you get a lot of time to think. Ok mostly overthink but on my better days I managed to come up with the idea of setting up a dog walking business. Dogs didn’t care what I looked liked. Dogs loved you no matter what. Walking would get me out in the fresh air. Walking would help me keep fit. I took my parents dog out for walks whilst I was off work and ventured out into the forest or down to the beach. The fresh air cleared my head and made me sleep well at night.

I got myself a job within walking distance to home, only part time, with no weekend or bank holiday working. Result. This has given me time to do some research into qualifications and how to set up a small business. I applied for a start up business loan which got approved and subsequently paid for my qualifications. See #16 Complete to find out more about those.

Next task was to think of a business name! I like play on words and alliteration. I had to be careful not to steal or copy a name of a business already working within the area. So this is where Tails & Trails of Totton came from. I now needed a logo for stationary and websites etc. I asked my sister in law Ness to help me out.

logo

Ness is a fashion designer by trade, she designs clothing for Tog 24 and gets to visit Hong Kong a lot. Check out the website here https://www.tog24.com/
However she also designs stationary. For her wedding she managed to design her own wedding invites etc. and then got asked by friends to do theirs. She got herself into her local papers too. Go visit her stationary website http://www.beautiful-ink.co.uk/

As you can tell I’m a fan of orange. Personally I don’t think the colour I used enough. But anyway I chose this simple design as its straight to the point. So I started to set up my Facebook Page and Instagram Account – you know the most important things first. I then got myself some uniform to wear around my local area whenever I was working.

uniform

And so I started to advertise to my friends and family. Luckily I already had a dog that I walked every Friday which I had been visiting for the past year. Showing the bank managers I had a steady but obviously low income.

I decided to advertise my business over the summer holidays and hope for the best. I managed to get 3 new customers. Result. I looked after a 3 month old puppy called Arnold a puggle called Brutus and had a week long stay with a Heinz variety called Benji.

Kernow; my Friday friend
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Arnold; the cutest puppy I’ve seen
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Brutus
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Benji
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I feel I am well on my way to building up a client base and have no doubts it will take me a while until I can dive deep into my venture and work with the dogs full time. I have a few more goals within my business to achieve as well so will keep you up to date.

In the mean time go follow my Instagram account totton_tails_trails for more pictures of my clients or even give my page a like on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/tottontailsandtrails/

Eating my emotions

First off, apologies for how lengthy this post is. Getting thoughts, feelings etc. out of my head is one way for me to cope and relieve myself of so much that goes on in my brain. So bare with, bare with.

Learning that I was suffering from depression, stress and anxiety about 18 months ago was daunting but much the same a HUGE relief.

I first thought ‘finally I don’t have to go into work’.

It was crippling me. I woke up, went to work, came home, ate and slept. This sounds like a totally normal routine for the rest of the world. But the underlining things made it worse;

0430 wake up alarm, 40 minute commute – sometimes being stuck in traffic, dealing with staff asking repetitive and simple questions, being relied on for jobs way higher than my pay grade, being the only person who knew how to use this fantastic new machine, being promised a pay rise, not receiving said pay rise, not earning any time in lieu, other staff with the same job title as me receiving and earning time in lieu, having said members of staff thinking I was getting preferential treatment when I wasn’t, having to stay 3-5 hours past my finish time when same level staff went home dead on time, getting caught in an accident on the way home resulting in me being 5 hours late home. I could go on and on and on.

But this 24/5 crept up on me and made me feel worse and worse. Due to the nature of my job I can not discuss the happenings within the work place. So I came home stressed and couldn’t let this out. I would try to explain to my parents, friends and Tim but the machines and protocols were so hard to explain I gave up trying to explain as it felt like too much effort.

I became very irritable. I didn’t care about my personal standards or work standards. I just felt empty and didn’t know how to feel any more. I wanted to put myself into a car crash so I didn’t have to go to work the next day. Rugby, my main passion was a hate/hate relationship. Mostly because I was either too late to go to training or too damn tired. This was a massive change to the person who used to sing Disney and musical songs to her employees to cheer them up when we had no radio. Plus a massive change to the rugby captain who would turn up 30 minutes early to look at equipment and set up drills to help out the coach.

So once the Dr told me that it was normal to feel like this and that asking for help was the best step; I cried. I panicked having to tell my parents – the generation that hasn’t got the best knowledge of mental health. I didn’t tell my friends I was off work – it was only the fact my friend (who lived in the same street as me) noticed my car was actually at home between the hours of 6am & 3pm that she questioned what was up. I had regular appointments with my Dr and every time I cried. It was all very overwhelming. I was scared to tell Tim. We had just put down a deposit on a new build house, would he end up changing his mind about me now he knew I wasn’t well? I had every kind of thought an over thinker could have.

So the first 2 months I slept. No matter how much I slept I was always yawning and feeling tired. My mum was being very supportive but worried I was sleeping too much and was trying to get me to do odd jobs. But I didn’t want to. I needed to sleep.

It was as if I was a hibernating bear.

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After this period I started to watch a lot of TV. Hurrah for Netflix who doesn’t judge you binge watching a 4 year TV series within 3 days. I started showering and looking after my personal hygiene more. I went to the Drs regularly and cried every time.

Medication was then discussed at a Drs appointment. I was reluctant at first but I could see that my mood and mental ability was just not improving. My dad had to get his head around it as well. I think he didn’t want me becoming reliant on the tablets like the ‘bad press stories’ he had read and heard within his life time. For the month of my body getting used to this medication, I felt sick and slept some more.

Slowly but surely I started telling jokes again. I smiled more. I became more affectionate towards everyone. My parents and Tim all said they were definitely noticing a difference. I felt like myself again. I remembered who I was again. It didn’t happen overnight however my realisation that I was becoming myself again did. Talking my feelings through with friends, family and my Dr made me think about myself more and how differently I was reacting to situations. I could see light at the end of my very dark tunnel.


Before and throughout this period my eating habits became more and more apparent. I over ate. My portions were increasing. My secret trips to the shop were increasing. Picking up sweet treats at the petrol station became a regular thing. I binge ate – ALOT. But I never had the urge to throw it all back up. I felt it was a waste of food. I literally looked like this……

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I knew I ate my emotions. I ate when I was happy, sad, angry, excited, had a sense of failure or achievement. My list of ‘reasons’ was endless. I expressed my concerns again to my Dr who upped the anti with my mental health recovery. Therapy.

Oh good – I thought. A softly spoken person trying to make you feel better without hurting your feelings. This was my first reaction. But my relationship with my Dr was strong and I trusted her. The tablets had worked under her referral. So why would this be a waste of my time?

So after going through a therapy service called italk (click on this link to find out more http://www.italk.org.uk/about-us/) I felt better for seeing how many people were going through the same thing as me. For either the same reasons or completely different reasons. It helped me put some perspective into my life as well.

Just little things (please excuse my poor describing skills) image your brain as a bath filling up with water. The water represents your thoughts and feelings. If you keep letting the bath fill up, eventually it will overflow. This is the same as our brains, we cant cope with too much at once. (obviously people’s thresholds for this differs – so they would be a bigger or smaller bath tub) To stop the bath tub from overflowing, we would pull the plug and let the water drain. So to stop us from ‘overflowing’ or not being able to cope we need to find time to let our thoughts and feelings out. Draining our brain from ‘bad’ or ‘unhelpful’ thoughts. I hope this made sense? It did to me at the time!

So I did my course of sessions and felt good. I carried on with rebuilding my routine and life back to normal. But I was still eating my emotions.

I tried Slimming World for the third time. 1st time I was at College at it worked for me – it helped mum was doing it too and cooking all my meals etc. Second time was a new years resolution. I knew I had to do something about my weight and proactively signed myself up and went. But then I got signed off work with depression etc – it was all too much. This time I went with a friend to see if that became a more positive experience. I was feeling better in myself, I knew the drill so it wouldn’t be too daunting and if I could do this before Christmas time I could do it any time.

However it became a competition. Even though we didn’t have the snide comments of who lost of the most weight. In my head, Grace was doing better than me. She managed to lose weight when socialising with friends and for Christmas parties. She managed to lose weight whilst having 2 kids, working part time, having a dog and running a home. I just had myself and Tim. She motivated me with tips and ideas to help me but I just shot them down and put up my barriers. And ate my emotions. I treated myself to a takeaway if I had lost that week. I would get annoyed that I hadn’t lost weight so had a blow out day and ate every single nice thing in the house. It literally did my head in.

At my usual Drs appointment I shared my concern of not being in control of what I put in my mouth. I know some people will be reading this thinking, well don’t buy the bad things, of course you’re in control blah blah blah. But to me I’m not in control. My mind always wins over my physical body. I know an orange is better for me than a donut. I know a jacket potato is healthier for me than chips with my dinner. But my mind can somehow control my thought patterns for me to eat the wrong things.

With italk I wasn’t in the deep depths of depression / anxiety / stress for me to have more sessions with them. I expressed the eating habits with them too but I didn’t have enough symptoms to be classed as having an eating disorder. Probably because I didn’t actually throw anything back up or starve myself. So I felt a bit stuck.

Until my Dr said try getting in touch with this trust – Life Changes. (click on the link to find out more; http://www.lifechangescounselling.org.uk/)

I self referred and waited for my appointment to come through. My first time I went to the wrong place – I felt like a first class prick. But this actually made my first official appointment at the wrong place, which was now the right place, less daunting. I had already done the bus journey (I do drive but we are only a 1 car household), I knew the directions for me to walk the rest of the way, so all I had to do new this time was speak to a therapist!

So I did………reluctantly.

I was there to talk about food and my emotional attachment to it etc. My therapist was the same size as a pencil. I may be exaggerating but my arms were probably the size of her thighs. I was thinking YOU are going to help ME with my eating habits? I don’t think so love! Have you even SEEN a pizza?

The way therapy worked this time was me talking constantly. They encourage it. At first I talked about food and my habits making sure not to say names (as she didn’t know who the fuck they were so what’s the point). My therapist then proposes questions of the classic ‘and how did that make you feel?’. Cheesy as it sounds it makes you think and access. And ‘ding’ my time was up. I surprised myself at how much I talked to a complete stranger about my fucktard ways of choosing a caramel shortcake over an apple.

The next session was much easier to talk and I started saying names as ‘my friend’ was getting annoying. Plus I said anything that I was thinking or feeling. Regardless of how stupid / unimaginable / exaggerated it seemed, she would always listen and refer me back to the question at hand. ‘So how did that make you feel?’ 

My first ‘mind blown’ realisation was when she said to me ‘the only thing constant in life is change’.

I LOVE to plan. I like to control the situations I put myself into. But having some third party tell me – hang on a minute you cant physically or emotional control every single little detail of your life, made me think – fuck she’s totally right. Yes I could have got my mum or friend or any of you random strangers to tell me that for free. But the way she then explained it all to me just made so much sense.

I now don’t plan as often and don’t become bogged down if plans change.

My second realisation was actually related to me eating my emotions. I was feeling much better and happier that maybe I didn’t need any more sessions with her. But I had been going a bit off track with why I was there. So last week I started to talk about my eating habits again. How I’m still over eating even though I have learnt to love the body I’m in, to be happy with how I am right now and not eating because of an emotion. How I’m worried I am still putting on weight – eeeeekk! How I knew that 3 stone ago I needed to eat better etc. All she had to say to me was ‘What is food to you? When did this begin?’

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It started as a kid. It was because you want the biggest piece of birthday cake you can get at a birthday party when you’re small. Food became a friend. My friends wouldn’t come and call on me to go out to play because I lived ‘too far away’ – I definitely did not FYI. But food never made plans which didn’t include me. Food became a pick me up for when I got bullied by people I used to hang around with. (I left the cool group because I didn’t smoke and I knew I actually wasn’t ‘cool’ but they didn’t like that I left them so then they started picking on me. WTF?) It became a comfort for when boys would put you in the sexiest ranking order. (I was always at the bottom – even though one of the guys who compiled the list quite possibly liked you back but wouldn’t admit it.) Food was a trick to overcome boredom. Food was a treat when you started earning your own money. Food was a competition within your family (my dad would raid our sweetie tin whilst doing the washing up so I had to get in there first to not miss out). Food was needed to fuel me for all my sporting activities I did. Food never judged me. Food was my constant.

So I have now realised that even though I may be putting on more and more weight at the moment (opposite to goal #26 of losing weight), I have to learn to undo possibly 20 years of bad habits. Now even I know that’s not going to happen overnight! So I may have to gain to eventually start losing.

My blog post May’s Mission talks about me and Tim giving up garlic bread. Sounds pathetic. But its a step in noticing that its a bad habit and how do we stop it. We still haven’t eaten any and I’m actually proud that we have stuck to something and know I don’t need garlic bread with every meal.

I talked to my parents about this too and told them that we hadn’t had a takeaway for a whole month either. We ate out – yes. We had McDonalds breakfast – yes. However it wasn’t because I couldn’t deal with the thought of cooking. It wasn’t because I was having a bad mental health day that we ordered a takeaway. It was because we had legitimate reasons. Eating out was date night. McDonalds breakfast was because Tim had sliced the tip of his finger off. They turned round and told us how well we were doing. They had both admitted that they actually realised what my relationship with food was as well. How in depth it has affected me. It wasn’t a case of ‘you need to exercise more’ or ‘do you really need that?’ or ‘you’re addicted to sugar’. Its now a case of supporting me through this long journey of me rewiring my brain to change what food is to me.

So although our diet isn’t healthier, my mental illness isn’t affecting my choices on food AS MUCH. I cant stress those last 2 words enough. I have a long way to come still but I am damn proud of my efforts so far.

Thanks for reading

Barbs x

Just FYI……I also thought these videos put a lot into perspective for me…..