What Comes First, Poor Mental Health or Poor Self Care?

Before writing this post I went to the polls (would have been topical if I’d written this post on time) and had a bit of a debate with a couple of people regarding the question do you think that your mental health slips first or your self care. 

For me it’s a no-brainer, my mental health goes down the pan and then I don’t have the energy, motivation or inclination to do the most basic of self care tasks however it was interesting that someone stated categorically that for them they thought that their self care slipped first.  When they elaborated they explained that if you don’t treat yourself with care because you feel worthless etc then your mental health will worsen. Maybe I’m lucky in that when I’m well I have a good relationship with my self and so if I’m not looking after myself it’s because my mental health has already worsened. To me that feeling of worthlessness that was described is part of poor mental health.

That being said, I have noticed that when I’m sort of on the up and making a conscious effort with self care I do feel slightly better. I recently set myself some self care goals and for the first few days I was managing with them, staying hydrated, eating and making some effort to stay on top of housework. Sleep was still a struggle but I was doing all I could. Yet as within a week I was feeling awful and my self care had gone back to being non-existent. That’s what led me to this question. Did I feel worse because I wasn’t doing it or was I not doing it because I felt worse? 

I guess it’s impossible to say for sure. Some days when I’m not feeling great if I force myself to do even the most basic of self care like drinking enough water or cooking, I get really dark moods so as far as possible I try to just listen to myself. If I’m not in the mood to do it or today is not that day then I just don’t. Simple as that. Maybe it’s not the healthiest approach but at the moment all I can do is do the best I can each day and some days will be better than other.

Here are the goals I set myself in this post. 

  1. Drink 2l (or there about) of water a day. – For the first few days this was easy enough if not the most exciting but as soon as I got bored/maybe when I had a few bad mental health days, this slipped by the wayside and I haven’t really been doing it since. 
  2. Eat 3 meals a day. – I’ve kind of being doing this but my eating habits have been all over the place, letting myself get ridiculously hungry, skipping breakfast and not having anything until mid to late morning, cereal for dinner etc. The usual fails that have now triggered my IBS. Hopefully being in pain will be a reminder to eat this week. 
  3. Get in to a bed time routine. – I think I sort of have one and I’m trying out a new sleeping supplement and pillow spray that seem to be helping. Watch this space. 
  4. Spend an hour every evening doing something not related to internet/blogging. – Since I stopped daily blogging I’ve had over a week off at the time of writing this and it’s been great. 🙂 BUT I probably still don’t spend an hour a night not online. 
  5. Do a 30 minute clean every day – This definitely didn’t happen. Doing a big clean over the weekend so I can just try to maintain a reasonable level over the next week. 

 We are very quick to berate ourselves for the things we haven’t done rather than celebrating the things we have so instead of dwelling on what I haven’t achieved here are some things that I have achieved since that post. 

  • I’ve attended work everyday no matter how tired or ill I felt. 
  • I’ve looked after Misty, my furry friend, managed to take her to the vet and have started tackling knotted fur, much to her displeasure. 
  • I’ve managed a few really good gym sessions but also rested for a full week when I wasn’t up to it. 
  • I’ve written a few blog posts and had a few really open and difficult conversations about why I don’t want help for my emetophobia. 

It’s so disappointing that I’m finding things so hard at what is traditionally an easy time of year for me but I will keep plodding along and hopefully you guys will keep me accountable. 

Do you have any personal goals that you are working on at the moment? Let me know in the comments. 

V ❤ 

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Thoughts on Getting Help For Emetophobia

TW/CW – emetophobia, anxiety, panic attacks

Recently I’ve been looking in to treating my emetophobia. My generalised anxiety/stress has reached a point where the only solution is likely to be medication that I won’t take due to my phobia. As a result the only logical solution is to deal with the phobia. If only things were straightforward. I wrote previously that I’d had public panic attacks and they were due to the stress of contemplating getting help for my phobia. I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place and I want to elaborate on why.

Like a lot of sufferers I feel like my phobia keeps me safe – and in a lot of ways it does. I live my life in certain ways to avoid getting sick. It affects my diet, the ways I choose to travel, places I’m willing to visit etc. Yes, some people would say it’s restrictive but that’s the price I’m willing to pay to not get sick. A huge part of the battle is the fact that my phobia also means that my body fights the urge to be sick. It’s not a pleasant experience – I go to a primal place in my brain and my whole body shuts down – but it stops the urge to vomit. I’m terrified that if I no longer have the phobia I won’t be able to stop it and then if I let it happen once it’ll keep happening. My phobia at this point is a finally tuned system to prevent me being sick and I don’t want to ficker with it.

The logical counter-argument to this is if I didn’t have the phobia anymore then I wouldn’t have to worry about being kept safe because I wouldn’t be afraid to be sick. This is where my irrational thoughts take over. For someone who would rather die than be sick it’s hard to imagine a point in time where they would ever be ok with being sick. I know it’s possible because I know of people who have recovered, I also know that emetophobia has one of the lowest rates of success when it comes to treatment as it’s one of the phobias with the most powerful emotive response. The fear is also based on your own bodily function and through life is something that may be impossible to fully avoid and so it’s an ever present fear that you can never get away from.

The idea of whatever the therapy itself may involve is also, quite frankly, terrifying. I’ve read horror stories of exposure therapy that in all seriousness could lead to me developing PTSD on top of everything else. It may be useful to have something like hypnotherapy again to help me learn a bit about why I have the phobia but even that is very daunting.

It’s almost a self fulfilling prophecy because as long as the phobia has a grip on me I won’t get help for it and then the cycle continues. At my last GP appointment she referred me to psychiatry in order to discuss options. I’m trying to keep an open mind even though all of the thoughts above keep whirring around in my brain telling me not to do it.

Have you had professional help for a phobia or anxiety disorder before? Did it work for you? Leave me a comment and let me know.

V ❤

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Goodbye May, Hello Summer

The last day of May has arrived and here in Aberdeen it is feeling particularly summery. It’s been a funny old month for me personally, professionally and in my blogging life. I feel like I’ve packed a year’s worth of ups and downs into one month and I will be glad to see the back of it in a lot if ways.

Looking forward to June there are a few things that are happening for me and the world in general that I want to share some thoughts on.

June is my birthday month, on the 7th I’ll turn 26. In my current mental state my birthday is filling me with dread rather than excitement, not least of all because I have no plans to do anything to mark the occasion having accepted the fact that everyone will be too busy etc and it’ll just be a massive flop. I know part of this is my mental health but also partly from my experience of trying to organise any kind of party or social gathering over the past couple of years.

Next week Britain goes to the polls again. This time it’s a General Election and hopefully we will be saying goodbye to May in another sense. I know it’s a really slim chance but we have to hope that people will actually show up and make it known that we’re not happy with the status quo. The big concern is that many Scots won’t see the bigger picture and continue to vote SNP in this election which will hamper Labour’s chances of any kind of majority. Watch this space.

The most important event in June is Orange Is The New Black Day which this year falls on the 9th. If like me you have already booked the day off work to binge watch prepare to be shook. I’ve read some of the media relating to it and I’m unsure about the way they have planned this season – it sounds like we will definitely be left wanting more ASAP – but it will also be a binge watch dream.

On my blog in June you can expect lots of body positive content, a couple of period positive posts and I have a fitness post planned. I won’t be posting daily. Hallelujah! I haven’t quite figured out my schedule yet but I know I won’t be posting again until the 4th.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you are most looking forward to in June.

V ❤ 

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It’s OK To Need A Break

I’m writing this post as a reminder to everyone who is struggling at the moment – It’s ok give up. It’s ok to fail. It’s ok to admit that you are overwhelmed and need a break. 

The irony  that I’m posting this so I don’t fail in the challenge I set myself to blog every day this month is not lost on me.  Life is hard. This month has been particularly difficult for me and tonight I feel at my lowest for a long time.

I met up with one of my closest friends tonight and it was lovely to see her and chat but I still felt very on edge and under pressure. On the walk home the dark cloud descended and I genuinely didn’t think I’d be getting this post up tonight. To add insult to injury my cat is ill and had been sick and had a “toilet accident” on my bed. Today was a terrible day.

Terrible days happen. My originally planned post was things that nobody tells you about being an adult, that’s definitely one of them. Even on the worst days no one is going to handle business for you. Today I spoke to a friend who is also ill at the moment and I told him to do just one productive thing. Just one. And it made me realise how well I’m doing. Yes my house is a disgusting mess again and I had cereal for dinner but I’m adulting in other ways. I’m holding down a full time job and whatever this side hustle is.

Let’s celebrate these victories on days when it’s all just too much. I’m sure no matter what, you’ve done something this week you can be proud of.

V ❤

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Where are all the friendly adults at?

I’ve been meaning to write a post about this for ages and a conversation this morning was the kick up the butt I needed to make it happen. So the big question is why is it so hard to make friends as an adult?

For the longest time I thought maybe it was just me. Maybe I’m quite simply not likeable, I’m opinionated, I’m loud, I have a really annoying laugh – I’m not really selling my friendship here. Yet, the more I speak to young people I realise it’s not just me. Unless you work with a lot young people, you have children or you play a sport or you’re a student the chances are you have the same problem.

Remember the days when you would just go up to another human, engage them in conversation and strike up a friendship, job done? Fast forward to adulthood in 2017 where if you so much as smile at someone you don’t know you will be viewed with suspicion. In the modern age the logical way to meet people would be online which is great and very fruitful. I have made so many friends online since I started blogging, all over the country and beyond, but it’s not so handy when you’re looking for someone to go out for brunch with next Sunday. Now I know you’re all about to chime in with “there’s an app for that”. You don’t have to sell me on the app in question however typically, in this neck of the woods, it’s dead.

I made one lovely friend through the app (hi Sacha if you’re reading) but we’ve both spoken about this challenge in Aberdeen to meet people to socialize with. I joined a book club thinking that it might help in this regard. All the women are lovely, we have great chats when we meet up but they are all married/in long term relationships, some of them have kids and again they don’t really have the time for other social commitments.

The good news is that if you live in a larger city there are probably more opportunites to meet people through events, clubs, meet up apps and through other friends so all is not lost. In the meantime I will make more of an effort to socialise with my friends who are still around and try to keep in touch with others as best I can.

Have you struggled to make friends as an adult/since leaving university? Let me know what you did to meet people in the comments.

V ❤

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What is the #TBRathon & Why am I taking part?

The #TBRathon is the “to be read” readathon hosted by the loved Taryn from Sunlitlibrary or Novel Paradise Blog. Like most people I have a to be read pile that if stacked up would probably be twice my height so from 27th May through to 2nd June the aim of the game is to read as many of them as possible.

Between working full time and daily blogging I’m setting my target at 3 books with the intention to make a good start on the 4th. The books that I plan to read are:

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson. This is a story about David and Leo, David wants to be a girl and Leo wants to be invisible. They go to the same school and start to become friends and it’s one of those the truth will out stories. I’m not really selling it but I’m only 165 pages in and I’m hooked. It’s also endorsed by Amnesty International so that’s always a good sign. I had started this book before so I picked it up at about page 35.

Love You Dead by Peter James. Again this is a book that I’ve started and failed to finish previously. I think I’m about 100 pages in but I may have to go back and re-read a bit to get in to the story. This is the 12th book in the Roy Grace series and I’m such a big fan of them. It’s a police procedural where each book focuses on an individual case but they also have a running story through the whole series where Roy’s wife Sandy went missing years before and new leads will crop up etc.

The Two Week Wait by Sarah Rayner. I have no idea what this book is about or if I will like it. It’s one of those books that you pick up really cheaply from a charity shop and then it just sits there for years. It looks like it’ll be a quick chick lit type thing.

Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. As you all probably know I’m really in to intuitive eating but I’ve never actually read this so I thought it would be good to read a little of the research behind it and hopefully it’ll help me at the moment. My stressed out brain has been telling me all kinds of things that I “should” be doing.

Are you taking part in #TBRathon? If so let me know what you’re planning to read in the comments.

V ❤

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Things I’ve Learned Through Blogging

The blogging community in the form of the body positive and fat acceptance movement changed my life – that deserves a whole post in its own right – so this post will focus on things I’ve learned specifically since I started this blog, often thanks to the people I’ve met a long the way.

I’ll start with the only negative thing that I’ve learned so that we can finish on a high – competitive women often forget that another woman’s victory is not their failure. Quote stolen from Beyond Before & After.

What I mean by that is that this community has the potential to support and lift each and every member however that’s not always what happens as it’s become hyper-competitive. Not a day goes by where there’s not some kind of drama or aggro on Twitter and it can often feel almost hostile. I’m lucky in that a couple of larger bloggers have really supported and encouraged me from the start and I have a few people who I can DM when I’m feeling disheartened but I know that others are not so lucky.

That aside, blogging has enhanced my life in so many ways and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that I’m not alone in my views. Aberdeen is a small city and it’s really hard to meet people here. There are very few events and I’ve spoken before about the fact that most of my colleagues are significantly older than me with kids etc and have very different views to me. Through blogging I have met people who I hope will be friends for life and even though they live a long way away it’s good to be able to share ideas. It turns out that I’m not the only one who rages at body shaming fitness marketing or the fact that other young women don’t vote. And there is strength in numbers.

At 25 years old I thought I knew all there was to know about periods. I was wrong. Through blogging I have learnt so much about my own body and the different menstrual protection options out there. Since going cruelty free I’ve become so aware of the companies that distribute mainstream pads and tampons but through blogging and in particular Eco Fluffy Mama, I have learned that there are alternatives. I have since switched to a menstrual cup and I am about to try cloth pads and already know that I won’t look back.

Most recently blogging taught me to believe in my abilities more. I’ve always loved to write, mostly for myself but occasionally for other people yet I never believed I was that great. I once missed out on a job I really wanted and the reason they gave was my writing. Maybe it just wasn’t their style or it didn’t suit their business, but it really knocked my confidence. This month I have received so many compliments on my writing, including today when I received a lovely message praising me for the fact that despite posting every day I have kept the quality high.

Have you learned anything through reading blogs or writing on yourself? Let me know in the comments.

V ❤

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Why is this so hard to write?

I think it’s fair to say that I’m pretty open and candid on this blog about issues that people the world over still struggle to talk about but for some reason I’m struggling with this one.

Yesterday was the day of the scary doctor’s appointment. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go and then when that was decided I didn’t know what I was actually going to manage to say. With the help of a printable from an emetophobia help Web page I managed to explain the whole thing. There was a lot anxiety and some sobbing but I did it.

It’s what came next that’s the difficult bit to put out there on to the Internet – I’m being referred to psychiatry. This is a positive step as I’m being referred for advice, to see if a combined approach may be best. I’m not being forced in to anything and for the to being I’m relatively calm about the whole thing.

It got me thinking more about the stigma around mental illness. I’ve never been dissuaded from talking about it before. That’s not to say I haven’t faced stigma, only last week someone laughed at me for my anxiety and phobia, and growing up I was told not to tell people that I had it because they’d think badly of me. Thankfully in the main my experience hasn’t been negative however I think the word psychiatry carries all kind of connotations.

It’s no different than be referred to orthopaedics or cardiology, it’s just a different part of the bid but for some reason we say the word in hushed tones or carefully consider who we will tell. Well, other than my grandparents, I’m not hiding it from anyone.

I may end up chickening out and not pursuing any help from them but I’m not going to be ashamed of going to a psychiatrist. No one should be worried about other people’s reactions to their medical care.

V ❤

Progress Not Perfection – Self Care Goals

Today I did a scary thing, tomorrow’s blog post will be all about it, but having that hanging over me for a while among other things has made this month a bit of a write-off. I know what you’re thinking, I’ve blogged every day, held down my job, looked after my crazy elderly kitty and you’re right. But that doesn’t mean that other areas of my life haven’t suffered as a result.

I’ve been terrible at self care in the most basic sense like eating healthily, drinking enough water and getting enough good sleep. I’ve missed three of my closest friends’ birthdays – Tamzin, Cat and Kirsty if you read this I’m really sorry – and if you’ve been waiting on a reply from me on Facebook messenger you’re still waiting but as I’ve done the scary thing now and going forward it’s just a waiting game I figured now is as good a time as any to create an action plan for the next week/month.

  1. Drink 2l (or there about) of water a day. This one should be achievable especially now the weather is getting warmer but sometimes I forget to drink anything until lunchtime when I’m exhausted/anxious.
  2. Eat 3 meals a day. Usually I’ve still been managing this but for example today I didn’t eat anything from breakfast until 4.30pm and then squeezed in my 3rd meal at 8.30pm.
  3. Get in to a bed time routine. It’s not very exciting or sexy but tossing and turning then eventually falling asleep to Seth MacFarlane and co’s dulcet tones at 1am is not conducive to a productive day.
  4. Spend an hour every evening doing something not related to internet/blogging. This one may be a challenge especially as I’m at work all day so my evening is full of writing blog posts, reading and commenting on others’ posts, tweeting, scheduling tweets etc etc BUT I think it’s really important to have some genuine downtime.
  5. Do a 30 minute clean every day. Like most people when my mental health is rubbish my flat becomes an absolute disgrace. I found a really great “quick clean guide” on YouTube by chance that I will be sharing on the blog within the next few days and it’s really motivated me to be proactive.

I will do an update next month on how I am getting on. The most important ones but probably the most difficult will be the sleep and relaxation. Fingers crossed I will have good news.

Do you have any self care goals at the moment? If not, would you consider setting some? Let me know in the comments.

V ❤

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The Realities of Daily Blogging

Blogging every day this month has been tough at times. It’s not easy to come up with meaningful content everyday while working full time and trying to carry on as normal. For example I went out to meet a friend tonight and I’m now writing this at 11pm hoping that I will be finished before midnight.

The main thing that this month’s challenge has taught me is that blogging every day is possible. Maybe I would run out of things to say or maybe I would burnout but I have almost come to the end of the month and I’m managing. It makes me feel more confident in my abilities and also a bit more prepared for blogmas this year.

Blogging every day has allowed me to use my blog as more of an outlet for things that are going on in my life. This month I’ve been able to talk openly about mental health whereas if I was only blogging twice a week I wouldn’t have been able to go into anywhere near as much detail.

Daily blogging has also shown me that I do have support within the blogging community and outside of it. I have received incredible messages and comments, and even tonight, meeting up with a friend I see seldomly, she knew that I was working on this and had been reading. For a while I felt that maybe my blog was too niche and anti mainstream media to garner support within the blogging community but after this month I will definitely keep chipping away.

I’d love to say that this month has taught me to be organised, manage my time and plan posts but it hasn’t. Other than Monday’s post (which I will rewrite while I’m off work tomorrow or Friday) I am happy with the content I’ve produced but I’d be lying if I told you I knew what I was going to be writing from one day to the next. I’ve been lucky that this has been a month filled with inspiration even if it wasn’t always for positive reasons.

Have you ever blogged every day for a month or would you consider it? Leave me a comment and let me know.

V ❤