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My depression and anxiety – Guest post

I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety for years

Black background with bright green writing saying Be gentle with your mind.
Childhood Anxiety and Depression

I’m delighted to have this Guest Post written by Charli from Life with Charli: Depression and Anxiety: The Start of a Recovery Journey. I’ve just recently come across her blog which she started to help inspire and motivate others! She certainly inspires me and I think you might appreciate what she has to say.

I made my first visit to a mental health clinic this year. I have been dealing with depression and anxiety since I was a child, but am only now getting help as an adult. I often had suicidal thoughts. Also, whenever my anxiety stated flaring up, I would start shaking uncontrollably and feeling nauseous. I’ve actually seriously considered seeing a therapist twice before finally seeking help, but eventually decided against that decision. It’s definitely been a long road to get to where I am today.

It started as a small child

For starters, I didn’t realize that I needed help in the first place. When I was a small child, I didn’t fully realize that the thoughts I was having were a problem. I didn’t understand what I was experiencing. During my teen years, however, a part of me started to feel that something with my mental health was off. I never really opened up about my thoughts to anyone, not even my family members. I was too scared to share those feelings, too ashamed.

When I was a child, my parents and everyone who met me described me as “happy”. I was always smiling, and as I grew older, I learned to smile even when I wasn’t happy. Pretending that I’m always ok started to become harder once I reached adulthood. I could no longer hide how I was truly feeling. However, I still didn’t want to open up to anyone. I was still trying to keep my struggles bottled up inside. I wasn’t truly hiding though. Others were able to see something was wrong.

It dragged on thro’ college years

My depression and anxiety started to become more of a serious problem during my college years, and this was not very easy to hide. I started becoming very irritable and easily offended. This started affecting my relationship with my family. Moreover, I had a small panic attack in front of a professor twice. Both professors noticed and tried to make sure I was ok. I also broke down in the disability office of my college, and one of the concerned workers in the office told me she is a licensed counselor if I needed to talk to someone.

Others noticing my struggles was not the only sign that I needed help. I started seeing a new doctor late in my college years, and her office gives patients a mental health questionnaire at the beginning of every visit. I mostly lied on them. I wasn’t ready to open up, to talk about my suicidal thoughts. I was too scared. Just thinking about seeing a therapist made my anxiety flare up.

All the different scenarios that could take place would run through my mind whenever I thought about getting help. I was afraid of being put on medication. I was afraid I would be forced into a mental health institution for treatment. I was afraid of what people around me would think of me if they knew about my struggles. I was especially afraid of what my family would think. Lastly, I was afraid of letting go of the views I held on to about mental health for so long. I am a Christian, and I struggled with feeling like my mental health issues meant that my faith is weak. Those fears kept me from reaching out for help the two times I felt I was ready to.

Accepting help

I started my blog last year in March. Interacting with other bloggers, and seeing how open many of them are with their mental health conditions was inspiring. I realized how freeing it can be to open up about our struggles. I was also beginning to grow tired of trying to fix my problems on my own. It was time for me to seek help. I was scared at first, but I wasn’t willing to let my anxiety stop me this time.

I started seeing a therapist regularly, and I recently even decided to start taking antidepressants. Both have been helping tremendously. I even began talking with my family about my struggles and my suicidal thoughts. One of my siblings told me that she has never had suicidal thoughts, and never thought she would be better off gone. Talking with her and the rest of my family made me realize that I really did need help.

4 Important Lessons

Since I started going to therapy and taking antidepressants, I’ve learned four important lessons:

  1. I learned that my fears about what happens when someone reaches out for help with mental health issues were unwarranted.
  2. My mental health struggles don’t make me any less of a Christian. Christians can have mental illnesses too.
  3. Medication for mental illnesses might not be the answer for every person with a mental illness, but they definitely can help for some. There is no shame in giving them a try.
  4. Opening up about my mental health struggles was definitely liberating, and I’m glad I reached out for help.

Over to you

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ClipArt.com

What can we learn from Charli’s journey? Do you have any thoughts or comments on this honest and open post about Charli’s journey? Any questions? In the meantime, stay safe and look after your own mental wellbeing.

You might find the following posts of interest:

  • 10 quick and easy tips to help with anxiety and panic attacks here
  • How to manage panic attacks here
  • 19 free mental health apps just for you here

The ugly truths about mental health nurses

Shocking ugly truths about our Mental Health Nurses

Coloured image of the Nursing & midwifery Council's The Code
Ugly truths about our mental health
nurses who neither meet nor maintain
expected standards

Have you ever been an inpatient on a mental health ward? Have you come across washed out nurses who’ve either lost the ability to care, or they never cared in the first place? I wasn’t a patient. I was a nurse. And unfortunately, I witnessed many shocking ugly truths displayed by some of our mental health nurses. More appalling however, was the response (or lack of) of their managers and their modern matrons.

Our Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) The Code (2018) contains the professional standards that registered nurses must uphold. This is a nurse’s bible, whatever your faith or religion, and all standards ought to be reached by the end of your three years pre-reg training. Moreover, you should be committed to upholding these standards throughout your nursing career. Essentially, through revalidation, nurses provide evidence of their continued ability to practice safely and effectively.

“The Code provides a clear, consistent and positive message to patients, service users and colleagues about what they can expect of those who provide nursing care.”

NMC, 2018

Who oversees our mental health nursing standards?

Black and white image of man with hands on a wall, head down
Patient experiencing mental illness —
ugly truths about our Mental Health Nurses

Now, I’m not sure the above-mentioned patients and services users ever get to see this Code; it’s not given to them on admission. Therefore, I don’t believe they do know what to expect. Okay, imagine for a second that they’ve seen The Code and the standards of care provided don’t match up. Do you think patients are in any fit state to ensure nursing staff uphold these standards? No? Me neither and I think it’s up to the profession itself to effect, maintain and monitor these standards.

While I agree patients ought to be able to expect certain standards, they’re often too unwell to notice. Many of our inpatients suffer from a wide range of mental illnesses including bipolar, schizophrenia psychosis, personality disorders, and depression. They might be confused, drowsy due to the effects of medication and sometimes angry because they’ve been detained. Expecting anything might be too much!

Most inpatients are on a section of the Mental Health Act (MHA 1985). This is a law that requires patients to remain on the ward for assessment and also treatment. Some patients are informal, which means they gave consent for admission and can come and go as they please.

Nurses should be doing more

As a new nurse I was excited and couldn’t wait to uphold the standards and expected the very same from my colleagues. Patient care and safety were, as expected, my (our) main concern. It was up to me (us) to ensure patients’ needs were recognised and assessed. However, how can patient needs be recognised if staff don’t actually spend any time with them?

While well aware that our wards were often oversubscribed and our patients could be chaotic, it p’d me off seeing how little time nurses spent with their allocated patients. Moreover, their half-hearted attempts at engaging with patients were sadly reduced to the odd casual nod or fake smile.

No wiggle room to meet everyone’s every need

Coloured image of lady in jeans and blue jumper taking notes. Female with pae trousers sitting with her hands on her lap
Mental health nurses — Image from Medpagetoday.com

Each shift, we’d be allocated five patients to look after, on top of which, one nurse would coordinate that shift. One nurse might be in Ward Round and one nursing assistant (NA) would hold the Rapid Response radio (attending to crises elsewhere). The fourth member of staff, an NA, would be on the floor, and completing the hourly checks (ensuring patients are safe).

Obviously, this didn’t make it easy for nursing staff to spend long periods of time with their patients. However, we were fortunate when we had good nursing students to help out by chatting to patients and feeding back to nursing staff. Or they’d help coordinate the shift, releasing the coordinating nurse to spend time with their patients. Students would be answering telephones and constantly unlocking the door to let people in or out of the ward. Patients loved having good students on the ward because they usually had the time to chat.

Nurses could work smarter

Staff ought to have allocated tasks to students which would then free them up. They could have used that time to spend with a patient and to document more than a line or two in their notes.

Still, even with time to spare, we’d see staff flicking through patient’s magazines or settling themself in front of the t.v. Then you’d see a one line entry in patients’ notes saying “Mary had a quiet day. Stayed in her room throughout the shift.” Did this nurse speak to Mary? Had they asked if she wanted breakfast or lunch? Did they ask Mary how she felt or whether she needed any support? Who knows, because if it’s not documented, it didn’t happen. So — not only did they not speak to that patient, they obviously didn’t give any care either.

Not every day you get to see such sights

Coloured image of lady at her computer
Ugly truth about mental health
nurses — planning holidays

I think because I was older than your average new nurse, I got away with tongue in cheek remarks directed at lazy staff. “Are you on shift today Monica?” when she was clearly organising her whole year’s holidays on the only nurse computer we had. Or “There’s beds to be changed if you’re bored Ade?” I’d say with a grin. That got them of their backsides, and their tutting or heavy sighing never deterred me, “…….. and Sidney needs support with his toileting when you’re done,” I’d chuckle.

Harsh? Maybe, but like I said to my colleagues, if I’m cleaning up shit, so are you! I wouldn’t expect staff to do anything I’m not prepared to do myself. And for the nurse who said of a patient who’d spent her night rolling around in her own excrement, “No, she didn’t do it deliberately.”

And like, “Just to get attention and pee you off?” Duh! Evie had faeces up her nose, in her ears, dangling from her eyelashes and under her nails. Safe to say, she was covered poo. I’m certain this unfortunate young female would have been horrified to know she’d been rolling around in her own mess.

“No, I’d never seen a sight like it either but you didn’t have to yell at her. The girl didn’t know who or where she was. Yes, I also gagged as I donned plastic bags over my feet and hands before rolling Evie onto a sheet. My back hurt too as we dragged her out of the bedroom, into the shower room. But I didn’t make it obvious by heaving dramatically in her face every five seconds.”

And to our manager “Nice of you to retch theatrically then walk on by when you came in late that morning, for the millionth time.” Ha! Now that’s another post — what’s the point of ward managers?

You might be interested in the following posts too:

  • Poor nursing in mental health here
  • Bad manned nurses on mental health wards here
  • Should we report our mental health colleagues here

Over to you

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Clipart.com

As a new nurse, what would you have said or done? Would you feel able to call out your colleagues? What might a new nurse learn from this post? I look forward to hearing what you think and any questions are welcome.

This is a true account from my perspective and all names have been changed to protect the lardy arsed staff and save them from any embarrassment.

Testimonial

 “If you’re looking for a hard-hitting evaluation of the mental health profession with a sharp wit, please stop by Caz’ blog. She writes pieces revealing the challenges and problems in mental hospitals from first-hand experience as well as examining different mental health diagnoses and taking on the myths around them. Not the kind of myths I cover, the kind that hurt. Thank you, Caz. You are an amazing, courageous person.”

Kindly written by Ceridwen at Illuminating the fools mirror, 2020.

Abusive relationships and me

Why did I tolerate abusive relationships?

Coloured characters with words written on them like selfish, no good, careless, ugly - feelings in abusive relationships
Feelings in abusive relationships — Image by Pixabay.com

This is the 12th in a series of “My journey through anxiety, panic disorder, depression and psychosis. Read parts I, II, III, IV, V , VI, VII, VIII, IX, X and XI for the backstory. It might make more sense. You’ll read about me and my abusive relationships over a period of many years.

For those of you who don’t know, I started writing about my journey six months ago. I only ever intended to write it in four posts. However, it’s become clear that my journey was longer and more painful than I remembered. That’s made it difficult to get the words down on paper at times. I’ve taken many breaks and written lots of other posts in between. I’ve had time to reflect and bounce back a bit stronger each time.

Part XI ………. we hugged and cried, but this time we cried with laughter. Ian was calling across the road “Can you get us a taxi?”

Moving on

Black and white image of legs wrapped in barbed wire - moving on through abusive relationships
Moving on — through abusive
relationships

Despite the fact that I could laugh in that instance, once the boys went off to bed I was left reeling. Everything had happened so quickly. I felt blindsided once again, and p’d off with myself for getting into yet another abusive relationship. But please, before you judge me, “walk a mile in my shoes“. You know my name but you don’t know the whole story yet.

I’d been separated from an angry and violent man (father of my adorable sons), married to another insecure and passive-aggressive neanderthal within a year, and separated the following year.

Is it any wonder my mental health took a nosedive? I constantly felt disconnected to everything around me and that I had no control over anything. Anxiety and panic hit me in waves, overwhelming me at times, and I struggled to remain connected. The panic attacks tended to reach their peak after about ten minutes and took half an hour or so to subside. That’s an extremely long ten to thirty minutes when you’re drowning in quicksand.

What is panic disorder and what to do

Young female, hands over her face, panic attack in a public place
Panic attack in a public place
Tero Vesalainen – Dreamstime.com

If you didn’t already know, panic disorder is an anxiety disorder where you regularly have sudden attacks of panic or fear. Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times. It’s a natural response to stressful or dangerous situations, NHS, UK.

But for someone with panic disorder, feelings of anxiety, stress and panic occur regularly and at any time, often for no apparent reason. A panic episode leaves you feeling temporarily exhausted and drained.

Having a panic attack doesn’t necessarily mean you have panic disorder. Panic disorder is when you have repeated panic attacks that severely disrupt your life. You can read more about anxiety and panic attacks on the NHS website here. Or you read my post on How to manage panic attacks here.

I’ll kill myself if you leave me

Black and white photo - female head shaking violently and pulling hair - abusive relationships feel like this
Abusive relationships can feel like this — Image by Pixabay.com

I was exhausted, jittery and tearful when my phone rang one evening. It was Liz, Ian’s younger sister, calling cos she thought I should know that Ian was in bits. He was crying down the phone to her and threatening to kill himself.

She pleaded with me to give him one last chance, begging me to call him as she lived too far away to help. I stressed that that was Ian’s choice and I would not be emotionally abused this time, or ever again. “Call his friends” I suggested. I was way past caring and unwilling to engage in more emotional intimidation from either of them.

She told me how he’d have to sleep in a phone box because he had nowhere to go. “At least it’ll be familiar cos he’s done that a few times in a drunken stupor,” I laughed. “He’s also threatened to kill himself before, so it won’t wash with me anymore. Sorry Liz, I’ve got to go.”

I had no intention of being in contact with Ian, other than when I had to – at work. The thought of talking to him at all made me feel nauseous. So I seriously couldn’t have stood listening to his pathetic crying or his sad sorries.

Did no one see the red flags?

White background red images of flags and stop signs, listen to your gut - Red flags in abusive relationships
Red flags in abusive relationships

My last related post (If anxiety was a person) garnered comments on social media like “Did you not notice all the red flags?” and “What took you so long?” Let me tell you, I wish I’d seen flags of any colour before I married him. If I’d had one iota of evidence that he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, of course I wouldn’t have married him. I certainly wouldn’t have paid out for the huge wedding either.

I wish I’d known that he’d regularly drunkenly slept in phone boxes that stank of stale ciggies and human pee. It would’ve helped had his work colleagues informed me, tho’ I can’t blame them for his narcissism or for my own foolishness.

If only my own friends or family had noticed something untoward, prior to the wedding. I would have called it all off and put the financial loss down to experience. However, since I had no indication otherwise, I had the big fat wedding, the hundreds of gifts and the honeymoon. I was embarrassed about the whole damn thing, no doubt the reason for me hanging on for a year. I was ashamed and felt guilty that I was putting my sons through the shame of an early divorce too. Hindsight is indeed a very wonderful thing.

Inappropriate laughter at other people’s misfortune

Coloured photo of woman on a giant swing in front of a waterfall
We all deserve peace in our lives — Image by Pexels.com

I thought I’d be able to move on and sleep easy now I was on my own with no one to answer to and nothing to complicate my life. You’d also be forgiven if you thought that after the storm that was my marriage, there’d be peace and tranquility. But it doesn’t work like that. Just because I’d had and ended abusive relationships, it didn’t mean that was the end of my mental illness. It was back to the beginning for me.

I was plagued with generalised anxiety which, tho’ invisible to others, made me scared of everything. I’d jump up at the least little thing, causing other people to jump back in fright. I’d giggle hysterically and inappropriately if friends mentioned any bad news, leaving me embarrassed and them p’d off. It’s a nervous reaction but try telling that to your friend after you’ve laughed uncontrolably because her pet tortoise died.

I needed help

I’d recently accepted a coveted Band 6 post at our Day Hospital, which meant more managing and training junior staff. I wanted to make a good impression and obviously didn’t need any unnecessary stress. Luckily, the Day Hospital had little call for Rapid Response so I wouldn’t bump into Ian as much there either. But still the recurring panic attacks continued to deny me sleep and threatened to spill over into my work.

Coloured picture mixed race lady standing by white board covered in post it notes - delivering training
Staff training — Image by
Pexels.com

I needed help, and fast. Fortunately I managed to access six sessions of therapy through our NHS Wellbeing at Work programme. While this wasn’t as helpful as I’d expected, therapy gave me a place to dump my baggage each week. This left brain space, allowing me to prepare and effectively deliver teaching sessions for staff, without choking on my words.

I chose to tell only one co-worker about my current anxieties. Callum had also experienced mental illness and had previously been an inpatient on one of our wards. We started working at the Day Hospital on the same day and we soon became great friends. Callum was a gorgeous young gay man and could cut anyone to the quick with his wicked dry sense of humour. He would later tell me that he’d wondered what I’d ever seen in Quasimodo.

Should I have warned his new girlfriend?

matchstick image of person holding up a red sketched heart
Image by Nick Fewings – Unsplash.com

About six months on, I was happy to hear that Ian had started dating Olga, a Social Worker colleague. That meant he was leaving me alone, mostly. When I next bumped into Olga at work I asked if there was anything she’d like to know. She responded with an odd look and an emphatic No! I should have explained the red flags but I also understood that no loved up twenty-something wanted to hear from an embittered forty-something ex.

Some four years and two year old twins later, Olga approached me in the local cafe. I wasn’t in the least bit shocked when she asked whether Ian had been jealous and controlling with me. I smiled sympathetically but too bad, I was running late and needed to get back to work. Ian called my office that afternoon, reprimanding me for telling Olga tales and ordering me not to interfere. He then asked how I was — I had to laugh.

I haven’t been too well physically as of late and it’s the early hours of the morning here in the UK. I need some sleep now but I hope you’ll stay with me on My journey through anxiety, panic disorder, depression and psychosis.

Over to you

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In the meantime, have you or anyone you know ever experienced anxiety or panic attacks? You might want to read my post on How to manage panic attacks here or 19 free Mental Health apps just for you here.

Do you think I should have warned his new girlfriends? Do we (as exes) have a moral obligation to do so? I’m happy to answer any questions and as always, I look forward to reading your comments.

If you or someone you know are experiences mental health problems please seek professional health. It can be extremely beneficial to talk to a professional.

19 free Mental Health apps just for you

19 Mental Health apps designed to suit your mental health problems

Black and white picture young lady sitting on a bench, shoulders hunched and face down. What do you know about anxiety
Mental Health apps to help
you with your anxiety

Do you experience stress, anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, ptsd or depression? Do you need help right now? We know that referral waiting times for NHS Mental Health Services, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), are often months long. This is not particularly helpful when you or someone you know is in crisis! However, hang on in there — helpful Mental Health apps are available for you to to download immediately.

Do you want to stop smoking or drinking, or do you just want to improve your mood? Do you need help in managing your anger? Take a look at the following free apps and you decide which one suits your current issue(s).

  • ACT Coach was created by VA’s National Center for PTSD (for Veterans). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) aims to help you live with unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and impulses without avoiding them or being controlled by them. In ACT, you are encouraged to commit to actions so that you can live your life by your values, even in the face of these unpleasant experiences.
  • AIMS for Anger Management (US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). AIMS is designed for Veterans and military Service members but can be used by anyone coping with anger problems. The AIMS app is based on the Anger and Irritability Management Skills online self-help course. The app provides you with education about anger, opportunities for finding support, the ability to create an anger management plan, anger tracking, and tools to help manage angry reactions.

Anybody can become angry — that’s easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way that isn’t within everybody’s power and isn’t easy.

Aristotle
Black and white picture of dark-skinned woman with scarf over face (eyes showing). Mental Health 360⁰
Mental illness can lead to suicide — try these online mental health apps
  • Anxiety UK has released a FREE Smartphone Application called Stress Tips, which provides people with ‘top tips’ from fellow anxiety sufferers on how to manage anxiety and stress. Stress Tips includes more than 40 tips from people on how they manage stress and anxiety and will be developed further in the future to include relaxation techniques and the ability to upload tips. I particularly like this one as it comes from people who experience anxiety.
  • AETAS developed by mental health specialists, provide quick, easy and effective ways to relax, attain focus, and gain a sense of well-being. Aetas’ unique 4-part design provides info about cutting edge research on time perspectives, a self-discovery quiz, 3 two-minute guided visualisations to help relax, sooth and focus, and 3 fun interactive exercises.
  • Breathe2Relax  (by National Center for Telehealth & Technology) is a portable stress management tool which provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and instructions and practice exercises to help users learn the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Calm Harm is an app designed to help people resist or manage the urge to self-harm. It’s private and password protected. The urge to self-harm is like a wave. It feels the most powerful when you start wanting to do it. Learn to ride the wave with the free Calm Harm app using these activities:
    • Comfort, Distract, Express Yourself, Release, Random and Breathe.
    • When you ride the wave, the urge to self-harm will fade.
  • Daylio – Keep a free private diary and capture your day without writing down a single line! Collecting recorded moods and activities in the statistics and calendar. This format will help you to understand your habits better, keep track of your activities and create patterns to become more productive.
Black and white picture of man in a suit, rubbing his eyes, tears down face. Mental health apps for everyone
Mental health apps — for everyone
  • DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach – Learn and practice DBT skills using video lessons and fun animations which helps you to remember skills longer. Features over 100 videos and 200+ animations. This app works as a daily mood and thought diary based on the Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) approach. It has a coaching module that gives tips on sticky emotional situations, like how to ask for what you need or how to successfully resolve conflict. DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach is the only DBT app designed by a licensed clinical psychologist.
  • Depression CBT Self-Help Guide The natural management of depression involves understanding depression and the factors that contribute to the symptoms. Learning to manage stress in your life and engage in self-care behaviours can improve your symptoms and your mood. This app contains a depression severity test, audios, articles, a cognitive diary, and a motivational points system that help you learn how to do this.
  • Happify is the single destination for effective, evidence-based solutions for better mental health. It has array of engaging games, activity suggestions, and gratitude prompts makes Happify a useful shortcut to a good mood. Designed with input from 18 health and happiness experts, Happify’s positive mood-training program is psychologist-approved.
Mental health apps for OCD
  • OCD relief exercises Suffering from obsessive thinking? Looking to relieve your OCD symptoms? Wish to feel better, have more confidence and enjoy improved well being? Want to expand your mind and make it more adaptive?
  • PTSD Coach is for anyone who needs help with upsetting feelings. Trauma survivors, their families, or anyone coping with stress can benefit. PTSD Coach (developed by the US Department for Veteran Affairs), provides reliable information regarding PTSD, its symptoms and its management.
  • Quit It is a tiny motivating program, supporting and encouraging smokers to quit smoking and helping ex-smokers to stay quit. It keeps track of the cigarettes you did not smoke and how much money you are saving. Furthermore it shows the benefits of quitting as text and calculates a nice ranking for you.
  • SAM is a friendly app that offers a range of self-help methods for people who are serious about learning to manage their anxiety.
  • Sanvello for Stress & Anxiety helps you understand you: your thoughts, moods, and behaviors all shape how you feel. Sanvello gives you clinically validated techniques to help you manage your moods and thoughts, so you can understand what works for you to feel better.
Colour photo of man's back. He's facing the sun sitting on the rocks meditating.
Relaxation and meditation — mental health apps —
Image by Ian Stauffer, Unsplash
  • Stop, Breathe, Think! This calming meditation app experience is uniquely designed to help you stay mindful, de-stress, sleep better, and build the emotional strength and confidence to handle life’s ups and downs. Mindfulness & meditation is the practice, Stop, Breathe & Think is the process.
  • Stop Drinking is designed to help listeners relax and overcome the emotional and physical cravings for Alcohol. This relaxing, positive, motivational App will give you the tools to change your thinking and access the incredible power of your unconscious mind. You can learn to easily break unwanted habits and regain control of your clarity of thought, well-being, money, health and much more. Far more powerful than simple mantras or positive thinking, this App uses the power of relaxation, hypnotherapy, positive suggestions and visualisation to allow you to achieve what you want to achieve.
  • Stress and Anxiety Companion This is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) app designed to help users manage anxious feelings and identify their triggers. The app has three main features; ‘Tools’, ‘Thoughts’, and ‘Cards’. The ‘Tools’ section has a number of activities aimed to reduce stress and anxiety levels; there are two relaxation audio tracks, one 15-minute Mindfulness exercise and one 10-minute Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercise, a visually aided breathing exercise, and brain games to help interrupt anxious or negative thinking.
  • Worry Tree – is a simple way to take control of your worries. It has been designed to help you record and manage your worries on the go through a CBT-based simple, secure app. WorryTree has been assessed by the NHS as meeting their criteria for entry onto the NHS Digital Apps Library. WorryTree helps you to build the habit of asking yourself, what are you worrying about right now? We’ll help you to decide whether your worry is something that can be resolved or something you have no control over. Then you can create an action plan for taking control of your worry or find ways to distract yourself from your anxious thoughts. Furthermore, you’ll explore ways to distract yourself from your worry so that you can move on with your day.
  • Worry Watch is a unique app that helps to reflect on those momentary priceless self-realizations. By writing down our ‘what if’ anxious thoughts and tracking it to ‘what did’ happen reality, we may get a deeper understanding of our anxiety patterns and triggers. Such an understanding may help challenge our negative thinking habits and affirm optimism instead.

Over to you now

Clipart.com

Have you or anyone you know tried any of the above or any other apps? I’d be really interested to hear your views. I’m happy to answer any questions and I look forward to your comments.

You might also want to read this Useful Mental Health Contacts list here. In the meantime, if you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health problem or crisis, please contact your G.P. or please call 999 for an immediate response.

Sunshine Blogger Award

With thanks to Anshika and Sakshi
@ Dream it till it comes true

Whoop, whoop! Anshika and Sakshi from Dream it till it comes true nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award! So thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m thrilled to receive this nomination from these lovely young ladies (age 15-16). Their journey as bloggers began a result of a high school project, but it soon became their inspiration. They share their own ideas of how they see the world, aiming to inspire and make a difference. Their blog is indeed inspiring, thoughtful and full of the joys of youth. Why not pop on over, say hi and give them some support.

The Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them.
  2. Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  4. Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  5. List the rules and display a Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.

Questions:

Affirmations and self-soothing words help keep me positive
Self-compassion and affirmations help
keep me positive – Image by Pixabay

1. What is your say on all positive approach to life? I try to maintain positivity in all that I say and do. However, with life’s obstacles, it’s not always easy. I try to practice mindfulness to calm my mind when I’ve feeling edgy and negative – there’s always a reason and once I’ve dealt with that, the positivity returns. And lots of of self-compassion, self-soothing and mantras helps maintain a positive attitude for me.

2. What you do at times of writer’s block ? Also mention reasons for a writers block , if any? Because I have all my diaries from years of being a nursing student, a mental health nurse and a ward manager, I kind of have a lot to write about. So it’s not so much writer’s block, it’s trying to decide what area to write about and when. Obviously, I’ll come across it at some point. I think there are many reasons for writer’s block, such as tiredness, illness (physical or mental), writing too many posts maybe or perhaps not having a clear idea of where they want to take their blog?

3. When you started or even now do you feel like deleting a frank post,  overthinking that it’s too bold ? What you do if it happens? I haven’t had to do that yet. but what I have done is to leave my post overnight, reread it and cut the bits I don’t like the next day. I’d always advise anyone to hold fire if they’re thinking of a very overt, frank post or controversial post. Leave it a few hours, do something else and return to reread it.

4. Do you believe in planning to the last detail or rough plans or no plan at all? I suppose it’s all or nothing. Like planning for Christmas to the nth degree, that’s all about precision planning. I suppose anything around food and entertaining guests, I put a lot of effort into making it my best 🙂 Otherwise, due my my physical and mental illness, I don’t normally plan, but I always get to my chosen destination in the end 😉

“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.”

Earl Nightingale

5. What is the weirdest flavour or combination you ever found in a drink or snack? Oooh! I think it was when I first tried peanut butter and jam on toast. The thought of it was Yuk but it tasted amazing and I still love it now. As for drinks, no doubt I’ve drank many weird concoctions they now call cocktails 😉

6. What is your most embarrassing moment? Really? Oh that’s not fair! I was physically disabled in 2011 and the symptoms were many, including having no internal sensation which meant I could be wearing shorts and pee myself in public in the early days. That’s all sorted now thank goodness. And that’s all I’ll admit to, this time 😉

7. Are you a dog person or a cat person? Why or why not? While I’m not really an animal person, I wouldn’t like to see them hurt in any way. It’s certainly not cats urgh! Everyone in my family has a dog, just not me.

8. If you had the opportunity to pick one superpower for the rest of your life what would you choose: time travel, teleportation, telepathy, psychokinesis, invisibility? Definitely invisibility — perfect for all the pranks I play on my family.

9. How do you cope with stress or anxiety? Any special tricks you’d like to share? As a mental health nurse, ward manager and Mental Health First Aid Instructor, I have a vast and varied toolbox full of useful resources that I can use if or when I need to. For me personally, it’s getting the breathing exercise right first. I know a lot of people don’t think it works but it’s scientifically proven to work. If anyone’s interested you might find this article here on Anxiety and Panic attacks useful.

10. Is the universe finite or infinite? And why do things even exist at all? Oh my word, you got me there. That’s a bit too deep for my old brain 😉

11. If you had one week left to live what would you do? Get all my family together somewhere hot, in huge villas with pools, bbq area so we could spend every last minute together, having fun 🙂

My nominees are:

  1. Blessed with a star on the forehead
  2. Tangie @ Tangie’s Blog
  3. The crazy beautiful life
  4. Meg @ Where good advice happens
  5. Alishia @ The philosophical psychotic
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Clipart.com

I love the blogger awards cos it gives us a chance to celebrate and introduce new bloggers. So, nominees, I do hope you’ll participate and let us get to know a bit more about you by answering the questions I did. And for everyone else, please stop by my nominees blogs to say hi and read more amazing content. In the meantime, as always, please feel free to comment or ask questions.

If anxiety was a person I’d punch it right in the face

My journey through anxiety and more – Part XI

dark skinned lady with white wrap covering her most of her face, tears in her eyes
Anxiety and panic attacks
broke me

This is the 11th in a series of “My journey through Anxiety, panic attacks, depression and psychosis. Please click here for Parts I, II, III, IV, V , VI, VII, VIII, IX, and X if you wish to read the backstory (It might make more sense).

For those of you who don’t know, I started writing about my journey six months ago and only ever intended to write it in four posts. However, it’s become clear that my journey through mental illness was a lot longer and more painful than I remembered. That’s made it difficult to get the words down on paper at times. I’ve taken many breaks and written lots of other posts in between, giving me time to reflect and bounce back a bit stronger each time.

I’d had enough!

……….. I told him to pack his things and leave before I got home from night shift in the morning.

Night shift on a mental health ward

Lady in red dress and white sandals hanging from a rope around her neck
Shocked? You should be! Female patient strangled herself

After our patients had had their night medication, the support nurse went to complete the half hourly observations. This meant checking each bedroom or cubicle to ensure everyone was accounted for and alive.

I was in the office when a roar from the end of the corridor alerted me and I raced towards noise. Oh, Jesus! A female patient had strangled herself with the belt from her robe. Her face was a horrible shade of purple and she appeared not to be breathing. My anxiety levels just shot through the roof and I felt the colour drain from my face.

I helped untangle the belt from round her neck and felt for a pulse, but there was nothing. Jesus, I’d only been a mental health nurse for two months and I was near paralysed with fear. “Get the crash trolley,” I yelled down the ward to Maria the third nurse on duty. Sarah was a favourite of mine and there was no way I’d let her die, not on my watch.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on a mental health ward

Down on my knees now, I fumbled, trying to find the right place to press (the breastbone is pushed down firmly and smoothly, so that the chest is pressed down between 5–6 cm) then started CPR (at a rate of 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute – that’s around 2 per second, British Heart Foundation).

I could feel the sweat dripping down my back and the trembling in my arms as I continued 1.2.34.5……… 30, for what felt like a lifetime. All the while, I was trying to keep calm, as this was no place for my impending panic attack. Concentrate, concentrate Caz, you can do this, concentrate. Finally Maria arrived with the crash trolley and I asked her to take over while I ran to call the Crash Team.

Crying with relief

I turned to sprint back to the office but stumbled and fell forward with a thud and landing awkwardly. I immediately felt searing pain in my right shoulder. Still, I got up as quickly as I fell and dashed to put a call out “Cardiac arrest on Violet Ward.” This relays a crackly radio message to the Cardiac and Rapid Response Teams. When they get that message, they race from the general side to the Mental Health, side pretty damn quick.

Four doctors dressed in scrubs, running down a corridor
Emergency Crash Team running to
an emergency

I’d all but forgotten my own burning pain as I ran back see what was happening. On my way, I guided any inquizitive patients back to bed and tried to reassure them all was well.

I took over the CPR and rather stupidly, wept with relief when Sarah started showing signs of regaining consciousness. Her eyes were flickering and she was trying to catch her breathe. She now had a pulse, albeit a weak one. Just then, the Crash Team arrived and took control.

Caught wearing a tired grey bra

Male Doctor, white scrubs and stethoscope
Duty Doctor —Image from Freepik

Sarah had survived, but was still taken over to the general side to be observed overnight. The Duty Senior Nurse was in our office making sure we were all okay when someone let on that I’d fallen. The cute young Duty Doctor came to see me and all I could think was “What bra have I got on” when he asked me to undress to assess any damage. Only I could be wearing a comfortable but tatty old bra that looked like I’d washed the floor with it! The shame.

Despite the agony, I didn’t complain too much so the Doctor suggested I go home and return to A&E tomorrow if the pain got worse. It was just past eleven p.m. and I called to let the boys know I’d be on my way home. Only it was Ian who answered, drunk and stoned, so I hung up and got a taxi home.

He should have been gone. Aaarrgghhh……. I sure as hell was in no mood for more of his spiteful crap. Once home, I ignored him and went straight up to our bedroom when I got home. I managed to sleep with some pillows propping up my right arm and woke at dawn, in agony.

A slap in the face

Lady with right arm in a sling
Broken collar bone — Image from Amazon UK

Back to the hospital, where they confirmed that I’d broken my collarbone and torn my rotator cuff tendons (muscles and tendons that attach the arm to shoulder blade). I was put in a sling, given strong painkillers and sent home to rest up. But before I left, I went to see how Sarah was. I got a slap in the face, albeit a light one, cos she was mad that we’d saved her. Of course, I told her, I’d do it again.

My painkillers were starting to kick in and I was feeling kinda woozy so any anxiety I’d had about facing Ian all but disappeared. For f*ck sake! The whiff of beer and cannabis about knocked me out as I opened the front door. It was just two in the afternoon, for crying out loud.

Still, I was delighted to see all his boxes stacked in the hall, “Wakey, wakey, time to go,” I sang cheerfully.

The drunk driver and a mad man

Ladies face with tears of pain
Crying in pain

“Can I borrow the car?” slurred Ian as he staggered towards me, hand out for the keys. It would have been funny if he hadn’t been so serious. “Nope! Get a taxi,” I smiled. With that, he lunged at me and grabbed my wrist viciously. “Aaarrgghhh!” I screeched in pain and anger, hanging onto my arm and cursing under my breath.

At that, I heard “Mama,” and Nic was hurtling down the stairs behind me, “What did he do, did he hurt you Mama?” I hadn’t realised he was home from school. Ian shot out the front door and Nic was charging round the kitchen like a madman, cursing furiously. He yanked the front door open and threw out every one of Ian’s carefully packed boxes. Ian looked on helplessly as glassware, cd cases and electronic equipment crashed down onto the road.

The neighbours were out, wide-eyed at the the scene unfolding and I don’t know what was funniest. Ian’s look of helplessness or Nik holding every last piece of luggage high above his head before throwing it as far as he could. The door thudded shut! Nic was trembling and pale with anger, he turned to me tearfully, whispering “I’m sorry Mama.”

We hugged and cried, but this time we cried with laughter. Ian was calling across the road “Can you get us a taxi?”

Over to you

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I’ll end here for now and hope you’ll stay with me for the next part. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts and please feel free to ask any questions.

The Real Neat Blog Award

The Real Neat Blog Award is very much appreciated

I would like to thank Mio @ Mentally Ill in America for nominating me for The Real Neat Blog Award! I very much appreciate his nomination! Mio blogs about mental health from his own unique and personal perspective. He kindly wrote a guest post for my blog here about living with schizoaffective disorder. I’m sure you’ll find it interesting and inspiring.

The primary goal of his blog is to show others how severe conditions such as schizoaffective disorder (depressive type) affect someone who tries, and is high-functioning. Do pop on over to see his eclectic mix; including music, poetry, puns, quotes and resources, and much more.

The rules for The Real Neat Blog Awards are simple:

Gold character holding a large gold trophy saying Awards
The Real Neat Blog Award — Thank you Mio @ Mentally ill in America
  1. Accept the nomination and thank the person who nominated you, leaving a link to their blog.
  2. Answer the 10 questions
  3. Nominate your chosen bloggers and send them a link to let them know they’ve been nominated.
  4. Ask your nominees to participate by answering the same questions.

As part of being chosen for this award, I needed to answer 10 questions and nominate up to 10 people that I feel deserve the award as well. So here are my answers. The questions my nominees will need to answer are the same ones that I answered.

Questions

3 Sunflowers with lots of green leaves
Image from Pixabay
  1. What is your favourite colour? That would depend on my mood and what I was doing i.e. painting and decorating my home, my colour pallette would would be neutrals. But if pushed, I love the colour blue. Oh no — yellow is really my favourite colour.
  2. Who would you say you admire the most? My hubby for putting up with me 😉 And otherwise, it would be my sons. I admire the way they look after their girlfriend and wife, their take on life — and I could go on. Proud mummy moment 😉
  3. If you could describe yourself as a colour, what would it be and why? I’d say yellow ‘cos it’s bright, warm and sunny.
  4. Where is your favourite place on earth and what makes it so special? I’d have to say London. I’ve lived here for almost forty years, more time than I’ve ever spent anywhere else. When the sun’s out, you can’t beat London. It’s full of history, lots of green parks with lakes and boats, the River Thames and the surrounding areas. It’s just beautiful.
  5. What is your favourite food and why? I love all Indian and Spanish food. My ex in-laws were Indian and Spanish and the aroma wafted down the street on our way to visit them. I also learned how to cook their food with them and my sons loved walking past the kitchen window on the way home from school and the’d know mama’s cooked albondigas (Spanish meatballs) or curry, rice and pooris (Indian fried breads).
  6. What is your favourite book of all time? That would have to be Exodus (which I can’t find anywhere now). I was living in Israel on a kibbutz for a year when I was younger and the massive book kept me entertained for months. It was all about Israel, how it came about, the Kibbutz and the Moshav, which are two forms of Jewish settlements. The Kibbutz is a unique, worker-controlled, agricultural production cooperative. The Moshav is a service cooperative in which the members are the individual farmers who reside within the settlement. I’d read it again, if I ever found it.
  7. Why do you enjoy writing and blogging? I started my blog almost six months ago, with the aim of Shouting Out about Mental Illness. I wanted to raise awareness and Stamp out Stigma by sharing both personal and professional experiences of mental illness. I’m a passionate and determined advocate of good mental health and I’d love to see change in the way people view mental illness. I’d love for you to join me on my quest.
  8. What type of music do you enjoy? I enjoy an eclectic mix from country to opera, the Three Tenors to Tom Jones, and I loved big ballads.
  9. What are your favourite hobbies (besides writing) and why do you like them? Oooh, I suppose it’s traveling and I can’t wait for this lockdown to be over. Straight to Spain to see good friends and Cyprus with the family, then who knows? Anyone got a spare room lol.
  10. What is your favourite song and singer/band? Wow, that’s a tough one and not sure I could say just one but, and don’t laugh, it’s Tom Jones! I love Elton John, Elvis, Engelbert 😉 Joe Cocker, Van Morrison………., and the reason is cos they can actually sing their way through a whole concert.

My nominees

I’m only nominating five bloggers this time round, as I’ve got two more Awards to respond to. I’ll be able to nominate more bloggers when I complete these 🙂

  1. Charli @ Life with Charli
  2. Anshika @ Dream it until it comes true
  3. Niki @ Morgueticies mental health mausoleum
  4. Nathan @ My brain’s not broken
  5. Stephen @ Therapy Glasgow
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Clipart.com

Thank you for participating in The Real Neat Blog Award! I look forward to reading each of your answers and getting to know you all a bit better. In the meantime, I look forward to any comments — about my dodgy taste in music, perhaps?

Anxiety and panic attacks on honeymoon

My journey through anxiety, panic attacks, depression and psychosis – Part X

Black and white photo young woman in tears - everything is fragile
Anxiety and depression made me feel so fragile

This is the 10th in a series of “My journey through Anxiety, panic attacks, depression and psychosis. Please click here for Parts I, II, III, IV, V , VI, VII, VIII and IX if you wish to read the backstory (It might make more sense).

For those of you who don’t know, I started writing about my journey six months ago and only ever intended to write it in four posts. However, it’s become clear that my journey through anxiety and panic attacks was a lot longer and more painful than I remembered. That’s made it difficult to get the words down on paper at times. I’ve taken many breaks and written lots of other posts in between, giving me time to reflect and bounce back a bit stronger each time.

It’s not what you’d expect on honeymoon, is it? I mean, married for one day, in Sunny Corfu with my new hubby, I should be in heaven, right? Oh no, not me! I had anxiety and several panic attacks throughout our first night. And not for reasons you might have thought. If you read my last post “Done with anxiety and Panic Attacks” here, you might remember……

Home from honeymoon

The young women in sun hats and summer dresses, laughing
No anxiety here
Ben White @ Unsplash.com

He continued as he started, creating merry hell. He was legless and chatting up anyone under 30, thinking I’d be jealous — I wasn’t. Oh, I forgot to tell you, he was ten years younger than me. Ha, not so anyone would notice.

So, after honeymoon-gate, did it get any better? Once we got inside my house, my eldest son greeted us both warmly, and welcomed us home. He laughed, telling Ian to get the kettle on, saying “You live here now,” which he did indeed. It was the first time I’d thought about the fact that he was now moving in with us. I had that sinking feeling in my stomach and it didn’t feel right.

After dinner drugs

After a chatty takeaway dinner the boys went off to their rooms to study, leaving Ian and me in the sitting room. He cracked open yet another beer can and began rolling a joint. “Oh no you don’t, not in this house and certainly not in front of the boys,” I cautioned. I knew he’d smoked the odd joint at a party, but there was no way I’d have cannabis in our home.

“Man, I f*cking live here as well, don’t I? Ye’ve never stopped us before like, and you’re not stopping us now,” he retorted. Attempting to cajole him, cos I didn’t want a row, I suggested he go out to the garden. He stormed out, huffing and puffing, almost taking the door off its hinges then allowing it to slam shut.

“It’s alright, the wind caught the door”, I lied to the boys who were peering down over the landing. My heart was hammering, and I could feel the anxiety engulfing me, rapidly. Christ! Then I remembered, I’ve got to take this damn idiot with me, in my car to work tomorrow. Urgh! The thought of having to be in the same building all day, every day.

Panic attacked me

Black and white photo of young woman, head down - what do you know about anxiety
Anxiety and panic attacks

The words “what the hell have I done?” were already screaming at me, as panic attacked me. Yet I still had to get through bedtime, and that was as appealing as having a wisdom tooth out.

However, after more beer and spliffs, he was barely even fit enough to get up the stairs. He stumbled his way to bed and, despite his man sweat, the smell of beer and cannabis, I managed to sleep.

Early shift next morning, we were showered and out the door before the boys got up for school. Ian asked if he could drive my practically new, one year old car but was stared down by the withering look that said “Yeah, right! And if you get stopped by the police!” So he curled his six foot self into my tiny car, tutting and cursing. Huh, like he’d fit his lanky legs beneath the steering column anyway.

When we got to work and were going through the front doors he leant in, “Give us a kiss then.” As I’d turned to stare at him in shock, he caught me unawares, smack on the lips. People milling around reception “oohed and “aahed” and I realised it was done for their benefit.

Back at work as mental health nurses

Three men wearing red t-shirts and navy trousers - Rapid Response Team
Rapid Response Team might be dealing with a patient who has Psychosis

Back at work the days got better and the weeks flew by and by being on opposite shifts, I could avoid Ian for a lot of the time. However, being on the Rapid Response Team (one person from each mental health ward who would attend to emergencies around the unit) meant we’d occasionally bump into each other at work. Like most of the men on Rapid Response, but particularly cos I was there, the macho in Ian emerged, which both irritated and sickened me.

This wasn’t how you approached patients when they were psychotic, possibly responding to voices and already terrified. However, male staff would pull themselves up to their full height, head back, arms crossed and staring down the patient, almost goading them into a fight. As the Team coordinator, I’d advise staff to stand back while I spoke quietly and calmly to the patient, asking what the problem was and how could we help.

Despite being psychotic or manic, patients would generally relax slightly, enough to state their need; which was often just a cigarette, a hot drink or some fresh air. Even if they were unhappy about having to take medication, they could usually be encouraged to take it, without a fight that was unwinnable anyway.

Soggy Christmas Crackers

Things weren’t fantastic at home because Ian continued to drink beer and smoke weed on a daily basis, only now he confined himself to the bedroom. He’d lie there in a stupor, watching all kinds of scifi over and again, waiting for me to return, when he’d start name-calling and trying to provoke me. He’d want to know which men were on shift, was I screwing him/them, which one did I fancy or was I having it away in the store cupboard!

Red and white photo of Christmas table
No anxiety at Christmas, please
Image by Styleestate.com

Fast forward — Christmas, and we all went to my brother’s for lunch, where there would a huge gathering of various families. No guesses who was pissed before lunch, was laughing too loudly at unfunny comments and telling inappropriate jokes to people he didn’t even know.

Then, as we sat for lunch on a makeshift bench he lurched backward, kicking the dinner table almost into the air, throwing the rest of us off kilter. Glasses shattered, the spilled wine ruined the Christmas crackers, cutlery rattled onto the new dinner service as, wide-eyed, we all tried to catch bits and pieces. “Outside. Now!” I hissed.

“Why, what’s up like?” he laughed. The upshot was that I took him home and left him, while the rest of us had yet another fantastic family Christmas.

Tale of the strange makeup bag

As usual, I was going out with my girlfriends for my January birthday drinks and Ian wasn’t best pleased, even tho’ he hadn’t planned anything. A girl’s night out was just what I needed and of course, we all had a ball, dancing until the early hours. We got into our taxis and giggled most of the way home, not a care in the world.

My best pal was staying with me thankfully cos in the morning Ian had come across a strange makeup bag on the kitchen worktop. He wanted to know why I’d taken makeup out with me, what did I need it for and who was I chatting up this time. At least Anj could vouch for me that it wasn’t mine. Nonetheless, it was another interrogation that lasted weeks. He never did believe that we found it in the back of the taxi and took it home, just for devilment.

Oh, how I loved to flirt

Swimming pool oasis
Anxiety and panic attacks need a
holiday

That summer, I booked us a holiday to Egypt with the boys and one of their best friends. We had three rooms on the ground floor, right by the swimming pool and we were all excited. Not two days in and Ian started! I was flirting with the boys’ friend; lying with my legs wide open. Now, lying on a sunbed in a bikini, legs akimbo is not a good look. Not for me. Not for anyone. And me — flirting, with a thirteen year old boy? un-bloody-believable!

We had one of those harsh but whispered arguments so the boys couldn’t hear in the next rooms. But there was no doubting that Ian didn’t hear or get the message. He was almost in tears and apologising, blaming the drink and the heat. Oh my God, not only the sickening accusations, but his pitiful begging turned my stomach.

I made it through our first anniversary but the following morning he was at the blame game again and who was I shagging this time. He knew it was a woman and he was okay with that, he just wanted to know who it was. He then went on to how I was flirting with my dad at the family gathering the night before! Enough

That was it. I’d had enough! I’d tried and put up with his constant bullying, patronising and manipulative behaviour for a year now. I told him to pack his things and leave before I got home from night shift the next morning.

Over to you

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Clipart.com

It’s late and having spent the last week with two little imps, our gorgeous grandchildren, I’m exhausted. I’ll finish here for now and hope you’ll stay with me for the next part. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts and please feel free to ask any questions.

You can read text chapter here.

I love this Blogger Recognition Award

MAY 2020 — CAZ HANNAH

Yay! Thank you so much for this lovely Blogger Recognition Award Kacha.

I’ve received the Blogger Recognition Award from Kacha at Food for thought. She also writes about mental health in her own inspiring and inimitable way. Her blog will offers insight into mental illness, researched articles on burnout and depression from her own personal experiences, together with snippets of psychology and practical tips. Why not drop by to have a look at her blog and say hi!

Rules

  1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Write a post to show your award.
  3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  5. Select up to fifteen bloggers you want to give this award to.
  6. Comment (or pingback) on each blog to let them know that you’ve nominated them, and provide a link to the post you’ve created.

My answers

Give a brief story of how your blog started. I’d always wanted to share my meanderings about mental illness and the attached stigma and discrimination — but I kept putting it off, wondering who would read it. I was also working long hours as a Mental Health Ward Manager and didn’t think I had the time to dedicate to a blog.

Still, I knew had a lot to write about — I’d had my own mental illness before becoming a mental health nurse, and I had fifteen years of diaries from my nursing days. I wanted to share both my personal and professional experiences as a way of (1) connecting with others who had similar interests, and (2) increasing awareness of mental illness and trying to reduce the stigma.

Once I’d medically retired in 2011 from my job as a Mental Health Ward Manager I thought, now’s the time to write. But unfortunately, I had no inclination because my mental health took a nosedive and I lived in a fog of depression and suicidal ideation yet again.

I eventually started my blog in September 2019. As some people know, my blog was originally called Mental Health from the other side, but as time went on I my blog evolved and I was covering all areas/sides of mental health. I thought what is “the other side”, what side of mental health was I talking about? After some consideration and collaboration with fellow bloggers I decided on Mental Health 360⁰, which covers all sides 🙂 And here we are!

Two pieces of advice to new bloggers. (1) Write about the things you believe in and what you’re passionate about because that will come across in your blog. (2) Connect with others in the blogging community by reading and commenting on their posts – don’t just ‘like’ them and run off.

Select up to 15 bloggers to give this award too. I hope you’ll participate and answer the above questions to help our new, up and coming bloggers. Here we go:

  1. Craig @ https://livinginaworldofyourown.wordpress.com/
  2. Stephanie @ https://rosesandbrimstone.com/
  3. Mary-Tamar was Jean @ https://jeangasho.com/
  4. Jess @https://beyondthefrontcover.blog/
  5. Eliza @ https://elizajourneythroughlife.home.blog/

Most people know I love the Blog Awards as many of them have lots of questions and they’re a nice way to get to know about more about our fellow bloggers. The questions on this Award are brief but by their very nature, they might just help another blogger along the way. So, I’m hoping you’ll participate.

Caz

Done with anxiety and panic attacks

I thought I’d done with anxiety and panic attacks

Black and white image of a lady, windswept and Anxiety face.
Anxiety and panic attacks are no fun —Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Pexels.com

— that is, until I went on honeymoon with my lovely new husband. Being locked in a gloomy and mouldy holiday apartment wasn’t how I’d imagined spending my first night. Nor did I expect the wrath of anxiety and panic attacks.

For those of you who don’t already know, I started writing about my journey some six months ago. I only ever intended to write it in four posts. However, it’s become clear that my journey through anxiety and panic attacks was a lot longer and more painful than I remembered. That’s made it difficult to get the words down on paper at times. I’ve taken many breaks and written lots of other posts in between, giving me time to reflect and bounce back a bit stronger each time. Please click here for Parts I, II, III, IV, V , VI, VII and VIII IX if you wish to read the backstory (It might make more sense).

Honeymoon period over even before my honeymoon ended

After wedding-gate and Sunday pub lunch with all the family and close friends, we jetted off on our honeymoon to Corfu. Excitement took over on arrival and our bags were just dropped. We didn’t really take in the apartment, high up on a hill, overlooking stunning turquoise seas. We just headed towards the delicious waft of fresh seafood and the clinking of cocktails glasses in the local tavernas.

Sunset and two champagne glasses clinking together - no anxiety or panic attacks

No anxiety or panic attacks allowed — Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As we ate fresh lobster, washed down with champagne and sex on the beach, we got chatting to an older couple at the next table.

Graham and Liz were what we call here in the UK, typical Northerners. His pink belly protruded from his one size too small Liverpool football shirt, which didn’t quite meet his Union Jack shorts. Liz sported a big bleach blonde hairdo and shiny baubles dangled from her earlobes. She wore a Hawaiian print crop top and translucent white leggings thro’ which you could see her black g-string. That left a great view of her dimpled bum and her sunburnt tummy, which looked somewhat like a deflated bouncy castle.

Karaoke and rusty nails

woman holding microphone, singing - anxiety provoking noise
Anxiety provoking noise — Photo by 
Ethan Kelley on Unsplash

“Ee, come an’ join us at Karaoke, downt road after yer dinner,” burped Graham.

“Aye we will. Cheers pal. We will, eh Love? It’ll be a laugh” Ian hooted in my direction. Did I ever mention, karaoke — I’d rather stick rusty nails in my eyes? Way to go Ian!

Still, I enjoyed a few or five well-deserved cocktails as I listened to Graham shouting above the bathroom singers. He was doing that exaggerated mouth movement thing, as if I was deaf. Then I watched wide-eyed as Liz mounted the stage and, in a voice that would ordinarily cause double-glazed window to shatter, she did her best Tina Turner impression.

After yet another ‘celebratory’ drink with Graham and Liz, it was getting close to midnight and I wanted to leave. Ian didn’t, and I had to sit through more tuneless renditions of I did it my way and Gloria Gaynor’s I will survive, drinking bubbleless coke.

So, I flirted

Black and white portrait man pointing finger and apparently yelling. Domestic violence can lead to anxiety and panic attacks
Domestic violence can lead to anxiety and panic attacks

The climb up that steep hill was bad, and I had to watch as my new husband staggered and cursed all the way up to the apartment. Ian let us in and he turned, roaring “I saw the way you were flirting with that fat bastard; whispering in his f*cking ear. And you were practically sitting on his lap. I mean, could you get any f*cking closer?” he spat. “What you gonna do? Slip back out when I’m asleep. Eh? You dirty f*cking whore.”

Backed up against a damp wall in the dark, I covered my ears and screwed my eyes tight shut as he ranted and banged around. This can’t be happening. Me. Flirting. With Graham? On my honeymoon? What the…. I heard the front door slam shut and the key turn. He’d locked me in.

Mouth dry and heart pounding, I opened my eyes and peered into the darkness, fumbling for a light switch. Nothing. I used my lighter to scan the dim hallway and spotted the fuse box above the front door. And, guess what? He’d only removed and taken the fuse with him. Who, in their right mind does this?

Then I panicked

Panic attacks feel like drowning in quicksand — Photo by Mati Mango on Pexels.com

I felt my way along the grubby walls, found a bedroom and sat huddled on a musty double bed. I squinted — something moved. Oh my word. I’m seeing things – again. I could see eyes, lots of them. They were giant rats, not six feet from me. And then, they meowed.

As my eyesight adjusted I could see there really was eyes, from about a dozen scrawny cats sitting on our balcony, all staring at me. I tried to shoo them away and close the tall bedroom shutters. He’d only secured them back with his shoelaces — and tied in several knots. He knew I was terrified of cats and how afraid I felt alone in the dark.

I’d have burnt the damn laces if my lighter hadn’t run out of gas. I had no choice other than to curl up in a ball on the bed until he returned – around 4 am — paraletic! He attempted to cuddle beside me and I lay there, rigid with fear and I felt my anxiety levels rising. I couldn’t breathe properly and my heart was thumping so loudly, I thought he’d hear it. Disturbing thoughts were racing around in my mind, and I knew I was having a panic attack.

Marriage annulment started to sound good

Corfu Ionian sea with boats
Relaxing by the Ionian Sea

By seven, the sun was streaming in and, holding my breath, I edged myself from Ian’s grip. I’d found my bags and slipped into a pair of denim shorts and a summer vest over my bikini then crept out, leaving the door slightly ajar, lest I wake him. Taking a stroll down towards the shore, I grabbed a bottle of ice cold water, a coffee and a fresh pastry. Wandering around the coves, I found somewhere Ian wouldn’t see me easily and sat on a flat rock staring out over the emerald green and blue water that was the Ionian Sea.

I should be relaxing in the sunshine with my new hubby but instead, here I was alone and considering having my marriage annulled. I was still in the same place some hours later when Ian turned up looking rather worse for wear and in a foul mood. Not exactly what I was expecting, but hey, no apology needed or offered. Instead it was “What you sitting here for? Who you looking at? Them lads down there eh?” which didn’t warrant a response. What the hell had I done?

I’d married a monster

Unperplexed, he continued “You showing them your tits and fanny, sitting there with your legs wide open, eh?” No matter that I hadn’t even removed my shorts or vest and “the lads down there” were mixed groups of first time snorkelers and divers who were probably more concerned with their breathing apparatus.

I don’t even remember the exact content of the other daily heated discussions, when he talked at me and tormented me throughout the chilly nights in the apartment. He’d nudge me, tweak at my hair, whisper obscenities or try to pull my eyes open any time I got close to sleep. It was like being tortured and stuck a million miles away from the safety of my own home, there was nowhere I could hide.

Welcome home

What I do remember was as we pulled up at my front door Dan, my youngest son, threw himself into both our arms cheering “Welcome home, missed you both.” I could have wept, thinking of the pain it would cause, that I would cause him. My thirteen year old boy was so happy for his mum, thinking I was happy now and that I’d be looked after – for a change. After everything, I think he needed to believe that.

Right, I thought, I’ve made my bed so now I’ve got to lie in it. And I tried, I really did. Even when he applied and got offered a mental health nurse post within the same hospital I worked. And when he started changed his shifts to match mine so we could travel to work and back – together, I tried. And I kept on trying, but it was making me ill.

Red question mark little white character leaning on it questioning
Clipart.com

How many times should a person try, before giving up on a marriage? I’ll continue this series and hope you’ll follow my journey. In the meantime, I’m happy to answer any questions and look forward to your comments, as always.

You might be interest in another post about coping techniques for anxiety and panic attacks, here