Mental Health- The Rabbit Hole and the App that saved me #mentalhealthmatterso

 

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I suffer from depression. I’m medicated for it and I’m happy to say that. Now! I never used to be. When I first started dating my ex, I had been on my medication for about 6 months. I’d been following my 3 positives a day for about 2 of those months and I felt fabulous.
The weekend I met him, I was meant to have 4 dates. It was the first time in my life I’d had dates with multiple people without about 6 months between them. However, in hindsight, I misread the signs (I didn’t, but owing to him being a massive sociopath, he convinced me I did) and thought we were heading for a relationship. (And we were officially boyfriend and girlfriend for about 12 hours until he told me he couldn’t bring himself to stop sleeping with the other women in his life; ones up until this point I had no knowledge of)

I digress. One of the things I stupidly did was I discontinued my medication. He was staying over most nights (hence it being a total shock when he informed me of two other lovers) and I couldn’t bring myself to tell him I was on anti-depressants. My anxiety kicked in and told me if he knew, he’d run a mile. It was okay at the start; we were in the honeymoon stage and I was blissfully happy.

By Christmas though, I was having massive side effects to not taking my medication. (Side rant- why don’t GPs set up alerts for when patients don’t return for anti-depressants. I’m not saying I need them to be concerned, or remember themselves, these are volatile drugs that can lead to serious consequences if not taken properly.)  Upon having a fake Christmas weekend as we couldn’t spend the holidays together (We were in an Open Relationship at this point. One that was never actually followed properly) I was told ‘You’re making me feel weird about sleeping with other people, so I can’t see you as much anymore.’ I had a meltdown. I returned to the doctors and I got some medication.

The anti-depressants didn’t quite work as well as they should have. On top of this the GP encouraged me to go back onto the contraceptive pill. FUCKER! Despite asking about its impact upon my mental health, I was told it would be fine. Word of warning to anyone out there; avoid microgynon at all costs, never mind if you’re being treated for depression. It is notorious for increasing depression in women. I felt like I was going insane.

Yes, I was still seeing my ex. No one knew except my house mate. Why didn’t I tell anyone? Because I knew he was bad for me. He was like a drug though. When I was with him, things were okay. So long as he didn’t bring up the others. At this point, he’d also started gaslighting me; “That’s not what I said.”, “I was drunk, I didn’t mean it. You can’t hold it against me.”, “We didn’t set that in stone. I can’t cancel on B.” so that didn’t help with my mental health.

I guess at a certain point, I wanted out but I didn’t know how. Cutting someone like that off is always the best move. However, every time I’d distance myself he’d become more affectionate and loving. I felt like a failure, unlovable (literally, he told me he no longer loved me after being the first one to say it) and trapped. It led to hospitalisation. That prompted a month-long silence from him. “I’ve dealt with girls like you before. You all do it to me.” He told me.

He got back in touch, told me he missed me that I was beautiful. I fell for it.

Within a month, there was a new girl on the scene. Someone from his past. I was told not to worry, she was just a friend. A fight ensued when he sent me away for the first time ever after telling me about her when we were at the cinema. He couldn’t be bothered with me told me sometimes and he wouldn’t want to see me. I just had to accept that. Being one of my strong moments I questioned the arrangement “So we only meet if YOU want me?” Apparently, that wasn’t fair and it wasn’t my fault that I always wanted him. I felt so cheap. Dirty. I knew it was because he’d seen her that day, and arrived to me late. It was actually my mum’s birthday (death, issues… another post) and he actually got angry with me for being upset about this. I hadn’t told him for this very reason.

A week later, he’d slept with her, loved her and was probably going to be his girlfriend so he couldn’t talk to me anymore. The crushing blow, I don’t know what made me ask but his response to ‘am I not beautiful anymore?’ was “you have always been ordinary looking.”

Now, any normal, well-adjusted person would have ditched him back in October when all her friends were screaming there was something off about the situation. They certainly would have walked away when the efforts of creating an awesome Christmas knowing he’d be alone on Christmas Day was essentially ‘fuck off while I bang other women without feeling guilt’.

Back down the rabbit hole I went. I thought I was certifiable. Doctors claim not. Just a bit of sleep is needed; medication change and sleeping pills rammed down my throat. This wasn’t what helped me move on. Hell, even now if I’m drunk I miss him. Not him really. The idea of the romantic man from the start who said ALL the things I’d never heard or believed would be said to me.

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What helped me was an online community. An app called LYF.

I’ve been reluctant to share this, because I like the anonymity of the site. I had hidden my identity completely, as the app gives this option. However, the stronger I’ve gotten the less I’ve wanted to hide. This is MY journey, MY pain and I must embrace it. I went through most of it alone. So me publishing it here opens me up to you all finding me and reading my story. I must be okay with that. (The biggest fear is not being believed)

Now, what is amazing about this app is what the anonymity brings with it. You can be truthful and candid. There are things posted there that I would never tell my friends and I’d certainly not post here.
It also helped me reach out in times of weakness. For example, I was petrified that last weekend, at my brother’s wedding he would get in touch. Mainly because it was the ONE TIME I didn’t want him to. The last time I felt okay about not hearing from him a box of my things arrived at my door with a formal typed out note. Set me back, I can tell you.

I also told the community who were following my journey when I’d have a slip and try and reach out. (Hello! I’m fucked up. Drunk me makes stupid, crafty choice… such as signing up to a postcard app and sending him a qwerty tee. I was very pissed with myself the morning after I did that because I WANTED THAT tee!) They remind me that’s part of the process and to be kinder to myself. I try.

There’s a discover section if you’re not quite ready to delve into your own journey. You’ll very quickly see that you’re not alone. Sometimes that’s all people need. When you’re ready, it’s painless to follow and I’ve yet to have any trolls. (When I posted an eye infection, someone did unhelpfully tell me they thought it was a tumour but I put that down to individual eccentricities rather than a deliberate attempt to upset or cause me stress)

It does seem to be a new app, and therefore there are some teething problems. For example, I’ve not been able to access the app for the last few days while at home with my father. It does need wi-fi to access the content. I’m not sure if this is to do with data protection.
Also, I’m often finding that because of its layout people give me advice based upon the one post. They don’t go back to read the whole story; mainly because it is hard to reach those early posts. There’s not page jumps but a reach the bottom of the page and more uploads.
For me, now being of sound mind and strong resilience (I only get a pang when I see something Rick and Morty related) when someone responds with ‘reach out to him, tell him this.’ My voice is able to go ‘fuck that. It’s a bad idea AND you don’t WANT that.’

Thanks to this app, I’ve now blocked him from everything I can. It doesn’t matter that he blocked me first, he’d have gotten back in touch eventually once the novelty of this new girl had worn off. I have deleted that pesky postcard app (drunk Hannah is a menace) and I’m making a conscious effort to drink less. Aside from last weekend, at my brother’s wedding. Only, that was the first time I didn’t attempt to contact him.
I also left at a decent hour, knowing I had enough to drink, and watched a film at his house with one of his friends. I had a bad hangover the next day but it still didn’t stop me being happy that I’m now free to have what my brother has; love, family, respect, partnership and trust. All things I threw out the window, along with a part of myself I’m building back up; my self esteem.

Until then, I will still be seeking the support of the community of LYF and I hope, should you need it, they’ll be there for you.

Be strong, be happy. You are loved!

H

Solitaire- Alice Oseman #bookreview

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Release date: 31.7.2014

From Amazon:
In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden. I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden. I really don’t.

This incredible debut novel by outstanding young author Alice Oseman is perfect for fans of John Green, Rainbow Rowell and all unflinchingly honest writers.

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Characters

I relate so much with Tori. She is a very pessimistic narrator and it’s rather refreshing. It’s not teen angst either, it’s something deeper. Something ineffable. Which is perfect for someone like me who has suffered on and off with depression since I was about 12. Of course, at the time I was just a ball of emotion and couldn’t articulate. It’s reassuring as a thirty-something that I wasn’t alone and that any children I teach, or my own will have this platform to explore these feelings that we initially don’t understand, but also are afraid to express.

I was a bit confused by the actions of Lucas, the childhood friend. However, having recently seen Colossal, this appears to be a thing. The old high school trick of; if they’re horrible to you, they like you. At least in Solataire it’s done in a refreshing, original way.

Michael is a solid character, although I don’t believe the bad boy persona for one second and I’m desperate for some material from his point of view. I always have to remember that I’m only getting the view of Tori and she’d not omniscient.

Story

The story for me, being a teacher, is a little farfetched. I can’t switch it off when reading. I always text my best friend once I’ve finished a book and my response when I informed her that I preferred Radio Silence was ‘I’m a teacher, if that was going on in my school I’d like to think we’d shut that shit down.’
That said, removing that I really enjoyed the organic progression of the plot and the impact the pranks of Solitaire were having upon Tori’s mental health. Having the addition of her brother was genius. Tori would perhaps have unravelled a little sooner had she not felt an obligation to keep it together for her family.

Writing

Alice Osemen gives a strong voice to Tori. Her style makes for a very quick and easy read. There aren’t cliff-hangers at the end of chapters, which is good because it is a book you could digest in one sitting.

Osemen is certainly up there with Holly Bourne and Cat Clarke not only in writing, but in her approach to issues that need to be addressed for us to have a happy, healthy and understanding next generation.

Mental Health- an Introduction

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I’d set up this blog almost three years ago with the intention of writing film reviews. That first year, I discovered how hard it was to keep up with it when I was going the cinema as frequently as I did.
Back in December 2016, after being told by my then-boyfriend I would never make a blog work, I decided to pay for this domain. Six months down the line myself and my best friend Gem have some amazing plans to get ourselves off the ground. We’re both going to review YA novels, there’ll be some tv shows we’ll both cover while some (Rick and Morty) I’ll do solo. I’m still going to review films, but I need to get into a routine with that.

However, I want to do something more. Inspired by the amazing website DenofGeek and their Geek Vs Loneliness series, I want to cover something which impacts upon most people at some point in their lives: mental health. It’s a taboo subject, but that’s not going to stop me. Even if what I say here helps one person, I feel like that’s a job well done.

I suffer from depression, anxiety, panic attacks and vitamin D deficiency. It’s still unclear if any one of these is the root cause and for the moment, we’re going to assume that there isn’t an answer. I’m about to start counselling at the end of the month and I’m nervous.

Why?! Mainly because this has been one incredibly long and arduous battle through NHS. Two years ago, I requested some sort of therapy, yet the one that I’ll be starting in two weeks’ time will be a paid for service with doctors-in-training. I’ve had medical professionals give me wrong medication, medication that increases risk of depression and I have (I kid you not) been told finding myself a good-looking bloke to be my boyfriend would cure all my ails. So, my confidence in medicine at the moment is lacking somewhat.

Part of the problem for me is that I’m not very good at talking about these sorts of things. I keep it bottled up for fear of not being believed. This has, in the past, been reinforced when seeking support, I discovered friends thought I was an attention seeking drama queen.

Well, I’m not. I’m just a little broken.

I might not reveal everything that has gotten me to where I am today; some wounds don’t need to be inspected by anyone other than myself and a medical professional. However, what I will do is share some situations that are common to perhaps us all and through research, point people in the right direction for help.

 

Firstly

I often have students come to me upset, distraught and in some cases depressed. I think it’s my empathetic nature that makes people seek help from me. Each time they do, I suggest the exact same practise I try to do myself:

The 3-point positive.

Identify 3 things from the day that went well. Might seem too easy, or too hard. It depends on your mindset at the time. The most important thing is, you need to keep up with it.

I started it properly around this time last year. It was unbelievable hard and some days my positives would be as simple as ‘I washed my hair.’ However, as I stuck with it, not only was I finding it easier, I would be able to find the positives in things that would normally have me in a downward spiral.

It’s not fool proof, and that’s the key to it. At my strongest, I never thought I’d feel depressed ever again. It led me to my first relationship in five years, when I wasn’t quite ready. Some would argue that you’d never be ready for what I went through with my ex, but that’s beside the point. Because I wasn’t ready I ended up at my worst. While I’d supported him through his depression, I was abandoned and blocked.

I’ve started the positives again over on social media but I will put up a summary on here every now and then. I am also using an IOS app called Lyf. I will review it at another point.

Rick and Morty Series 3 episode 3: Pickle Rick #review

AKA: Rick goes to extreme lengths to avoid family counselling

There may have been a lack of off-world adventures, but the episode makes up for that with its high-octane storyline and visual brutality. From the first chuckle when Rick insisted Morty ‘flicks the pickle’ to his entrance into the counsellor’s office I constantly questioned whether Pickle Rick is a challenger to Tiny Rick.

The answer to that is a resounding yes. In a carefully constructed homage to the Action Movie, Pickle Rick escapes counselling and finds himself on an adventure of epic proportions. You would think that being a pickle might have its limitations, but not for Rick. By the time the second act is truly underway, Rick has pimped out his pickle and is facing off with a villainous group with send ups to film like Die Hard, Leon and even Deep Blue Sea (The shark one, not the Tom Hiddleston’s baring arse with Rachel Weiz one).

It was quite refreshing seeing Rick on his solo adventure, showing the resilience and vulnerability of the character. While his banter with Morty is funny, I certainly enjoined the respite of Morty’s negativity. Rick was able to crack on with his plans, without the moral voice of Morty holding him back.

I did, at one point, think we wouldn’t see Beth, Summer and Morty beyond the pre-title sequence. There was so much time dedicated to Rick early on, it would be forgiven if you forget about the others. However, we do get some time with them and as the session with Susan Sarandon progresses, we see how much Beth respects her father and wishes she felt the same in this emotional time. Her denial of her father’s avoidance is brilliant.

Again, another episode that deals with incredibly complex issues, including mental health. When Rick breaks down the door to be with his family, he has an insightful conversation with the counselor. It that moment, Rick is a lot of us; man of Science and fearful of emotions.

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Questions/Predictions

  • Jaguar will make another appearance this series
  • I’m starting to think the divorce is about us seeing less of Jerry. Perhaps Chris Parnell has other work commitments that require his time to be freed up.
  • More wishful thinking than anything; Beth needs to go off-world with Rick. When Summer and Morty go spend time with Jerry.

Suits Series 7 episode 4 #review

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I’m struggling with Suits this series. What was once a sparky, fast paced and cut-throat show has become a little too dark and negative. It’s a high-pressure environment and there’s always been power plays, but at least our main boys were having fun.
Something seems off in the early stages of series 7. It feels a little Walking Dead with its morose, downer storylines. Not only is the storyline; yet another clashing firm pissed off with Harvey, but so is the ‘case of the week.’ There’s no respite from the angst and conflict. Harvey’s angry and grieving the loss of Jessica, Louis is neurotic and vicious, and even Donna is feeling the pressure and taking it out on everyone else.

Episode 4 continues to pitch Pearce and Spectre against an opposing firm that I can’t remember the name of, nor do I care. I know it’s going to come to a head in time for the midseason hiatus. Alex’s move has caused issues on all fronts but today, its Alex’s old firm that are receiving insider information and using it against Harvey et al.

Harvey shits the bed and goes crawling to mummy. After a chat with Jessica, she declares: “You don’t come to me because you need me anymore, you do it because you miss me.” Damn it, I miss her. I truly do. I just hope these hop in, hop outs stop. The show doesn’t work without her and it certainly doesn’t work with having cameos every other week to show us what we’re missing. Showrunners, treat it like a breakup, and give us a clean and permanent exit. Give Jessica her own god damn show: you know we’ll all watch.

Come on Mike, would you really have any of these conversations about a case out in public when it’s a Chinese wall stopping you from handling it yourself. There’s going to be fallout from this, I guarantee it. How many times are you going to betray the man who risked everything for you?! I’ve never liked Mike, but he’s really stepping on my last nerve right now. I would have thought last series would humble him, but he’s still self-righteous and demanding.

Alex, played by West Wing and Psych’s Dule Hill, and Louis have some nice bonding moments and its quite endearing that when the heat is on, Louis doesn’t hesitate to remind him that he’s part of the family now. I just hope this is something the show intend to develop rather than fake out within the next few episodes. Louis needs a friend that respects him. In terms of Louis himself, he’s still in an angry sulk over his failed relationship. It scares me to think people like that do succeed in their jobs.

I did also like the progression of Rachel’s character and her attempts to balance her career and personal life. She’s always been a role model for many people starting out in law. Her commitment and loyalty is something to be commended. It’s such a shame that I do predict the actress will be bowing out before the close of the season. While I am sad about saying goodbye to Rachel, I do think it will add a much-needed depth and shake-up to the show.

We close the show with most things wrapped up. Mike’s case is still open and I think we should expect to see it being a prominent feature over the series.

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Predictions

  • Harvey’s going to be pissed that Mike went behind his back, however in the end he’ll support Mike and help him with the pro bono.
  • This might lead to Alex threatening to leave the firm, or the client going back to their original company.
  • Long term- Rachel and Mike’s wedding will not go ahead.
  • There will be a few more dates with the Dr before she pinpoints his feelings for Donna.
  • I think something is going to happen to Rachel. I even want to go so far as to predict Rachel will die before the end of the series.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe written by Lauren James

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Release date: 7.9.2017
Buy it here
Goodreads
Description:
Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away? Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication is via email and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone…

 

“I got so lucky. In what could have been the worst, most isolating time of my life, I’ve found the greatest friendship.”

As someone who loved The Martian (both the book and the film, but mainly the book) and loathed the Jennifer Lawrence led film Passengers, I did start this book with a little trepidation. Was Romy going to be a teen angsty version of Chris Pratt’s Jim?

No, no she was not. Instead she was a highly relatable person (not teen, not female. She is a character that spans ages and genders.) who is thrown into an isolated situation that she did not chose, had no training for and is doing the best she can,

Here’s were James truly gets me. There are two things that tend to disengage me as a reader; integrated fan fiction and emails to progress the plot. However, where other writers sometimes fail James uses both with precision and skill. Not only do I know I need to read them, I want to read them. The emails don’t feel like an invasion of privacy but an exploration of a blossoming friendship. It helps that Romy refers to them as part of her own inner dialogue.

I find the building relationship between Romy and J believable. The exploration of death, grief and guilt is impeccable and heart-breaking. You will want to lift Romy out from the pages and give her a hug; you’ll want to tell her she’s not alone.

There’s a sucker-punch, Alien-esque final act that puts Romy right up there with my favourite role model; Ripley. And while it takes a leaf out of some sci-fi tropes, it does not feel contrived. It also made me recall one of my favourite horrors; Urban Legend. In my head, I’m screaming “Natalie”! There’s a nostalgia to this novel that makes it strangely refreshing.

Despite the story being set in space, James addresses many problems we all face today. It’s the perfect landscape to explore the dangers of online dating, for example. In modern society people are finding it harder to meet a potential partner in an organic way. Our fear of being alone, leads us to this online forum that requires us to take a leap of faith.

Whether Lauren James intended to or not it feels like I’ve found one of the best modern allegories I’ve had the pleasure of devouring in a long time. When I return to school in September, this is the book I intend to recommend to each student in my classes with the hopes they do learn that sometimes there are sometimes worse things than being alone.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is available for pre-order and will be released 7th September 2017

 

Rick and Morty. S3 Ep2: Rickmancing the Stone

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Background
I’m incredibly new to this show, but oh so very passionate. My ex introduced me to it and we watched all of series one in a single sitting. Every so often he would pause it to tell me something offensive was coming up thinking I would hate it and demand for it to be turned off. Far from it, I loved every second.
I will always remember him texting me a screenshot of an episode and him being incredibly impressed that I’d gotten it with one guess and having only seen all the episodes once.
Since our split I’ve been determined to not do my usual thing and for once, not create attachments to a show we shared. Hell, if I did that, I’d have nothing left to watch seeing as I we both loved the same shows, films and he’d even started to get me into gaming.
In the past I’ve stopped watching shows such as Lost (although I hear I didn’t miss much) and films like Goonies had not been watched by me in 8 years since my first boyfriend and I parted ways. Some couples have THEIR song, I tend to have that one movie that will forever be mine and that person’s.
I had explained this to my ex, that I have emotional connections to movies and shows even to the point where I’ve walked away from screenings I’ve paid money for because I’d known the situation would take away from the film I’d loved (Example: a screening of Scrooged was meant to be my works leaving do. I knew had I stayed, I would no longer watch that will in the same way). However, it didn’t stop him from using a conversation we had to inspire him to watch my favourite film (Leon) with another woman literally a day after the conversation. It also didn’t stop him shouting at me for being upset about it.
So, I’m not going to let that happen this time. I don’t want to lose any of the shows I loved before I met him (Stranger Things, House, How I Met Your Mother… hell Star Trek.)

I figured if I blog about the episodes it’ll give me a little bit of motivation to watch them as they’re released. I couldn’t find someone to watch it with me, so I’m afraid my dear readers, you’re the ones holding my hand through this.

 

So, into the fray with go …

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Rickmancing the Stone takes no time in reminding us about the divorce between Beth and Jerry. It’s always been there in the background; Beth’s frustration has built over the two series. I never thought the showrunners would break them up though and I’m very happy they did. Things are tense when Jerry pops over for a visit and the siblings use Rick as a means of escape. Seconds before the title sequence comes a whisper only Jerry can hear ‘loser’ the wind calls. It’s genius; I love to hate Jerry and this is just the kind of abuse I want him to get.

I’m loving Summer’s active role in travelling with Rick. Long gone is the Summer of Series 2’s Ricks Must Be Crazy. She doesn’t shy away any more. It’s when they travel to the post-apocalyptic dimension that we really start to see how strong Summer has become. In fact, she’s the catalyst for the whole episode and long may it continue.
Her story sees her find herself very much at home in this world, but she soon works through her issues regarding the divorce and comes to an interesting conclusion that resolves some of her angst by the end of the episode.
It’s interesting to see her romance develop. I would love to see Summer become the Kirk of the traveling trio. Also- Sumsum! Rick gets to give all the best nicknames.

Morty is as annoying as ever. I know that’s the whole point of the character, but I’m starting to need the showrunners to pull a South Park Kenny on his arse.

We see him take on a revenge mission that is worthy of Game of Thrones (another show I’ve stopped watching owing to a man). It’s a brilliant. Very WTF and ties nicely into the Mad Max homage they have throughout the dimension. It’s good to see how he works through his hang-ups about his father and the divorce. Although I reckon some of you are like me and would have liked to have seen what Morty would have done with the muscle memory had Jerry been there himself.

Rick was as awesome as always but there was very little in way of progression for him. I want him to show some real concern relating to the divorce and I hope we’ll get it in the next few episodes.

Overall, I have found the episode to be tackling a tricky, complex and relevant subject. They are doing it well, exposing some of the rawness to comedy (and gore) will probably enable viewers who have experience divorce to see it from other the other side. From my understanding of the audience it gets here in the UK, it certainly will be helping those most effected by divorce.

Questions/Predictions

  • Will there be any fallout from Summer’s relationship? We’ve obviously done the pregnancy thing with Morty before but I’d certainly like to see that storyline come back.
  • Rick and Beth need some bonding time during her divorce to Jerry.
  • Will Beth and Jerry reconcile by the end of the series?
  • Will the Cthulhu from the title sequence make an appearance this year?

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