mental health

Auditory Hallucinations

Last night and this morning have been highly stressful. I spent the night waking up to hearing conversations that apparently weren’t happening.

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I also kept falling back into the same dream, going to the point I left when waking ~ I don’t remember the dream but do remember it unsettled me.

Throughout the night I woke up several times because of urgent whispering in my ear, only no one was there! Each time I got up to the loo to make sure I was awake and to hopefully “shake it off” before getting back into bed and to sleep.

I also “heard” my middle daughter having conversations with people between the hours of midnight and 4.30am, I know very specific times but I looked at the clock every time I woke.

Finally this morning I woke up to hearing my husband having a whispered conversation with my eldest daughter ~ only he had just got up, wasn’t talking to anyone and eldest child is at her own place in town!

So I am feeling a little freaked today ~ and tired!

The events of last night and this morning had me searching for reasons why I had this experience. I do remember my middle daughter having auditory and visual hallucinations when first diagnosed with ME post meningitis.

I think the doctor at the time explained the reason for it as her brain being tired and so misfiring signals ~ or something like that.

Now I am up ~ in my pjs & dressing gown whilst caffeinating to ensure I am really awake, I am having a google to see why this is occurring. It’s worrying enough having cognitive issues with speech and memory without this on top!

16Now I have intermittent tinnitus ~ but that just is weird ringing and noises in the ear, it comes and goes thankfully and is rarely continuous for a long period of time. The auditory hallucinations though, these are a new occurrence and one that has really freaked me out because the whispering conversations sounded so real.

So I googled..

What Are Auditory Hallucinations?
Auditory hallucinations are false perceptions of hearing sounds, like voices, music, etc.,without any real sensory stimuli. Auditory hallucinations have been reported in those suffering from epilepsy, brain tumors, migraines, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Parkinson’s disease. These hallucinations have also been known to be induced by drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines.
Perhaps most surprisingly, auditory hallucinations have been reported in approximately 15% of people with no mental or physical health problems whatsoever. The most common condition associated with auditory hallucinations, however, is schizophrenia, with a reported 70% of schizophrenic patients experiencing them.” 

The same article goes on to say that hearing auditory hallucinations is usually caused by imbalances of chemicals in the brain, most notably Dopamine. Another cause could be due to the Thalamus ~ this is because the thalamus sends signals from our ears to our auditory part of the brain which then interprets what sounds are being heard. Finally, the article says it could be to do with abnormal activity in the right hemisphere of our brain.. If the thalamus is playing up then auditory hallucinations could follow.

Interestingly, on googling Dopamine for patients with Fibro & ME this came up, dopamine is a neurotransmitter and people with Fibro and ME tend to have low dopamine levels which can result in a number of symptoms and conditions.

I looked up Thalamus issues relating to ME and Fibro next and it came up with articles informing me that I’m not alone in this, the article; Sensory Overload: Study Suggests Brains in Fibromyalgia Are Being Pummeled With Too Much Information was very interesting. This explains my cognitive issues as well as the auditory hallucinations ~ I know my “dementia” like cognitive issues become much worse when I am suffering from Post Exertional Malaise (PEM), which is often as I am currently struggling to pace effectively so seem to permanently be in a “crash”.

The article says that people with ME and Fibro become easily over stimulated by outside factors and so experience sensory overload. Usually, for healthy folk, the body fires up the sensory gate which filters out what is important and what isn’t. For folk like me with ME and Fibro, this sensory gate is often broken, it is thought that the area which is broken is in the part of the brain stem known as the “reptilian brain”. It is the area of the brain necessary for survival but doesn’t come with high cognitive functions.  Usually it protects the brain from over stimulation but not when broken for us folk with ME and Fibro.

On further googling I came across this article, which says that anxiety can cause simple and complex hallucinations too.

This has made me feel much better this morning, I’m not freaking out so much now that I know there are reasons for it ~ the most likely cause is my poor old brain is feeling overwhelmed and so misfiring with messages received making me think I am hearing things that quite simply aren’t there.

I know I haven’t gone into any great detail here and I won’t because I don’t want to stress my brain/body out any further. However, after my wee google session I now feel reassured that it’s nothing to be concerned about. Just as numerous doctors and consultants previously reassured me about my “dementia” symptoms, that I don’t have it but that my body is so exhausted due to my whammy of chronic illnesses that it misfires and causes my cognitive functions to nosedive. I am now looking at the auditory hallucinations as an extension of that and realise that the severe lack of pacing over the past few weeks must be the contributing factor in it all.

Thankfully, on Friday I will be disappearing off to my “happy place” ~ away from stimulation and into the arms of the coast, sea breezes, salt, sand and sea. By the end of next week I hope to have returned to some semblance of normality ~ here’s hoping!

As with anything though, if you experience anything out of the norm with your health/body I would always advocate that you get it checked out.

My motto is;

If in doubt19x~X~x

 

What do you do?

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What do you do when something beyond your control affects your day, your week, your year, your life.

I bought a hoodie, one of two that I love, from the talented Stacy Hart aka Mama Chill. Both were from her “running on empty” range, which are extremely appropriate for anyone with a chronic illness which affects energy levels. If you don’t know Stacy then please head on over to her blog because she’s one sassy, incredible fighter and someone I respect very much.

Here’s an old pic of me wearing the black one I have (I have another in grey with a different graphic on the front ~ it’s a skeleton running with the words “running on empty” alongside it). Next time I wear them I will have to take photos for you!

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I know that if you follow this blog you are aware that I have a number of chronic invisible illnesses which affect my cognitive function as well as my immune system, energy levels, mobility, gut mobility and cause me pain in my joints and muscles (among a myriad of other symptoms). If you are here for the first time I’ll list them now with the links for further information. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Hypermobility Ehlers~Danlos Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Diverticulitis, Depression, longstanding since my late teens and lastly pesky kidneys, stage 3 kidney disease that currently only requires annual blood tests to monitor.

So now I have that out of the way, I know I’m greedy hogging all these conditions instead of sharing them around, you will understand why often I have to adapt to circumstances beyond my control.

Referring back to Mama Chill, she is quite the wordsmith and wrote a poem about M.E which, to be honest, could be also written about my other conditions too ~ especially the Fibro and HEDS..

d87d7b3777dab11a969faf1f5f35b9ba--fatigue-syndrome-fibromyalgiaIt’s exceptionally frustrating to not be able to plan to do things ahead and know 100% that you will be able to make it. I do plan ahead, try to take in all considerations, make contingency plans, but even then I can’t guarantee that on the day, despite all preparations, I will be able to do it.

So, what do you do? Is my question, to try to live a life to the fullest whilst also managing your physical and mental health to the best of your ability.

One of the girls doctors came up with a brilliant analogy, which I prefer to The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino. Although the spoon theory is great, for me, the car analogy seems easier for me to understand, clearer I suppose.

Imagine your body is a car. Not a bright shiny new one but a real old banger, the exhaust is hanging low and smoking, the speedo is broken, it’s not economical and is covered in rust. It’s old, its rough around the edges, not a great beauty to be honest ~ but it drives, it tries, it may need jump starting now and then, the battery becomes flat easily so you keep a charger in the boot, along with the jump leads, spare tyre, fuel caddy and the portable tyre air compressor which plugs into the cigarette lighter. Knowing its age and potential for breaking down you also keep a blanket, bar of chocolate (supersized), warm coat, warning triangle for the road as the hazard lights don’t work and a portable mobile phone charger for that AA call ~ your poor car is too old to have built in usb chargers and you daren’t overwork the poor cigarette lighter in case you need it to plug in the tyre air compressor.

Our bodies with chronic illness are like the old banger ~ our gas tank may have a few corroded holes in it too, so no matter how much fuel you put in it, it continues to trickle away meaning you don’t get as far as you would like on it and need to take frequent stops to top up.

Like the old car, we can prepare as much as we can to deal with any issues but can’t always foresee a major break down, when the tow truck has to be called in and major repairs carried out.

We love our old car, it’s weathered many storms despite all adversity and we can’t afford to trade it in for a new model anyway.  Instead we scour the papers and news outlets for news that fixes have been found for our model of car, that we can patch it up and the garage will work it’s magic until it is like new, highly economical on fuel, exhaust is secured and no longer smoking and we know we can rely on it come hail or snow.

We are at the stage with my illnesses where we are still scouring the news, no fixes have been found ~ although many attempts and trials have been made. We have to be patient and sit it out, hoping that a mechanic somewhere will have a moment of genius and figure it all out.

That analogy makes more sense to me than spoons ~ which perhaps is just because my brain can see the picture more clearly that way.

So, what do I do? I wait, I hope and I do whatever I can to help myself feel better, do better, plan better. I don’t always get it right. I often run out of fuel halfway to my destination and spend more time than I would like on the ramp in the garage with mechanics scratching their heads before patching me up and sending me on my way.

Life isn’t bad though, it could be far worse. Humour is a factor in how I can deal with the cards life has dealt. Plus my dysfunctionally functional family around me keep things interesting and none of us get to keep the “I am considerably more poorly than you” t~shirt.

I wait for medical breakthrough.

I wait for awareness to break through to the masses.

I wait for compassion and understanding from others, who as yet don’t understand the limitations these illnesses bring.

I wait for health care professionals to all be on the same page and following current protocols instead of those initiated by dinosaurs from the past.

“One day” I tell myself “one day we will find a way around these illnesses and reclaim the life I want for myself and the others who are suffering too.”

Hope must be kept alive, yes you can chunter and swear until the air turns blue to vent, to blow off steam ~ then re-centre and continue forward.

Remember ~ there is life in the old banger yet!

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x~X~x

 

Crash Bang Wallop & WTF?

This morning I woke after a night spent tossing and turning in extreme discomfort. If pain were a person then he is walking inside my body wearing hobnailed boots and stomping on every joint, every bone, making them feel tender to move or touch. Then to turn it up a notch it feels as if fire ants have been released into my veins, making my skin feel as if it’s been scalded.

I wonder to myself whether my previous blog about progress tempted fate. I am now in what is known as a “crash” or “relapse”. My body is making it difficult for me to do anything at all ~ I try to distract myself from the signals firing off from my pain receptors. Tapping my hand to try and distract my brain and ignore the pain signals helps a little but then I tire, stop and it hits me again. The waves ebbing and flowing, crashing down on me in varying levels of violence.

I am downstairs, not in bed because I can keep an eye on the dogs and I feel less of an invalid being here. I have access to a downstairs loo, the kettle, the garden and the internet ~ the sofa and footstool are pretty comfy and my slanket is cosy and warm.

22016167_10155734584339555_1765706235_nI am writing this blog in dribs and drabs from the comfort of my sofa ~ having the option to dictate is a huge help but I have to manually correct the typo’s ~ it would appear I need to learn to enunciate more clearly.

I’m resting, taking the tablets, applying heat (which is soothing for me as opposed to cold), applying topical pain relieving gels, anything I can get my hands on to ease the pain, whilst looking for distractions for my mind.

I have no idea which illness has triggered this response, I am thinking most likely the fibromyalgia, but could also be a combination of all three, ME, Fibro and HEDS. So I am burying myself away for a few days, hibernating until the pain abates. Everything is on  hold ~ no photography for a second week in a row, it’s fair to say I’m feeling a little ticked off.

My mood is up and down, it’s hard to stay focused and positive when you are not able to control your own body, that it lets you down without any warning. I am feeling angry, sad and frustrated at life, I’m seriously pissed off and have so many whys that I know cannot be answered. I suppose it’s just life, I am lucky things aren’t worse but sad that they are what they are.

My black dog is waiting to be released, he knows I am weak and is ready to take advantage ~ I am trying my best to control him. To remember the lessons given to my by my therapist and not to allow him to regain control.

It’s hard! He’s howling for release, ready to jump at any given moment.Black Dog FlamesMy weapon of choice is laughter ~ I am fortunate that my family follow the same path, when times get tough, we go a little insane and let the laughter out, it may be a little scary and manic but it provides a release.

So talking about laughter I share with you my “what the fuck?” moment from this morning.

I came downstairs for a warm drink, tablets and to relocate from my bed. Looking across at my dining room table from my vantage point by the boiling kettle I notice something decidedly odd about my plant.

To fill you in this plant was a birthday gift from my dad which I received in May. It came in a pot and only had one shoot ~ it was a cutting he had given me from a plant he had at home. What it is we have no idea, the general consensus is that is its some kind of lily.

I was told by dad that it was a patio plant and to keep it outside ~ one day outside and it was decidedly worse for wear so I decided to bring it inside. From it’s position from the dining room table it has plenty of indirect light and is protected from the battering wind.

Since being on my table it has grown and we now have 3 leaves. It would appear that overnight something strange has also happened..

Now, how on earth? The mushroom next to the stalk of my plant is actually coming from the stalk!

ALSO, to top it off hundreds of tiny weeny flies are coming out of the soil, which looks alive with them and running around over the table! Thankfully my hubby is ex~pest control and had some bug spray to curb the wee flies from expanding their ranks whilst also not being toxic to my lily ~ or is it Alien Plant?

If you are of the green fingered variety I would love to know what this plant is and also how on earth it birthed mushrooms and teenyweeny flies!

Writing this blog has helped pass the morning for me, now it’s time for a nap ~ and hopefully some respite from the pain and discomfort.

Hope your are having a good day, if you are sending you a crisp high five ~ if not sending love and sympathy.

x~X~x

Progress//Small Steps

I’m not sure whether to share yet or not, feeling that progress is slowly being made and am quietly optimistic that more will occur over the following months.

Having a piece of kit on my wrist that monitors my heart rate, steps and sleep pattern is hugely beneficial in seeing what triggers my body.

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I have found that when I am quietly sitting my heart rate is that of someone exercising. Getting up, showering, walking ~ spending any energy really, causes my heart rate to increase further.

Also, with sleep I have found that I have very little deep sleep and mostly spend the night in a state of light sleep.

Having this information available means that I can be careful in how I plan my time and pace.

Historically I’m not great at pacing, when I have energy all I want to do is get things done and end up exhausted and regretting my expenditure of “spoons” when lying in bed and unable to do anything.

Taking into consideration of my on/off ability to pace I am still happy to report that progress is being made.

I also have become fully sober, no more forays in the alcohol department. My body can no longer tolerate any kind of alcoholic beverage, which means from now on I will be getting jiggy with the soft ones instead.

First off, I finally feel that my balance of medications is helping to keep the pain within the range of cope-able ~ not gone but at least not severe enough to reduce me to tears anymore.

I currently take a mix of prescription and over the counter medications of:~

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Gabapentin Capsules ~ 300mg three times a day For pain relief; can increase dosage in the future if needed

Vitamin D capsule ~ 4000iu  As I have below normal vitamin D level

L~Carnitine ~ 4 Capsules Daily. As advised by my Fibro group, it helps with cognitive function and energy levels.

L~ Glutamine 500mg ~ 3 Capsules Daily To assist my gut and improve autoimmune system.

Amitriptyline 75mg Daily ~ for Depression, controversial among my doctors ~ I have tried all the other anti~depressants and none of them work for me, Prozac reacted very badly and I collapsed. Amitriptyline was prescribed for me for my bouts of post~natal depression after my daughters births and it was hugely effective. When I become depressed I become manic and need a sedative antidepressant to calm me down. Apparently doctors now don’t prescribe this medication for depression as it can cause a high rate of suicidal thoughts. For me however it is calming and helps me keep my black dog under control. The doctors have allowed me to take it on repeat so long as I promise to contact them the instant I have any detrimental thoughts towards my life.

Laxido 2~3 Sachets Daily I take it for my Diverticulitis, to keep things moving and not to get caught up in the pouches.

On top of taking the above medication I have found that wearing compression socks is really helping my poor swollen ankles and when wearing them my swelling reduces by half ~ which is fabulous! They are really comfy to wear and are breathable ~ so no smelly feet.

I have changed my diet ~ instead of eating and picking bad foods during the day because of not having the energy to cook I have a Huel Shake. Its made from oats, so no soy tummy upset from it and it tastes lovely ~ if you like oats that is. I tend to prefer just the vanilla version without flavour boosts, but if I do fancy a boost it’s chocolate every time.

Then at the end of the day I have my dinner with Dave and he usually helps with the preparation and cooking. From just this small change I have gone down a jeans size to a standard size 16, which is brilliant, I refuse to weigh myself as it makes me too depressed, therefore I judge my weight loss by how my clothes fit.

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My final change is monitoring my activity and trying to control how much I do. I still go overboard and do far too much but at least it’s a means to observe where I am going wrong and trying to rein it in. My step count is indicative of my ignoring my body and pushing myself. BUT I am finding I am little by little managing more steps than I ever dreamt possible ~

steps

The days I go over 4000 steps I really know about it and it’s not easy to get up and get going the next day ~ but I push myself and I am doing it. I am mindful that pushing could be dangerous for my ME but it’s beneficial for my Fibro and HEDS. It is juggling what to do for the best.

I am planning a retreat to the caravan in October, to rest and recuperate and go over all my data to see what level of activity suits my body, listening to how it responds, taking into account pain levels, energy, post exertion malaise and heart rate.

I know every time I get up and move about my heart rate goes up ~ I can feel it in my neck as it pulsates to my heart beat. I know that pain and fatigue hit days after going at 4000 steps ~ but sometimes I can’t avoid having to do those steps as life and commitments don’t go away.

Hopefully the progress will continue slowly but steadily. I hope the weight continues to gradually drop, which will put less pressure on my joints and specifically my ankles.

I am incredibly chuffed with the smart crutches, they give me the ability to walk further than I could before as they help me put less pressure through my ankles and instead of the pressure from the crutches going through my poor weak wrists it goes along my forearm instead. I still get sore shoulders, neck, wrists, hips and ankles afterwards but having the freedom to step out further than before without having to resort to a wheelchair (which would have to be electric as I have no~one free to push me), is wonderful.

I also cannot stress enough the wonders of getting a blue badge ~ and would encourage anyone with an illness which reduces ability and energy to apply for one.I also have stickers on my car saying not all disabilities are visible because I am so sick of people telling me off for parking in disabled bays.

Unfortunately, so far not much improvement with cognitive issues ~ I am still struggling to comprehend information. The girls and Dave sometimes become frustrated with me, not unkindly, when it takes a while for the penny to drop. It can be annoying not only for them but for me, as I struggle to make sense of things.

My photography course is fun and rewarding but I have to read the lessons in small chunks and go over it repeatedly for it to sink in. I struggle to find words and keep up with conversations but mostly when reading conversations on facebook I get overwhelmed and although I want to respond I often don’t because I find it so very hard to put words together to express my thoughts. To be a supportive and helpful friend becomes a hurdle, I always hold my friends close in my thoughts and hope that they know that I am there for them in spirit but not always in mind ~ I have no idea where that wanders off to!

I can only explain my mental state as that of onset dementia, which is why we approached the doctors in the first place 2 years ago. It is a huge issue for me, word finding, correct word usage and following conversations is difficult. I sometimes think half a sentence and speak the other half out loud and not realise, then wander why I’m not understood.

I think not being able to control my brain, to feel so foggy minded and forgetful is the worst symptom for me, more so than pain and fatigue. I feel as if I am losing part of myself, my memories are fading, events of the past are often totally forgotten. The feeling of having no control and that I am losing my mind.

So, shhh aside from my brain *touches wood* lets hope that things continue positively and I apologise if I am a little vague or not as communicative as I would like to be towards you. Fingers crossed that progress is made in the cognitive department soon too, failing that, hoping that my brain power plateaus and further deterioration ceases.

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x~X~x

Hair today, gone tomorrow! #SV2 #SexualAssault #ConsentIsEverything #Fundraising #VitalCounselling

sv2-supporting-victims-of-sexual-violence

Sadly, two people I care about very much have been sexually assaulted, something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. For the purpose of this blog I shall call them “x” and “y”.

On both occasions our local rape crisis centre, known as SV2 ~ Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence; helped them to work through the assault. To face and come to terms with what had happened to them and to decide on how they wished to proceed after informing them of the options available to them.

You can read more about the work SV2 do here.

This specialist counselling service was crucial in helping both x and y to pick themselves up and continue with their lives. More importantly to learn who their true friends were and who to surround themselves with.

For them the best approach was to retreat from large groups and focus on the individual people they could trust and feel safe with.

These specialist counsellors are incredible, the work they do far~reaching and essential to the victims of this type of assault.

Seeing how they helped x and y made me want to do something to help raise funds to pay towards ongoing costs to maintain the service.

Sadly I learned that on 24 July this year SV2 were unable to secure any future long term funding for therapy.

They have a significantly high waiting list and without adequate future funds they were forced to decide how to spend what they had.

The difficult decision was made to close the waiting list meaning they could not accept  referrals for the time being.

Hopefully they will be able to review this decision in a few months time and reopen the waiting list.

I cannot imagine how x and y would have managed without the support and care of SV2, their help was critical in helping them to cope with their assaults.

The trauma caused by these assaults cannot just “go away” and if left unresolved can leave the victim in a very dark place, ruining their lives and relationships with others, living in fear.

Even after undergoing therapy both x and y continue to suffer PTSD and dissociation because of the trauma they experienced. However, at least now they understand these feelings and how to work through each episode with thanks to the therapy provided by  SV2 specialists.

I am deeply upset that SV2 haven’t been supported and given long term funding. Their service deserves to be maintained and funded. It is deeply worrying that so many people are sexual assaulted and therefore requiring this help. I wrote a blog previously about consent which you can read here.

SV2 is a charity, which surprised me as I feel they should be under the umbrella of a mental health services.

In their “about us” section they explain how they are funded…

“SV2 is a charity which is commissioned by NHS England, Derbyshire Constabulary and Derbyshire County Council to provide the County’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) service. This service includes forensic medical examination, crisis worker support, 24/7 Advice Line and support from Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs). We work in partnership with the police, but independently in order to advocate for anyone who accesses our services. 

In addition, SV2 is currently funded by Derbyshire County Council, Derbyshire Police & Crime Commissioner, NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups and Children in Need to provide specialist counselling services for victims and their families – all ages.

SV2 also provides Derbyshire Police & Crime Commissioner’s emotional and practical support service for victims of less serious sexual offences such as indecent exposure, revenge porn, sexting, etc.

SV2s work is overseen by a Board of Trustees which has responsibility for the ensuring that the Charity delivers its aims of: reducing the impact of rape and sexual abuse on victims (male and female) and their families; encouraging reporting of rape and sexual abuse; supporting victims through the legal process and; reducing the incidence of rape and sexual abuse by raising awareness.”

I want to help raise funds to assist with their ongoing fundraising. I needed to think of something that I could do personally to help. Long walks, climbing challenges, all kinds of physical events are not viable options because of my chronic health issues. So in the end I decided to shave off my hair.

I have shortish hair but a long fringe ~ which I hide behind. I’m not a confident person, although sometimes I may give off that impression. I am exceptionally shy and self-conscious, so by shaving off my hair I am making myself feel exposed and vulnerable, with nothing to hide behind ~ exceptionally visible!

On Wednesday 1 November I shall be shaving all of my hair off, photographs and video will following in a blog afterwards.

This is, I imagine how victims of these crimes often feel, vulnerable, exposed, isolated, watched.

So, if you would like to help me raise funds towards my goal of £500 to help keep this essential service going and hopefully help towards SV2 being able to reopen their waiting list for victims I would be exceedingly grateful.

My fundraising page is on the SV2 website, every penny raised goes directly to them.

If you could donate anything at all it would be hugely appreciated.

I hope against hope that you never have to seek support from a service like this. If you do, can you imagine how awful it would be to be told that the service is not available to you as the referrals have been stopped due to lack of funding?

The link to my fundraising page is below, thank you for reading this blog and any “shares”, “reblogs”, and/or donations are genuinely deeply appreciated.

https://fundraise.charitycheckout.co.uk/svtwo/pf/tanya-mawer

Thank you

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x~X~x

Reasons To Be Cheerful//A Work In Progress #depression

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Since my last blog post which you can read here, where I opened up about my depression and recent breakdown, I have been exceptionally lucky to access help almost immediately.

The day I acknowledged, with a few heavy hints from Dave and the girls, that my low mood had reached the point where I needed outside help to “fix” myself, I booked myself a doctors appointment and referred myself to Trent PTS for help.

Dave drove me and came into my GP appointment with me because I was so nervous I could barely speak. I am so grateful that he did because once in that doctors office I became beyond overwhelmed by the enormity of how awful I felt and how terrified I was, that I burst into tears. I tried to explain but kept faltering, so Dave stepped in and spoke on my behalf, with the odd sniff, nod and explosion of tears from me, quietly wringing my hands and rocking on my chair! The GP increased my antidepressants and checked I had referred myself for talking therapy. He then discussed my recent alcohol abuse and agreed that I should stay off the sauce and that he wanted me to book a appointment to be re~evaluated by a doctor in 4 weeks time, which is on 30th August.

THEN, only a few days later I received a call from Trent PTS offering me my first appointment with them on the Monday ~ 6 days after referring myself!

I met my therapist and we covered an awful lot of ground in that first appointment. We filled out the timeline from my birth to the present day and worked out which areas of my life had been affected by depression, what were the triggers and how we could best address it. Having had my black dog since my late teens meant we had to walk back in time and discuss the worst episodes, what medications I took and for how long, along with which therapies I had received. Needless to say I went through a fair number of tissues during that appointment.

My major issue is of negative thought relating to my inner critical self and the monologue of chastisements I receive from it through out each and every day. Feeling of not being “enough” and my role as a carer throughout my life, how not always being able to “fix” things distresses me and my “on the spectrum” issues. Finally the more personal issues relating to self~esteem, self~worth and lack of confidence. My sessions of CBT will be to work on all the above and hopefully help me find a way to love myself unconditionally by accepting and “owning” who I am without shame or excuses. She has her work cut out for her ~ but we gelled and I feel more positive now about the future and my ability to learn to cope and live with my depression more successfully.

Before I start on the work of CBT, which starts properly on Monday coming, I have been told to look at my life with positivity ~ to find the “reasons to be cheerful” in everyday life.

When I feel gut wrenchingly sad, when the lump in my throat and stomach feels like it’s killing me, to take a minute, close my eyes, relax and then think, think hard, what have I done or seen that is a reason to be cheerful.

I have also found out that ~ apart from feeling incredibly silly ~ forcing yourself to laugh can help too, you start out feeling a complete tool, forcing out this odd sounding laugh ~ but the more you do it something happens. You start to actually laugh, for real, at yourself, at life, at nothing in particular, but you laugh ~ sometimes I have to say manically, but it helps to release the tension that’s been bottling up and ready to explode.

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So since my last blog post I have been seeking “reasons to be cheerful” and I thought I would share them with you..

  1. My dogs, they provide me with unconditional love, a warm body to cuddle into when I am feel horribly low and a listening ear when I need to offload.
  2. My family, they are giving me unquestioning space when I need it, love unconditionally and laughter ~ they know how to push the laughter button on me and make me realise that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
  3. The discovery of Huel, it is not only nutritionally complete but also vegan and being soy intolerant to find a meal replacement shake that I can tolerate is fantastic. It’s oat based and reminds me of original ready brek in flavour ~ you can buy different flavour boosts but I find I enjoy  it without them. It mixes in the tumbler provided brilliantly with no lumps to gag your way through. I have a shake for breakfast and another for lunch, which helps me conserve energy and focus it on other things. Later when Dave gets home we cook our evening meal together. Today I lived a little on the wild side and had a blueberry muffing with my Huel. IMG_1647
  4. Next reason to be cheerful is my new watch which not only tells the time but tells me the weather, my heart rate, counts my steps and also links to my phone and so vibrates when I have messages. There are other applications too but these are the ones I use ~ and its purple!IMG_1639
  5. I am very slowly losing weight and am in 2 belt loops, 3 at a push ~ and my jeans are becoming looser on me. I’m hueling during the day and eating whatever I want for dinner at night, but think the combination of Huel and being booze free are why the weight is coming off. IMG_1641
  6. Three years ago I found a really comfy pair of shoes in Tesco, I wore them until they fell apart and having been looking out for them ever since, two years passed and no return of my favourite comfy shoe ~ then today they were there! So I plucked the last pair of size 7’s off the rack and am now happily wearing them. My feet are smiling at me and thanking me profusely. IMG_1637
  7. Hubby has just purchase a new car, for his everyday and for the family excursions ~ I am so in love with this vehicle. It is quiet, automatic, huge, and unbelievably comfy. It has air con, working stereo and takes LPG gas as well as petrol. Today, to make me happy Dave took me for a spin in it and said when I feel up to it I can drive it! Now this car doesn’t drive it glides, I spent the entire time grinning until my face ached!
  8. My penultimate reason to be cheerful for today ~ it’s totally unexpected, and still for my life I cannot see what this woman saw. I was in my car the other day with my first born and needed to ask for a barrier to be lifted. The woman in the kiosk just looked at me and pointed at the front of my car and loudly exclaimed “BATMAN”. Baffled I looked at Keisha and she at me, none the wiser ~ so the woman said “your number plate, BATMAN”. Clueless still I mumbled a “yeah” and she lifted the barrier. When we got out of the car both of us looked at my number plate and still don’t see Batman ~ do you? IMG_1636
  9. Apps ~ there are apps for almost anything! I have become reliant on a few which I will share with you.
  • Nomo, for my sobriety ~ my GP wanted me to join AA but Dave helped me persuade him that this app was keeping me on track, I had to hand him my phone to show him the app first!
  • Headspace, my meditation app, which really relaxes me and this is the first time I have been successful in meditating thanks to the soothing tones of the gentleman guiding the meditation sessions. I am currently going through the three basic foundation meditation  packages and have downloaded, aside from the three basic ones, a number of other packages on areas I feel I need to work on, depression, anxiety, stress, sleep, pain management, self~esteem and acceptance. Finally I will tackle the six “pro” meditation packages to finish off.  Hopefully after that I can either continue to use the app or meditate flying solo each day.
  • Lose It, I use this mainly as a food diary and to track my weight and body measurements. I can use the barcode scan facility of the app to upload foods not already in the data base, if that’s unsuccessful I can than manually upload the data. It records my daily nutritional intake as well as protein, fat and carbs.
  • Clue, Being peri~menopausal I am experiencing all kinds of hell from my fluctuating hormones. Hot flushes, irritability etc ~ you get the gist AND crazily irregular periods. This app allows me to record all my periods in detail but more than that I can record my body functions, vitality, activities and medical information too. It also allows you to export the information to your email so you can print it off to show your doctor, should you so desire.
  • VeryFitPro,my new watch a Letscom Activity Tracker with Wrist Based Heart Rate Monitor binds to this app and allows it to track my heart rate, steps, sleep cycles, etc. I can then use it to send data to my email to print off to show my doctor if necessary. I am using it to gradually increase my activity to a point where I can take the dogs for a short walk ~ something I miss very much. The trick is to keep your heart rate within a certain range and successfully maintain a certain level of activity for a period of time without causing post exertional malaise. My starting point is 3,000 steps, which I know for healthy folk is a cinch ~ but for me it’s a stretch. Once I maintain happily 3,000 steps a day I will increase to 3,500 and so on. It’s a very slow and steady exercise but one I am determined to succeed and supported by my occupational therapist.
  • Apple Health, this is already on most folks iphones and all my apps above link to it. This means I have a place where I can catch up on all my apps and see how they dovetail together to give a good overall picture of my health. It also has a page which can be accessed even when your phone is locked where I have my name, age, illnesses, medications, allergies and next of kin listed ~ which gives me peace of mind.

Just in case you are interested in heart rates and beats per minute. I looked up that the average persons resting heart beats between 60~100 beats per minute.

Next I worked out how much the maximum heart rate should be for an average person whilst exercising ~ this is worked out by deducting your age from 220 ~ being 48 mine is a maximum exercise heart beat of 172 beats per minute

Then I calculated the target heart rate whilst exercising should be within the following range;

(220 – age) x 50% which for me is 86

(220 – age) x 70% again for me is 120

My target range is to be within 86 ~ 120 beats per minute whilst exercising, which in my case is just walking.

So finally, I just wanted to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to each an everyone of you for your messages of support. I cannot express strongly enough how much that means to me.

I just want to say I am getting the help I need and am fully supported by my A~team at home. I hope you are too ~ reach out, ask for help, you are not alone.

conscious_universe289_04img_1627

 

x~X~x

What is consent?

“The Rape Delusion: The Voices of the Victims

If there is one thing that tells us something perverse and disturbing about our society it is the fact that we even countenance the notion that a woman might be responsible for being raped.

When we rationalise to some level of normality the rape of women as being, somehow different, that there are grey areas, that ordinary men can spontaneously lose all form of moral consciousness and violate someone sexually in a moment of uncontrolled lust-fuelled madness, then it is an indictment not only about our attitude towards women in society but also a shockingly offensive and naive view of “mainstream” male sexuality. The sight of any woman in supposedly “provocative” circumstances does not have the potential of converting any man into a rapist. Rape has no connection with mutual, caring, sexual relations, however tenuous, it’s about power, control, domination, and a lack of respect for the dignity and rights of another human being. A rapist plans to rape.

The psychological impacts of rape, and society’s attitude towards the crime, create a damaging lifelong legacy for the tens of thousands of women who have to remain silent about their experience, who are isolated from society – all because of the rape “delusion”.
Click here to read the full article on Derby News (opens in new window)
By Russell Pollard, first published 11th August 2015″

This video gives you a clear picture of what consent is by using making a cup of tea for someone as an example. It saddens me so much that this type of video needs to be made in order for consent to be understood. You can read more fully about sexual consent here.

In case you haven’t time to look at the website its basic message is as follows…

“These are the words of real people commenting on the Thames Valley Police Facebook page in 2015. It is wrong to place any responsibility on the victim. Help prevent rape by speaking out and challenging views you know to be wrong.

Sex without consent is rape

Rape is a crime. Rape occurs when a person penetrates another person’s mouth, anus or vagina with their penis without their consent. It happens to men and women. If someone initially agrees to have sex, but later withdraws their consent and the other person continues anyway, that person will have committed rape. Being drunk or on drugs is not a defence.

If you are accused of rape your future will change forever. You will be arrested and questioned by the police. Your belongings will be seized and your DNA taken, analysed and added to a database. If charged with rape you will appear at Crown Court for trial. If you are convicted of rape you could be sent to prison. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment. You would be ordered to sign the sexual offenders register.

After being convicted it may be harder to get a job or a place at university. You may not be able to travel to some countries. You may also damage or even lose relationships with friends and family.”

#Consentiseverything

Sadly, two people I care about very much have been raped over the past few years, something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.  The police were informed, they were incredibly kind, patient and caring. On both occasions the first thing they said was to access help via the local SV2.

SV2 ~ Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence; were amazing. They helped them to work through the assault, learn to face and come to terms with what had happened to them. Finally to decide whether they wished to press charges or not, or whether, for the time being, to leave it in order to maintain mental health.

I know they both considered pressing charges but felt that they did not want to pursue it at that time. The mental health of the victim is paramount and to go to court and re~live the experience is incredibly traumatising and takes and enormous amount of guts and strength to do. However, a decision not to pursue now does not rule out the possibility of pursuing it in the future.

This specialist counselling helped both these people to pick themselves up and face what had happened to them. Also how to recognise who their true friends were, the people to surround themselves with. For them it was to retreat from large groups and focus on people they could trust and feel safe with.

I cannot underline strongly enough the vital importance of charities such as these who help victims address the trauma of the attacks and learn how to move forward to reclaim control over their lives.

Their service in their own words is…

“SV2 will support you regardless of when your experience of sexual abuse or violence occurred. We support all genders from any age and offer counselling to anyone aged 14+.

You do not have to report the abuse to the police to get support from SV2. However, if you do want to report we can support you through the reporting process, during the forensic examination if one is needed, through the investigation and when you are at court.

SV2 will help you access other services such as sexual health if you need to and we can provide specialist counselling.

SV2 also works with young people to raise their understanding of what “consent” means.
We do not work with perpetrators of any gender”

Very sadly, I have noticed that our SV2 has had to closed its books to referrals as they have not been able to secure enough funding to take them. Instead they are looking at helping those already on the very long waiting list, whilst searching for more funding so that they can then re~open their books to referrals once more.

Again in their own words they state…

“Unfortunately as SV2 has not been able to secure future long~term funding for therapy and as the waiting list is already significantly high, SV2 has reluctantly taken the very difficult decision to close the waiting list and will not accept any more referrals into the therapy service.

SV2 acknowledges this is a very difficult decision for the agency and for clients and is hoping to review this in a few month’s time.”

I find it appalling that such services have to constantly seek funding to continue their vital work. I feel exceptionally strongly about this because I have seen first hand on two separate occasions how incredible the work they do is. How they help give the victim their life back and coping mechanisms for when the post traumatic stress kicks in.

Another unpleasant issue victims have to face is their physical health, being raped usually doesn’t involve “safe sex” and therefore leaves the victim open to potentially contracting sexually transmitted diseases. So here is a basic checklist of what action you should take if you are victim of a sexual assault…

  • Make sure you are safe, go to a good friend of family members house.
  • Try to tell someone you trust what has happened to you, remember it is not your fault no matter what your abuser has said to you.
  • Resist the urge to scrub yourself clean in a bath or shower, you may have vital forensic evidence on your body which the police could use in a case against your abuser.
  • Ask your friend/family member to go with you to either A&E or the Police (the police have a forensic doctor if you prefer going to them) ~ as soon as you can to be checked over and for them to collect forensic evidence and to test you for any sexually transmitted diseases and to treat you for any injuries.
  • If you go to the Police they will give you your options of how you could proceed, they also give you a crime incident number and their telephone numbers should you want to talk to them at any time. Most areas have local rape crisis centres and the police will give you their details and advice you to contact them. This is because the specialist counsellors at these centres  can help you through the whole process and support you if you wish to press charges. Even if you decide not to the counsellors work through the assault and help you address what has happened to you and how you go forward from that.
  • REMEMBER; you don’t have to go to a police station.  But if you do they will ask for you to see their  doctor who will take swabs and samples in their examination suite (you can similarly have these tests at your local A&E if you ask them for them and tell them why or your local rape crisis centre if you have one). These samples/swabs can be stored so that if you aren’t ready to press charges after your assault, you still have the option to go down that route in the future, should you wish to. These swabs and samples cannot be used without your express permission either. So don’t be afraid of having them taken, they are there for you, should you need to use them.
  • If you don’t want to go to the Police you can go to any clinic or hospital to receive treatment for any injuries and to obtain emergency contraception and be checked for any sexually transmitted diseases. These are not forensic tests and I would always urge you to have the contraception and sexually transmitted disease tests done as soon as possible, in order to protect yourself as much as possible.  Doctors and nurses cannot contact the police if you go to see them, your treatment is confidential and only you can report the matter to the police.
  • Just a heads up if you ever need to know this for either yourself or someone you care about. We have been informed that medical evidence should ideally be collected within 72 hours of the attack, after that any medical evidence will be lost. They may also ask to keep your clothes as evidence so ~  don’t worry if you haven’t got any spare clothes to change into because the police will usually have a spare set of clothes.

If you do report to the police these are examples of questions you may be asked ~ it will be distressing for you to recant your experience but it will help them to work for you in catching your attacker;

  • When did it happen, give as accurate timings as you can
  • Where did it happen, if you don’t know the area try to describe it as accurately as possible.
  • What happened prior to the attack, give a timeline of the events leading up to when it happened, where you were, who you were with, what you were doing and so on.
  • Try to remember any conversations you had which may be relevant to the attack.
  • Try to remember how you resisted the attack, did you fight back?
  • Can you remember what your attacker looked like ~ was it someone you know?
  • Did they threaten you in any way.
  • Did they have weapons or threaten to use weapons.
  • Did you manage to inflict any injuries to the attacker.
  • Did you receive any injuries from the attack.

If you are EVER attacked and sexually assaulted but are afraid to contact anyone or seek help then please consider ringing either of these numbers and talk to them about what has happened to you. They may help you work out what action you want to take and who you want to talk to. Remember, you should not feel ashamed or responsible for what happened. It is highly likely you will experience some or all of the following emotions, fear, anger, shame, guilt, anxiety ~ it is very common to have post traumatic stress after this assault and that is why it is vital you seek help and support to help you through such a distressing and frightening experience.

The numbers are:

  1. National Rape Crisis helpline on 0808 802 9999 (open 12pm to 2.30pm and 7pm to 9.30pm every day of the year)
  2. Victim Supportline on 0808 16 89 111

Some other useful numbers are:

  1. Derbyshire Domestic Abuse Support Line
    08000 198 668 (24/7)
    Support and information line for anyone experiencing domestic abuse in Derbyshire
    http://www.saferderbyshire.gov.uk/domestic-abuse
  2. Derby City Domestic Violence Service – run by Refuge
    0800 085 3481 (8am-8pm Mon-Sun)
    Support and information line for anyone experiencing domestic abuse in Derby City
    http://www.refuge.org.uk
  3. Derbyshire Recovery Partnership
    01246 206514
    Information, advice and support for those affected by drug and alcohol use Derbyshire
    http://www.saferderbyshire.gov.uk/treatment-services
  4. Derby Drug and Alcohol Services
    0300 790 0265
    Information, advice and support for those affected by drug and alcohol use in Derby City
    http://www.derbysubstancemisuseservices.org.uk
  5. Samaritans
    116 123 (Free Support Line UK)
    Samaritans of Derby and District – 01332 364444
    Support for anyone feeling emotional distress
  6. Derbyshire Friend
    LGBT Helpline 01332 207704
    http://www.derbyshirelgbt.org.uk
  7. Derbyshire Sexual Health Services
    0800 328 3383
    http://www.yoursexualhealthmatters.org.uk
  8. Derbyshire Police:
    101 or 999 in an emergency
    http://www.derbyshire.police.uk
  9. Derbyshire CORE
    0300 303 1973
    Support for victims of crime in Derbyshire
    http://www.core-derbyshire.com
  10. Mind:
    Support for mental health issues
    http://www.mind.org.uk
  11. Childline:
    0800 1111 (free phone)
    Free 24 hour helpline for any young person in trouble or danger and also provides on-line support
  12. NSPCC Helpline:
    0800 800 500 (free phone)
    Advice and information for children or anyone concerned about a child
    http://www.nspcc.org.uk

Supporting someone close to you who has been through sexual assault is heartbreaking, you want to protect that person at all costs. However, that’s not the solution, in order to be able to live with what has happened they need to face it, address it, talk about it and learn how to deal with it and be able to go forward with their lives. The two people I know who have gone through this terrifying ordeal are in my opinion incredible individuals, who strive every day not to let it hold them back but yet still even to this day have episodes of PTSD and anxiety because of it.

However, through the help of the specialist counsellors at SV2 they understand that it was not their fault, that they were victims of attacks, they did not consent to having sex and it was forced upon them. They have worked through every aspect of what has happened and been supported as they worked through the trauma that it has caused them. It does leave you scarred and wary in the future of who you surround yourself with. You are more cautious and frightened than others would be. BUT and this is a big but, SV2 therapists have helped them leave the four walls of their safe haven which is their home and re~enter society and start rebuilding their lives.

These specialist counsellors are incredible, the work they do is far~reaching and essential to the victims of this type of assault.

Seeing the work they do second~hand has made me decide that it’s time I did something to give them something back for the help they offer and continue to offer to victims.

As I stated earlier, SV2 need funding urgently in order to continue providing their services to victims. This made me think about what could I do to help and led me to decide on a head shave in return for donations.

I will be collecting donations from now, this very minute and hopefully reach my target before I shave off all my hair on 1st November. Not just to a number one, oh no, but completely shiny headed bald.

If you feel strongly about consent, rape and other types of sexual assault, I beg you to please support me in raising funds to help this valuable service to continue helping other victims.

It costs £42 to pay for just one counselling session, whatever I can raise will help make a difference for someone who needs this specialist help.

You can leave a donation via my online fundraising page and every penny will go to SV2. The link to donate is below and will take you to my fundraising page on the SV2 website:~

Hair today, gone tomorrow ~ head shave to raise funds for SV2

A full video of the head shave will be uploaded to my YouTube channel and shared in a blog afterwards.

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Thank you

x~X~x

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