Taking a break

I’m going to start this post by retyping a series of tweets I posted earlier:

I’ve been a bit AWOL lately, sorry. Time for total honesty, I’ve been finding life difficult lately and I don’t even know why. I’ve blogged about my experiences lately to try to sort things out in my head. I’ve had limited success with that. I don’t know what to say except I’m going to keep working through whatever “it” is. Sometimes positivity is all that keeps me going but I KNOW that I can work through this, no matter how hard it is now. My point is, we are all stronger than we think we are. Remember that x

I have been struggling for the last 3/4 weeks, it started with my Mam’s health scare a few posts back. I’m not going to drone on about that any more. I bet everyone is sick of it by now! My Mam is fine, she’s back at work and I have accepted that I did the best that I could when I was in that scary situation. I thought that once I had “forgiven” myself for panicking that day I would be able to move on. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened, I’ve found myself stuck in a really strange mood and I haven’t managed to break free yet. I say yet because I know that I will, one way or another. Some people may be against positivity but it’s what keeps me going. I don’t know how I would get by without it!

I lowered my medication again a couple of days before the scare happened. Obviously I did this with prior agreement with my doctor and I will be seeing him at the end of the month to discuss how I’m getting on.  Maybe reducing my meds is what started my problem and maybe it isn’t. All I know is I have been feeling unmotivated. I have struggled to blog or tweet about anything worthwhile and I am feeling increasing pressure to produce something. I am racking my brain trying to find the words to explain what is going on with me right now. I can’t find the right words and that frustrates me. I have tried blogging about other things, I have a list of subjects I would like to blog about at some point. But I can’t focus on them, I can’t get into the subjects. Anything I write sounds robotic, forced and fake. In my Little Steps post for September I aimed to start baking again and post the recipes. I made blueberry muffins a week ago, I have the photos and the recipe but I haven’t managed to post it yet. I haven’t made any real progress on September’s Little Steps and the month is drawing to a close. I’m feeling pressure because of that. It is pressure that I am creating, no one else and I know that. I know that although some of you were looking forward to new recipes, you won’t mind if they are posted later than planned. I know you would tell me to look after myself first. I am taking the decision to bin the Little Steps for this month. Maybe I’ll start them again next month, I’ll see how it goes. For now I just need some breathing space, I am releasing the pressure that I seem to have put on myself. The pressure bothers me because I was feeling a similar kind of self inflicted pressure when my anxiety reached breaking point last year. It led to me being put on sick leave and later leaving my job.

I’m seeing this as a warning sign. I need a break and I need to sort myself out. I’m taking a week off the blog and twitter. It might be longer, if it is I’ll check in and let everyone know. Hell it might be shorter, I might be bored stiff in a couple of days! Either way I’ll keep you all updated. You don’t how much all of your support means to me <3

My plan for now is to talk everything through with my therapist on Monday and take a week out with no “pressure”. No pressure to instantly pull myself together. No pressure to post and tweet. I desperately need this time and i will try to make the most of it.

Take care,

Hayley x

Ticking off: Go to the theatre

Today I can tick something big off my bucket list. The funny thing is I didn’t know I would be doing this until two days ago. The Lion King is coming to my local theatre. The shows are all practically sold out! I thought I had missed out, as all the decent seats were gone and I like to sit near the end of the row. Its a safety behaviour, I feel calmer if I know I can get out easily, without disrupting other people. The company my dad works for have been helping to advertise The Lion King and out of the blue his company were given some free tickets for the dressed rehearsal! Only a couple of hundred tickets were made available, it was a kind of “warm up” performance before the real shows started. So me and my Mam went =D

I was nervous but I’m at the point now that I know it is just anticipatory anxiety and that 90% of the time I am fine. I was tested pretty early on but I think I handled it well. We had to queue in the lobby (I think that’s the right word?) and it was really crowded. One of my triggers is claustrophobia and I did start to feel uneasy. Luckily I was next to the stairwell that goes to a different part of the building so I knew there was an open space that I could easily reach. If I had been on the other side of the room, up against the wall, I would have been really panicking. There was a man behind me who kept tutting and looking at his watch, we were waiting in this room for about 20 minutes. He helpfully said to his partner “Get ready, when they open the door it’ll be like the charge the light brigade! Everyone will rush forward and squish through.” That didn’t help my anxiety and I silently willed him to SHUT UP! I’m glad to say there was no charging, no rushing and no squishing. When we were being shown to our row, my mam asked the steward if there was any way we could sit on the end because I’m claustrophobic. He kindly found us two seats right on the end, it really helped me relax. Its funny how little things can make a big difference.

The show was incredible! I loved it and I’m really pleased to be able to tick “Go to the theatre” off my list. I feel more confident now about tackling similar things on my list, I think a trip to the cinema will be next! I bought myself a Lion King mug so that every time use it I can remember today =) I’ve been really down the last couple of weeks and I needed this boost. Right now I feel great and I hope it will last!

Hakuna Matata!

Hayley x

Untitled

Yep I don’t have a title for this post because I haven’t got a clue what I am going to write about! Is there such thing as bloggers block? Like writers block but typing rather than writing? Actually scrap that, I’ve got brain block! I’ve been feeling very muddled up lately and I want to blog about it but I can’t quite find the words. I’m hoping that if I just start typing the words will come. I’m also hoping it will help me sort my head out. Here goes…

As most of you will know my Mam had a health scare recently and I took her to A&E. The original post is here if you want to read it. Its fair to say that I wasn’t very proud of how I handled the situation. I barely held it together and I should have been concentrating on my Mam, not my anxiety. I saw my therapist on Monday and we talked it through. He made me see that I did the best I could. The fact that nobody else knew how panicky I was means that I did cope in my own way, even if I felt I should have done better. I felt happier after talking to my therapist about it and I hoped that meant that I would get back to “normal”. I’ve been in a strange mood ever since the health scare and I can’t seem to get free. I’ve felt shakier, more on edge and less in control of my anxiety. I feel wary, almost on guard, I constantly fear that a panic attack is imminent.

What’s changed? A couple of days before the health scare I lowered my meds again. I’m now on 20g Propanalol twice a day. When I originally lowered my meds from 40g to 30g I had a couple of bad days but then I adapted to the new dose and I was ok. I expected that that would happen again this time but the “couple of bad days” has turned into a bad couple of weeks! Is it down to my lower meds, the big shock I had when my Mam took ill or a combination of the two? I’ve felt panicky, tearful and generally unmotivated and I hate it!

So now I have all these conflicting feelings in my head. Have I lowered my meds again too soon? Should I soldier on and hope that now things at home have calmed down, I will too? Should I go to the doctors and raise my meds back up before things get worse? I just don’t know any more. There’s only one thing I know for certain. I’m afraid.

Any advice is welcome.

Take care,

Hayley x

Sing a sad song just to turn it around

The title of this post is a line from the song above. This isn’t a sad song. In fact its a brilliant, positive song that was a big part of my life in my teenage years. This song came out in 2005, around the same time my anxiety and panic attacks started. There were a couple of embarrassing incidents at school where my anxiety lead to me throwing up very publicly. This song is the reason I kept going to school instead of feigning illness and hiding under my duvet. I would listen to this song and I could actually feel it soothe my nerves. Every time I had a panic attack and was wondering what the hell was wrong with me, I would say “You just had a bad day but tomorrow will be better.” and start singing the song. It got me through my remaining school years. The video is really sweet too =)

I’m posting this today because I looked up the song and played it again. Its been a few years. But yesterday was terrible and I’m still feeling really low today. If you missed it and want to catch up, yesterday’s post is here. I suddenly remembered how soothing the song was when I was 14 and I wanted to find it and listen to it again. I needed comfort so I downloaded the song and I’ve listened to it a couple of times. I feel much better already! Yes yesterday was awful but that has passed now, my mam is home and resting and is going to be ok. I need to pull myself together and move on.

I had a bad day but tomorrow will be better.

Take care,

Hayley x 

Stressed up to the eyeballs

Today has been awful. Really awful. Although any day that involves spending hours at the hospital is pretty bad right? My mam had been feeling ill and her chest was really sore. She went to the doctors this morning and they did some blood tests. The doctor marked them as urgent and said they would get the results later today, as he was concerned that my mam might have a blood clot. A few hours later we got a phone call, the result was positive and mam had to go to A&E straight away “to make sure”. I took her to A&E and we were immediately moved to a specialist ward. The whole time I was trying to contact my dad but his phone was just ringing and ringing. My anxiety was sky high and I kept thinking what if my mam is admitted and has to stay here? At one point I excused myself and went to the toilets, where I ended up standing in front of the mirror trying to calm down. I got through to my dad and he said he would be there in about an hour to let me go home because I had to go to work. So me and my mam sat and waited while the nurses took more bloods. Eventually my dad arrived and I raced home with less than an hour to get ready for work. My grandparents were full of questions, which I didn’t have the answers to because we didn’t have any of the results back and I ended up snapping at them. I shouldn’t have but all the stress of the last couple of hours built up and I snapped. So my grandparents went off in a mood and I had a mini breakdown while getting ready for work. I managed to pull myself together and went to work. Boss said I should have texted her and had the night off. She even offered to take the kid to her grandparents so I could go straight home. I said I would rather be babysitting than sitting in the hospital or at home driving myself insane. I can’t stand hospitals. So I worked (I’m still there now) and Dad finally phoned to say mam was allowed home, shes been given some injections to stop the clot, if there is one, they still don’t know for sure! So I’m finally starting to calm down.

I’m ashamed of myself. My mam was in hospital and all I could think about was how it was affecting my anxiety. How selfish is that? I panicked and worried and insulted my grandparents when I should have been reassuring my mam. I kept thinking that I couldn’t cope with all of this when I have just lowered my medication again. Selfish, selfish, selfish. I want to be strong and useful in an emergency but I was useless. Am I too self centred to be able to help my own family in a crisis? I saw a different side of myself today; weak, useless, coward, selfish. I don’t like her.

Tomorrow is another day. I’ll try to make amends.

Take care,
Hayley x

Little Steps for September

I can’t believe it is September already! Before I explain this months steps, here is how I got on in August:

  1. Write a list of personal Commandments I did this and the post is here =)
  2. Have a nice break I went away with my friend S for a few days and we had a good time. The weather wasn’t great but it was nice to get away for a bit!
  3. Declutter! I sent three huge bags full of clothes and books to a local charity shop. Its great to have more space in my wardrobe and draws =)
  4. Make time for reading I have been reading a lot during August, I’ve finished three books and I have plenty more to read!
  5. Get back into my sleep routine This is ongoing but I’m getting there.

My Little Steps for September are:

  1. Try meditation. I’ve always been intrigued by meditation, time I tried it out for myself!
  2. Get back into baking. Its been a while since I baked something and I have been really inspired by Great British Bake Off so I’m going to get back into it. Watch out for some new recipes soon =)
  3. Go to the cinema. Its not a big deal for most people but cinemas make me nervous. But I’m ready to face that fear!

Those are my Little Steps, what are your goals for September?

Hayley x

Another little update

Good morning! Things have gotten a little crazy around her (what’s new?!) so I’m stopping by for a quick update. First bit of news, I’m working again! My second job, which all the confusion was about, has sorted itself out and I am back to working my normal hours. I am really happy about this because I love that job! Even better, when I told Boss that my other part time job had ended, she said she can offer me some more hours once the kids go back to school! So everything has righted itself, its funny how the world works sometimes!

Tomorrow I’m reducing my medication by another 10g. Its been going well so far and I hope it will continue to go smoothly! Sure I’ve had some bad days but I have them no matter what dose of meds I’m on. There will be bad days but hopefully lots of good days too! I’ll keep you all updated…

Lastly, I’m going to be working on some new ideas for the blog over the next couple of weeks. I’m working on some recipe ideas, as its been ages since I posted one of them! I’m also putting together some new ideas for posts and the layout of the blog. Watch out for some changes =)

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Hayley x

Making a self care plan

Since I started reducing my medication a few weeks ago, I’ve said that I will make a big effort with my self care. The problem is I keep thinking “What more can I do?” or forgetting to make time for self care. I decided that I needed to make a self care plan on paper (and on here!) so that I can refer to it. I love making lists and mind maps so I got out the paper and coloured pens!

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It isn’t the clearest photo, sorry about that! I’ll explain it bit by bit. I split it into sections and wrote down the things that I thought were the most important. Some of the points are things I have noticed over time that have an effect on my anxiety, my mood or my sense of general wellbeing. I imagine everyone’s self care plan will be different but if you want to copy my structure to make your own plan, please do =)

Body

I listed some things that I can do to look after my physical health. Nutrition, sleep, drinking enough water and exercise are all important but I have found that eating healthily (and regularly, no skipping meals!) has the biggest effect on me. Getting enough sleep is a close second! On my self care plan I wrote:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat well and eat often
  • Make time for karate
  • Go for a walk
  • Stay hydrated

I’m thinking of adding “Seek advice/treatment when necessary”. In other words, visit the doctor or seek advice if I have a physical illness or injury. I do sometimes try to put off things like that.

Mind

In this section I wrote things that hopefully will help me look after my mind/mental health:

  • Make time for reading
  • Don’t bottle up
  • Learn something new
  • Write it down

Don’t bottle up and write it down are very closely linked. Blogging/tweeting/writing can be really therapeutic, especially when something has been playing on the mind for a while. I love reading and learning new things, it also keeps me busy which can help a lot! Any activities that engage the brain can be listed here.

Soul

In this section I added things that I think help me on a spiritual level. Things that are relaxing, restorative or just enjoyable!

  • Do something creative
  • Music
  • Breathe deeply
  • Me time
  • Aromatherapy oils

Meditation would also be a good thing to list here. I haven’t tried it myself yet but I’m going to add “Try meditation” to my next Little Steps post. I did consider adding “Take a bath” and “Get a massage” but I guess they fall into the category Me time. I used to think that taking time to concentrate on myself was selfish. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Its necessary. Looking after yourself is important, if you don’t who will?

I can talk to

Following on from the point “Don’t bottle up” I wrote a list of people I can talk to. Who I choose to talk to depends on the subject but it is good to know that there is always someone that I can go to.

  • My therapist
  • My friend S
  • My parents
  • My online friends

My feel good activities

Here I listed some of the activities I love doing, that can lift my mood and make me feel better in myself. I didn’t write everything because I would probably have ran out of room but you get the idea =)

  • Reading
  • Baking
  • Blogging
  • Listening to music
  • Watching comedy
  • Making lists
  • Art and crafts

I find it helpful to have a list to refer to. If I’m having a really bad day, I seem to forget all the things I like doing that will make me feel better! This way I can look at my plan and choose an activity. Sometimes we just need a nudge in the right direction =)

So that is how I made my self care plan. I’m deciding where to put it so that I’ll see it often. It feels really good to have my ideas down on paper, so that I can use them to guide me. I’m going to aim to use/refer to it everyday and add to it when necessary. If a point on the list doesn’t work for me I’ll remove it. I’m going to review my self care plan in a few weeks to see if its working for me and to decide if I want/need to make any changes.

Here are some tips for making your own self care plan, if you decide to:

  • Make it work for you. If you are a creative or visual kind of person and want to draw, use colours, make a poster, then go for it! If you would rather write a bullet pointed list or type it up on a computer, then do that. Your self care plan is especially for you so it can be anything you want it to be.
  • Listen to your body. Think about what has the biggest effect on your mood. Lack of sleep? Dehydration? Too much caffeine? Make these a priority.
  • Don’t rush. Take your time, it took me 24 hours to finish my plan! I kept coming back and adding/changing things. It doesn’t matter, it isn’t a race!
  • It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be a work of art (just look at the photo of mine lol!) and it isn’t set in stone. It can be changed or rewritten at any time so don’t fret about getting it just right.

 

Those are my tips, please let me know if you make your own self care plan! Its always fun to compare. Also I would love an accountability buddy so if anyone is interested please comment below or contact me on Twitter @CalmKitchen. An accountability buddy means basically we would tweet/message/email each other maybe once a week to discuss our self care plans. Things like this are always easier if you have someone to chat to about what is working and what isn’t. Someone you can swap ideas with and encourage each other. So if anyone would like to do that, please get in touch =)

Take care,

Hayley x

Nice to be back

Good morning =) I was going to write this post last night but I was exhausted and had all the usual post-holiday jobs to do, sorting laundry, unpacking etc, so I left it for today. I went away for a few days with a friend, we were less than an hour away from home but its nice to have a change of scene. As much as I enjoyed it I am really glad to be home! Why does something that most people would find enjoyable, take so much effort for me? I felt like I had to really focus on enjoying myself and I was constantly on guard for symptoms of panic or anxiety. My friend S does her best to understand but she has never experienced anxiety herself so its difficult. When I admitted that I felt on edge, we had a good conversation about how it effects me. Unfortunately that conversation included the words “You just need to find a way to stop thinking about that stuff.”… Now why didn’t I think of that?! But S is trying hard to be supportive and I am really grateful for her friendship. I explained a bit about my Bucket List and S is going to help me tackle “Go to the cinema”, I’m looking forward to it =)

Moving on, I found out on the first day of our holiday that I didn’t get the job I applied for. I guess the good thing about finding out when I was away was I had a lot of distractions so I couldn’t dwell on it too much. Now I’m home its sunk in. I didn’t get the job, I thought it was perfect for me but the family went for someone else. Which means back to the job hunt… Oh good.

I’ll leave you with a couple of my holiday photos. You can probably tell that the weather wasn’t great but it was still good to get away from everything =)

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Take care,

Hayley x

A quick update

Evening! I might be very quiet for the next few days so here is what is going on in my life right now.

Today I had a job interview! I think it went well but I won’t find out if I’ve got the job until after the family have interviewed the other candidate tomorrow. They only chose two people to interview out of 12 applicants so I’m kinda proud to have gotten this far! I’m a big believer in “Everything happens for a reason”. A few days ago people told me that there would be an even better job waiting for me around the corner. I tried my best to believe it but I wasn’t totally convinced, then suddenly this job comes along. It is really similar to the job I lost at the weekend but the hours and pay are better for me. Maybe I had to endure the upset of losing my job in order to get this job which would suit me better? If I don’t get this job maybe its because there’s something even more suitable around the corner? You can call me a Pollyanna if you want but its what I believe and I have been proven right many times in the past. Sometimes we all need to have a bit of blind faith that somehow everything will work out for the best!

As I write this I am halfway through packing. I am going away with a friend on Monday and coming back Friday. The place we are going has bad phone and internet reception so I probably won’t be in touch much. Its good to get away for a few days though. I was hoping for good weather but it looks like its going to rain most of the time we are away. So typical! We will still have a good time though, I could really do with a break!

So to wrap up, have a good week, I might not be online much tomorrow so speak to you all later and if you could cross your fingers for me about the job, I would really appreciate it =)

Take care,

Hayley x