My trip to Dubai.

So I’ve been in Dubai for the past 5 days, flew in on Tuesday night with my sister who was flying back ready for school to start today, so just a short visit for me to spend time with her and my Dad. 

Been spending time with my sister, we have been out for breakfast one day, shopping and lunch another and it’s been really nice. Friday night I went out with my Dad and his best friend and his son who is my age, we went to a bar for drinks and dinner. I was a bit concerned I wouldn’t get in because the age here to be allowed into bars and to drink is 21 and I’m 7 months off being 21 so I don’t have ID, so I dressed up nicely, put makeup on and wore heels to make myself look older. We put our names down for a table and then walked into the bar for a drink, I was stopped by the bouncer but before he could get two words out I came out with ‘I’m 22!’ in a really sassy, disgusted that I was being asked my age sort of voice, and then continued walking into the bar, and I got away with it. So we had a couple of cocktails and dinner and it was quite good. We didn’t stay out too late because my Dads friend wasn’t feeling too good, so we got a taxi and went home. My sister had a bunch of friends round for drinks so I joined them for the rest of the evening which was nice.
Saturday my Dad let me take his new car out for a drive, it’s a Porsche Cayenne and is pretty swanky and a really nice drive so that was really good. And then me my Dad and sister went out to this Thai restaurant in this nice hotel nearby and had a lovely evening.
I have had a nice day today, I went into my old school to visit one of my favourite people; my school counsellor, we had a lovely chat and it was really nice to see her. Since getting out of therapy in June I haven’t really spoken to anyone in person about my feelings since then and it was nice to talk with her, I can always be honest with her and I shared my concerns about starting college on Thursday. We had a nice catch up, I owe a lot to her she has helped me so much and through some really dark times, her continued support through everything has meant so much to me and the fact that she still supports me even though I’m long past being a student at the school, I will always be grateful to her for how much she has helped me, and I really enjoy getting to see her on my visits to Dubai. 
Next item on the agenda was meeting up with my old PE teacher and her baby for coffee which was really nice. She commented on the fact that I look like my old self again before I got sick and how before she always use to remember me with a permanent smile on my face, which disappeared when I got sick and has slightly returned now. Her daughter Abi is nearly 1 and has just started taking her first few steps which was really cute to see. 

Overall it’s been a really good trip, I have really enjoyed it and to top it off the pain hasn’t been too horrendous since I’ve been here which is good. Back to England tomorrow morning, looking forward to getting back to almost the real world, and ready to start college on Thursday, pretty nervous and excited now I’m ready to start a new chapter of my life and I’m going into it with a positive attitude. 

Anxiety.

Everyone gets anxious from time to time, it’s pretty normal. But when the anxiety starts to control your life and worrying plays on your every thought then there is a problem.
Depression and anxiety often creep in when suffering from a chronic pain condition or chronic illness, they did for me. I say it in that way as to not confuse the fact that the chronic pain was there first and then the depression and anxiety developed, and not the other way around like a lot of medical professionals like to insist. ‘You’re depressed that’s why you are in pain or ill all the time’ No! That is not the case for so many of us and it angers me when medical professionals try to insinuate that.
That wasn’t the case for me, before I got sick I was a happy, almost care free, outgoing, normal teenager but chronic pain took that from me and I became depressed, angry, anxious and miserable. I didn’t like the person I had become but I couldn’t see any way out to get back to the person I use to be and I never thought I would get back there. I did though, well almost, I wouldn’t say I was ‘almost care free’ anymore, I still have a lot of worries and I’m far from being a normal teenager, heck I’m not even a teenager anymore. But when I got sick and eventually the depression engulfed me I never thought I would get back to feeling like myself again, but now I feel more like myself than I have in years, and I still have chronic pain.

Anxiety with chronic pain is common, when you are in pain all the time there seems to be so much to worry about.
‘Will the pain be bad today?’ ‘Will I be able to get out of bed and do something?’ ‘Will the plans I’ve made for tomorrow have to be cancelled because of the pain?’ ‘Is this all my future has in store for me? To be bed bound for the rest of my life because of the pain?’ ‘Will these meds work?’ ‘Will I get horrible side effects from them?’ ‘How will I have money to live on if I can’t work cause of the pain?’
They are just some of a few things people in chronic pain/illness worry about daily. Sometimes it feels like you have so much anxiety going on to do with the pain that they take control of you and make you feel even worse emotionally. I know sometimes when my anxiety is high I feel sick and on edge and I have thousands of worries going around my head just thinking and over thinking them. In the past I took anti anxiety meds but like every other med I’ve tried they didn’t do anything either, except help me sleep away the day so I didn’t have to face it, but that is no way to live your life.
I think the best thing if you have anxiety is to try and take it day by day and not worry or over think about things too far into the future, but just living in the present and taking it day by day, which is actually how I try to cope with the pain now. Though it is easier said than done and I get that because I still find it hard too.

Right now it is under two weeks till I start college. I’m feeling very excited, nervous and scared all rolled into one but I’m trying not to over think which is what I so often do and not let my anxieties about it get the best of me. I’m looking forward to starting a new positive chapter in my life.

Decisions.

I hate making decisions, I always worry that I will make the wrong one and that will lead me down a completely different path in life. And then I worry whether or not that is down the right path and how sometimes a single decision can alter your life.
I often wonder what would have happened if I had never moved to Dubai, would I have got sick, would the things that have happened in the last 5 years still have happened if I hadn’t moved. It’s not really healthy to think like that though, to wonder what could have been if you had just made one different decision.

I’ve made some big decisions in the past 5 years, some pretty bad ones like self harming, and several overdoses, though I have made some good and healthy decisions too. Like dropping out of school (doesn’t sound good but it was the right thing for me at the time, so therefore is a good decision), and most recently, stopping my search for answers and an effective treatment, coming off all the meds that were just making things worse, learning acceptance and learning to try and move on with my life despite the pain, not letting myself be defined and held back by the pain anymore, having a more positive outlook on life, deciding to go back to school and getting myself a job, to name a few.

For a long time I dwelled on all the negatives in my life and the bad decisions I had made, I let myself be consumed by the negativity in my life and failed to see the positives in anything, which is easily done, if anything it’s the easier option. I’ve learnt not to let the flare ups drag me down deep into depression like they did so easily before. We all have bad days and that’s okay, that’s normal for people with chronic pain/illness. I still get them too, bad pain days, days where I feel a bit down, it’s hard but I try to focus on other things and not the pain, getting through each moment and taking it day by day. That makes the pain easier to cope with, I know I can get through the bad pain days because I’ve done it so many times before, and once you think of it like that the bad days get easier to cope with. Though sometimes the pain gets the best of me when it’s really severe and it becomes harder, harder to think straight, harder to remain positive when faced with severe pain, harder to distract myself and not think about the pain, so at that point I lie in bed and try my best to distract myself with nice things. And then that’s where hope comes in and hope is a powerful emotion to hold on to, I hope that tomorrow it will be easier, and the pain will decrease by the time I wake up in the morning. I know hope is so very hard to hold on to when you are in a lot of pain and it never seems to get easier and I know it’s hard to remain positive and that acceptance may seem impossible, but I promise you it isn’t and that if you let acceptance in things only get easier. And I promise you that acceptance will be one of the best decisions you ever make, not easy but worth it.

I got a job!

I got a job, actually I got two jobs.
An old work friend of my mums is a manager of a sports club bar, she posted on Facebook the other day saying that there was a vacancy in the bar for a couple of hours on a Sunday. My Mum messaged her saying I was interested and we met on Monday for an interview/training type thing, where she taught me hour to pour a pint out of a draft, which my the way I aced. And then she offered me the job right there and then, I took it, bar work when you have no experience of bar work is extremely hard to get, and the opportunity was far too good to pass on as once I have bar work experience it makes it a lot easier for me to get say another bar job when I hopefully go off to uni.

Two months back I applied to work at a supermarket near me which is expanding and taking on 120 new staff. I had my interview a couple of weeks ago now and it went well, so I just had to wait and hear about whether I was being offered a job. The supermarket rang me yesterday asking what hours during the week I could work. I thought it was a bit strange as I didn’t apply to work during the week and evenings during the week because I will have college. I was a bit concerned they were going to offer me a job but they would want me to work loads of weekday evenings which I don’t want to do and only want to work weekends, as I don’t want to take too much on and risk having a bit of a meltdown. But nevertheless I thought I would just wait and see what they came back with if they offer me a job when they send out the offer letters in a week or so.

Today the manager of the bar posted again on Facebook which my Mum saw again that there was also a kitchen position open on a Saturday, just low key stuff nothing too complicated. I immediately text the manager saying I was interested in the job if they would have me. She straight away text me back with what the wages are and saying that it was every other Saturday and was that okay, I said yes and she replied with ‘great you start on the 13th September at 1pm.’ I now have a job on every other Saturday and every Sunday for a few hours and am thrilled. This is perfect, I will earn some money for some pretty simple work for a few hours. I will have weekdays to get all my college work done and go to taekwondo training and then every other Saturday off as well.
If the supermarket offer me a job I’m going to turn it down, as I’ve now got a better job which suits me better as well.
I think this is a good way to ease me into working and not taking on too much, especially with having loads of college work and lots of taekwondo training for my 2nd Dan Black Belt grading. Overall I’m pretty pleased, I think this is the best way for me to earn some money and not risk taking on too much.

The brightest smile, sometimes hides the most pain.

I was saddened to hear of Robin Williams’ death, I grew up watching many of his movies, movies that still to this day I love. By now we all know that he hanged himself, that he was battling depression for a long time. Suicide and depression are something that hits very close to home for me, after suffering for years myself and the attempts I made on my own life in 2012 several times.

Sometimes the people with the brightest smile are in fact the people that hide the most pain, they put on a happy smiley front for everyone else to see, when in fact inside they are feeling completely the opposite. Suicide isn’t necessarily about death, it’s more about stopping the pain that you are feeling, you feel like you can’t cope with the pain anymore, chronic pain or emotional pain. A lot of people don’t understand how someone could even consider taking their own life, that it’s selfish. And in a way that’s sometimes a good thing because they have never gotten to that place where everything is so painful, that there is no hope for things to get better and death seems better because there is no pain.
As a suicide survivor myself I understand why suicide makes sense to a lot of people suffering, I understand that need to end the pain and I don’t believe that it is necessarily selfish either. However I do believe that things can get better if you let them, if you ask for help. However there have been times in my past with my depression that I have been so deeply and desperately depressed that I didn’t want any help, that I just wanted to let my depression continue to spiral me downwards into a deep dark pit which I never wanted to get out of, so I get that too.

It’s okay not to be okay, but you need to be able to recognise when you can’t get through this on your own, when you need a bit of help and someone to talk to. You have heard me talk about it before, but I’m a huge believer in therapy, and how it can make the difference between life and death, because it did for me. And I know going to therapy may seem like a big scary step but really it’s the first step towards hopefully things getting better, in a lot of cases anyway.

There’s one thing I hope everyone takes from Robin Williams’ death and that is that mental illness’ can affect anyone, that everyone is fighting a battle most know nothing about. That people put on a front to hide what is really there, with a smile or by using the almost code words of ‘I’m just tired’. I know, I use to say it all the time and it hardly ever means that you are actually just tired. So take a moment, ask that person who just told you they are ‘just tired’ if they are really okay, it might make all the difference. I know I would have felt like someone actually cared if someone had cared enough to en-quire about if I was really okay or not.

This post is dedicated to Robin Williams, may you rest in peace.

Motivation.

I think motivation is something a lot of people struggle with, chronic pain/illness or not. Whether it’s motivating yourself to get out of bed when you know all the day has in store for you is pain and illness or whether it’s motivating yourself to write that essay for school that is due in soon, or get up and go to work.

When you’re sick and in pain and have been for months or years motivation can be one of the hardest things. Just getting out of bed can feel like climbing a mountain, climbing a mountain is an achievement but so is getting out of bed when you’re chronically ill. Depression often comes with chronic pain, it did for me. And for years I saw no point in getting out of bed to face a day where all I knew was in store for me was pain and misery caused by the pain and every day was like that. I saw no point in school because I didn’t even want to live if all I was ever going to be was in pain, I saw no life or future for myself that I wanted so what even was the point in school. The pain defined me and it held me back. After moving back to England in Spring 2013 to seek better psychiatric help, I was still severely depressed, I didn’t see the point in doing anything if I didn’t have a future, so I just stayed in bed day after day with no motivation or desire to do anything because I just didn’t see the point in anything if all I was ever going to be was in pain.

After 7 months of pretty intense therapy my depression started to lift for the first time since getting sick. It was only then once I had started on my path to acceptance that I started to get my motivation back, that I wanted to live my life despite the pain, that I saw my future and for the first time in a long time I wanted it even though I knew I would still be in pain probably for the rest of my life.

Doing anything and being motivated when you’re sick and in pain can be the hardest thing, but even if you just get out of bed on a bad day, that’s an achievement.

I truly believe in therapy, I believe it can work if you let it in and put in the work, it can change your life and make the difference between life and death. That being said I get that some people may not want to go to therapy, they may feel like it’s not for them and that’s fine to. I also believe that if you are going through something like chronic pain/illness that you need someone to talk to about it, though it doesn’t have to be a therapist. But therapy helped get my motivation back among other things. It’s less than a month now till I start college, starting to get a little bit nervous but I’m excited at the same time. I’m feeling pretty motivated for it, I want to achieve my goal of passing so I can get into university. And I’m going to do it despite the pain!

How a grazed arm can remind me of self harm.

I fell over the other day outside and my arm hit the paving slab step, I looked down to see that my arm was cut/grazed and bleeding. It wasn’t a big deal and it didn’t really hurt, well to be honest in the scheme of things it hardly hurt at all.

I self harmed in the form of cutting for years, I was addicted to how it made me feel, the pain relief it gave me from my headache, how because of that it made me feel happy. How every day I woke up and the best part of my day was taking a blade and slicing my skin time after time, watching the blood drip out of my cuts. I remember the feeling of relief I got, I remember feeling pain free for them few brief minutes I was cutting, I use to cut a minimum of five reasonably deep cuts, not deep enough for medical attention (well most of the time, I did get stitches three times and steri strips on multiple occassions) but not scratches either, I would do that at least once a day without a doubt. If I was having a particularly bad day I would do it twice or three times a day. I use to take my case with all my old fashion razor blades in and plasters and bandages to school, so I could always do it as and when I felt I needed to. No one ever knew I sometimes did it at school in the bathroom, and if they did I would have been asked to leave school and wouldn’t be allowed to come back. Cutting is how I got through my day with the pain for years, it wasn’t healthy and it certainly wasn’t a bright idea, but I was addicted and it was the only thing that helped.

I’ve been clean since October 2013, it’s the longest period I have ever been clean for since I started self-harming in 2010. I’m always reminded of it due to the intensive scaring on my arms, wrists and thighs, but most days now I don’t even think about it.
It took a graze on my arm to bring it to the front of my mind and remind me fully of how it use to feel when I cut. Just to make it clear, I haven’t relapsed, I don’t plan on relapsing and this is just me being reminded of how it use to make me feel.
When I fell over the other day and I saw the cut on my arm and that I was bleeding, it literally gave me a flash back to when I use to cut; it felt very similar other than the fact that I hadn’t actually physically caused the cut on purpose. But I was instantly transported back to when I use to sit in my empty bath with a razor blade, carving what is now hundreds of scars on my wrists and arms. That graze gave me a similar rush to cutting.

I know that I’m better without self harm, I know that it wasn’t good and it wasn’t a healthy coping mechanism and that I have better ways to cope now, though at the time it felt like the only thing I had. And I don’t plan on going back to that place where I was attached to a razor. Self harm hadn’t really crossed my mind properly for a while until I grazed my arm. Sure I’m reminded of the fact that I use to do it daily due to all my scars but I’m not often reminded of the feelings it use to make me feel and that is not really a good thing to be reminded of because of how addictive self harm is.