I relapsed, now what?

Happy sunny Sunday!

I just came back from a run and I feel great. I love the high, my body flooding with adrenaline and endorphin.

I sometimes exercise at home and as you might know, I’ve been doing Yoga every day for the last 20 days and I love it. I’ve recently posted about it if you want to know more. You can have a read here.

Yoga relaxes me, I feel more confident and has already taught me a lot on how to love and take care of myself. But I need cardio in my life. I need the high and I desperate want to improve my stamina and strength.

I love Zumba and dancing. I can’t afford either right now, and when it comes to dancing, there are not many options in town (if you know of any do let me know!).

I love running. I know it’s not for everyone. For me, putting on music (I highly recommend the personal running mix on Spotify, it picks up your tempo first and selects songs based on your pace and the music you love), looking around, enjoying the moment (and often stopping to take a photo to remember that moment) the air on my face, my heart beating fast, is one of the best feelings in the world.

But I don’t go running that often. I often come back from work tired, hungry and I struggle to find the motivation to get out and go running or do any form of exercise.

So I often relapse. As I do with most things.

I eat healthy most of the time but I can’t resist a treat and LOVE a pizza on a Friday.

Some days I struggle to stay positive and I let myself become sad and depressed. And some days I feel like doing nothing at all.

But I promised myself that every time I relapse, I need to get back on it. And since then I feel much better. Because I know a moment or a day of weakness doesn’t mean I should let myself go, I should not give up.

Coincidentally, I recently came across relapse management in a book I’ve been reading on CBT, An introduction to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Skills and Applications (Westbrook D. et al, 2007). It’s a heavy read at times but very educational.

Relapse management is such a vital skill for everyone to develop. Not only in therapy but in daily life. The book suggests to ask yourself the following every time you relapse:

  • How can I make sense of this?
  • What have I learnt from it?
  • With hindsight, what would I do differently?

In this way, you learn more about your vulnerabilities, weaknesses, yourself and also gives you a plan, so after each set-back you can still get back on it and reduce the chances of relapsing again.

So that’s my message for today!

Relapsing of any form does not mean giving up or starting from scratch.

Relapsing means you are a human being and if you look at it as a chance to learn more about yourself and improve your mental and physical wellbeing, you’ll feel much happier and confident.

Amen ūüôā

Eleni

 

 

 

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#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

I won’t write much about my own experiences, I’ve already have on several occasions.

(I added the links to older posts at the end of this one).

What I’d like to say is that it should be mental health awareness week every week.¬†

According to WHO (the World Health Organisation),¬†“depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease”.

I don’t think everyone understands how debilitating a mental illness can be and how¬†it doesn’t matter how intelligent or well-rounded individual you might be. It can still get you. It’s irrational and it can affect anyone.

And even if they do understand, not everyone knows how to react or support those who suffer.

Unfortunately, there is still stigma around mental health. Although most people can be understanding and compassionate, they don’t know how to act around you. They treat you as if you suffer from a contagious disease they might catch so they “support” you from a safe distance.

Others just completely avoid you. They stop treating you as a friend for whatever reason. Maybe they are scared, maybe they suffer themselves, maybe they don’t want to be friends with someone who struggles.

Other just pity you. And you can see the pity in their eyes. And pity is probably one of the worst responses to someone who is struggling.

If we all knew how to really support each other, then it might make it easier for someone to admit they have a problem and seek for help, without being terrified about what others would think, without feeling that asking for help is seen as weakness, it’s actually one of the toughest, bravest things to do.

There is a desperate need for awareness.

Suffering from mental illness doesn’t mean you are depressed or anxious or worried or psychotic or neurotic all of the time. You can still communicate, have a laugh, have a chat, do things. It’s still you. Even at your darkest times, when you do not recognise yourself, deep deep down it’s still you.

I hope that one day, mental illness can be treated as any other illness- because it is- and there is enough support available.

https://whatilearnedbeforeiturn30.com/2017/03/23/the-most-honest-post-ive-ever-written/

https://wordpress.com/post/whatilearnedbeforeiturn30.com/1788

https://wordpress.com/post/whatilearnedbeforeiturn30.com/4615

https://wordpress.com/post/whatilearnedbeforeiturn30.com/5607

https://wordpress.com/post/whatilearnedbeforeiturn30.com/3732

Love you all

Eleni x

One Sound, one year later…

I woke up today feeling incredibly emotional after last night’s show. It was a special one.

Two weeks ago I didn’t even think I could do this year’s One Sound show.

I haven’t been to SingNow for months and I missed many rehearsals of the workplace choir, because last time I went, although I love the people and singing, I couldn’t wait for the session to be over. There were explosions happening in my head, laughter and chat sounds were 10 times louder than usual, I could feel my heart beat faster and faster, I think I might have had my first panic attack, so after that I decided to skip it until I felt better.

A couple of weeks ago, after a stressful morning at work I thought I’d give it another go. A year ago I couldn’t wait for 12pm on ¬†a Tuesday so I can have fun singing with my colleagues, but a year later, I walked in the room, terrified. I was scared I might go through panic mode like last time. But I know I need to try more, otherwise it will only get worse.

And this time it was alright. I could manage my scary thoughts and I actually enjoyed it.

So I thought OK, if I can do this, I might be able to do One Sound.

After my panic attack, returning to SingNow felt scarier and scarier, so at least for One Sound I was only going to sing with Singforce. A year ago I was super excited to be in both choirs, but a year later I became this scared little person who didn’t know if she could even be at the show. I honestly cannot comprehend how I let myself become this person.

The big rehearsal at Romsey was one of my highlights of the whole show. I felt emotional throughout. I could not stop thinking of the rehearsal a year ago. When I was in both choirs, and a SingNow friend and I laughed and had our little dance routines and lyric jokes we referred to whilst rehearsing, and those lovely people sitting opposite me now were my dear friends who I used to see and have a laugh with every week and have so many amazing memories rehearsing, performing, partying.

And now, a year later, I wasn’t sure even on the day of the rehearsal if I could do it.

But when I arrived there, I felt the love and the warmth of my old Singnow pals. They came over for a chat and a hug, I was disappointed with myself because for the last 8 months I allowed my anxiety and fears to take control of my life. And because of that I lost my Singnow family. Which now, a year later, I sat in front of, with a lump in my throat the whole time, watching them rehearse and singing along.

I know that some of my Singnow friends haven’t had the best 12 months and I kept thinking of how we changed and struggled over the last year but how we were all there a year later, trying our best.

The show was the following day, Saturday, 29th of April, yesterday.

Apart from a couple of hours before the show when I thought I couldn’t do it and it might be better to stay at home and a moment in the green room, backstage when I was about to go into panic mode, when I couldn’t hear anything else other than a loud noise in my head, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I didn’t hide in the back as I originally thought it was a good idea. ¬†There was lots of laughter and excitement throughout the evening. And I was emotional from start to finish. I could not stop comparing it with last year. How different it felt.

My highlights of One Sound 2017, the show night:

3. The Adele song, ‘When we were young’. ¬†It will always have a special place in my heart. We started learning it about this time last year, close to my 30th birthday and it means a lot to me. I fought hard to keep my tears when singing that.

2. Rhythm of the night. When the audience stood up, dancing with us, especially this lovely elderly couple sitting in the front. The smile on their faces was priceless.

1.  Fix you. Every single time we sang that, at the rehearsal, at soundcheck and at the end of the show, I teared up.  And I spotted people in the audience tearing up. And when we finished singing it at the show, we got a standing ovation! It was so overwhelmingly beautiful to watch the audience getting up and applauding us.

Here is a video of the end of the show were all choirs got together for Fix you and Jump https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8Ho3HgJQ5Q&sns=fb&app=desktop

One Sound 2016 would always be one of the favourite moments of my life but One Sound 2017 was beautifully brilliant and I’m glad I was a part of it.

Thank you to all my Solent friends, especially Helen and a big big thank you to Dan and Jack for all their hard work.

Love you all x

Eleni

The most honest post I’ve ever written…

I’m going home tomorrow. It’s not a holiday. No I didn’t get the chance to have a holiday in many other countries other than Berlin and Edinburgh last year, those were holidays. This is not. It’s home. It’s home for a thousand different reasons. I grew up there, I lived most of my life there, my best friends and family are there. The people I probably need the most right now, but I can’t be around ¬†because of distance live there. Because I refuse to give up, I refuse to do the easy thing, move back home to have my support network, so I can stop trying and free fall into this black hole. Which is the easiest solution when you are struggling.

I need to go home every now and then to stay sane. I need to remind myself that there are people who love me for who I am, people I don’t have to pretend I’m happy in front of them, because they know me too well. People who’ll give me a hug when I need it, because they know when I need it. People who will re-assure me and make me feel good about myself. As much as you can try and re-assure yourself, you still need that from other human beings, no matter what.

For a while now I’m not feeling well. I can’t put my finger on it (it’s not because my best friend went away, although of course I miss her), but I know I’m not happy. I’m not unhappy, but I’m not happy, not most of the time. I feel stuck. I feel trapped. Trapped in this vicious circle. The less I do, the worse I feel and the worse I feel the less I do. And I don’t know how to get unstuck. ¬†And sometimes however hard I try by making jokes, making people laugh, making a fool of myself (if only people knew that some of the things they say to me in jest actually hit home), I can’t hide it. It’s getting harder and harder to hide. I know some of you noticed and you often ask me if I’m OK. Which I find very sweet and touching. Thank you for caring.

And is getting worse. Some of my friends, I haven’t seen for months (I love you and miss you all, I really do) because I find it easier not to get out and not try. I know people give up on you after a while but I find it easier to just be by myself. Things I used to enjoy I find hard to do, like singing with my colleagues and friends or driving.

I feel I lost my magic marbles and I’m not even sure where to look for them.

I still manage to go to work, although I struggle some days. But at least I haven’t given up completely. Work is one of the very few things that actually keep me sane (most of the time). And that’s why when I worried about my job a while ago, I knew I had to be re-assured that I’m not going to lose it, that I’m not going to lose one of my last life jackets. I’m so lucky I work with some amazing people who keep me going.

It’s so difficult, I don’t think people realise how difficult it is to pretend you are OK when you are not. I don’t think people realise how hard it is for me to make any decision, even simple ones like what to have for dinner, how hard it is to get out of the house, to interact with other human beings, how even the smallest thing like losing a tooth can affect me hugely. I don’t think they realise how my confidence has hit rock bottom, because I manage to hide it well most of the time by overcompensating.

But then what to do? I do not want people to worry and feel sorry for me. So I put my fake smile on and get on with it as best as I can.

I can’t self diagnose but I know where all the signs lead to. They all lead to the big black dog. ¬†I know I need to do something about it before is too late. But is bloody hard. Is even harder when you live on your own, and the people who know you the best and can really help you without asking, because asking for help is not easy, are a thousand miles away. And I don’t want to worry them. And I don’t want to move back either.

I’m not giving up, not just yet. ¬†I learned a lot, especially the last couple of years.I’m scared and I worry about myself and about my family, no matter how much I try not to. But when you struggle, you struggle, no matter how aware you are of the irrationality of it all. Acknowledging your thoughts are wrong doesn’t necessarily mean you can fix them in an instant.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. But I know not many will admit they do. Sending you all my love and I hope we all make it to the other side.

So there, is all out in the open now. And I already feel better for sharing.

I’m saddened and a bit scared with the terrorist attack in London, but ¬†I’m happy ¬†I’m going home tomorrow to see my loved ones, be surrounded by my favourite people, enjoy the sunshine and be happy for a week, until reality hits me in the face. I hope this break will give me the push I need. Or not. Only time will show.

I love you all x

Eleni

PS I want to thank Donna, Suzanne, Sarah, Helen, Louise, Jamie, Chris and Andy, thank you, you know why.

You are not alone! #worldmentalhealthday

Just a quick message for¬†World Mental Health Day…

I’ve written a post about¬†mental illness a while ago ¬†(¬†https://wordpress.com/post/whatilearnedbeforeiturn30.wordpress.com/1788 ) so I won’t go into detail about my experience..

I just want to say to everyone who is dealing with a mental illness, you are not alone!!! I know first hand, as most of us,¬†how it feels. ¬†We are all humans with feelings and emotions and a brain which sometimes doesn’t switch off for days or months…

I know first hand how terrifying and upsetting and overwhelming these irrational thoughts are and how they get you…

Please speak up and ask for help, don’t suffer in silence. It is not embarrassing or taboo or whatever makes you think it’s not OK to ask for help or show how you feel…

I know¬†from personal experience how difficult it can be to ask for help… but please do…

I hope that people keep talking and raising awareness on mental health every day more and more and not just today.

Love you all x

PS I don’t own the featured image, borrowed it from this page¬†http://www.hercampus.com/school/usf/misconceptions-mental-illness

Love, not hate. And take mental health seriously! When will this stop???

I made some time to write this post, because I felt the need to express my thoughts in more than 140 characters or a long Facebook post…

In the last week, two events deeply upset me and saddened me.

Three days ago a man decided to load 2 guns and kill 50 innocent people and injure many more who were having fun at a nightclub in Orlando… I’ve read a lot about this man. He was mentally unstable, used to beat his ex-wife, he was interviewed by the police in the past… but nothing was able to stop him from murdering innocent people…

Why? To prove what? What did he achieve? We live in 2016… how long will it take to finally extinguish homophobia/islamophobia/phobia of anything??? What does it matter what race/sexual orientation/religion/(add anything else you can think of) you are?

Nobody is better than anyone. We all come from the same place, share similar DNA, we are all in a sense cousins. But we are different too, and that’s what makes us special and unique! But it doesn’t make us better or worse than each other. And this madness needs to stop.

Yesterday, MP Jo Cox was stubbed and shot to death… I don’t know much about her but from the little I read, she was an amazing person. Although it doesn’t matter even if she wasn’t. Nobody deserves to be stubbed and shot to death, not even the worst of the worst of people, let alone a talented, powerful woman, mother and wife doing the job she loved. At the time I am writing this it’s still not clear why her attacker did this… but it seemed he was mentally unstable and disagreed with her political views…

Her husband posted one of the most heartbreaking and inspiring messages I’ve ever read, it’s worth reading… (https://twitter.com/guardiannews/status/743488399651250176).

My deep and sincere condolences to Brendan Cox, their family and everyone who lost a family member, a friend, a lover, a soulmate, a mate, a wife, a husband, a colleague in Orlando…

I can understand how hatred can blur someone’s sanity. To a degree…¬†I don’t hate anyone, but I overreacted to situations and was upset with people as we all do. But I NEVER ever wished for anyone to get hurt, let alone die.

Nothing good comes out of hate. NOTHING! I feel sad every time I hear about a shooting or innocent people getting killed for whatever reason. And don’t forget all the innocent souls who die in countries such as Syria every single day…

There is another IMPORTANT issue that needs addressing… When will mental health be finally given the importance it deserves??? There must be a way to help people who struggle with mental issues before they reach the point of killing another human being!!!!

I hope that humanity and love will prevail. I’ll never stop believing in forgiveness and love. Because that’s what makes us humans. That’s what discriminates us from other animals. We have a brain for thinking and a heart (well brain again, but let’s not get into science) for feeling! And I hope that WE¬†(society/government/world) will one day be able to give mental and emotional support to everyone¬†who needs it!

I sincerely hope one day all this will stop. So my message/advice of the day: forgive, love and don’t judge, don’t hate anyone or anything you don’t agree with or don’t understand!!! Holding grudges or hating anything or anyone will only poison your mind…

And take mental health seriously!

I’ll finish this post with a powerful sentence from Jo Cox’s husband’s message…

“Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous…”

A special hug to everyone today…

Love you all xx

 

It’s called (mental) illness for a reason…

On¬†my way home a couple of weeks ago I bought a book from the airport, ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ by Matt Haig, in which he warmingly¬†describes how he battled and still deals with this black dog as he called it, depression. I highly recommend it to everyone.

I wanted to write about mental illness for a long time (although I understand it might be a heavy read for some, but well life is not always easy) and reading that book was a good reminder.

One of the perks of studying Psychology is the clearer and more accurate view it gives when it comes to mental illness but reading, hearing about it, going through it myself and having  people in my life who deal with it every day has been an eye opener.

Millions of people battle daily with depression,anorexia, anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, PTSD and many others.

And unfortunately still to that day, a lot of people don’t realise how difficult and debilitating it can be. Which makes it even more difficult for anyone who suffers from mental illness to open up about it even to their doctor or friends and family and ask for help. So they end up dealing with it themselves in silence.

And I have done that myself. I suffered from anorexia as a teenager but my amazing family helped me go through it. But I dealt with hypochondria on my own for almost 2 years and it sometimes still creeps up, but I learned how to control it. I will not go into detail because this post is not about me, but I found it extremely difficult to deal with and I found it even more difficult to ask for help.

If you suffer from any physical¬†illness, from less serious ones like a simple infection to more serious ones like cancer, people are (most of the time) sympathetic about it, supportive and encourage you to go to the doctor and get treated. Why isn’t that happening with mental illnesses ?

You’ ll never hear “Oh you’ll get over it, it’s not a big deal”, “It will go away”, “It’s not that hard, you can do it”, “Just get up!” if you suffer from¬†any physical illness.

Social norms dictate that being sensitive and open about your emotions it’s a sign of weakness, which I am passionately against of.

Being sensitive and expressing your emotions is essential to well being. How on earth did it end up being a sign of weakness??

We all struggle with life sometimes and I find that hard to deal with sometimes myself. I can’t even imagine how it can be for others who daily have to deal with life struggles AND anxiety or panic attacks or …or…or…

If you are struggling, I just want to say, you are not alone. And I can’t even imagine how hard it can be. If and when you can, get it out of your chest, share it with a friend or family or your doctor or to a complete stranger (it’s sometimes easier).

We all need to remind ourselves from time to time not to be judgemental. You never know what the person next to you is dealing with every day, even if they have a smile on their face.

And remember to listen not just hear.

Love you all! x

PS. The featured image was taken from this amazing video the World Health Organisation made about depression, definitely worth a watch! I do not own the the picture.