Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Plot Twist

ACE! ; To some this will simply mean that something was really good. Others it is a card in a deck of
52. But to over 60 people this Summer, it not only meant the former idea but also the name of a totally wicked Summer School with The Salvation Army back in August.

The theme of this week was 'Plot Twist'. Not only was the week filled with fun, spiritual teaching, pranks and just great time spent together making new friends and strengthening existing ones, not only did it exceed all my expectations of the week, but when I returned home I was greeted with the exact theme of the week... my very own 'plot twist'.
It was precisely two days after I got home from ACE with severe blues that we sat down as a family and my brother, granny and myself were told the breaking news... the news every officer's kid dreads to hear... "We're moving...- in January". I can't quite remember in detail what exactly went through my head at the time, but tears started streaming down my face. At this point it was completely confidential, no one was allowed to know and it remained like that for about 6 weeks!!

As I came to process the idea, a lot of anxiety came along with that. I hate change, particularly a lot of change all at once!! What was I going to do? Do I stay? Do I go? What about my job? What about my friends? All the amazing people I spent ACE with?  These questions would go round and round in my head and a lot of people began to ask what my decision was (Anyone who knows me well knows I'm bad at making decisions like this!).  This has been accompanied by the inability to sleep and waking up at 3am worrying about it.

Another huge part of my thinking was anger and blame... 'Why is God doing this?' I thought... why would he give me the best week at divisional music school and then bring it all tumbling down? Why now and why so suddenly? I'm continuing to work through this and hoping to see that 'all this is happening for a reason'.

As I continue to journey down this very unknown path, I currently plan to remain in Felixstowe. I have no idea how life looks for me come January 2018, I try not to think about it too much as it stirs up dread and nausea inside me. But one thing I am sure of is I won't be homeless; I've sorted that much out, and I'm really hoping this is all part of a 'greater plan'!

I'll keep you posted!


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

To do, and not to do...

As requested quite a while back, I have finally got round to posting about some things to do and things definitely not to do if you have friends with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.


1. Check in with them regularly to see how they are doing, you might think you are bugging them but actually it's nice to know someone cares and to not be the first person contacting people.

2. Let them know you are there for them.

3. Invite them places; although we may often say no to social events this doesn't mean we never want to go out, it's nice to be invited even if we're not up for attending something.

4. Try to understand if they bail on a plan last minute.

5. See if they would like to meet up one to one basis for a drink rather than always big social activities.

6. Be patient, sensitive and supportive.


1. Keep on asking too many personal questions to try and understand, unfortunately it is one of those things that if you haven't experienced it, it's hard to understand and we know that.

2. Make comments like, 'oh it'll be fine' or 'if you just got out a bit more', or anything that makes us feel guilty for not seeing you for a while or bailing on plans.

3. Assume that because we are smiling and having a laugh that we are 'magically cured'. Good days exist, but so do days when we're better at hiding how we feel.

4. Pressure them to do things they don't feel comfortable doing or have already decided a definite no against.

5. Take it personally if they ignore you, get angry with you or argue with you.

Look out for each other!!


Friday, 2 June 2017

Things no one told you about Depression & Mental Health

I definitely thought a million times about whether to post this or not, I sent it to a friend to read over to get a second opinion, but here it is, appearing on my blog. Which. Is. Terrifying!! Some of you might read some of it, others will read to the end, it doesn't really matter because what matters to me is that I got it down into writing and it might make a difference to just one person. So here goes...

One definition of depression is 'a prolonged sadness and loss of interest', but wow it is soooo much more than that! So I've written this post to highlight some things that no one ever tells you to expect from depression and anxiety but are certainly a part of it in hope that it will not only help me come to terms with some of them as I start to try and take back my life from this monster, but also to give an insight for those who have never suffered, that they might understand what their friends or family might be going through.

1. First of all, depression is a liar. 

It lies to you, it makes you lie to others, it's a huge flippin liar!! It will tell you that nobody likes you, nobody cares, that people would be happier without you, that you're not good enough, that everything is your fault and you're a bad person. But how can someone living 4 hours away from me having a bad day at work be my fault?! Therefore, depression is also a liar that doesn't always make sense, and yet you still believe it! It makes everything your fault and piles on a huge weight of guilt to go with it.

2. This illness is NOT YOU! 

It may be inside your head, and consuming your mind but it's not the real you. The real you is blocked out while this black cloud takes over, the real you is trapped, fighting to get out again. It's also not your fault, you didn't do anything to deserve this, you haven't done anything wrong, unfortunately it just happens. 

3. It completely changes your view on daily achievements.

 Sometimes very small things deserve an over reaction of excited achievement - like getting out of bed in the morning!! Or getting dressed. Or going outside for a walk. Or breathing! 

4. But on the other hand it also enlarges problems...

making them much more unbearable, spiralling out of control in your mind. But you keep them in because you're terrified of anyone seeing what is really wrong, scared of what they might think if they see you're struggling, so when the next challenge comes along, that spirals into a much more colossal problem than it needed to be, until eventually you're so full up of thoughts you've held on to and worried about and escalated in your mind that the tiniest little thing sets you off and unfortunately someone takes the hit or you take it all out on yourself. 

5. It makes you say and do stupid things...

 you hurt people around you which adds to the cycle of feeling down and anxious. The thought of hurting others completely tears you up inside but depression tells you it's okay, because it pushes people away and they'll be happier without you as their friend anyway. On the flip side, anxiety is freaking out because it is not okay, and what are those people now thinking about me?!? And the real you sits there in the middle, exhausted while this argument plays out between these two loud voices.  

6. It doesn't mean you are constantly sad!

 Sure, I have good days, sometimes I have reaaaaaaally good days. This doesn't mean that the next day I won't suddenly go back down the spiral, but it also doesn't mean I can't have a few good days in a row. So you end up feeling anxious about what bad thing will ruin your day next, who you're going to upset next. So if I'm having a good day (And its not fake) don't assume that I'm suddenly cured, just enjoy it with me. 

7. Catching yourself just staring at walls is normal in this frame of mind! 

And it's totally okay, sometimes you need a day to sit and watch paint dry or watch the tv without really watching the tv or to lie in bed staring at the ceiling until noon. When your motivation is so low that you don't want to go anywhere, or do anything, those days happen, and that's ok. 

8. Depression and anxiety together

It seems like a never-ending cycle of feeling down, feeling all alone and wanting friends around you, wanting to chat to someone but at the same time, not wanting to send that first message or go out and be around people either - that's a tough cycle to be in, but a very, very real one!! 

9. The horrid vulnerability that anything (no matter how [in]significant) can make or break your day!

 This one time, I cried because I couldn't find my toothbrush!! I'll let you in on a secret, (now definitely not a secret!) I'm not really someone who allows myself to cry a lot, sometimes I'll try and hold it together for so long that all of a sudden I have a few days where I'll cry at anything, the TV isn't working, or I can't find that piece in the puzzle etc etc! So usually if I cry in front of you, I feel comfortable around you!!

10. "What have you got to be sad about?" - 

possibly the most infuriating thing to hear, but you hear it more often than you might think!!!
Granted, people think it will make you feel better by telling you all the good things you have in your life that you should be happy about - in reality though, it just makes you feel worse about yourself, that you're ungrateful and you're 'just being silly', it makes you feel more insecure and guilty about your mental health issue and therefore more likely to try and hide it.

11. You become a really talented actor/liar!! 

The phrase "I'm fine" features quite regularly. You start to live different lives, one for when you're on your own and it's safe to take off the mask, and another when you are around friends, because you're 'always smiling' and you don't want people to notice how down you are. You want to enjoy time with your friends and the only way you can do that is by putting on this act that really, isn't you at all because depression and anxiety will try and tell you that if you act how you do when you take off your mask, no one will want to spend time with 'the sad one'  who is down and anxious about everything. 

12. Thought you had plans? Think again!!

Anxiety decides these things for you, you may want to be sociable and do your best often to just get on with it, but some days, its just not possible, you'll have plans but you'll find an excuse to cancel, or someone will ask you to do something, and everything in you wants to say yes but you just can't find the strength to be sociable. So it not only tries to ruin your friendships, it attacks peoples social life too! 

13. It IS just as important as physical health!!!! 

Why is it that we can accept it when any other part of our body is broken, like an arm or a leg that can be put into a cast, what about when our mind is broken? Why is it so much more difficult to understand and accept when someone is struggling mentally??
Here is a link to a video that will show you how ridiculous if we turn it round and treat physical illness the way some people treat mental illness... 

I'm sure there are many more things that I will learn about depression and anxiety down the line. But one thing I already know is that talking about it and being open about it is really important, we need to get rid of this stigma so more people can talk openly about it and help each other out, people can't do it on their own, I can't do it on my own. 


Sunday, 23 April 2017

#oneinamillion - one year on

This time last year...I did it!! I completed THE London Marathon, in 4 hours 34 mins, and I still can't quite believe I have done it!

I became one in a million, and to be precise... I was the 987,152nd finisher of the London Marathon since it began!! How awesome is that!! So What now? well I'm still running but I've not done anymore marathons since (boo!) And I'm really jealous of seeing all those doing it this year!!

I really just wanted to thank everyone for their support, encouragement and donations, I couldn't have done it without you, and I definitely wouldn't have done it without this fab team of spectators on the day who followed me round!! (As well as a few other close friends who came to spot me!) And have continued to support me since that day in this past year!

Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

I wish I could go back one year and relive the whole thing again, that huge sense of achievement, determination and strength that I was capable of doing it. Hopefully I'll do another, or even a half marathon and feel that all over again.

If you've been inspired by those running the marathon today, why not apply in the ballot tomorrow? or sign up for a charity place? Or try a half marathon? Or even a 5k or 10k!! Get Running people!!


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Caution: Mind Your Head...

Image result for mind your head

Whether its a low roof, a tree branch or a wooden beam; this sign is there to protect your head from a nasty bump! (Unless, like me, you're short enough to not need to worry too much!). But there's no warning sign or caution for minding your head mentally. In fact, whilst growing up we're often warned about being careful of things that will physically harm us; playing with fire, be careful with knives, don't eat raw chicken! 
What about looking after our mental health? Looking after each others mental health? The society that young people grow up in today really worries me about their ability to 'mind their head', with social media all the rage and kids as young as 9 with smart phones it's even more important now for them to learn healthy attitudes for their own wellbeing as they grow up. We're lucky where I work to have 2 chaplains that are extremely good at raising the awareness of mental health through weekly quotes, mindfulness conferences and wellbeing ideas. Both students and teachers benefit from this and the work they do, they're both approachable people and both staff and students are able to talk to them about anything, the awareness this is building and walls its knocking down is only ever a positive!! We need to break the silence and taboo of mental health.

I've been quiet for too long on this blog, but actually mental health is not something to be quiet about. Too many people suffer in silence, pretend everything is fine or get lost in the system for help!
I've recently been faced with the brutal reality of not only how traumatic and damaging depression can be for the sufferer but also the people around them who love them and want to help. I'm lucky enough to have an amazing family and circle of friends who have stood by me and continue to stand by me no matter how stubborn and unloveable I may be/have been. 

People shouldn't live in darkness, and they certainly shouldn't face it alone. So if you know someone struggling, let them know you're thinking of them, send them some chocolate or their favourite sweets; it can be a very lonely journey, and if the person reading this is the one struggling, reach out to someone you trust, there's no shame or judgement. It's time to talk, time to change.

Look out for each other, but don't forget to mind your head!  


Sunday, 27 March 2016

My 26.2 Mile Story...So far!!

Most of you reading this will already know that in just 4 weeks time I will be running the London Marathon!!! I'm running for Rethink Mental Illness and I've decided today to share my story as to why I'm running for them and how the training has been so far...

First of all a HUGE HUGE thank you to everyone who has sponsored me and been rooting for me so far!! Couldn't do it without you!

So yesterday I survived the longest run I have ever done in my life; ...21 MILES!!!! in 3 hours and 14 minutes!! So now to taper down ready for the big day!! Here's my story...

Back in 2014 I decided I really wanted to run the London Marathon, and so when I wasn't awarded a place though the ballot I decided to try applying for charities, choosing the ones that were closest to my heart and most meaningful to me. Rethink Mental Illness was one that gave me a place to run!!
The reason its close to my heart? Not only have I had close friends and family suffer from mental health problems, I've also suffered myself and I'm fed up of the taboo surrounding mental health that stops people from talking about it, stops people getting help, and so I jumped at the chance to raise not only money for them but also awareness!! (Sadly due to an injury I was unable to run it in 2015, but this year I'm ready and more determined than ever!)

When I was at university I was diagnosed with depression... I wasn't 'just sad' and I couldn't 'just cheer up'. It didn't matter that I was at an amazing university, doing a degree I loved and that I have a fantastic family and network of friends. None of that matters when you have depression, because the cruel reality is that you can't see the positive in all of that, instead you find negative.
Now I realise that some people reading this will have no idea what that feels like and might find it difficult to understand, but sadly, some of you will be able to relate. What it feels like to think that there is not light, no hope, and that actually all the 'positive things' in life people keep telling you about, you feel you don't deserve and so you block it out, push it all away, push people away which digs you deeper into this dark hole. Unfortunately, it isn't a case of, well just don't push things away, stop blocking it out, its a mental block that prevents you being able to do that. BUT in my personal experience, you can be in the deepest, darkest place of your life, and somehow still manage to put a smile on your face...crazy right??

SO... where do I stand now? Well, I'm not entirely sure yet if depression ever fully goes away, at least I'm pretty sure mine hasn't yet. I still have my days, but running has played a huge part in getting me through!! Even better reason to run a marathon for mental illness right?? I won't lie to you, the training has been tough, and sometimes I have thought about just giving up, or have lost all motivation to even go running (..even though it helps?!) But here I am, I've made it this far...only 4 weeks to go!!

So I would love it if you would sponsor me for this monstrosity of a challenge!! I really need to get to £2000!!!



Thursday, 24 December 2015

It's the most...Wonderful? Difficult? Joyful? Stressful?...Time of the year!!

It's the festive season and shoppers are going mad, the christmas decorations and all the beautiful lights are up. It's the happiest time of the year... right?

Wrong. For some people this season brings mostly dread, stress and a whole range of negative emotions. Maybe not for the whole season, and maybe not visible to you and I on the outside but this time of year often holds more than just the joy of spending time with family, the excitement of exchanging gifts and the love of the christian Christmas story.

Wonderful; True, it is a wonderful time of year, for me I get to see my family who I hardly see throughout the year and spend precious moments with them!!

Difficult; Particularly those with mental health issues, the winter is a difficult period. The dark nights and colder weather brings a dullness, and sadness to their everyday. No bright sunshine to lift the mood, no warmth, just a load of negativity. For others, Christmas can be a reminder of those who aren't joining us at our dinner table this year, the loss of loved ones in a variety of ways is even more visible at this time as we get together.

Joyful; The joy on peoples faces as they open their gifts, as they spend time with family members and even just the joy and happiness of christmas parties, the christmas music and having fun with close friends and family in all the festivities!! How can you not feel at least a smidgen of joy in these activities? Some people struggle!! Although if you are someone who believes in the 'meaning of christmas' and the Christian story, surely there is some Joy in that message, that Jesus is born! Hard to not be happy when babies are involved!!

Stressful; Depending on your job, your financial status or even your ability to socialise can bring a huge amount of stress to your Christmas experience. Some people, especially those working in churches or The Salvation Army have a VERY busy time of year, helping those who are homeless, preparing christmas meals for christmas day or otherwise, playing carols in the streets and the list goes on and on!!!

So you may be a person who absolutely loves this time of year and feels nothing but Joy and Happiness, but don't forget that although some people may look as though they feel this, but in reality they may not be.

So from me, a very happy christmas to you all, I hope you all find some joy, wonder, peace and happiness in this festive season even if it also brings sadness, difficulty and stress!!

All the best for the New Year everyone!!!