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Anxiety

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Anxiety and Paranoia and why I do the weird things I do

Although I think that social media can have it positives when it comes to mental health such as sharing stories, reducing isolation and raising awareness, it does too have it’s downside.

Most of my friends will have at some point been deleted from my friends list, and not because I no longer want to be their friend.

Sometimes, I get so paranoid, that people are just spying on me, laughing at me, that they aren’t really my friends – who would be? They have me on Facebook just so that they can laugh and judge me.

And that’s why when these feelings of paranoia arise, it’s just like a panic attack, my heart races, I feel sick, I’m so scared I go through my profile and delete large numbers of people at a time.

It’s quite sad because once I’m free from this state, I feel lonely and sad and I regret it. Sometimes I’ve even deleted the best of friends because they haven’t spoken to me in a while and I presume they must hate me.

The sad part is, when I get the guts to re-add people, a lot of them refuse to be my friend which is understandable. It is a funny world we live in when real life relationships are determined by the click of a button.

I’m very sensitive when it comes to being part of friendship groups. I’ve never felt a part of one – I always feel like the outsider. In school I was never allowed to go out with my friends, in the end no one invited me anymore and I would sit there while everyone told their stories and bonded… I felt so isolated. In the end I just kept myself to myself and persuaded myself that I was better off alone – that way no one could hurt me. And here began the dangerous path of cutting people out of my life as a coping mechanism.

Once I was older and allowed to go out, my anxiety had become so strong that my agoraphobia beat down any chances of going out and having fun anyway.

I really struggle with feeling left out, I have a group of friends and they are all so lovely, but it kills me every time I see them doing things without me, having their own group chats, making plans without me – and it is all my fault. It really sparks the paranoia in me, but now I am able to calm myself down.

Years ago I thought they didn’t like me, so as I do, in order to protect myself I cut them out of my life, I couldn’t risk the pain. Now, even though they forgave me and we are friends, I will never get back those years, and those years they spent bonding together.

Anxiety is a crippling, lonely, isolating disease.

I’m sorry if I have ever upset you by acting this way…  

Time to talk with Miss Campbell

This is my best friend Amelia!

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L: Hi Amelia! How are you today?

A: I’m good thank you, having a nice relaxing Saturday.

L: That’s great, what do you normally enjoy to do on weekends?

A: I like to spend time in my favourite cafes or sit by the harbour with a good book. I also like to spend time with friends. Sometimes I end up working because there aren’t enough hours in the week.

L: What job do you do?

A: My main role is working in the NHS supporting service improvements but I also work for a charity which ensures mental health services users and carers are involved in treatment design, implementation and monitoring.

L: Wow that’s amazing. Why do yo do what you do?

A: I’ve seen so many people struggle to get access to adequate mental health services so this is doing my bit to try and help. It is also something I’m really passionate about, and one day I would like to see parity of esteem between physical and mental health become a reality.

L: That is the dream for me too! Why don’t you tell everyone a bit about how we met!

A: We met in Lourdes didn’t we? We met whilst volunteering with the sick in France as part of the Welsh National Pilgrimage to Lourdes. Louise was in my team, her brother Chris was our leader! That was 6 years ago!

L: I can’t believe it has been 6 years. What is your favourite animal?

A: I can’t pick one, can I give you a list?

L: Go on then!

A: Dogs, cats, elephants, baby seals and Pygmy goats.. actually just goats in general.

L: I’m not surprised dogs are at the start of the list when Harvey and Junior are cwtched up asleep in front of you!

A: They are far too cute for their own good!

L: I know! What is your favourite quote?

A: “Stop seeking approval for what you have built, from those who didn’t help you build it” – so say as a team you worked on something, as long as the team is happy and it works for people, there is no need to seek approval from other people.

L: I love that quote, you are so right. I know like me, you are a big fan of self-care in improving mental health, what is your favourite thing to do to self soothe?

A: Make a pillow fort and watch Netflix with a cup of tea and some of my favourite snacks, or go for a walk.

L: Both sound lovely, I can tell why you choose them as your favourites. How excited are you to see the finished Mindful Millie?!

A: So excited!!!! As soon as Louise told me about it, I was so excited, I think it is such a lovely idea, and something that is much needed.

L: Thanks Amelia! It’s been great to chat.

A: Anytime!

 

 

 

25 things to do as self-care

Self care is so important. Here are 25 ideas of what you can do.

25 ideas for self careSometimes it’s hard to even get out of bed. Self-soothing or self-care can really help to make you feel better. Give yourself some TLC. Some will work for one person and not another – do what you enjoy and what makes you feel good.

  1. have a bath
  2. brush your hair
  3. get dressed
  4. read a good book
  5. paint your nails
  6. use a face mask
  7. do some colouring in
  8. write a diary
  9. write yourself a kind letter
  10. try out some hair tutorials
  11. pluck your eyebrows
  12. watch your favourite tv programme
  13. message a friend
  14. cuddle a hot water bottle
  15. have a nap
  16. go for a coffee
  17. hide your phone for a few hours
  18. have a day free from social media
  19. go for a short walk
  20. write a list of what makes you happy
  21. moisturise
  22. paint
  23. have a spring clean
  24. do some gardening
  25. do some exercise

louise xx

a-z of mindfulness

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a for autopilot – how often do you realise that you have gotten to another room without even thinking? how often have you done a task and not even been able to recall doing it? we do so much automatically that we aren’t living in the present.

b for breath – if you are someone who panic’s like me, there is something we always have with us to help us keep calm – our breath! Breathing techniques can be used mindfully to bring yourself to the present moment.

c for compassion. Within mindfulness compassion towards others and oneself is a key component.

d for daily – if  you practice for two minutes daily – say every time you brush your teeth, you will gradually find it easier to bring mindfulness into other parts of your life.

e for empty – mindfulness is not about stopping having feelings, emotions or thoughts. It is about noticing the ones you have, and leaving them alone, accepting that they are there without prejudice.

f for forgiveness – one of the most important things when you learn mindfulness is to be forgiving especially to yourself! Nobody learns it overnight. It will take a lot of practice. If you sit there and try focusing on your breathing, don’t get annoyed with yourself for getting distracted. Once you notice you have been distracted just bring yourself back to the present.

g for gratitude – make sure you take time every day to be grateful and thankful for the people you have in your life and your opportunities.

h for holistic – mindfulness is a holistic approach as it encompasses mental and physical health, both are so entwined that improving one helps to improve the other.

i for identify – mindfulness can help you to identify your thoughts and feelings.

j for judgement – what being mindful has done for me has made me take a step back before judging others, I look at the situation mindfully and put myself in their shoes.

k for kindness – learning to be kind not only to yourself but to others, sharing your compassion and being mindful of other peoples feelings.

l for listen – go and sit by a river, by the sea or on a bench, shut your eyes and listen. Focus entirely on listening. What can you hear? if  you feel yourself getting distracted don’t be frustrated, just bring yourself back to listening.

m for monkey mind – this is a term used in Buddhism for being restless, indecisive and unsettled. Use mindfulness to tame your monkey mind.

n for numbers – you can use numbers to help you to be mindful of your breath. The 7/11 exercise involves counting up to seven on an in-breath and then counting to eleven on the out-breath.

o for object – choose any object. You can use anything to practice your mindfulness. Pick up a pencil, hold it in your hand. What colour is it? how does it feel? is it heavy? is it sharp? what does it smell like? try colouring with it. You are right there in the moment, you are not distracted you are focusing on the present moment.

p for present. As Kung Fu Panda wisely says, “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery & today is a gift – that’s why they call it the present”.

q for quit – quit beating yourself up for something you did in the past. Everyone makes mistakes. Use mindfulness to stay in the present.

r for repeat – the best way to make mindfulness a part of your life is to bring it in and repeat it daily at specific times, that way it becomes a habit.

s for scan – take the time to do a body scan. You will notice so much about your body and you will be more in tune with yourself.

t for thoughts – your thoughts do not define you. We all have so many thoughts every day, thousands upon thousands, thoughts are like busses, you can choose whether you want to get on.

u for useful – mindfulness can come in useful every day, whether it be to enjoy an exciting moment and to truly be there, whether it be keeping calm at an anxious time or keeping the focus on the present rather than the sadness of the past.

v for valuable – your time is so valuable – make the most of every second.

w for why? – why practice mindfulness? well, it has been shown to offer health benefits to those with anxiety, depression and chronic pain. Mindfulness isn’t suitable for everyone but the main draw for me was that my anxiety is the future and depression is the past, therefor when I practice mindfulness I am in the here and now and do not have to worry, I take everything by the second. In terms of chronic pain, mindfulness teaches that we notice everything and leave it as it is, we accept how we feel with no prejudice. You know the pain is there and you accept it. When you stop trying to change it you enable yourself to focus on other things.

x for xylophone – this is a cool technique you can use, especially with children to make you realise how often thoughts and feelings come into your mind. Label different notes on the xylophone with “feelings” and “thoughts”. Whenever one comes into your head hit the note. You will then be mindful of how much is going on in your head.

y for yoga – yoga really helps me to stay in the moment and focus on my breathing. If you stay in the moment whilst practising yoga and notice the way your body feels during the movements and focus on your breathing it can really help you practice mindfulness.

z for zone – when you first start practising meditation it can help to go to a distraction free zone. Just at the beginning when practising meditation it can help to be in a quiet place. You can then build on this and practice elsewhere.

My top 10 favourite books

A list of my top 10 favourite books ever. Let me know what yours are! I would love recommendations.

*Disclosure: some posts on my site contain affiliate links, this just means that if you go through to make a purchase from my link, without any extra cost to you, I will earn commission.

And here goes, a list of my top 10 favourite books ever. Let me know what yours are! I would love recommendations.

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10. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote

I absolutely loved this book! What an intriguing character! If you haven’t read it yet you totally should – what a classic. 

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9. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child 

Ok this may be cheating a little bit as it’s a play script, but I LOVE IT!!! I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the rest of the Harry Potter books, but it was amazing and it cleared up so much. It is the fastest I’ve ever read a book, I couldn’t put it down. 

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8. The Queen’s Fool – Phillipa Gregory 

I really really enjoyed this book! It was great and not like anything I had read before. It had a historical and a magical element and I found it so easy to put myself in the character’s shoes. 

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7. The Cottage – Erica James

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were portrayed beautifully. The scene was set so well I wish I could have been inside the book. The Hidden Cottage sounds idyllic. 

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6. A Place of Greater Safety – Hillary Mantel

This book is huge. And I mean huge. But it is so good! I think I only love it so much because my favourite topic in school was the French Revolution and this book really brought it to life. I got to know the characters, she writes in such an interesting way. 

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5. To the moon and back by Jill Mansell

I really enjoy Jill Mansell’s books because I just love the detail she puts into each character and location and how she sets the story. 

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4. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

I just love the way she writes too. I find her books so easy to read and enjoyable! The good thing is I don’t find any of her books too samey which I do find when I read some other author’s books. 

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3. Sophie Kinsella’s shopaholic series 

I think these books are just fun, they are easy to read while relaxing in the bath. They give you that feel-good feeling. 

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2. The Truth About Melody Browne

I don’t even know what it is about this book, I just really enjoyed reading it. I don’t usually like books that are in the slightest bit sad but there was just something about this one. It was weird, but good. 

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1. Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling 

I just absolutely love these books. As soon as I pick them up I am transported into another world, one full of magic and excitement where I can forget all of my worries and dream of chocolate frogs, butter beer, castles and magical creatures. 

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Louise xx