Body for Mind : My First Week

The Diary, Uncategorized

I think to think I’ve tried most methods to maintain, if not improve, my mental health. Medication – check. Therapy – been there. Meditation – tried that.

For a while, I was a fucking hippy, trying to see what soothing effect it might have.

The one thing I could never, ever stand was people telling me that they felt relief with exercise and healthy eating…


I follow a lot of gym bunnies on Instagram, and some of my friends are in the fitness and health field. My timelines are forever loaded with the irritating, motivational ‘fitspo’ pictures and guides.

‘How the fuck can that make you feel good? Genuinely?’

I hated hearing about how people enjoyed exercise, how it helped their stress levels and how their outlook on life was improved by working out and treating their body right. I rubbished it as a lie in order to rope in some more poor bastards to their gym classes, or to pay for expensive diet regimes.

It felt patronising, if I’m honest. Someone telling me, a person with a diagnosed condition, that sit-ups and lettuce could help. I felt like they were almost implying that my brain could be rewired if I ate more Omega 3, or avoided oven chips.

It wasn’t until last month, when I had a ‘shakey moment’, that I decided to cave to the hype. I made a deal with myself that I’d set up an experiment, for a short period of time, to see if working out more and eating better had any effect on my bipolar. I ordered a new recipe book, dug out my dad’s WonderCore and gave myself two months to feel an improvement.

I started planning meals, subscribed to yoga tutorials and drew up my own work-out routine with exercise that I might actually enjoy. For added pressure, I told all my friends about my plan so that they would spot when I was being lazy or eating shit.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still giving myself treats – everything in moderation, they say.

The focus wasn’t on weight loss or physical improvements, but I welcomed the possibility of getting more fit and toning up my ever-growing arse. As previously disclosed, I’ve dealt with eating phobias when I was younger, so it was important to me not to get caught up in the wrong goals.

And so it begun. I was one of those people.

giphy

It’s been a week now.

I work out 4 times a week, at home, and use the Lean In 15 cook book to make up my packed lunches and dinners.

I hate myself for saying this – but I can feel things changing already.

Let’s be clear, I won’t be posting any ‘progress pics’ of my pale boy-ish body. That’s not what I’m doing this for. But I do feel my shape changing.

With hillwalking, my legs have become more toned and the yoga has helped my core. I work myself into a sweat for 1 hour and then I stop – making sure not to overdo it. My biggest surprise has been how much I enjoy my new meals, I eat so much more fruit and vegetables – despite previously eating quite a lot. My meals taste healthy and light, but I’m rarely able to finish them because they’re so filling!

It feels good to have my workmates comment on how tasty my lunches look now, as opposed to jokingly rolling their eyes at yet another box of doughnuts.

As for my mind? The progress is coming, but it’s much slower.

I try and power-walk 3 miles a night, luckily I live in quite a safe and scenic area so it doesn’t feel like a chore. After my first walk, I felt great. I felt like I’d actually found something I could stick to and incorporate into my strict routine. Working out definitely helps to relieve any stress, but mostly it serves as a distraction.

Living alone, I find I get too wrapped up in my own thoughts when I don’t have company, so this was helpful.

Although it only been a week, I’m optimistic about the changes to come. I’ve become one of those people that I once hated, but I was probably jealous of their will-power.

Anyway, that’s the first week done. Stay tuned to see how I get on!

So far, so great.

feeling myself

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Benzo’s Are A Girl’s Best Friend: Unsolicited Advice on Progress

The Diary

Jen McGuire

 

I often find it difficult to talk about my varying mental health issues. Not because I’m ashamed or embarrassed, but because I’ve been dealing with them for so long. I don’t remember a point in my teenage or adult life where it hasn’t been something I’ve had to face head on. In a way, the depression and the anxiety are a part of me that I’ve never been without- I have blue eyes, I’m allergic to penicillin and sometimes I’m cripplingly afraid to go outside. If you know me well, you know I’m a walking bingo card for psychological dysfunction. But, with a little help from our good old friends Sertraline and Chardonnay (a mixture I lovingly refer to as truth serum), Ican shed some light on my unconventional coping mechanisms, and how I’ve survived the past eight years of cerebral chaos.

1: Selective Self-Seeking

Unconventional self-help tip numero uno: sometimes you have to be selfish. If I had a pound for every time someone told me they’d delayed getting help to ‘protect’ a loved one’s concerns, I’d have Zac Efron on a diamond encrusted leash. It’s normal to be reluctant to worry the people you care about, but looking out for yourself is the first step to progress. What makes mental health disorders so incomprehensible to those who have not experienced them, is their enduring nature. You can’t just take a course of pills and feel better, it isn’t a virus that needs to be placed into isolation, and it can’t be surgically removed. When battling addiction, they say admitting you have a problem is the hardest part of recovery, and I think the same can be said for mental health. Admit it to yourself and those around you, and then do everything you can to kick its arse into remission. In the beginning, you need to look at what youneed and what’s going to make you better. Those who truly have your best interests to heart, will accept that and aid you in your journey. Those who don’t, do not care about you and will get crotch-punched later in life (either metaphorically by karma, or literally by me if I ever meet them). Be aware of the things that are good for you mentally, and be selfish in your attempts to surround yourself with them… Just try not to be a massive dick about it.

 

2: Accepting the Ugly

When I was 15 I had my first panic attack in the middle of my high school gym hall. If you have ever experienced one of these little shits, you’ll know your first thought is that you’re very possibly dying. In between mentally planning who was going to sing ‘Wonderwall’ at my funeral, and who gets my electric pink Stratocaster in my will, I saw my local GP. What I’ve come to realise as I rapidly approach my mid-twenties, is that not once did this doctor ever explain that this could very likely be an ongoing issue (spoiler: it has been). My mentality at the time, fragile as it was, was that it would just be a blip in an otherwise normal adolescence. For nearly eight years I’ve wondered when it’s all going to stop, when I’m going to “get better”. This notion was shattered only a few months ago when my new (and infinitely more likeable) doctor told me “Jen, you’ve had this for eight years now. It’s not going away.” Whilst that might seem harsh to some, it was a revelation to me. Yes, I would love to wake up tomorrow and never have to deal with any of it ever again. I’d give almost anything to not have another panic attack or a day spent crying in the dark. But recent experience suggests that this is something that is always going to be a part of me, and that’s okay. I can and have coped, and so can you. We all have things we don’t like about ourselves, but you can take part of it and turn it into a positive. Let your efforts to protect your own wellbeing against all odds become one of your biggest strengths, I promise you’ll come to love yourself for it.

 

3: Knowing Yourself

By living with mental health disorders, it has become somewhat difficult to differentiate between aspects of my personality, and symptoms of my conditions. Am I a paranoid person, or is the anxiety making me that way? Am I pessimistic or am I just on a downer right now? Will drinking bring out the best or worst in me tonight? Which version of myself am I today? Who am I? What will I be? This is the hardest thing for me to write about, because battling with what’s me and what’s a side effect has brought me upon some of my biggest crises to date. I wish I had an answer to this, but I’m still trying to work it out myself. On the good days, I trust in myself to know who I am. I’m funny, intelligent, kind and sensitive. On the bad I interpret these traits as being annoying, arrogant, selfish and cold. Maybe I am all of these things, or perhaps I’m none of them. What I’ve come to learn is that you can find solace in the uncertainty of it all. I can change, I can grow and I can learn because it’s all a part of who I have the potential to be. I also know the things that will never change: I will never not rap R Kelly’s ‘Ignition’ to random strangers in a club; I’ll always eat the blue M&M’s first and so help me god if there’s tequila anywhere near me I will vomit rainbows. What I’m trying to say, is take advantage of what is unique to you today and look forward to learning the rest tomorrow, next week or a year from now.

 

4: Progressing

I’m not a fan of the term ‘recovery’ when it comes to mental health. It implies something going away, never to return, to be forgotten about and rarely discussed. Even if what you’re going through does ‘Die Hard’ it has the potential to return ‘With A Vengeance’ like some sort of ‘Lethal Weapon’… Excellent action movie puns aside, it is completely normal to accept that you may take three steps forward and five steps back. You might be crushing it in the office today, then sobbing on the bathroom floor tomorrow. A couple of weeks ago I was hysterically crying and vomiting in a bucket on my mum’s living room floor, and now I’m writing an article promoting mental health wellbeing. The journey from depression and anxiety to fully functioning human being is kind of like the Trump presidency- unpredictable, daunting and senseless. You can’t call it, so roll with the punches and pat yourself on the back for getting through each day. They say thank heavens for small mercies, and I agree. Applaud yourself for any and all progresses, no matter how minor they might seem. Managed to eat some toast despite not having an appetite all week? Progress. Not self-harming when you’ve had a really bad day? Progress. Telling a friend what you’re going through at the minute? Progress, progress, progress.

 

5: “You’re going to have to save yourself.”

A depressive, 20-something English graduate quoting Bukowski? “HOW ORIGINAL!” I hear you cry. But spare me your eye rolls, because I have a point to make and you bet your apprehensive arse that it’s a good one. Like so many, I turn to literature on the dark days to bring my spirits up. I even managed to bullshit a degree out of it, but that’s neither here nor there… However, one verse by Charles Bukowski always comes to mind when I’m giving myself a pep-talk:

“Nobody can save you but

yourself.

and you’re worth saving.

it’s a war not easily won.

but if anything is worth winning then

this is it”

 

While it might sound daunting, I’ve found a great deal of comfort in knowing it’s all on me. We are all the masters of our own destiny and the engineers to our own happiness. Talk to people, love people, share your life with people, but remember it all starts and ends with you. The strongest people I know are the ones fighting the monsters in their own head. Getting yourself out of bed and seeking help is the most empowering thing you can do. When you feel like your life is getting out of your control, take it back. When you’re crippled with self-doubt, find comfort in the promise of tomorrow. Put one foot in front of the other, and know that whenever you fall there is always a way to get back up. You are both the victim and the hero in your own story. Dammit, you are the story, so start writing.

The Crazy Clinic Chronicles

The Diary

I try to be as open as possible about my treatment and personal progress, as you know. So, with this in mind, my aim is to document my visits to the doctor and any changes to my medication/routine.

Is it too personal? Perhaps too much sharing? Probably.

But I know that there are people dealing with undiagnosed mental health struggles and, this way, they get to see that seeking help and being on prescribed medication isn’t as scary as it seems.


My last visit for an evaluation was a month ago, my doctor had changed my dosage for my anti-anxiety drugs and, today, wanted to see how the alterations had affected me. Four weeks ago, I had complained of a ‘spike’ in my nerves. The way my anxiety works means that when it flares up, my bipolar symptoms can too. Feeding the fire, so to speak. It’s easy for me to separate anxiety from my more severe problems now, I can sense when it’s coming and how it’ll affect my mood swings. Last month, I had started experiencing faint hallucinations and severe distraction. I couldn’t focus on a task for more than 30/40 seconds without something breaking my attention.

Imagine Dory from Finding Nemo on drugs. That was me.

Anyway, the changes involved going from one, slow-release tablet in the morning to two, fast-acting pills taken 6 hours apart. For the first week, I didn’t feel any better. Worse, in fact. I was having small panic attacks on the commute to work and was only able to remain calm due to the knowledge that I had taken action and had to be patient to see changes. By the second week, I noticed a huge change in my nerves in the morning. I was walking up calm instead of shaking with irrational fear. At this point, mornings were starting to get lighter and brighter too, which makes a huge difference to me. I was able to leave the house much more confidently.

Today I had my re-evaluation, and while it could’ve went better, I’m staying optimistic with treatment. I had yet another increase with a different drug, one which I was disappointed in having to take.

I’m still naive in the sense that I always think my doses will go down, rather than increase or plateau. 

I’m allowing myself to be bothered by this increase because it’s normal to be disappointed at needing help. There’s no need to act like you’re happy to be taking even more medication. Will it help? Yes. Do you need to enjoy taking it? Absolutely fucking not.

Anyway…

I’ve got a new, and dare I say better, doctor. She explained to me that once your mind stabilises and is ready to bounce back, it might need some help to get there. It’s been through a shock. So, again, in a month she’ll evaluate my progress with the new medication. I have appointments between now and then, so any issues that arise can be tackled pretty quickly.

My homework until then is to learn more about Bipolar Type II.

Plodding onwards, chums.

leonardo dicaprio cheers martin scorsese congratulations hooray

# Yes, I’m aware Leo has appeared twice. He’s soothing to me. Fuck off.

POLYVORE.

The Fashion Edit, Uncategorized

One of my favourite things to do whilst commuting, or when I’m just bored, is build outfits using Polyvore. The app lets you browse through a bunch of different brands, picking pieces to construct your ideal outfits or little wish lists. Which is exactly what I’ve done!

It might not look like it, but I do actually enjoy fashion – and having dabbled in styling, I love seeing outfits come together.

From this wish list, I’ve actually managed to buy a few of the items – and found a high street equivalent to the shoes in New Look. Because unfortunately, One does not piss money. Shockingly, most of the items are black and gold- because that’s my jam.

Brands and prices below.

Belt, New Look. £3.99 – only available in M/L, so when I bought it, I had to punch a few extra holes in the material.

Tshirt, Noa Jeans, both MANGO, both £19.99 – PS the jeans are the comfiest fucking things I’ve ever purchased and make everyones booty look fabulous.

Leather Jacket, ALLSAINTS £358

Shoes, Givenchy, £605 – alternatives available in New Look for £25.

Bag, Prada £1150

Watch, Myku, £690

Following Fashion

The Fashion Edit

Judging by my day-to-day apparel, you wouldn’t think I have a keen interest and knowledge of fashion. You’d probably think my style icons were Rab C Nesbit, or maybe Joan Jett on a good day. The fact is, I’ve studied fashion over the years and expanded into the styling field while working as a photographer. I rarely get to show my own style, considering I spend most of my time in my work uniform and I simply don’t have the time or money to shop where I really want to.

COS. The Row.Chloe. Zadig et Voltaire.

That being said, I take my love of fashion to social media. I follow a tonne of ridiculously well-dress folks with the most flawless feeds. I always like to follow the official designer pages, too. Just because I actually like the creative processes behind the collections. I sound like a wanker saying that, right? But it’s true. Being a creative student made me appreciate the designers’ influences and watch how they promoted their work.

Anyway, the point of this post is to show off a couple of my favourites to follow!

You’re welcome!


 

Lucy @ Florals 

Credit: floralsandcorals.com

Lucy’s feed is easily one of my favourites, simply because it’s so well put together. Her personal style comes through so well, combining a lot of day-to-day looks as well as some special pieces. You’ll never see a layout shot done so well, either. Florals and Corals is ideal if you love minimalist styles with a feminine twist, or Paris-worthy chic outfits. The blog also gives you the option to shop alternatives to Lucy’s looks, making it easy to emulate her style if you choose to. Following Lucy also proved interesting, as she recently openly spoke about her struggle with an eating phobia and elements of OCD. Head over to her blog to read more, and be ready to cry with outfit envy.

Blog: http://www.floralsandcorals.com // Instagram: LucyFlorals

 


Terri @ ‘Her Fastest Fashion’

 

terri

Credit: Her Fastest Fashion

Working with Terri, I know that this girl knows her stuff. I’ll always seek her opinion when it comes to abusing the staff discount! Her Fastest Fashion is all about well..that. Terri blogs about making fashion accessible and open to everyone, specialising in cost-effective style which I really admire. The blog is full of urban fashion, with a splash of sass for more glam looks. Terri makes it easy to focus on individual products, too. So you can track down your favourite bits and bobs, and make them your own. Not to mention, the blog hosts a number of giveaways – and who doesn’t love a giveaway? If you love street-wear with a girly touch, or bold statement pieces, follow Terri!

Blog: http://www.herfastestfashion.com // Instagram: HerFastestFashion