Going Out When You’ve Been Signed Off Work

This is a major taboo that a lot of people think is a bad idea. “What if a work colleague of mine sees me out while I’m signed off? Will they think I’ve made it all up? Maybe they’ll tell everyone at work how I look ‘okay’…”

These are things I’ve struggled to answer in my head when I’ve been signed off due to my Mental Illnesses screwing me up in the work environment. 

The thing that everyone needs to remember when being signed off due to stress/anxiety/depression etc… is that staying cooped up inside constantly for two weeks is going to only cause havoc in your mind. It’ll make whatever you’re experiencing ten times worse. Obviously, don’t go out and get drunk… that’s a call for disaster if you’re unwell and signed off – people have lost their jobs over that.

But do try and get fresh air each day, yesterday I went to the beach with my niece and mum to calm my head down… but I was so worried that a colleague of mine would see me out and think I was in tip top condition. Today I’m heading out with a friend to do a spot of shopping… do things that calm you and make you a lot more level for when the time of going back to work approaches. 

Ignoring signs of work-related stress can be detrimental as I found out last week… for days I would shut myself in the toilet and cry constantly for no obvious reasons other than I was so stressed out. I started to become irritable – it didn’t help that my anti-depressants had been lowered either.

Even though I work in Mental Health… I was still worried of the prejudice I’d receive for starting to deteriorate at work. I was worried that I’d lose my job, I was worried what everyone would think… this meant I didn’t speak to anyone sooner. If I had, I could have nipped things in the bud quicker… My work have been so understanding and have taken everything completely seriously. I’m truly blessed to have the job I do.

If you’re struggling in work, I urge you to speak to someone! Leaving it can drive you to stupid lengths to get out of the situation.

If Kiwi can cope, so can you.

🙂

Advertisements

Anxiety and I

The anxious mind is a vulnerable one, anxiety means manipulation and coercion are far easier to commit against people. Both the sufferer of anxiety and those who are around them feel the full force of just how difficult this illness is.

Anxiety causes huge stress over things that many people find simple. Having a conversation with someone over the phone, eating out in public or traveling on transport. Many things become arduous and make life feel like a living hell every waking moment. 

Anxiety is my alter ego… one moment I can be fine in a room full of people, the next my breathing is erratic as I frantically try and find the closest exit.

Here are some situations I have been in where I’ve been okay to start with and my anxiety has kicked in and made tasks a pain in the bloody arse!

Walking over 3 drains

Rational mind – “It’s only part of the ground, nothing will happen if I don’t walk over them”.

Anxious mind – “What happens if you get hit by a car on your way home, or if someone attacks you? It will be your fault for not walking over the drains… turn back around and walk over them. You NEED to turn around and walk over them, something bad is DEFINITELY going to happen if you don’t… WALK OVER THEM“.

This becomes really quite embarrassing when I’m having a mini argument with myself, especially in a public place.

When people say ” just ignore your anxiety”

Rational mind – “They’re right, I just have to not focus on the anxiety and it will go away”.

Anxious mind – “HEY! Hope you didn’t forget about me, I’m going to make this walk to the shops the worst experience of your life. Someone’s following you, make sure you look over your shoulder every 4 steps you take, tap your fingers together in a sequence of 4’s each time you take a step. Don’t mess it up though! Or you’ll have to start ALL OVER AGAIN! 1, 2, 3, 4… 1, 2, 3, 4… You just walked past a black cat… Make sure you do this all twice as quick or something bad is going to happen”.

The more you focus on not thinking about anxiety the more prominent and worse it becomes.

Public transport

Rational mind – “I’m just going to pop to x’s house for a coffee and a catch up, it’ll be a lovely surprise”.

Anxious mind – “Look at all these people talking, they’re obviously talking about you. Look! That woman’s laughing, I told you and now she’s laughing at you! There’s no empty seats so you have to stand! Everyone’s judging how fat you are, look at your fat legs… No wonder everyone’s looking… you look like something out of a freakshow”.
Anxiety is like having a bully taunting and ridiculing you 24/7, there’s no shutting yourself away from this bully though. 

Anxiety is a hard illness to deal with, especially when it stops people from being able to do normal daily tasks. If you know someone who suffers from anxiety… please, let them take their time to leave the house… hold their hand in the lift while they’re scrunching their eyes shut… Let them check, double check and triple check the front door is locked before going out. Be there for them like you would be there for someone with a visible disability.

If Kiwi can cope, so can you!

🙂

One Year On…

I’ve rewritten this post about 4 times in the past week. I’ve got so much to write but cannot find the words to describe exactly what I want to say.

16 months ago I was so low in myself, I put my body through things no one ever should. I was passing myself from man to man just to feel acknowledged and wanted. I wanted to try and convince myself I was loved and happy while abusing myself. 14 months ago I was addicted to taking Ecstasy and Cocaine, I was like a wild animal that had been let out of its cage for the first time. I had no concept on the damage I was causing my body while downing alcohol, creating a lethal concoction that should have killed me. 

Exactly one year ago to this day, my life could have ended. One year ago today, I was determined that my life would stop in its tracks. One year ago, I was put into a Psychiatric Unit for my own safety. I was so angry at the people who helped save my life. I thought of them as being selfish, that they didn’t understand my struggles and how ‘bad’ my life was. I felt such spite towards them for being so evil to make me carry on suffering. I wish that no one becomes as unwell as I was back then, I didn’t even know what the date was for weeks on end. I was signed off work for months because of how erratic my moods had been.

One year on…

I’m now working alongside people who suffer from acute mental health issues and I support them emotionally to make their lives easier. From being an inpatient in a ‘loony bin’ to a mental health support worker working alongside some of the people who helped me out in my time of need really shows just how well someone can recover if given the right help.

Please don’t give up on someone who wants to get better but seems to be stuck in a sink hole… Be there when they need you and stand back when they’re trying to get back on their own two feet. You wouldn’t stop helping a toddler who fell over after taking their first few steps… You’d encourage them to carry on trying. The same principal applies to everyone. 

If Kiwi can cope, so can you.

🙂

The Borderline Blues

It’s what I call the state of mind I’m in right now – not sad, yet not happy. I’m somewhere in the middle of the two and it’s a world away from what I’m used to feeling. It feels alien to me to be feeling both of these feelings at once. I have a massive euphoria in my head yet my body feels sluggish and heavy as if I’m a creaky boat with a cast anchor.

I feel completely at peace, yet I feel so disgruntled. I’m over thinking so much right now yet my rational mind is telling me there’s nothing to be over thinking about. I want to push everyone I know away, yet I want them to be closer to me than ever before. I try and focus on listening to Bukowski by Mooseblood (my favourite song), yet all I can focus on is the mind numbing humming of my fish tank filter and the crank of the cogs in my clock. 

My mind is in one place and yet it seems like it is all over the shop. I can’t keep my attention focused on one thing for even a few minutes without becoming restless and wanting to do something else. My mind is whirring like a racing car motor, it’s spinning in the same repetitive circle.

I don’t feel negativity towards myself or others currently, I just haven’t been used to feeling emotions properly for almost 18 months. I’ve been immune to them in a sense due to the meds I take. 

I’ve only lowered the dosage by 10mg every other day (40mg one night, 30mg the next, 40mg again the night after etc). But I’m still noticing a massive difference in the fact that I can feel things again. For the first month or so, my mood will generally be lower than it has been due to the reduction of robot inducing pills.

I’m trying to make sense of all of these emotions bombarding my vulnerable mind right now. Please bear with me, it’s all I ask.

If Kiwi can cope, so can you.

🙂

The Grass Is Greener

It’s the saying everyone uses when they have hindsight, when they can look back and see that they’re in a better place than they previously had been. This is what’s really hit me over the last few days.

I finally started my new job in the NHS Monday just gone. I’m finally working in a Psychiatric Unit with some of the most gifted Nurses and Doctors on the South Coast. I’ve started in a Unit for patients with moderate to severe Neurological Damage induced mainly by chronic substance abuse.

In three months time I shall be transferring wards to the Functional Mental Health Ward down the corridor . Having been through the psychiatric system since I was around 13, I feel like it’s really going to hit home when I start working with people that I can see parts of my old self in.

The first week of working in the Hospital was an experience I’ll never forget. It’s an entire world away from outside the walls of the ward. It’s a strict regime of constant observations, confidentiality, understanding, patience and empathy. 

I’d be lying if I said my first week has been easy – it’s been a true test of my character and I’ve been put into some very difficult situations already. However, I wouldn’t change my job, my colleagues or the patients for the world. 
Waking up in the morning to see my crisp, new uniform with the words “NHS Professionals” embroidered onto the chest makes me punch the air mentally at just how far I really have come in the last 8 years.
If Kiwi can cope, so can you.

🙂

BPD and Relationships

I’ve been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder for around a year now, just as I was meeting my last partner. The diagnosis lifted a massive weight off of my shoulders… but also started to bring on more things that I couldn’t deal with.

Borderline Characteristics

The main characteristics of BPD are a mixture of the list below:

  • Impulsive behaviours
  • Over the top reactions to situations
  • Self harm/suicidal thoughts
  • Intense, quick relationships 
  • Abandonment and rejection worries
  • Emotions are black and white
  • Delusions and hallucinations

Impulsive Behaviours

During my most recent relationship, I acted very irrational sometimes. I drunk a lot to the point he and I were arguing tons about it. I was spending money like there was no tomorrow, again causing a ton of arguments. I felt like I needed to be in control of my own actions and whenever someone told me something, I’d shove two fingers up at them and would do the complete opposite.

Over The Top Reactions 

When we were in the midst of an argument about my drinking or spending, I’d go ham and spend more or drink more just out of spite. It would be me subconsciously saying “I can do what I want and you can’t stop me!” I didn’t want to do it, but I felt I needed to prove a point.

Self Harm and Suicidal Thoughts

These were major issues that I struggled with last year. If we were in bed and I had woken up in the middle of the night. I would feel a huge amount of jealously if he was still asleep, I’d start clawing at my skin until it was broken and bleeding. If I couldn’t get my own way I’d be irrational and would start planning out how I could kill myself with objects in the room. I thought about how easy it would be to grab the fish tank hosing and hook it round my neck. I thought about taking a ton of my anti depressants and downing my bottle of rum that I had barely touched.

Intense and Quick Relationships

I was already talking about how many children I wanted, their full names, where I wanted to live, how I wanted to decorate the house, my wedding dress, the place I wanted to get married, the colour scheme etc. Obviously to anyone this would be a huge throw back, my BPD was saying to me “we’ve been together for 4 months, why has he not decided whether or not he wants to marry me? Is there something wrong with me? Does he not love me? How can I make him love me more? What if I’m jilted?”

My brain would go into unnecessary overdrive, I never told him and I’m sure he just thought I was a grumpy shit most of our relationship.

Abandonment and Rejection Issues

This was a huge part of my concerns when it came to our relationship, especially as it was long distance. I always worried that he’d meet someone else while I was away. That he’d stop tracing MY tattoos with his fingers, that he’d stop tucking MY hair behind MY ear. He wouldn’t want ME anymore. So I started to push him away, when all I wanted was for him to be closer than ever.

Emotions are Black and white

I fail to see the shades of grey between emotions, I’m euphoric or hysterical. There’s rarely an in between, recently I’ve become far better at being able to tone down the extremes of my emotions to a somewhat ‘normal’ level.

Delusions and Hallucinations

These aren’t the sort of delusions/hallucinations where I see fire breathing panda birds. They’re disassociation mechanisms for when I can’t handle my own mind. When things get too much, I’ll zone out and I feel like I’m floating above my own body. I zone into certain sounds like the clock ticking and find it incredibly difficult to pull my attention away. Even when I’m not around a ticking clock, I still hear one sometimes… while I’m walking or on the bus. I’m learning to block them out though.

Dating someone who has BPD, is very tough. But we are some of the most loyal, respectful, all in people you can find. I’d go to the ends of the earth for the people I love. I will forever put them first, but when I hate someone, I feel a huge overwhelming rage whenever I hear someone mention their name.

I’ve got that all under control though, so there shouldn’t be any mayhem caused by me in that respect! 

If Kiwi can cope, so can you.

🙂

Facts about Mental Illnesses

After countless Google searches about statistics on young adults with Mental Health Illnesses… and with not a lot of luck with what I was trying to find out. I took it upon myself to conduct my own research into just how many of us have to battle these demons.

In this survey I conducted, there were 59 respondents who ever so kindly took part, so I thank each and everyone of you for taking your time to complete the questionnaire.

As you can see from this first question, the majority of people who answered the questionnaire were female. The reasoning for this could be that males felt less comfortable to share the information. Or it could just be due to the fact that I don’t know many males… Who knows!

q2

In this next question we can see that the main age range of the people who answered the questionnaire were between 21-30 years of age. 56% were to be exact, 35% were younger and 9% were older. This again could be due purely down to the majority of people I know being around this age.

q3

100% of people who answered the questionnaire were inside of the United Kingdom. This may be the response that it is due to the narrowed sharing of the questionnaire to just my personal profile on Facebook, which contains mainly people from within the UK.

q4

This is where the statistics start to become more interesting… 90% of the people who participated in the survey suffer from a mental illness of some sort. if we times that by 10, that’s 90% of my friends list on Facebook suffering from something. It’s rather sad to think about.

q5

47% of people were diagnosed with a mental illness within the last 5 years. Now, again… This could be due to the fact of the age of the majority of people who answered these questions.

q6

67% felt that they could talk to someone about their troubles, however… 26% felt like they could not. I wonder if this is due to the stigma of feeling weak if they ask for help.

q7

Now approximately 73% of the people who answered suffer from a form of anxiety, while not far behind is 65% of people suffering from depression. These are two of the most common forms of mental illness… Yet there are still so many people struggling to find help… This needs to change. Other answers I got that I didn’t mention in the answers were OCD, Major Depressive Disorder and Body Dysmorphia.

q8

And again, a saddening statistic, 98% of people know someone who is suffering from am Mental Illness right now.

As an employee of the NHS and a current sufferer of Mental Illnesses, I feel that we need far more funding to support the people who so desperately need help. Currently only 15% of the people who suffer from Mental Illnesses are getting the help they need. What about the others? The people who can’t speak up due to fear, judgement and prejudice.

The NHS needs more like-minded people to get their services running at the best of their abilities. Please, if you have the chance to jump at a job in the NHS and more specifically Mental Health… Please take it, we need all the help we can get in such an under budgeted sector.

If Kiwi can cope, so can you.

🙂