Like every other millennial who has finished uni and doesn’t want to face the real world and get a job, I thought about going travelling. I have always wanted to travel, to Australia in particular. But since I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I’ve felt like it has been an impossible dream. Every time I would consider going or start looking into flights, my demons inside would shoot me down and tell me I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I am determined to at least try and if it doesn’t work out then it wasn’t meant to be. But I’m aiming to help others who also might feel they can’t follow their dreams because they’ve been diagnosed with a Mental Illness.

With my Sertraline allowing me to be more constant with my moods and the ending of my masters course I just decided one day to go into STA travel and enquire about going. I’m the kind of person where once I’ve got an idea in my head, it’s hard to let it go and on this particular day I thought back to the person I was before my mental illness and thought ‘I wouldn’t let anything stop me going travelling’… so why should I now?

My trip starts out with a month in Fiji and then onto Sydney where my working visa starts. I had to do a medical before being accepted for a visa which will be explained more in another post. Everything was coming together and I actually enjoyed the times where I could sit and plan my journey.

I have only planned a week in Sydney and the rest I will plan when I get there,. Now those with anxiety are probably like ‘id have to have everything planned down to the day’ where actually for me, I would feel more anxious if I had made a structured plan and for some reason was not able to stick to it. For example if something happened and I wasn’t able to make it to that specific hostel that I had planned, my anxiety would be more concerned that my plans weren’t going to the structured timetable. Also being more flexible means that I can change plans if I need too, if I meet a group of people – I could go where they are going or if I really like a place, I could stay for more days. Don’t get me wrong the flights, transfers and airport pick ups had to be booked and structured down to a tee, otherwise my panic would set it, but once I’m at the first hostel I’m fully flexible! I guess this is down to my own anxiety needs.

So the main thing here is that I’m going on a solo adventure (much to my mothers dismay) but I felt that I couldn’t keep relying on other people and at this stage of my life, my friends had other commitments and I felt like for once, in a very long time, I wanted to be in control of what I do and when. I feel ready to get back to how I used to be where I did what I wanted to do. The only way to do this is to go alone.

I was once a very independent person and it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest being on my own or meeting new people. But now my anxiety is constantly in my head making me overthink every single thing. But this is another reason why I’ve chosen to go alone. All because I’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness, this will not stop me from wanting to achieve things I’ve always wanted to do. Yes, it is going to be hard, very hard on some days, especially when depression tries to tell you ‘no one likes you’ or ‘those people don’t want to speak to you’ but I feel like this is something I need to overcome and prove to myself that it is okay to be alone sometimes.

An aim I have given myself as part of my self-care whilst I’m travelling is to accept that being alone is okay. To start to appreciate my alone time and realise that not everything in life can be done with somebody else. I have found recently that I have had to fill my spare time otherwise I would sit and overthink and get sad, meaning I cant relax or just have some time doing nothing. But as I’m going to be so busy doing lots of new things and be around lots of people constantly, I will need to have time away from people. This isn’t going to be the easiest thing for me because I’ve never had to be alone. I’ve always had my friends, my sisters and family around me and I’ve always chose to be with somebody else over being on my own. So we will see how this one goes.

I found that once I’d booked my travelling adventure, that any anxieties I had were answered by other travellers. I realised even people that don’t have a diagnosis of anxiety, naturally have similar worries and feelings that I could relate too. This is what I want my blog to become. I want it to not just record my travels and give the best places to go see, but also to give guidance to other people that like me, felt my mental health was a barrier to my travelling dreams. I want to be able to give my own tips on things that are helping me whilst being away. The mental health community is by far the most supportive group of people I’ve ever met and I want to work alongside them to show people that having a mental health diagnosis does not mean you cannot follow your dreams and have amazing experiences like everybody else. You might just need a little more help on the way.

S x

“You can be a depressive and be happy, just as you can be a sober alcoholic”

– Matt Haig (Reasons to stay alive)

On World Mental Health day 2017, I wanted to write something about how people can be fighting a battle that you know nothing about.

Most of my photos on instagram show me with a beaming smile. Sometimes these are my true feelings that day, sometimes its just for show. And sometimes, its me pretending to myself that I’m not depressed or anxious, trying to pretend to myself that everything is okay.

Very little people in my life know about my mental illness.

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I’m a very smiley, confident, bold person. I am interested in makeup, and keep up with the latest fashion trends. My life, to some people seems perfect. Ive gone to university, completed my masters, I have my own car, I have amazing friends and a supportive family. They see the hard outer shell I have created to get me through that days, to them, how could I possibly be so depressed, when everything in my life seemed perfect?

Maybe I don’t tell people because they won’t believe me. I have many days where I feel great, where the smile I wear is genuine, I can go out, laugh and have the best fun.  I don’t have to be crying or panic everyday to suffer from depression and anxiety. Not every day is a bad day.

It’s not until you’re crying your heart out at home alone, that you realise nobody knows how unhappy you are. No matter how strong you are, at some point you can reach rock bottom.

What people don’t realise is;

  • I can be in a room full of people, looking like I’m having the best time – when really I feel completely on my own and feel completely empty.
  • Every morning its a real struggle to get out of bed, not because I’m lazy but because I mentally cant face the day.
  • I rip the insides of my lips to shreds with crippling anxiety.
  • That some days, the biggest achievement I can achieve that day is having a shower, or eating a meal.
  • I can have moments where everything comes crumbling down and I sob my heart out and have no explanation why.
  • My mental illnesses causes me physical pain.
  • I am so so strong, yet also so exhausted. I say I’m tired, when actually I’m physically exhausted.
  • I have constant thoughts that I will never be enough.
  • The some nights; I want to fall asleep and never wake up.

‘Mental health is a real thing. You never know what people are going through’

– Jay-Z talking about the death of Chester Bennington.

But this has made me realise, that I don’t know everyone else stories. The girls with thousands of followers, with hundreds of likes on their photos.. are they happy? Do they feel alone, and cry themselves to sleep? ‘How can they be?’ people say, they’ve got the perfect life. Things go on behind closed doors that people have no idea about, and for people to open those doors and let people in, is so brave.

IMG_5117The main line for mental illness is that it’s an ‘invisible illness’. People who suffer from a mental illness are the strongest people I know. They fight each day putting on a brave face, to show the world they are not beaten. So if someone looks like they are living the perfect life, it does not mean they are not fighting demons in their head.

Everyday should be mental health day, but if today being World Mental Health Day 2017 gets just one more person to talk about mental health, then its one more step to this world becoming a better place.

S x

October is the start of my 365 days of self care. This month is starting it off by doing ‘Sober October’ which is ran to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. As well as raising money, I’m doing this to improve my self care and mental health.

It does say on the lil’ leaflet in the anti-depressant box, to not drink alcohol, but on the good days, whats a pint or ten? ‘Alcohol may seem to improve your mood in the short term, but its overall effect increases symptoms of depression and anxiety.’ Why do I keep drinking knowing its adding depression and anxiety, to my already existing depression and anxiety?

By no means am I dependant on alcohol or feel the need to drink on a daily basis, but I am one who’s very partial to a cheeky Gin, or a cold cider and black when I’m feeling stressed / want to have a good time. But, I always find that- not the day after drinking, (the hangover day) but the day after that, I am that low I cant pick myself up.

Yes alcohol is a depressive and yes they are right. I know people can be a crying drunk and I fall into this category. I have had countless nights out where I’ve ended in tears, being the one that needs to be taken home. Drinking heightens my emotions, makes me more paranoid and makes me over think. The days after I feel my overthinking gets worse, I start to question if I want to be here anymore and just overall feel groggy. My mom has even noticed  a pattern, that I only have irrational thoughts and strong hurtful feelings once I’ve been out and had a drink.*

*(Im talking going out and having excessive amounts, not a pint down the local)

Having 4 years of uni, I don’t even want to think about the amount of alcohol that has gone through my body and every time I’m wrapped around the toilet, throwing up through ’till tomorrow the words ‘I’m never drinking again’ have been said too many times.

I’m doing this month sober to see if actually I do feel better without alcohol making me dip a couple of times a month. It’s been noted there is lots of other added benefits; better sleep, better skin and a better bank balance! Look likes its a mock-tail for me this halloween!

I would love to hear of other peoples thoughts on alcohol and anti-depressants, or own experiences of going sober!

S x

Update: 1st week

I had my first sober night out out, which actually, considering a lot of people are like “I could never go out out without having a drink” I thought it was completely fine. At pres, I told the host I was doing sober October and he offered me some nice mango juice, which was v nice. I held conversations with new people I which I can still remember, and found out I don’t need alcohol to be confident. We went out to a cool bar, and ordered a pint of lemonade, to which the bar girl was like, with Vodka? and a concerned face. Funny how its weirder to order a soft drink than it is a treble vodka. I had a good dance and had good fun and at no point in the night did I feel the need to have a drink. I came home this evening after surviving 2 nights out this weekend with no alcohol and I feel fresh. Im not low, I’m not regretting drinking, to which I know can see its very likely it is alcohol that leaves me feeling shite at the end of the night.

Last night I put my mom through hell.

Friday night I went very bad. My dark thoughts were telling me ‘I wasn’t good enough’ ‘Im all on my own’ ‘Nobody is wanting me’. These took over and I made myself feel physical pain. I didn’t want to be here anymore.

Saturday was spent curled up in a ball, until I decided to go out with my friends. Anything was better than staying at home on my own and having a night that turned into the same as the last.

The night ended with me out till 8am, after taking something to make me feel like I was escaping. The desire to not feel myself anymore was too much for me to cope with. I went home on my own, slept till 5pm and woke up being violently sick. I was red hot, my heart was pulsating like crazy and I felt like I was about to pass out. My mom was on her way to get me, as was the ambulance. They both arrived together, and I ended up being taken to a&e to see the crisis team. I was ashamed, disgusted with myself, guilty that I was putting my mom through all of this with me.

We waited a long time, which actually allowed time for me just to speak to my mom about how I’ve been feeling lately, why I did what I did. She’s my absolute rock and I’m so lucky that I have someone so strong behind me, supporting me everyday.

I saw this lovely lady, who sat and chatted and asked me how I felt. When she asked me what I thought triggered my depression and anxiety, and I said it all started after a  bad break up, she looked at me, shook her head and said;

You beautiful girl, don’t you dare cry over any boy. You are worth so much more.

Her words I will repeat to myself again and again.

She explained that life isn’t a book, no one knows whats coming the next day, but its up to me to live my life. Its up to me to have the life I want.

Im now being referred to a charity to talk about coping techniques and how to deal with the dark thoughts. Spending time in a&e was not fun, but admitting I was not okay and needed help was the best thing I could have done to help myself.

My plea to anybody feeling like this, to not go down my route and go to extremes to escape, but to reach out to someone. Talk to whoever you can, because as I found out, escaping didn’t work.

S x

Yes I’ve had my fair share of shit boys, Yes I’ve been in a relationship where I thought the only person they were seeing with was me, and yes I clearly put 100% in and got absolutely nothing back. Naturally my trust levels went to 0. But a year on, more people come and go and theres one big reason why they don’t stay.

The vicious thoughts that run through my head when they don’t reply, when they leave me on read, when they give me one word answers. My mind starts asking questions that are completely over the top,

Why hasn’t he replied, who’s he with? Has something happened? He hasn’t replied because he’s with another girl.

He’s online but hasn’t spoke to me? Who else is he talking too? Why hasn’t he been online all day, who has he spent the day with?

Who’s that girl in the his photo?

Why was he last online at 3:34am? Who was he talking too at that time?

My thoughts escalate into me making up situations in my head, that normally are very extreme. These thoughts ruin my day, they eat my alive to the point where I end up asking them, making me look like a complete ‘psycho’ girl as they say. Even with a truthful answer,  my anxiety demons in my head tell me he’s lying, that he’s actually sleeping with someone else. The thoughts get so strong that it affects how I am in a relationship, it makes me question their every move, makes me question where they’ve been all day. This is not the intensity a relationship needs in its early days, and it normally sends them running.

What my anxiety shows me is that I need continuous reassurance, and most people don’t understand that. It shows me that my mind overthinks every little detail. It seems to others that I’m just being jealous girl that has severe trust issues.

I’d love to know if anybody else feels like this and how they deal with it because i’d really like to improve this side of my anxiety. Either that or I’m picking the wrong guys that i shouldn’t be trusting anyway…

S x

I’ve come back to add to this post because all those thoughts I had, the paranoia, the thoughts that there was more going on than just a Facebook photo like….all turned out too be true. I was made out to look like I was completely going mad and he proved that everything I thought was actually correct. Thanks for making my anxiety 1000 times worse.