February 2019

Phobia

Agoraphobia. It’s something I don’t really mention when I speak about my mental struggles. I think because I don’t want people to think that I’m so messed up that I’m begging for attention. Another one of my struggles but I’m learning to let that go.

What is Agoraphobia? There are a lot of aspects to this, I don’t really think you can define it by 1 thing. It’s basically the fear and avoidance of certain situations or places that will cause you to panic. This is my life. A constant avoidance, no matter how much I’m moving forward there’s this obstacle that I can’t get over and I don’t know how.

Back in 2014 after I was diagnosed I think I spent about 5 months inside the house. I didn’t leave, not for anything. My mom, man I love my momma, she took 2 or 3 months off work to look after me. I would literally cry if I was left alone in the house. I was hysterical, I hyperventilated a lot and would have to stick my head out the window to let air back in. There were times that I used to phone my little brother while he was at work and beg him to come home because I couldn’t take it. I’d be on the phone to him, even as he was travelling home so I wouldn’t feel alone. The times that I was alone in the house I’d spend in bed. All day, I literally wouldn’t move until my mom got back, when I knew that I could breathe easy for a while. The thought of leaving the house at that time, even to just walk down the road made me sick. In my head it was, I’m going to have a panic attack and look like an idiot or I’m not safe outside I’m going to drop dead somewhere and no one will be there for me. Even to this very day these thoughts are with me. Going somewhere by myself scares the absolute crap out of me. Now that I’ve started to take a little control back over my life I’m able to go to places and do things. In no way is it easy though, it’s so damn hard. Your mind is such a powerful place, how 1 thought can multiply and consume your mind is so bizarre to me.

It was at this time that I stopped eating too, I lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time. During those 5 months my body went through hell, the amount of stress that ran through me. I’m so proud of myself because there were times when I wanted it all to be over. There’s an ache in my heart remembering all of this, keeping it locked away and now bringing it back up is making me really emotional. Its good for me to look back at this moment though because look how far I’ve come.

One of the things I can’t get over is my fear of public transport or just travel in general. Basically just being anywhere that’s not home. My very first panic attack was on the bus, as I was going to the gym so you know where this is going. I thinks its the small space or the feeling that I can’t escape that does me over. The fact that I feel like I have to act normal so I don’t look like an idiot in front of people. Especially as I don’t drive yet so public transport is it for now. I have this.. tell when I start to feel anxious. I can’t keep still, constantly moving and twitching, checking my pulse, deep breathing, taking sips of water. The worst is when my head starts to feel heavy, my legs feeling like jelly and I can hear my own heartbeat. I absolutely hate it. I try to avoid it as much as possible but every so often it gets to me. I guess the only change from back then to now is that I don’t let it stop me. Sure my mood will completely change and my energy levels drop but with sleep and good food I usually bounce back. It’s just sometimes going through all of this hurts. So so bad. I can’t put it into words. All of this effects me socialising with people and I miss that so much. I go out from time to time but not nearly as much as I used to. It’s lonely dealing with suppressing negative thoughts and trying to live your life too. Which is why my end goal in life is to just find my happy and live in that.

In case anyone was wondering, I don’t take any medication for my mental health. Never have. It was a choice that I went back and forth with for a while. The determination to better myself without relying on meds isn’t easy in the slightest. I was perscribed Citalopram which is an antidepressant but I’ve never used it. I know some people are probably thinking man you’re strange for refusing to help yourself. I don’t see it that way though. Everyone is different no? To me all I was thinking at the time was that I don’t want to rely on it. What happens when I want to stop taking them? Not to mention the (ok it has less than others) side effects. That would just give me more anxiety. I don’t want to be taking meds for the rest of my life. I’d rather live knowing that I at least tried the natural route and I’m a big fan of natural products and remedies. What helps my depression, anxiety and agoraphobia a lot is a balanced diet and exercise. Something that takes effort and a lot of planning. Yes ok, I’ve put on weight since I lost a lot of it but I’m heading in the right direction again. If that means in a few years time I eventually start taking meds then so be it but for now that’s not where I’m at.

What I’m trying to say is, if you’re going through what I do, do what’s right for you. Its a matter of trial and error. You’ll eventually figure it out.Most importantly…. You’ve got this.

Until the next one

Shanai xxx

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February 2019

Escape

What’s your escape?

Hmm, I kind of like asking questions at the beginning of a post, I may make it a thing. Question of the week. Anyway back on topic, an escape. What do you do to relax?

Personally I game (A lot). Growing up with 2 brothers it was bound to happen. I’ve always been a tomboy, playing football or cricket (yes I played cricket) however I still had my barbie’s and dolls. I just like to mix it up a little you know. Gaming is a whole other world, yes it frustrates me from time to time but its a great escape from reality for a while. If i’m feeling anxious at any point during the day gaming usually helps calm me down.

What’s funny is that my brother bought an Xbox One and I bought the PS4, we swapped consoles as our friends were on the other platform. So Xbox it is for me (plus I like gameplay better on xbox). I do eventually want to build my own PC and when I get my own place it will more than likely have a games room (yes i’m serious). My game list is as follows Apex Legends, Black Ops 3&4, DragonBall Xenoverse 1&2, Fortnite, Overwatch & Rainbow 6 Siege. So I basically like shooting things. I think though its more the competitive side to gaming that keeps me interested. I’m a competitive person but know when to humble myself. If I suck at something, i’ll say that I suck at it but I always aim to improve and get better.

The gaming community is huge! I’ve made so many friends and met some wierdo’s but hey ho that’s the way of life. Guys reactions to a girl gaming is something else. The amount of sexist jokes is unreal “oh why don’t you get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich”. Huge eye roll whenever I hear that one, its the first that usually comes out. I’m not trying to put anyone off but if you’re a girl and you game and talk on mic’s like I do then you know what I mean.

Anyways other than gaming I love films. My dvd collection is over 100 but I love anything Marvel or comic related. Ok minus Venom because they murdered that film and cremated it. I don’t even want to get into that. Oh and DC films because Justice League was a shambles…. I should totally do film reviews on here. Let you guys know what i’m currently into etc. Like have you seen the trailer for the Aladdin live action film? Oh my gosh, i’m so hyped for that it’s unreal. I think the biggest film i’m waiting for is Avengers: Endgame because wow wow wow they have a lot of explaning to do!

So this post was really just a chat. I didn’t really have a topic in mind and my last 3 posts were kind of intense so I wanted to lighten the mood a little. P.S sorry this is a day late, I have the flu and yesterday I could just about breathe.

Until the next one.

Shanai xxx

February 2019

Magic

What’s your favourite song?

Mine without a doubt is Coldplay – Magic. I know, the song is about heartache, a devastating break-up and love. It’s not for that reason.

When I first started having panic attacks nothing would calm me down. This was before I started getting therapy, the time where I never understood what I was going through. The first year of my attacks were the worst. Imagine feeling like you’re literally about to die. The swelling of your chest, the ache in your limbs and the lack of concentration is a combination of dread. Honestly it’s one of the worst feelings and I can’t explain enough how scary and mind altering an attack is. They were so bad that I hardly remember a 6 month period of my life. It’s a complete blur, everyday I would have at least 1 attack and they would last for hours. Hours of desperation and wanting it to end. Of sweating, hyperventilating, being tense and on edge. I literally felt as if I was falling apart and going crazy at the same time. All I did back then was cry. I wouldn’t eat, I hardly slept and I thought I was in a never ending abyss. It’s an odd feeling really, when I think about it afterwards.

Magic. I’m listening to it now as I write this. The album Ghost Stories came out in 2014 so I suppose it’s fitting that this is my favourite song. There’s something almost hypnotising about it. The beat and melody calls to my soul. The second I hear that first note everything around me fades into the background. It makes me smile, besides the devastating reason behind the song. Listen to it if you like, close your eyes and listen to it. Let me know what you think.

I can’t exactly remember how I started listening to Magic whilst having my attacks. As I don’t remember much from back then but I do know that this song helps to calm me down. I forget everything and just listen. I still listen to it to this day if I start to feel some type of way. It’s almost as if it grounds me and brings me back to reality. A reminder that I’m ok and that time will pass. That I’m human.

Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t work every time I listen to it for that reason but the fact that at that time where I was at my worst, it helped me get through it. Even for just a little bit, means the world to me. This is the reason why it’s my favourite song.

I could write so much more (like a lot) but I don’t want this post to be a long one…. So what’s your favourite song? What memory do you attach to it?

Until the next one

Shanai xxx

January 2019

Self Love VS Self Doubt

I find it difficult to talk about myself. When someone says, ‘so tell me something interesting about yourself’, my brain automatically switches off. Like how am I supposed to know? It’s easy to assess other people, I’m an extremely observant person. I have this knack of sussing people out which is kind of odd and a little freaky to be honest. Moral of this story I can see the best in other people but not in myself.

I think I’ve always doubted myself in a way. Doubted my self worth, personality, looks. Just to name a few, I think everyone does this though yes? It’s ingrained in us, constantly comparing ourselves to others (especially us women) or doubting our capabilities. It takes a strong person to overcome all of this and go for what they want. Even now I’m supposed to be writing about myself and look what I’m doing…. Old habits.

I suppose the latest incident of me doubting myself would have to be in my career. I finished my Graphic Design degree in 2014 and as I told you in the last post, that year wasn’t a good year for me. Therefore I didn’t chase my dreams at that time to become a designer.  It wasn’t until last year where I spent the whole year either in a design internship or working and it made me more determined to succeed. Alas my current situation is not so great. I’ve been unemployed and applying for design jobs since December. I’m staying positive and have a feeling that things will look up soon but it’s hard out here. I can’t help but think that because I had a few years off from design I’ve fallen totally out of touch with it or I’m not good enough. Hence the self doubt and reason for this post.

I’m not giving up though, design is something I love and honestly I just want the opportunity to prove to myself that I can do this. I’m trying to keep myself occupied whilst still waiting for the right opportunity.

Whilst doing all of this, I’ve noticed that I have this pattern of shutting myself off from the world, my friends and family. I become very guarded and hardly speak or get involved in things. I have this thought ingrained in my head that I’m such a failure or lacking something by not being employed that I don’t want to bother people with my “problems”. Messed up right?… Welcome to my brain. I know it’s ridiculous but I can’t help but think and feel like that. So if you’ve noticed this about me, that’s probably the reason why. I’m trying to change my trail of thought, it just takes time and a lot of patience. You have to learn to love yourself first in order to heal.

The amount of times I blamed myself for not being strong enough back then and then maybe I wouldn’t be having this struggle right now but I can’t change the past. That was then and this is now. I’ve learned to let that go, just like I’m learning to let a lot of things go and to take life as it comes. Last year I started to become more confident and was practicing self love and self care. I still do now too, feel more confident. Which is why I’m able to write all of these thoughts down. Just doing small things like changing my diet and exercise routine really helps my mind and gives me clarity.

Believe me there are days where I just want to go back to bed or give up all together but I’m not getting any younger. There’s a whole world out there that I want to explore. I’ve said countless amounts of times that I want to travel before I decide where I want to settle in life. In order for that to happen I have to be optimistic, I believe it’ll manifest in time so I’ve got my mind open and positive thoughts flowing. In the meantime I need to work on myself more. Push myself in the right direction and stop being so hard on myself. When you’ve been knocked back so many times, there’s only the way forward right? So I’m heading in that direction… Or at least I hope I am.

Until the next one

Shanai xxx

 

January 2019

An Introduction to Me

I don’t know why I got this idea to start a blog but here I am. I guess I’m just tired of people not seeing the real me. Or wanting people to understand me better. I’m not the easiest of people to “read” and I like to keep things to myself which is probably why I’m in this particular predicament.

The whole point of this was to give an insight to my head, my thoughts, worries, joyful moments. Things like that. Also this helps me, writing things down and saying things in a way where I can communicate easier. I do keep a diary, which I’ve started slacking on because I don’t know where to begin writing…. Organising thoughts is somewhat of a challenge to the world of mental health. Which is what this blog is really about.

If people didn’t already know, I was diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety and Panic Disorder in 2014. Where I know the reason why I’ve travelled down this rabbit hole I’m not quite ready to share those thoughts with the world just yet. For now just know that it’s hard, it’s a struggle but I’m here and I’m fighting.

Sans 2014 I was your everyday chica. I wouldn’t say I was confident but sure of myself. Didn’t really have a plan, I was just going with the flow and seeing where life would lead me and I was comfortable with that. I didn’t worry about it and was living my best life. Personality wise, loud being the most apparent (like my laugh could be heard from the moon kind of loud), always smiling, laughing, joking. I would say I was spontaneous, making random plans or not planning at all and just turning up at places and having an amazing time. My teenage years were so much fun. Still laugh like a hyena when I meet up with my gals and reminisce about good times. I was sensitive though, not as sensitive as I am now but still. I wouldn’t let it show of course. Being the big girl came with what I thought was the responsibility of not letting things get to you. Oh man if you could have read my diaries back then. One day i’ll post a little snippet, when I get into the groove of this thing.

My childhood was great. I got told by a therapist once not to use the word “normal” so I won’t use that to describe my childhood. I was raised in a single parent household. Love my mama to bits and my 2 brothers. I have an extended family through my older brother too so I guess you could say I have 3 brothers and a sister. I was a tomboy, like hardcore tomboy, still am really just with make-up hah. I didn’t do dresses. I remember once in primary school, my mom had gotten me a summer dress to wear. I cried for the whole day because I wanted my trackie bottoms back. Still laugh at that memory with my mom too. I was confident as kids are but also shy which I still am. So life on the surface was good to me.

Internally was something quite different. For others that don’t know my dad passed away when I was 6 years old. I remember him, I remember our trip to Jamaica (where he was from) I remember a lot of things…. Growing up without a father was hard. Like I’m struggling not to cry writing this now. Being 6 years old at the time I didn’t understand, I didn’t grieve properly. Of course my mom had taken myself and my siblings to bereavement counselling, something that I faintly remember. I don’t think it was until I reached secondary school where I properly realised that a part of my soul was missing. I remember randomly crying myself to sleep wishing that my dad could be there. I’d be jealous of other people’s whole families while mine was broken and unrepairable. I feel really horrible for writing that but this blog is about me being honest. Still to this day thinking about my dad upsets me, to think what could have been. Or thinking my life would have turned out differently if he was still here. I’ve accepted it, I’ll never get over it but I cope.

So I guess this is where my spiral into the world of Mental Health started. The grief I carried around with me for years. The constant of putting upsetting comments and expectations to the back of my mind. Wanting to prove myself to certain individuals but not knowing how to. All in all just trying to find myself. The past 4 almost 5 years have been the hardest years of my life. I feel like a yo-yo honestly. Constantly up and down, up and down. It’s exhausting. Half of the time I can’t focus on 1 thing which is why I wanted to start this blog. Think of it as an online diary. Or relating to it in your own personal way.

2019 has begun though people time for changes yes? I’m tired of not living and just existing. It’s time for me to go and get what I want and stop thinking about what other people think about me. What people expect of me or sticking to my usual. 1 thing I have learnt over the past 4/5 years is that I’m more in touch with myself now than what I was before. Yes I still have some topics and subjects that I struggle speaking and dealing with but 1 step at a time and I’ll get to where I want to be. All I want in life is to be happy. Here’s to that journey and this new path that I’m hopefully enduring.

Until the next one

Shanai xxx