Friday, 7 August 2015

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The very inspiring blogger award

Right, so when I tell you I am a mess? I am a freaking real huge mess.
So yesterday I found out that I've been awarded the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Kevin from The Mental Health Writers' Guild. And I also found out that this happened back in March. But since I am a huge mess of a person I didn't find out until yesterday. Thank you so much Kevin, I am so grateful for this and I am so sorry for the delay (maybe I'll get a comment by someone telling me this is no longer valid but oh well, let's try, shall we).

Here are the rules of the award for me and for those I nominate.

Rules and Courtesies
1. Thank your nominator by posting a link to their blog on your Award post
2. List 7 to 10 Facts About Yourself
3. Nominate up to 15 other blogs for being inspirational
4. Post the rules so people know them
5. Notify your nominees via their About Page and send them the link to your Award Post with the rules on it – I will do so once I choose the lucky ones and I finish this post
6. Post the award badge on your blog anywhere you like on your pages or posts.

List 10 things about myself? Good Lord this is hard and no one wants to know, can we skip it? Right, I'll just answer, I'm already not sure I'm awarded this because I'm late so let's not tempt fate.

  1. I'm very bad with technology and that certainly includes design which is why there are such few images done by me in my blog and why I had to buy a professional template because I can't draw for my life. Not being patient doesn't really help either, I just get frustrated at technology and start talking to it saying how mad I am it's not working the way I want it to. It's probably a funny show to watch.
  2. My natural hair colour is dark blonde. In Spain everyone has always considered me blonde but when I went to the UK, people started saying I was not really blonde, that my hair was 'mousy brown'. So there started my process of getting lighter blonde hair because 'I was blonde'. My hair was long and wavy and amazing. At some point I decided to dye it ginger at home. It only went downhill from there. From ginger I got blonde, but lighter than before. And then in December I had to cut my hair and took it as a chance to dye it even lighter, I was almost platinum blonde. A few weeks ago I died it black but didn't apply enough dye. Not enough black dye in platinum hair? Yep, you guessed right, my hair is an awesome multi-colour mess.
  3. My first depression episode was when I was 11.
  4. I don't choose dogs or cats, I love both. I had a dog from the age of 4 until I was 18 and, being an only child, he was like my brother. Last year I adopted a dog from a shelter who's almost as crazy as I am and I freaking love her.
  5. I am trilingual French, English and Spanish.
  6. If I really had to label my sexuality, it would be 'bisexual'. And no, that doesn't mean I just like anyone and everyone.
  7. Last one, finally, this was getting awkward (almost like Never have I ever). I study listening to screamo music, some songs are lighter pop punk but screamo is my favorite to study.

Let's nominate (with no specific order):

  1. Depressionaire (but the link has expired so I don't know if the blog is still ongoing)
  2. The Mental Health Writers Guild (I know this is Kevin's blog and he nominated be so it might be weird that I nominate him back. But since I found his blog I've always thought it was extremely inspiring to readers in general but also to other bloggers in particular. And that's why I felt like this blog couldn't be missing from my list)

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

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Side effects of medication

A lot of meds have side effects. This is especially the case with meds for mental health issues. Every person is different so meds will affect people in different ways, and everyone is different. Some may not experience any side effects at all whilst others may find the effects to be too bad for them to continue taking the medication. What works for someone may not work for you and vice versa.

Something that a lot of psychiatrists recommend is: do not read the side effects listed in the prospect. The prospects have the obligation to list every single side effect that people have reported whilst taking those drugs even if it was just one person. So it is not an accurate depiction of what you may experience. A lot of anti-anxiety meds have numerous side effects listed and reading them could increase your anxiety instead of reducing it which is what you were given the meds to begin with. So it might be better avoiding to read those if your doctors tell you so.

Some meds will require you to get medical tests and analysis every X amount of time. Make sure you go to the doctor every time you have to and that you complete all these tests so that your psychiatrist can decide whether or not you should continue with the medication. This is very important so make sure you do it and you take the results to the psychiatrist for them to determine what's best. Lithium, for instance, requires that you get your blood tested more or less every month (at the beginning of taking it) to make sure that the lithium levels in your blood are alright. If they weren't, your doctor would recommend another drug for you to take instead of continuing with the same one.

Side effects can vary between almost non-perceptible things to very noticeable ones. If you notice a side effect, as mild as you think it is, there's no harm in mentioning it to your psychiatrist for them to consider whether it is normal and what to do.

I mentioned this on Twitter the other day and people responded by reporting some of their side effects. Shaking seems to be a common one but it ranged from that to not being able to speak. The latter one is obviously a very serious one so if you experience it you should let your psychiatrist know as soon as possible.

My hands are very shaky with lithium and that is especially the case when I get anxious. The first two months applying mascara and eating soup proved to be extremely challenging. If you experience something like that or any other side effect, do not panic, but do let your psychiatrist know. In my case, for example, my psychiatrist determined that it was a normal side effect and that it wasn't so important for me to change meds.
However, I remember when I used to take topamax, I had very vivid nightmares where I woke up not knowing whether or not it had been real. That began affecting my sleeping pattern since I didn't want to go to sleep at night since I was afraid of the nightmares. And that led to lack of sleep. Sleep is extremely important for everyone but especially if you're dealing with a mental health issue. My psychiatrist put me off topamax and replaced it with something else.

My problem with nightmares may not have seemed a relevant one but that's why it's best to mention all side effects to your psychiatrist so they can decide what is best. They will probably ask you what you think and whether you find such side effect too incapacitating to continue taking the meds. So please do tell them about any and every side effect you experience.

If you're taking any of the meds that I mention do not think that you will experience the same side effects, they may work perfectly fine for you and you may not experience any side effect at all. As I said, we are all different. So please don't take this as a reference of the side effects of these drugs. Even though meds may have side effects I think that it is extremely important to take them if your psychiatrist has recommended you do. I can say that meds have helped me.

PS: I wanted a nice image for this blog post but I considered most of the ones I found triggering. So I decided to make it myself and this was the best I could do.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

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Gaining weight after an eating disorder

I'm not referring to the period when you're being re-nourished because you are underweight because of an eating disorder (there will be a post about it at some point). This post is about gaining weight once you're technically recovered from an eating disorder.

I tend to think that it is nearly impossible to ever get rid of an eating disorder. You may have healthy eating habits and at some points maybe not even worrying about your weight. 
I tend to see it this way: the eating disorder is a little voice in your head that tells you mean things and how to eat and to adopt unhealthy lifestyles. When you recover you don't eliminate this voice, you simply learn to ignore it until you even forget it's there. However, on your bad days that voice may sound louder than other times and you may find yourself worrying about your body image and not knowing why.

One of the most basic things that they tell you when recovering from an eating disorder is: stop worrying about your weight and in order to do that stop weighting yourself. This obviously depends on the individual and once recovered some are able to see their weight and not be affected by it. I, for example, am not one of those people. I know whenever I know how much weight I'll be affected by it. If I'm told by the doctor that I have lost weight I'll be extremely happy. I pretend that I don't feel anything about it because I'm technically 'underweight' even though this has been my healthy BMI all my life.

When my psychiatrist told me last week that I had gained 2kg I got very upset. Yesterday I had a bad day and I was obsessed with it for the whole day. I was having a bad day and the thought that I had gained weight took control of my mind.
My therapist once told me that when I focus too much on my body image it's because I'm trying to look away from what the real problem is. Focusing on food or body image can be a way to escape another problem. And as long as we don't fight that we can't focus on what the real issues behind it are.

Seeing this with a perspective it is a lot easier to get to these conclusions. However I am well aware that on bad days it is extremely hard to take a step back and realize that we might be giving too much importance to something that doesn't really have it. We need to try and remember that our weight is not as important as we think it is, and try to take away the power that our eating disorder has over us. As long as we have a healthy lifestyle there's no reason to worry about our weight (you can check this with your therapy to see if you're doing it right).
If you start having negative thoughts about your body image or weight definitely let your therapist know.

Monday, 15 June 2015

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Does narcissistic equal evil?

The first time that a therapist told me that I had narcissistic traits I was shocked. Yeah, my friends had told me sometimes that I loved myself a bit too much... But I believed narcissism was having a grandiose image of yourself, and I was pretty insecure and even hated myself sometimes. So I simply forgot about it. Until it was brought up again later on by another therapist. I then did some research and read what the narcissistic traits are according to the DSM IV. I was told I only had some traits, but this is the list of traits of the narcissistic personality disorder:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

The truth is that the way that it is worded, a lot of the traits sound like negative ones. When I read that, and bearing in mind that my grandmother probably had a narcissistic personality disorder, I thought that being narcissistic meant that I was evil. So I brought this up in therapy and my therapist explained to me how most of the traits are not necessarily "negative" in the sense that they don't make you a bad person. And there seem to be a lot of people who think that way, with images like this one around the internet:

So obviously I was very concerned about being told that I had narcissistic traits. Did that mean I was a bad person? Did that mean I was a manipulative person?

Let's have a closer look at some of these traits and analyze them:

· Has a grandiose sense of self-importance
This can also be understood as thinking that your life is a mission to do something, that there is a meaning to you being here. You may think that what you think is the truth whereas other people simply have beliefs.
It doesn't necessarily believe that you think of yourself above others or that you think you deserve more than anyone else.

· Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people
This is not necessarily as classist or elitist as it sounds. You may be able to associate with everyone but maybe you don't want to get close ties with people who you feel bring nothing to your life.

 · Requires excessive admiration
You may simply seek recognition, not necessarily admiration. 

· Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
This one particularly scared me quite a lot. I don't feel like I exploit people, I am respectful of others and try to never harm them purposefully. However, if you prefer associating with people who bring something to your life, that could be understood as socially exploitative, especially if once you get bored or get from them what you wanted, you leave them (even if it is done in an unconscious way).
So this doesn't necessarily mean that you seek to exploit others. You are not necessarily a bad person even if you do have this trait.

So, as I've tried to highlight, these supposedly negative traits are not really so negative. As it is also the case with many other issues in mental health, there is a lack of knowledge and a lot of misconceptions about narcissism and it is many times seen as something negative, that makes you 'a bad person' when that's not always the case. You obviously need to work on those traits with your therapist, especially if they're interfering in your life and/or interpersonal relationships. But if you have NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) or you have some narcissistic traits, it doesn't mean that you are a bad person. Our actions define us, not labels. Don't let the label define who you are. However, I am pro-labels in the sense that it does help people understand what they're going through and why and that they're not alone. However, don't let labels define you.

Friday, 10 April 2015

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Absence, psych ward and updates

I know I keep saying I'm not going to stay away as long as I did the previous time.

Let me tell you briefly what has been going on.
This past month seems like a downwards spiral in my memory. I'd relapsed from self-harm a couple of months back and I was still not able to control it. Three weeks ago, my therapist sent me to the hospital because she thought my wounds needed medical assistance and recommended my stay in the psych ward. I did not want to stay there and the psychiatrist at the hospital said I was fine to go under surveillance.

However, last week I was focused on my suicidal thoughts and ideation. I had planned everything to the detail, purchased what I needed etc. (I hadn't shared this with anybody)
My parents took me to a new psychiatrist who was going to put me on some new medication and talking to him I saw a ray of hope again. I had not thought I'd tell him about my suicidal ideas, but eventually I did mention them. He said he couldn't let me go like that but I managed to convince him to let me go, promising I would talk to my therapist since I had her later during the day.
It was really hard but I admitted my ideas to my therapist and she recommended I enter the psych ward immediately. So that's what I did.
And that's where I have been the last week. I didn't have internet, or a phone, my visits were very restricted. I'll tell you more about it at a later stage.

I have a massive headache and I'm very tired (but my mom says it's not time to sleep!) But I wanted to update the blog because I want to do it more often. I wrote half a blogpost last week but in the end I didn't post it.
I've been very low on motivation and confidence, so please forgive me.

I feel much better now and to be honest the psych ward has not been as bad as I thought it would be, it has actually been an experience and I have made friends over there.
If you're feeling suicidal, please tell someone.

Monday, 9 March 2015

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My first VLOG! (mental health at school or uni)

Here is my first VLOG ever. In it, I give advice on having mental health issues at school or university from my own experience. It complements the post on Being at school or university with depression and anxiety, giving some new tips. Make sure to check out the blog post for other information as well.

So.... here it goes!

Monday, 2 March 2015

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A poem about BPD

This is a poem that I wrote last October, based on how I was feeling and that yesterday I decided to share on tumblr. I hope that it isn't triggering even though it has references to self-harm and suicidal thoughts. If you are feeling suicidal please check the section 'Need urgent help?' and make sure you get the appropriate help.
I must say things have got better since.

She had her monsters, she knew them well
They were called anger, pain and despair
Most people knew them but in her case
She couldn't tell them to go away

So she buried them deep
Where no one would find them
And she laughed for a year
Thinking she'd left them behind her

So when she opened a door and they all just snook through
She just didn't know what she was going to do

They said she felt too deeply
She said she felt nothing at all
They said she had to be in control
She said she was just empty

It was either everything or nothing at all
Nothing in between, no halfway to go
She cut her skin, they fed her pills
Trying to get the monsters to let go

She thought there was no way out
The emptiness inside made it easy for the monsters to control her
And there she was after a blackout
The white walls of the hospital all way too bright around her

They called it BPD
You just feel way too deeply
You can't control your feelings
Depression, anxiety
How long will it be?”
I don't want them here
I want them to go
I don't want this emptiness
being in control”

There are monsters in my head that want me dead
And I'm afraid they will succeed, you see
And I'm scared people will realize
That I don't know what's in my mind half of the time

I guess there's something beautiful out there
So I am glad that I'm still here
But just don't let go of my hand
I'm scared I'll drown with so much air

How can they breathe so easily?
How can they smile so brightly?
How are their eyes so troubleless?
What, are their minds not behind them?

So why me? Here, have another pill, maybe it'll calm you down
Against your sadness, against your impulsivity
It'll make you happier
It'll make you calmer
It'll make you sleepy
It'll make you easier to handle
Don't read the secondary effects, you'll get scared
No one wants that, you're already scared enough
Why do they care so much?
Why do they care at all?
When will it be time to be a beautiful beloved corpse?

She cuts her skin, they feed her pills
When she cuts deeper increase the dose
And if suicide ever invades your thoughts
You didn't get a damn thing, kid

Things will get better, it will improve
They say “you see? There's a bright future ahead of you”
But she's screaming silently, emptiness fills her eyes
It's too late for me, I am dead inside

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