Monday, 29 February 2016

Llama cushion

How cute is this cushion?! I'm a sucker for anything with pom-poms on, and I loved the colours in the print of the llama, including the stitched details. I picked up an Asda Home catalogue the other day (yes, I'm an old woman), and saw this cushion in it - so of course, I had to order it as soon as I got home. It brightens up my room even more, and the back of it is a teal blue, so it could be used facing either way around.

Today has been a normal day on placement and studying, although I started my psychiatry rotation this morning which I am looking forward to. No exciting leap year proposals from me, I'm afraid! The only permanent new man in my life is my llama. I've called him Larry.
No matter how hard the past, you can always win again.
           - Buddha

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Vivid dreams

After talking about my Citalopram yesterday, I am sure it gives me more vivid dreams than I used to get.

My dreams used to be mainly based on reality and what was currently happening in my life, but more recently I have been having some rather bizarre dreams that don't relate to real life in any way. For example, the other night I dreamed that I was in a GCSE history class with some YouTubers, drinking alcohol at the back. We then had to go and hide in a cave for some unknown reason. Last night I dreamed that a HUGE spider was in the room and I couldn't get away.

I also find myself having more bad dreams than I used to, that again are not in touch with reality, but are still terrifying. More often than not I wake up and remember what I was dreaming about - and sometimes it makes me laugh; other times it stops me from wanting to go back to sleep again.

Today I have literally slept all day - I didn't get up until 6pm - so I have been waking up at odd intervals and remembering my funny dreams. One thing I always think is strange is that you remember your dream vividly when you wake up, but 5 minutes later you've completely forgotten it.

I think this is just a random side-effect of my Citalopram, and one that I can definitely cope with, but sometimes my dreams are very weird!

Does anyone else have this side-effect with their antidepressants? I would love to know!
Don't believe everything you think.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

I want to come off my antidepressants

Taking a little pill every day for my mental health is just a part of my daily routine that has become normal over the past 10 months or so. I take one of my Citalopram tablets every morning when I wake up without fail, and usually don't even think about it.

However, recently I have been feeling really well and haven't been suffering with my depression very much, so I've been thinking about my antidepressants. I would love to come off them to prove to myself that I can do without them, but I am scared that I would go right back to square one again.

Last year I came off Citalopram for a couple of months and ended up having a really low period after Easter - however, there were certain things that happened around that time that caused me to feel like that. I went straight back onto antidepressants to help with my mood, but that meant that I was never sure whether it was my circumstances, or coming off my Citalopram, that made me feel down at that point.

The trouble with antidepressants is that they have to be slowly withdrawn, as you can experience severe side-effects such as mood changes and difficulty sleeping if you suddenly stop them. Last year I was on 40mg, so I went down to 20mg, and then 10mg, over a couple of months, before stopping my Citalopram completely. This year I am only on 20mg, so it wouldn't take me as long to dose down.

However, it is recommended that you are well and without mental health problems for at least 6 months before you try to come off antidepressants. I have probably been this well for around 2 months so far, and I have a lot of situations that could be stressful coming up this summer, including my final exams, so I think my doctor would be a bit hesitant to advise me to come off my antidepressants right now.

I have been feeling quite down (but not depressed) about my weight and my appearance recently, and one of the easiest ways to lose weight for me is to be depressed - losing weight is often one of the most obvious signs of me suffering with my depression again. This morning I was feeling particularly bad about myself, and was tempted to not take my Citalopram. I almost wanted to feel down again, just so I could lose some weight - which is a bit messed up.

I gave myself a harsh talking to and took my tablet, but I guess it's a sign that I'm not quite ready to stop taking my antidepressants yet - it could be very easy to slip back into old ways, and I don't want to feel that bad again.

Perhaps after the summer I will try and dose down on my Citalopram, but for now I'm going to continue to look after myself and work on my happiness. It's been working for the past couple of months so far, and my antidepressants are probably helping my mood to stay as level as it has been.
I stopped looking for the light. I decided to become it instead.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Depression: The black dog

I have mentioned WHO's video entitled "I had a black dog, his name was depression" in the past - and I still think it's one of the best descriptions of depression out there. So I thought I would use it to try and describe my own depression in this post. I would recommend watching the video below (or here on YouTube) before you read on!

"He would surprise me with a visit for no reason, or occasion"
I used to beat myself up about the fact that I sometimes feel down for no reason, even when my life is 'perfect' and has nothing particularly wrong with it. However, with time, I learnt that this is completely normal in depression - it's just a chemical imbalance in my brain.

"When the rest of the world seemed to be enjoying life, I could only see it through the black dog"
I remember feeling abnormal because everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves, and I just couldn't muster up any enthusiasm for life. Sometimes I would think 'why me'; other times I would think that I deserved it. Life would seem bleak and like it could never be better again.

"He chewed up my memory and my ability to concentrate"
Looking back to my darkest times, I can't actually remember them very much. I feel like during those periods I wasn't really there - at the time it was like looking from the outside in. They feel a little bit like a dream, and I don't know whether my memory has been affected to protect me from the emotional trauma that I went through, or because my depression affected it, but it feels really strange looking back.

"Doing anything, or going anywhere with the black dog, required super human strength"
This is one of my biggest problems with my depression. It can be such a huge effort to get out of bed, to wash my hair, or brush my teeth. Even replying to a text can seem like a mammoth task, so getting into hospital every day can pose a huge problem.

"My biggest fear was being found out. I worried that people would judge me"
This used to be a fear of mine, until I started this blog and told the whole world about my depression! I would try and hide it from those around me, and very few people actually knew how much I was suffering.

"The black dog could make me think, and say, negative things"
My perception becomes completely distorted during my really down days - my thinking becomes completely irrational and negative. When I am well, I know that my negative thoughts aren't true and I can rationalise them; however when my depression hits me, I can't see my way out of the darkness and my negative thinking takes over.

"He loved nothing more than to wake me up with highly repetitive and negative thinking"
I find it very hard to get to sleep when I am suffering with my depression, and often have really bad dreams that wake me up at night, which makes it hard to get back to sleep again. This consequently has a knock-on effect on my daytime tiredness, which is magnified by my depression anyway.

"Having a black dog in your life isn't so much about feeling a bit down, sad or blue... At its worst it's about being devoid of feeling altogether"
I have had times when I have sat for about half an hour or more just staring into space, thinking negative - or even suicidal - thoughts, and have not had any feeling towards myself whatsoever. And that is much more scary than feeling sad and upset.

"When you lose all joy in life, you can begin to question what the point of it is"
I guess this is where the suicidal thoughts come in. Life seems so pointless at times when I am really down, and it is really difficult to see a way out of the darkness. Thankfully I have some amazing people around me that manage to drag me out of this slump, and my family and friends always seem worth holding on for.

"There was no silver bullet, or magic pill"
I have learnt that medication, anti-depressants, do not work for everyone. I am currently taking Citalopram, but I don't think I would be as well as I am if it wasn't for my blog and my counsellor too. Different treatments work for different people - and the majority of the time, an anti-depressant won't be the only, or best, answer.

"Black dog days can, and will pass"
I have learnt this with time, by understanding more about my depression and how to manage it. Sometimes I know that I just need a couple of days in bed, and other times I know that I need to turn to someone to help me out a bit. But now, whenever I feel down, I usually remember that the low days will eventually pass.

"I wouldn't say that I am grateful for the black dog, but he has been an incredible teacher"
I really do think that everything happens for a reason, and if it wasn't for my depression I wouldn't be who I am today. I probably would never have started this blog; I wouldn't have met some of the incredible people that I now have in my life; I wouldn't be as empathetic; and I don't think I would have learnt as much about my inner strength. In a way, I am grateful for my depression (although I wouldn't wish it on anyone).
The sign of a beautiful person is that they always see beauty in others.
                   - O. Suleiman

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Photos from Disneyland: Part 2

I know it's a bit late, but I haven't really done anything exciting today (apart from book flights to Bali... no big deal), so here are a few more photos from my trip to Disneyland!

After looking through my Disneyland photos again, I now have It's a Small World on repeat in my head... Such a good ride, yet the song is a little annoying!

It's a small, small worlddddddddddd.
The best part about life? Every morning you have a new opportunity to become a happier version of yourself.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Fentimans Sparkling Lime and Jasmine

When I first opened today's parcel and saw this letter at the top, I thought that I was finally being invited to attend Hogwarts.

Sadly, this wasn't quite true. When I opened it I revealed that I had been sent the new drink from Fentimans - their Sparkling Lime and Jasmine soft drink*.

Fentimans is a company that I have been familiar with for a while - they have been producing botanically brewed beverages for over 100 years, and to me have always seemed like high-class soft drinks that are often sold in places like National Trust cafes or quirky restaurants. I have tried their Rose Lemonade in the past (which is delicious), so I was intrigued to taste their new offering.

One of the things I love about Fentimans products are their glass bottles. I think they would look so pretty on a mantle piece with some flowers in them, or perhaps as a candle holder. And the Sparkling Lime and Jasmine drink didn't disappoint - it had a lovely bright green colour that is perfect for spring and summer.

My housemate and I decided that we would try the drink with our lunch, but we had to put it in wine glasses as it seemed too posh for a regular tumbler. We felt quite sophisticated sipping from a wine glass in the middle of the day! I really enjoyed the taste of Sparkling Lime and Jasmine - you could especially taste the lime, which had a sharp but not unpleasant aftertaste, and the jasmine added a softer edge. I felt it was really refreshing and would be a great summer drink, and a good alternative to alcohol. I probably prefer the taste of Rose Lemonade, but that is just personal preference as I like sweet flavoured drinks - and I would be intrigued to try Fentimans' Wild English Elderflower or their Mandarin and Seville Orange Jigger too.

But I'll tell you one thing - it certainly tastes a lot better than butter beer!

Fentimans Sparkling Lime and Jasmine drink was on sale from 8th February this year (look out for it in a National Trust cafe near you!).
To make a difference in someone's life you don't have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful, or perfect. You just have to care.
              - Mandy Hale

Monday, 22 February 2016

People can really affect your mood

It may sound obvious, but please be aware that your words and actions can really affect how people feel.

I have had a little bit of a wobble today due to a couple of things that have been said to me, probably not meaning to hurt me. But I really think it's worth taking a moment to think before you say something to someone - it has been shown that emotional pain can be as bad as physical pain, and they both affect the same areas in the brain.

It is frustrating that the actions of others can affect my mood so much, but I guess that's just a normal part of human life. The words and actions today made me feel inadequate, like I am not good enough for those people. When really I know that I have a lot to give. I also don't think it helped today that I was really tired, and it was straight back to reality after being in Disneyland for the past few days.

However, I also had an overwhelming emotion of strength today. I know I can push through and get through this little blip. The people in my life that make me feel good are the people that are supposed to be there. Those that hurt me or make me feel bad don't matter. I have some amazing people around me and that's what matters at the end of the day - they are the ones that will stick around no matter what.
My heart is at ease knowing that, what was meant for me will never miss me, and what misses me was never meant for me.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Photos from Disneyland

I'm back in Liverpool now (boo), so thought I would share with you a few of the 589 photos I took over the past few days. Enjoy!

So I realised that I took way too many photos to just put in one post - I'll probably do another later in the week. Hopefully these give you a little bit of an idea about what the Disneyland park is like, if you haven't been before.
Be mindful of the future... But not at the expense of the moment.
                     - Qui Gon Jinn