Thanks to all of your responses I have been able to chuck together a short series on ‘How to maintain a positive mental health and wellbeing’. These are your ideas with some of my thoughts and experiences chucked in. I have to say that this has been beneficial for me. Not only have I realised the importance of sticking to what I do through your encouragement but I am now able to embrace ideas which I probably would never have thought of.
Each and every response has inspired me. Thank you.
Whilst there may be some overlap between topics I will try and keep it fresh.
I have planned four titles which include:
- Connecting with the outdoors
- Connecting with movement
- Connecting with self
- Connecting with others
You see the key word ‘connect’ but I will also write about the importance of disconnecting. It will become clear (I hope).
You may ask why am I doing this? Well, my own views, thoughts and feelings can become stagnant. At the moment I am experiencing a heightened level of stress which is having a detrimental effect on my depression. I could easily sit here and bumble on about it but I don’t want to. I do not feel it is the time or place at the moment. This also helps me to know that I am not alone and writing is a therapy for me.
When I did series 1 of my blog take over, I was truly moved by what I read. Inspiring stories from incredible people who had faced heartache, pain and trauma but are still here to speak up about their journey.
There are so many people out there suffering, many of which do not speak out, many of which do not have support or who are struggling with coping mechanisms. This series is not suddenly going to cure you but I am hoping that everyone who reads it will at least pick up something which may be able to help.
I am no expert, I don’t profess to be a professional and I am not trained in this area. I am just an everyday person who has fallen in to the 1 in 4. I cannot cover everything and some things you may disagree with. I am not giving advice, I am just offering ideas and suggestions based on what people have said helps them through their own experience.
Please follow any professional advice you have been given.
As always help is out there, please reach out if you feel you need to.
If there is anything that you would like to see covered in future blogs or you would like your own story to appear here (can be anonymous) then let me know. xx
Over the next week I am doing something different and asking for your help.
It is as the title suggests. Yep, that simple.
What do you do to get you out of a low mood, or keep you from dropping down that rabbit hole?
How do you sustain good mental health?
It is up to you as to how you respond. You can either comment openly on my insta, twitter or Facebook. You can also private message me.
It can be one word or it can be 1000 words.
Lets see what you do and I will share and provide a write up.
Helping each other in an environment where we understand each other.
Thank you as always.
Sunday 27th January 2019 (12.57pm)
This is one of those days where I am not sure what I am going to say or type or even if I will hit the publish button for all to read.
I will just come out and say it… I feel so low that I do not quite know what to do with myself. I am sat in a coffee shop having just dropped Olly back at home after his morning walk. My head feels all over the place, kind of erratic but subdued not knowing what to do for the best. I have brought my book with me to read but even concentrating on that at the moment seems like a task.
I feel like I am carrying a heavy weight around me, something that cannot be shifted, or at least I have no idea how to shift it. Once again what is going on around me feels fuzzed out as people smile, chat and sip their drinks. I am sat in a corner on my own, quietly observing yet paying no attention. I wonder if people have noticed me, tapping away on my iPad. I wonder what the curious brain has thought?
It has been a week where I have pushed people away, apart from the odd day, not wanting company or conversation. Alone and lonely, some may say that is my choice. Is it? Is it my choice or is it a symptom of an illness which I cannot control but know I do not want. The only place I feel comfortable is when I am out running, swimming, biking or with Olly. It feels like it is my domain. Even exercise is becoming problematic, injuries which I have battled through and pushed to the max are really starting to cause me pain and slow me down yet I won’t stop, I can’t. I have turned down further surgery on my knees as I am bored of it. Bored of recovery. Bored of rehab. I have been through it too many times. People telling me what to do as if I am stupid, it’s all a load of bunkem.
I don’t know what else to say.
Wednesday 16th Jan 2019 (1.39pm)
I invite anyone to live in my head for 24-48 hours to try and understand and see what goes on. Inside is a world of battle, contradiction, positive insights, negative thoughts. A world where nothing stays the same for long, a world that is continually changing and fighting for what is right and for what is best. My head can flip and change from decisive to indecisive in a split second, leaving me in a place where I do not understand. I have gone from someone who would make critical life changing/saving decisions in a professional capacity to someone who cannot decide what to have for tea. I no longer feel in control of my life and and am more than happy for others to make the most basic decisions for me. All of this feels somewhat ironic for someone who is supposedly highly intelligent (obvs) (laughs) and highly functional (so I have been told).
Unfortunately my head and the way it acts has a significant impact on others. If I don’t get it, how are those who are close to me supposed to understand? I have no answer but I know that it is difficult for them too. When I wake up I don’t know ‘what Georgie we are going to get today’. Inevitably this causes problems as I withdraw, isolate and want no contact or conversation. It’s not right I know, but I cannot change the way I am. I wish I could, but after almost 3 years of medication and therapy I am still behind in many areas where I would like to be further on. Things take time, I know, but can I change a deeply imbedded thought, behaviour or reaction?
It is always the same. One area of my life tends to go well, whilst the other side of it falls apart. It is like I cannot have equal happiness. If that even exits? I know there is no perfect world or perfect life. I am not asking for this. I just would like some stability.
Deep down, I know what is the current root cause for my stress and that is the impending decision regarding work. I have said it many times before. I cannot go back to the police force. If I am made to then I wont, and by this I mean will take the option which I have planned. Not easy to say I know, but after 3 years of stress and uncertainty I cannot be left in limbo, shackled and not being able to breathe.
Things haven’t been great recently, my mood has been low, along with my motivation and tolerance. My mind wanders as I try to engage with people, it wanders into the deep dark hole, not of self pity but of sadness and doom. Many would have no idea of this but those who know me can see it. It is all in my eyes apparently. They do not sparkle, instead they vacantly shut down as my head races and searches at speeds I cannot fathom or comprehend.
This morning I saw my GP as we discussed work and how I felt. She understands, she gets it, she knows. It was a simple question which she asked me mid conversation ‘are you ok’ which almost floored me and required me to regain some sort of composure before answering ‘yes, I am’. There are things that I need to work out, some decisions may not be easy but whatever decisions I have to make will be for me.
On the positive side I have been given the opportunity to study and do some research around neuroscience and mental health. A perfect distraction to take my mind away from reality yet doing something worthwhile, and to me enjoyable. I discussed this with my GP who agreed that it was good to have something to focus on, work towards and give me some positive outlook about the future.
I had my medication increased and need to return to see her in 2 weeks time. As for now, my battle and the fight will continue. At times all I want to do is give up but deep down I know I cant.
Why cant I? Because this cake is waiting for me.
*Picture from Pixabay*
Tuesday 8th January 2019 (5.40pm)
Once again, thank you for so many comments after yesterday’s blog. I do not like to feel negative in my writing, but unfortunately that is the reality with mental illness and thats how it is.
I am humbled by those who took time out to write to me and share their experiences. I know today has been difficult for one person in particular and if by me saying how I feel helps in someway then I know there is a reason for me doing this. The biggest thing which you can take away is that you are never alone in this world where so many suffer. Unfortunately too many suffer in silence and I hope that I can draw upon a community where we all understand each other.
I could not believe the response when I did the ‘guest blog’ series and if anyone would like the opportunity to speak out on my blog then please let me know. This can be done anonymously.
I will never forget the words that Prince Harry once said, ‘Metal illness is not defined by class’. I have seen this in recent years as more and more people have opened up to me. I have read heartbreaking stories from emergency service professionals, teachers, doctors, artists, sports people, journalists, I could go on, but the bottom line is that it can grip anyone irrespective of where you are from or what you do for a living. It is an illness just like asthma or diabetes and I will always argue that the 1 in 4 figure is too conservative.
Over the Christmas period a police officer from my own force took his own life. I also read news of a paramedic in desperate despair who was unable to carry on and I saw the sad news on social media yesterday about a police officer from another force. There are too many people who either feel unable or ashamed to talk or to seek help, or are not getting the help asked for.
I have always said that I never really understood what mental illness was all about until I experienced it and that is why I am now able to do something positive to help others by continuing to blog and shout out on social media. I can see where the gaps are and I can see what is wrong. One day I will be able to do and say more.
As for me, my day has been better. I was determined not to have another day like yesterday and that is where my brain cells have to fight with each other. It is like Miss Positive and Miss Negative having a full on scrap amongst the grey matter. It seriously is draining and at times I want to knock them both out.
I got my butt back into the pool this morning and I rang the hospital to chase up my knee appointment (which I have got for next week).
A big improvement on yesterday.
Thank you, dig deep and stick in there xx
Monday 7th January 2019 (7.26pm)
I was hoping for a more positive start to 2019. December was not a good month. My mood was generally low, apart from the odd good or happy day. I am not into this new year, new me, new resolutions, new goals, as to me it is just another day and just another year. I do not expect miracle transformations over night and depression certainly does not know one day from another.
It is a strange thing ‘depression’, I try and explain my feelings to my partner but often I cannot describe how I feel. I have used words such as an incredible sadness x 10000 and a feeling of being so low with no self worth that I see no way out of such doom. It’s hard to make sense of how days fluctuate for no apparent reason. I have used systems to score my mood but I do not know where I am with this these days. What I do know is that at the moment my motivation to do anything is shit. There are things that I want to do and need to do but if today is anything to go by these things will be waiting a while. I put no pressure on myself but all what I have planned is stuff I enjoy. If only it was as easy as sticking a rocket up my arse.
I feel like I have wasted today. Apart from two nice beach walks with Olly I have done nothing. The run I wanted to do has not happened. A phone call regarding my knee appointment did not take place as I could not be bothered to speak to anyone. A trip to the bank to change my married name back to maiden name will have to wait.
As you know, exercise has been a big thing for me, but my motivation to even put on my PE kit is sadly lacking. I could not face park run on Saturday. Yesterday I went for my first bike ride since Ironman last September but my thoughts were often drawn to the negative rather than the positive. I cannot control what enters my head but I can supposedly control on what I ruminate on, though this is easier said than done.
There are things which I have reflected on to do with work but more of this again.
I did not want this to be a negative blog but I know many of you will be feeling the same and looking for ways to get out of the doom pit. You are not alone and you never will be. I have so many things which I am thankful for. As for now I will eat my cakes, put today aside and see what tomorrow brings.
Friday 21st December 2018 (12.09pm)
Its that time of year again, only 4 sleeps until the white bearded man in a red suit makes his way down the chimney to eat your mince pies and drink your whisky or milk.
Today is traditionally called ‘Black Friday’ or the renamed ‘Bleak Friday’ (I have read ‘Mad Friday’ today) where office workers log off, schools are out until the new year and it is time to celebrate. There will be many Christmas parties going on over the next few days. You may enjoy, but you may hate every minute of it. If like me I would go to show my face but feel socially inept. I didn’t get an invite to my works ‘do’ this year. Not that I would have gone anyway. The thought would have been nice though.
Whilst for many, Christmas is a time of excitement and joy, taking time out of the work place and spending time with family. For others, it will be a time of sadness, loneliness and dread. Some people will face their first Christmas without a loved one, others will be worried about pleasing those around them, putting on ‘the happy face’ whilst secretly wanting the world to swallow them up. Some will be worried about debt which they may have landed in to buy the new gadget or toy. The person sitting at the table with a hidden eating disorder will be worried about all of the food being put in front of them. Some will sit alone and not speak to a single person all day; whilst others may drown themselves in alcohol to dull the pain.
Some tips from me
I am no trained counsellor or therapist and these points are just some things I have thought about which may help. If you have your own coping mechanisms and ideas then please draw upon them.
1. Put yourself first
This is alien to most people, especially at Christmas when you are trying to make others happy. This in itself is draining and can lead to increase stress and anxiety. If you are becoming overwhelmed then remove yourself from the situation. Take a few minutes to yourself, practice mindfulness or any other technique which you use to rebalance yourself.
2. It is ok not to be ok
Remember you are not the first person or the last to feel the way you do. There will be many others in exactly the same position. You are not alone and you matter, no matter what you may think about yourself or the situation. Remember that it is ok not to be ok. You will get through it a better and stronger person.
If you need to talk to someone then please do. Never think that you are a burden, even on Christmas day. Friends and family would rather you talk it out then suffer in silence. Don’t let things fester in your head. A festering brain has a habit of making things worse. There are always professionals working so don’t be afraid to pick up your phone.
4. Do more of what you enjoy
Make time to continue to do what helps you. That may involve going for a run or walk, reading book, listening to music or writing. There is no harm in ‘checking in’ with yourself.
5. Everything in moderation
It is easy to overindulge at Christmas. Too much food and drink can impact on us physically and mentally. Also make sure that you get plenty of rest.
I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Stay safe and look after yourself.
Some contacts if you need them. There are of course more and perhaps some local to your area. **Taken from Heads Together**
Tuesday 18th December 2018 (5.04pm)
I have not written for a while, not even in my journal. I have felt flat with very little motivation, energy or enthusiasm. Even now as I write this my head is fuzzy like there is too much interference going on. I am reminded of an old back and white TV with no signal, it is like my head has become that confused box searching for a channel to light up the screen.
Why? I don’t know. You never do know with depression and that is the annoying thing. There has been no particular trigger, nothing has set me off, in fact I have just had a lovely weekend spent with family. Nothing prepares you for this and only time will get me out of it.
I have not exercised for 3 weeks, after being hit by a virus I have not felt like it. I feel as if I have some sort of exercise hangover, maybe this past year has physically and mentally caught up with me. I feel too tired to put my trainers on which really isn’t helping my mental state. Stuck in that catch 22 situation of wanting to go but wanting to rest and knowing that if I do go then I am likely to feel better but I cannot bring myself round to it. I aiming to do something later this week, even if it is park run on Saturday. I simply need a rocket up my arse.
It is around this time of year that I plan my sport events for next. I cannot even be bothered with that. The mere thought of looking at cycle, run or swim events does not entertain me. I have some ideas as to what I may do but I cannot allow myself to commit to anything at this time. I have my final meeting with work early March and I think that this is playing on my brain more than what I think it is. Is it this that is draining me? When I receive the decision it will be 3 years since I walked out and I still know that I cannot go back.
Whatever happens with this decision I have made my mind up to progress certain things. I have been stuck in limbo for long enough and it is time to put some ideas into practice. This excites me and gives me something to look forward to but the reins are still firmly attached.
I had my medication dosage adjusted a few weeks ago (lowered), so whether this has played a part in things I do not know. I am still going to my emotional regulation therapy sessions, I have 3 left after Christmas and I am undecided if I have got anything from it.
All of this coincides with a blip I had a few weeks ago where I ended up in a place where I did not want to be. My head exploded as I took myself off in the car, my thoughts and behaviour reminiscent of what I used to do 12+ months ago. I thought I had moved on from this, and it frightened me realising that I hadn’t.
I am sure that I will dig myself out of this episode soon and once again I am grateful for those I have around me. I know I will have my fast daps and PE kit back on within the next day or so (or when it stops raining). Once I do then I know I am back on track. Until then it is about self care, Christmas shopping and tucking into tins of sweets.
Picture shows all three journals
9th November 2018
**This was written today at 2.03pm in my journal**
Firstly I cannot believe that it has been 1 year and 2 days since I last wrote in my book. During this time all of my blogs have gone out live without any retrospective entries. There are both positives and negatives to this. Whilst a positive is that you get to read what I am feeling at the time, a negative is that I am often not true to self. To me it is important not to upset or worry those around me if I start using words such as ‘help, despair, hurt, suicidal, self harm, or destructive behaviour’.
By writing in my journal, I can put a protective barrier around myself and when I am ready to make my thoughts and feelings public then I know that I am safe and there is no need to worry. Just like how I used to do things in the early writing / blogging days. Using my journal allows me to say it exactly how it is allowing me to get all the rumblings out of my head without having to think about a careful edit.
The best way to sum up how I am feeling at the moment is that of being ‘left behind’. I have previously read a book titled this. It focused on people left behind after ‘the rapture’ and how they faced difficult times and suffering. This is where I feel like I am; stuck, being unable to move on like my feet are superglued to the floor and my brain is on pause.
I use social media a lot, it is part of what I do, it is part of my profile of standing up for those struggling with a mental illness, especially within the police service. I also use it positively to document that my ill health has not stopped me from becoming an Ironman, 2 x London marathon finisher and a survivor. The whole social media game is important to me as a blogger, a writer, and of course I like to see what people are up to. I take a great deal of news and factual information from it and I have learned (mostly) to screen out negativity and things which stir and upset my brain.
This is where I come on to feeling stuck and/or left behind. I see my employers post stuff on Twitter celebrating award ceremonies, promotions, documenting good work and arrests. This is hard for me as it is a world I was once part of. A world I lived for, yet a world I almost died for. It hurts when I see people getting promoted who I worked with, knowing that it could have and should have been me. It is not jealousy, as I wish everyone well in their career. It is the fact that these people are able to move forward with their lives, jobs and families and I can’t. The easy answer would be to unfollow everyone and everything to do with work, but I do not want to have to do that, not yet anyway. I have a lot of friends in ‘the job’ but people drift and I see this happening month by month.
Whilst I stand here with what feels like thick superglue stuck to the bottom my trainers and unable to metaphorically move one foot in front of the other, I ask myself if I would like my previous life and high pressure job back. I like the idea of it, but there is no way that my head can take the reality of it. To return would be like putting me in a pressure cooker waiting for the time when the lid blows off. I can no longer deal with demand, or spin 100 plates on my little toe, whilst balancing a book on my head and cooking a Mary Berry special sponge cake.
Yet, two and a half years after walking out, it still hurts, the pain of reality is still there. I didn’t achieve what I wanted to achieve and feel like I have failed. This is what saddens me when I see what I do on social media. I have lost a massive part of my life. As my final meeting to determine my future gets closer I can feel myself become more tense, stressed and anxious. I am unable to manage my depression like I have been doing recently. My hands are slipping from the anchors which I have gripped on to and I do not know what to do about it.
Many of the people I hang around with now, did not know me as a police officer so they are unable to see the differences in me or understand the difficulties I currently face. They did not know me as the professional in the uniform or the suit working long hours. They did not see me come home after dealing with complex child abuse cases or dealing with bereaved relatives or victims of burglary. They have no idea of the hours I put in to do the best job I could. They didn’t walk with me through promotion exams and interviews. This life defined me and made me the person I am. All they know is Georgie from the gym, the beach with Olly, from Mind over Marathon or Ironman. Do they really know what makes me tick? I don’t suppose it matters as these people have become great friends and sources of support (often without them knowing).
This feeling of being left behind does not only relate to work. I look at my friends who are doing things that I would like to do; but I cannot. I am unable to plan. I have no idea what my future will be about and where I fit into the bigger picture. Such things grate on my brain. Lost and stuck in an evolving world with a head that does not have the ability to see one day from the next. Often racked with guilt and emotion as I keep inside what really goes on until the bubble bursts. Waiting, continually waiting for the next bubble to come along. One day, I know it will not burst. I await that day.
All of this instability has once again caused me to back off, isolate myself, and deal with things my way, in the only way I know and that is on my own.
People envy me and what I have achieved, apparently I inspire people. I do not see that. I am just being me, trying to get by in the only I can. So much has changed in me and around me over recent years. There are things that I embrace positively and there are things which I do not like. I am trying to change some attitudes, behaviours and emotions. I am trying to be a better person but this will not happen over night and this frustrates me. Yet again the circle of gloom or the spiral of defeat strikes. My current therapy is trying to address this and only time will tell.
I was not going to put this blog out today but I felt I needed to. There are things which I wanted to say. I will continue to write in my journal and then publish when I feel the time is right. If you do not hear from me for days or weeks do not worry, I have not gone anywhere. I am writing behind the scenes.
It is time for me to get back to being honest with myself for a while. I have lost me and need to reframe and work things out in my brain. Time to invest in what is important and that is finding progress and the way ahead.
Catch you soon xx
Friday 2nd November 2018 (11.47pm)
I am not a fan of tattoos and I never thought I would have one, let alone one which symbolises a 140.6 mile Ironman. I am someone who does not particularly follow trend, does not do what others do and plays it safe when it comes to everlasting decisions.
Having a tattoo seems to be the done thing after an Ironman and people who have them do it for their own personal reasons. For me, I thought to have a brand stuck to you for life was a bit odd. I mean, you wouldn’t walk around with the Starbucks or McDonald’s logo tattooed to your arm (I apologise to those who have, I am obviously out of the loop). So for me it was a no go and not something which I looked to do… until 2 weeks ago.
So why the 360 change?
I decided that I wanted something that would have meaning which could act as a reminder to what I have achieved. I don’t necessarily mean on the day itself, of course that it is important, but I wanted it to reflect what I went through in the 12 months leading up to it. I wanted something to look at as a reminder that whatever mood I am in, however low or desperate I feel, I am stronger than what I think, and if I can do an Ironman than I can get through anything.
The mental and physical challenges I faced are well documented in previous blogs so I won’t dwell on that too much.
I never know when I am going to blog, I have no plan or set days. If I have an idea or the words are there then I will, and today is one of those days. I woke up with very little motivation to hit what was on my training programme. In fact I felt a bit rubbish, work related reasons, and when this happens I get knocked back to the hole which I have worked my way out of. Suffice to say, I got my shit together and made the journey across the city to the gym. Still with very little motivation for my strength and conditioning session.
Today, I had one of those ‘you can do this’ reminders as I accidentally caught site of my wrist whilst doing a dead bug. Seeing my tattoo gave me a sharp reminder that I am stronger than I think and that I am bigger and better than the stuff going on externally which I cannot control.
When faced with adversity, pain or suffering I can look down at my wrist and appreciate that nothing can be as bad as what I went through that day. An event which battered me physically and took every bit of my mental toughness to succeed. When I look back to the months of training, I could have easily thrown in the towel (along with the wetsuit into the sea) but I didn’t, my desire to succeed over powered every negative thought in the end and won out.
So that’s why I decided to get one … to remind myself that I can do whatever I put my mind to and that I am a survivor.
My next consideration was what to have done. I wanted something small and simple and which could be hidden should I have to. I knew all I wanted was the ‘M dot’ but not sure in what way. After trawling the hundreds of Ironman tattoos on the internet I came up with the one as depicted.
From here I go on knowing that what I have been through and have achieved has defined me as a person, a better person than what I was 1 year ago. There is still some way to go, but my little reminder shows me that whatever it is I can do it.
You can to xx