An Overdue Catch Up

Hey! It has been nearly two years since I have fully engaged with my blog, so I think it’s safe to say that I need to do a lil update. Oh and by a ‘lil’ update I mean a big update, so you may want to grab a cuppa and some snacks as this is going to be a long one! ❤

Over the last two years I have had some serious ups and downs! From qualifying as an Early Years Practitioner and securing a full time job, to being in hospital for tests, procedures and an operation to try and find out what’s going on with my health!

September – December 2017:

  • My Dad and his partner (at the time :/ – more on that later) got two new kittens!
  • My mental health went considerably downhill and I struggled to attend sixth form. I needed lots of support and a reduced timetable in order to keep going with my qualification.
  • I attended group support courses to help with my mental health.
  • I returned to my part-time job after being signed off due to my mental health, and I was over the moon to be back at work!
  • I spent October half term week at my Grandparents caravan with my Mum and then we met my Uncle, Auntie and cousins to celebrate my Grandma’s birthday.
  • I applied for a part-time job at my childcare placement, smashed my interview and I was offered the job just minutes afterwards!
  • My Great Grampy celebrated his 90th birthday with a big family party!
  • I also got back together with my ex boyfriend in November (more on that later too!).
  • In December I went ice skating, Christmas shopping, I enjoyed cute coffee catch ups with friends and I celebrated Christmas with all of my family!
  • Oh and… my Dad bought me a car!

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January 2018 – December 2018:

  • My Grampy was unfortunately diagnosed with lung cancer and he had to have a serious operation to remove part of his lung. However he has since had the all clear!
  • My Boyfriend and I went to Center Parcs with his family!
  • I visited The Donkey Sanctuary with my family in February and we enjoyed the heavy snow at the beginning of March!
  • In April I had an eye test and turns out I needed glasses!
  • Throughout 2018 my boyfriend and I visited lots of places e.g my Mum and her partner’s caravan, the zoo, go-karting, Longleat and Torquay!
  • In August we went on a family holiday to Cyprus.

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  • In September I went on a lovely boat trip with my Dad and his partner and I started my full time job as an Early Years Practitioner!
  • In October my Dad and his partner bought two Border Collie puppies and I redecorated and revamped my room!
  • Myself and my boyfriend celebrated our 1 Year Anniversary in November and sadly my Dad and his partner separated around this time.
  • I celebrated Christmas and New Year with all of my friends and family.
  • During 2018 I also experienced more health problems which landed me at the doctors numerous times, then that led to hospital appointments, lots of medications and procedures like an endoscopy, colonoscopy, a MRI scan, ECG’s, and an echocardiogram and various blood tests etc. I am honestly so grateful for the NHS. This has continued into 2019 and its now a little clearer that I am suffering with different chronic illnesses.

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January 2019 – August 2019:

  • On the 4th January 2019 I had a laparoscopy to hopefully have an answer to some of my health problems. My gynaecologist was sure I had Endometriosis but luckily ‘no endometriosis was found and everything seems healthy’. Although this is good news I still don’t have answers to a lot of my symptoms, so investigations and tests are still continuing.
  • I recovered well and returned to work quickly! I also reunited with my best friend at the end of January!
  • We had heavy snow at the beginning of February which meant snowy walks, sledging and snowball fights! I also spent some time with my family at a Nature Centre in February half term.
  • In March I had a 24 hour ECG monitor fitted to try and find out what’s going on with my heart but I still require further tests.
  • I went down to the Hampshire coast to stay in my Mum and her partners caravan with the family around Easter time and I started attending puppy training classes with my Dad and his puppy!

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  • In May we celebrated my boyfriends 21st birthday and we had a relaxing time at the spa!
  • Towards the end of May I did something completely out of my comfort zone and I flew to America with my boyfriend and some of his family to go to Florida! Even though I had ages to prepare myself for this trip, my anxiety overwhelmed me. The flight out was terrible and the panic attacks had complete control over me. I struggled through and I am so proud of myself for coping. My boyfriend and I had some very difficult times during this holiday but we still made some incredible memories. I completed something off of my bucket list and I did that for ME! I experienced the Disney Parks, Universal Studios, the water parks, Discovery Cove, shopping in amazing outlet stores, new restaurants, a helicopter ride and so much more! I DID IT!

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  • When we returned home at the beginning of June, I returned to work and everything went back to normal. However, my boyfriend and I continued to argue and I needed to get out…I loved him but I knew I deserved better. Things had been going so wrong for months and it was seriously affecting my mental health. So I ended our relationship at the end of June and now I’m trying to heal and rebuild myself again. We have left on good terms and I wish him well for the future.
  • In July I sadly had to have my cat put to sleep as he became unwell very suddenly. I also turned 20 and I celebrated my birthday with my close friends and family.
  • I finished work for the summer and I received lots of gifts and cards from children who are moving to Reception class in September. It is honestly such a lovely feeling when parents/carers take the time to personally thank you. I am so grateful.
  • So that brings us to now… For now I am concentrating on my health as it is continuing to deteriorate and I am still waiting for more tests and investigations to get the correct diagnoses, and then the correct treatments.

However I currently have these diagnoses (physical and mental health wise)  – Depression, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS), Tachycardia with sinus pauses (unknown cause as yet) and a variety of Gynaecological problems. I might do a more in depth post about my health story in the future!

  • I am also enjoying my time off work – I am seeing my friends and family, trying to learn to drive again, relaunching my blog, attending doctor and hospital appointments and eating healthier!

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Now if you have got this far in this post then – thank you so much for reading! That was a lot longer than I was anticipating, ooopsy! ❤

What is your highlight of the year so far?

Please leave a comment and let me know!

Or you can email me on: its.simply.me3@gmail.com

Or Tweet me: @itssimplyme3

Love Abbie x

 

Mental Health & Me

Hey my lovely followers! Now today’s post is a very hard one for me to write. As I type I’m thinking of every excuse to not upload this, and of course I don’t have to, but it’s something I want to talk openly about. This genuinely terrifies me but as my favourite quote says ‘If you can’t beat fear then just do it scared’. If you do not wish to read this or are triggered by these types of posts then I will not be offended and please don’t read it.

I have a mental illness. In fact I have a few. I suffer from a range of different anxiety disorders and depression. I have not self-diagnosed as I have been told by professionals. Now the reason I say this is because it’s not just a case of ‘being a bit sad’ or ‘feeling nervous’. They are debilitating illnesses that have and still do affect every aspect of my life. I will talk about this but as briefly as possible, otherwise this post will be so long…

Aged 4 I was in my first year of primary school and I was sick over someone in front of my whole class. This triggered both Emetophobia (fear of vomit) and social anxiety in my early secondary school years. I’ve had a phobia of sick for as long as I can remember and I have not been sick now for over 6 years. I’m so terrified of it that even writing the word makes me shake. When I was about 10 I performed excessive rituals to ensure I wasn’t sick and that nothing bad happened. This involved counting to ten led on every side of my body before I slept, checking food sell by dates and repeating three figured numbers in my head to ‘make sure’ I wasn’t sick for that amount of days. After a while, this happened less and less and I was not performing any rituals.

Then aged 12 I went on a school trip to Germany and I had the most horrific time. I was served raw chicken, got ill, had my first panic attack, cried all night and had to sit with teachers to make sure I calmed down. I had no idea what was happening to me, but the first panic attack I experienced was on my own, away from my parents, in a foreign country, in a grotty hotel, with only my teacher to calm me down. I was also being bullied and people that were bullying me continued to do so on this trip. One thing included stealing my hotel room key… I survived the trip and when I returned home I had no idea it would be the start of having continuous mental health problems.

I remember going to the doctors aged 13 and shaking so much with my mum that I couldn’t even speak to the doctor. He referred me to CAMHS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services) and after a ridiculous waiting time, I had a woman come to my house and sit in my living room, telling me about how my fears aren’t rational. She was right they weren’t and aren’t. But she then left and I would feel exactly the same. To be fair to her she was lovely, but it didn’t help me. Oh and then of course the worst thing that’s happened to me, happened.

I discovered that my Dad was cheating on my mum…I found pictures of a woman in her underwear on his phone and had to make the decision to tell my mum. He left that night and to this day our relationship is pretty crap. CAMHS referred me to relationship counselling, which was six sessions and then that was over and CAMHS discharged me. Great.

This is when things I thought, got buried further and further into my head and many things went from bad to worse. I became obsessed with the number three. I completed rituals in three’s to ‘stop bad things from happening’. ‘Touch that wall three times’ ‘Put that down 3 times’ ‘Drink 3 sips at a time’ ‘Touch anything with the number three on 3 times’ and on and on and on. I started self harming. I didn’t want to leave the house. I had panic attacks alone in the toilets at school. I woke up everyday sad and anxious. I had friends suffering with mental illnesses that I was trying to help. My parents were going through a divorce. I was trying to do my GCSE’s. My boyfriend of 3 years broke up with me and it just became all too much.

I had an incredible Head of Year that helped me so much throughout this time, some of which I have blocked out of mind because remembering hurts too much. I had a support worker/counsellor in school and back to CAMHS I went. This time for longer but I didn’t reach the requirements of being ‘sick enough’ to need consistent support. So I had about 8 one to one sessions, then they discharged me. I liked my Mental Health worker but as soon as I learnt to trust her, bam she was gone.

I went back to the doctors after admitting I wanted to end my life and continuing to self-harm. I didn’t want to do my life anymore, I couldn’t. I just felt like everyone was giving up on me. As soon as I made a step forward everyone thought I was fine so they discharged me. This included my counsellor at school and I told my Head of Year ‘I was fine’. I really wasn’t fine. After much negotiation with my doctor I went onto anti-depressants. I really didn’t want to but it seemed like the last option. It was terrifying but I did it and they have definitely helped me. Am I disappointed that I’m on them? Yes, but I’d rather be on them than not on them now, because it’s scary how dark things can get.

That was in November 2015 and now I have made progress, I have a job, I completed exams, I am retaking Year 12 so I can do a Childcare course, I have less panic attacks and I have challenged myself more. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have depression and anxiety anymore, I very much still have it and some days are absolute hell. I have a few good days and then I can have a really bad week. I can have a good day, then a bad day.

Anxiety, hopelessness and rituals are still a very big part of my everyday life. For example, today I went shopping and it took me 10 minutes to make a decision on one item in a shop because it wasn’t ‘perfect’. Then I had to choose the third item on every shelf rather than the first item. I had to deep breathe in a queue in a shop because there were so many people around me. I was shaking so much when paying at the till because I was scared of everyone looking at me. I had to ask my mum about the dates on food. This all still happens to me and this was just today. This was a pretty good day.

I still struggle everyday. Sometimes I don’t want to do it anymore and other days I feel like challenging myself. Some days are simply better than others and I have no control over this.

‘Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there’ 

I was terrified about posting this, but I want to raise awareness about mental health. I want to show that you think you know someone, but actually they could be fighting an internal battle.

Please, please, please reach out for help. There are so many websites you can look at, helplines to call and people that will listen to you. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

As always, thank you so much for reading ❤

I love you all!

Love Abbie x

 

 

 

Dear Best Friend

Hey! Today I have a very personal post that is about my best friend. If you are triggered or affected by posts around eating disorders, depression or mental health in general then please don’t read it. However, I will not be mentioning numbers or percentages. This is a letter about my best friend and her struggle with anorexia ❤

‘The doctors told me that I could die, but Abbie I don’t care, I just want to be thin’.

This was one of the many conversations that internally broke my heart. But this was it, this was breaking point. She had to be helped and now, otherwise I was going to lose her forever. This conversation happened when she had been admitted to our local paediatric ward. Now, from the outside, when she was dressed in baggy clothes and smiling, you would think there wasn’t anything wrong. But looks are very deceiving. She had been admitted because she was severely underweight and her blood pressure and heart rate had plummeted to dangerously low. But despite this, she didn’t care at all. She rang me whilst led on a hospital bed not allowed to move, and she told me she didn’t care if she died because being thin was what she wanted. This petrified me. She’d given up and there was nothing I could do anymore.

I visited her whilst she was there and she’d tell me how she had to be supervised while eating but when she got the chance she would hide the food in her coat pockets. Then she would say ‘But I’m fine, can I just go home now?’. But then when she had to wheeled in a wheelchair to the toilet just down the corridor, I had to hold back the tears. She was so weak and frail that even that was dangerous to her health.

I remember her being in hospital for about a week the first time and on the Sunday I spent all afternoon with her. We sat on her bed playing Uno and cards, we watched TV, listened to music and chatted about everything. I wanted her to always know that I was there and no matter what I wouldn’t leave her. But I knew that at times she hated this, she wanted me to leave her alone and let her be consumed by Anorexia. I was getting in the way because I tried to make her stop doing it to herself. But I knew Anorexia was in control of her. It wasn’t her. She tried desperately to push me away and we argued about food, me trying to get her to eat something, what she thought about herself, we were horrible to each other and we fell out about it. She hated me when I told a teacher about things that she told me to keep a secret. But I couldn’t keep them any longer, I was scared of what would happen if I didn’t tell. I thought ‘even if she hates me and never speaks to me, I’ll know I’ve done the right thing’. Our friendship completely evolved around anorexia, it tried to kill her and our friendship.

I spent hours and hours researching by looking at websites, articles, watching TV programmes and videos to try and understand. To try and do something to help. Our school knew, CAMHS knew, Doctors knew, family knew and a small amount of friends knew, but NOTHING was being done about it and I’d had enough of trying to prove to people that ‘she was sick enough’ to receive professional help.

This was until she was transferred from the ward to an eating disorder unit. Despite her desperately not wanting to go, me crying after our final phone call before she went and the fact it was two hours away, she did it. She got in that taxi and has since faced the most terrifying thing for her. I wasn’t in contact with her for three weeks initially and those weeks went so slowly and I had no idea what was going on or how she was. I sent her letters and finally she called! She’d been given a brick phone! She explained everything that was going on, the friends she’d made, the rebellious things she got up to and what the hospital was like. It reassured me and even though she hated it, I knew this was the right thing for her.

The first time I visited her in hospital was absolutely terrifying because not only was I about to see my best friend after 81 days apart, but I had to test my own anxiety. I had to make sure that I was careful with what I said, how I reacted. I had to build up the courage to talk to the hospital staff whilst desperately trying not to have a panic attack. I didn’t know what an eating disorder unit was like and I was scared. But, after being sat with my Dad in the waiting room, my best friend came running out smiling and jumped on me for a hug. She looked healthy and beautiful and she still does. All of my worries went away, I had her back and we had the nicest day together.

That hospital has saved my best friends life. I cannot thank them enough for that. The staff have looked after her and have been there for her whenever she needed them. She has met the most amazing and inspirational people that are now her close friends. The girls I have met; you are all amazing. All the girls I have written letters to, spoken to on the phone and now I’m friends with you on Facebook. I look forward to following your journey to recovery. Stay brave, keep fighting and never give up.

Now, fast forward time to now and she is still in hospital and has been there nearly 5 months. She has make remarkable progress and has started her journey to recovery. I am unbelievably proud of her and I know that she can beat Anorexia! I love her so much and we plan to create the greatest memories together in the future.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I know what anorexia is like because I don’t – AT ALL. But I do know what it’s like to suffer with mental illness, what it’s like to watch a friend be tortured by an eating disorder and how it has affected me.

‘Anorexia nearly killed her and our friendship, but she is fighting back and it won’t win anymore’.  ~

I hope in some way this post helps people, even if it was just one person I would be happy.

Please check out my best friends blog and all of the lovely girls (that I know have blogs!) below. They write so well about their experiences, struggles and road to recovery ❤ :

https://fightingforlife99.wordpress.com

https://embracingauthenticityblog.wordpress.com/

https://mindofmayaa.wordpress.com

https://immyinwonderland.wordpress.com

Thank you so much for reading! ❤

Love Abbie x

Reasons To Stay Alive – Book Review

Hey! In today’s post I’m going to talk about the book ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ by Matt Haig. I read this book in three days and it is honestly amazing. It is a true story of Matt Haig’s experiences with depression and anxiety. His book seeks to give people hope and lessen the stigma of mental health. On the front cover Joanna Lumely writes ‘A small masterpiece that might even save lives’ and Stephen Fry says ‘Matt Haig is astounding’.

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As a sufferer with mental illness, this book brings me comfort and hope for the future. It is relatable and very truthful. Matt Haig suggests that most people still have little idea how to act around those suffering from mental illness. So this is therefore really important.

An extract from his book – ‘The weirdest thing about a mind is that you can have the most intense things going on in there but no one else can see them’.

I don’t want to give away too much incase you want to read it yourself, but here is a few of his ‘How to Live’ Advice:

  1. Appreciate happiness when it is there.
  2. Live, Love, Let go. The three L’s.
  3. Be brave. Be strong. Breathe and keep going. You will thank yourself later.

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Some of my favourite extracts from the book:

  • ‘The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we aren’t able to see it’.
  • ‘Pain is a debt paid off with time’.
  • ‘Sometimes on the rocky, windy path of recovery, what feels like a failure can be a step forward’.

I would like to thank Matt Haig for writing such an inspiring and honest book. I would rate it a 10/10 because it is so reassuring, moving, important and valuable. An absolute must-read.

Thank you so much for reading!

Do you have any book recommendations?

Please leave a comment and let me know!

Or you can email me on: its.simply.me3@gmail.com

Or Tweet me: @itssimplyme3

Love Abbie x