My Top 5 Tips For Practising Self Care On A Bad Day

mental health

We all have those days when we can feel so down, that doing things for our own self care can be at it’s hardest time ever and feel impossible . This is when it is the most important time we focus on ourselves. It’s ok to put yourself first!

Sometimes when I’m having a bad day and I know I need to spend some time just focusing on me, this is when I can find it the hardest and extremely overwhelming to think of things I enjoy doing for myself. My head goes like crazy, my thoughts and emotions are rushing around me so fast I find it hard to know what to do so I just freeze.

So I thought I would share with you some of my favourite things to do when I need to put myself first. As I know when your in the thick of it, it can be very hard to come up with things you could do that just focus on you. Without you feeling guilty because you’re put yourself first!

1. I like to listen to music to help me as I find that lyrics from a song can help me not to feel alone.The lyrics can really help me to describe and express how I am feeling. This helps me to understand my emotions . I like to make playlists so that when I feel down I can quickly get to my music on the go.

2. I like to go onto Pinterest and look at my quotes board to help me feel better. I also enjoy looking for new things to add to my boards. I like using Pinterest as it is very visual and this can help me a lot when I feel down as I don’t have to read through lots of text.

3. When I feel down it can be very hard to think of all the good things that have happened. To help me through the difficult time I like to look at my photos to remind me of some of the amazing memories I have with my family and friends. To make it easier I recommend putting your photos into albums on your phone so that you can access them on the go too.

4. Journaling can be a great way to release your thoughts and emotions onto paper. This helps me to feel less scared about any worries or concerns I may have that I didn’t even know I had before I started to write.

5. Treat yourself to a warm hot drink like a nice warm mug of hot chocolate!

My Top 5 Back To School Tips For Beating That New School Year Anxiety

mental health

It’s that time again after the summer break we’re we are buying new equipment and stationery ready for our new year of school, Sixth Form, College or maybe even University. I don’t know about you but living with anxiety can be hard to cope with when new chapters are starting. So I thought I would share with you some of my tips with coping with the new academic year when you’re feeling anxious.

Pre Nerves

If you are doing higher education at college or university chances are you probably had to go and have an interview with a tutor who teaches on the course you want to do to see if you have got a place on your wanted course. When you get an offer this can be very exciting however the day before you start you might have those ever so helpful doubting thoughts wizzing around your head like crazy. To help me to deal with these unhelpful thoughts I like to write down statements of what I am looking forward to doing or learning on the course for example going on trips or having guest speakers come in. By doing this it helps me to focus on the positives, you might want to write them on your phone or write them down in a notebook that you keep beside your bed or maybe on post it notes and put them around your house.

I would also go into your school, college or university before you start to talk about your concerns for example about your anxiety. I have found that if they know before hand they can support you in making sure you are alright and feel comfortable. I also found this useful as I was told about different departments that I could go to if I felt I wanted to go somewhere more quite or to get additional support for example I could talk to a student development officer.

When you start to pack your school bag make sure you’ve got all that you need. But to help with my anxiety I also like to add to my bag things like a stress ball or maybe even an emergency paper bag that I can use if I feel a panic attack coming on. I do this because it helps me to feel more prepared if something was to happened.

On The Day

When you arrive at your school, college or university for the first day it can sometimes hit you when you reach the entrance. This can make me feel very uncomfortable and worried. I think everyone is looking at me and talking about me. To help me with this I like to pick a letter at random and then try and find as many things as I can beginning with that letter.

My last tip would be don’t put pressure on yourself to talk to everyone or to get to know other students. What I like to do because I find it hard to talk to lots of people is give myself a target of talking to one of the other students and if I talk to more that’s great . I feel that if I put too much pressure on myself then my anxiety gets worse. So go at your own pace theirs no right or wrong answer.

I hope some of these will help you too, I would love to know some of your top tips!

Dear Younger Me: The Night Before Results Day

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The night before results day I still remember like it was yesterday. My thoughts in my head racing around at a hundred miles an hour.

Did I put my name on the paper? Did I do the right level paper? Did I answer the right questions? Did I read the questions correctly? What if I don’t get the grades?

With all these thoughts and emotions running wild whilst I was lying in my bed. My heart began to race and I knew I was going into a panic attack. So I tried to do my visualisation techniques I had learnt in therapy.

Throughout my time at school I had never been one of the high achieving students in my year. I found writing hard not only because I found spelling tricky but also making sure my writing was going in a straight line. I did a lot of practicing with writing in my OT sessions. It took me longer to write things down than my peers. I found maths extremely difficult I saw it in a way that not many other people did, I found it so confusing.

Looking back now doing all that revision, opening the first pages of that exam paper, then thinking after the exam if I would pass or not and just hoping I would. This time in my life was so stressful I was with CAMHS and being diagnosed with anxiety and depression let alone the fact I was getting bullied at school the minute got in through the school gates.

That night lying awake in my bed just wanting to know my grades the following day. Counting down the time when I would go to school for the last time pick up an envelope and see these grades staring back at me. I believed that my results had the power to not only change my whole life but dictate it too!

However my family and close friends reminded me that I was more than just some letters on a piece of paper. All those things exams don’t test like the fact I want to help others or that my strengths were outside the school grounds like horse riding. My mum said to me we don’t just need doctors or lawyers everyone has a special skill they can offer to the world however big or small they may seem.

I know it’s terrifying and scary and you may feel like these grades will plan out your whole life. Doing all those practice tests then having to mark them to see if you would have passed an old exam paper. Your grades do not own you and do not have the power to stop you being who you are!

You’re going to be OK . Follow your heart and follow your dreams show the world who you really are because we are all worth more than some letters and numbers on a piece of paper and all have special skills to offer the world!

You’re going to be OK!

How Music Helped Me Through Bullying

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For many years during my time at primary and secondary school I was bullied by lots of different groups of people. The bullying however got a lot worse when I entered second school. At secondary school it didn’t even start on the first day but on my induction day. I was so upset and scared I didn’t want to go to that school in September, I remember coming home in floods of tears just crying on the sofa.

For a while in my first couple of years at secondary school I thought the people in the group I hangout out with were my friends. Turned out I was only in their group so they could pick on me. To begin with I didn’t see it as bullying I just wanted to fit in but then it got a lot worse. They would bully me for many reasons for example being disabled, not wearing fashionable clothes and having curly hair they would throw drinks at me and in my hair at break and at at lunch.

The bullying started to escalate with older and young years bullying me too hitting and punching me. Other people in my year would laugh at me during class I got told several times to kill myself.

The bullying I was experiencing made me feel very sducidal I just wanted the pain to stop. When I tried to tell teachers what was going on they would dismiss it telling me to except it or to feel sorry for the people bullying me.

Over time I started to retreat into myself not wanting to be with anyone or socialise I spent a lot of time in my room as I felt safe in my bedroom when I went out I thought everyone was looking, talking and laughing at me.

I found it extremely difficult to express how I was feeling and what was going on to my parents. And that’s when I found out that when I listened to my music the lyrics would just speak to me and I felt that I wasn’t alone in how I felt. I found that music could express how I was feeling to the outside world as I found it super difficult to try and express my thoughts and feelings to the outside world. I found that music also helped me to keep going as a lot of the time when I came back from school I would be crying sometimes I cried myself to sleep wishing I wouldn’t wake up.

I liked listening to music as it helped me to try and make sense of all the thoughts in my head that would race around in my head at 100 miles an hour. I found it extremely difficult and confusing to try and think why people treated me the way I did for along time at school. Because I had been bullied for a long time before I started secondary school I thought of it as a new start so when I was getting bullied more and more at secondary school I started to think their was something wrong with me. And that I deserved to be treated the way I did because I started to believe I was a bad person and that everyone’s lives would be better if I wasn’t here.

Listening to music helped me a lot in not feeling alone and that maybe others felt similar to me as lots of people made me feel like I was a freak. I also found that music helped me to face the upcoming days going to school as sometimes a certain lyric made me feel empowered and that maybe I could get through the day a little bit better.

I remember at the time my favourite band JLS helped me massively, I felt I could relate to them as I found out that one of them had experienced bullying and another member of the group was a young career helping to look after his mum during his childhood. As my sister was a young career for me.

I still love listening to music now but throughout my difficult time at school music played a big part in trying to just get through one day at a time feeling that others interpreted the songs lyrics in a similar way to me! The bullying still affects me to this day as I was diagnosed with PTSD because of the bullying that happened to me.

Exams & Self Care

mental health

It’s that time again for many students exam season . As we all know exams can be very stressful and challenging and this can have a negative impact on our mental health. Sometimes we feel we have a lot of pressure to do well from outsiders. You may feel that if you don’t reach your targets or your not the best in your class you will have a higher chance of failing your exams. This can be hard as we are always told in school your grades affect what jobs you will be able to do in the future and what kind of career you will be able to have.

I feel that during this very stressful period a lot of us forget about giving ourselves a break and actually remember to be kind not just to others but also to ourselves. We are told a lot about taking breaks during our revision time but I sometimes find this hard as I’m not sure when to use it.

So looking back on doing my exams from doing my GCSE’s to BTECS I thought I would share with you some self care ideas you could do in between revision and your exams.

During my revision time I can get very distracted and find it hard to remember information.

To help me with getting less distracted and help me to ground myself I like to think of a letter from the alphabet and then come up with as many objects I can see beginning with that letter in the room I am in.

Or I like to do the 5,4,3,2,1 activity. This is were you think of:

5 things you can see

4 things you can touch

3 things you can hear

2 things you can smell

1 say one of your greatest achievements out loud

Sometimes you might just want to forget about the revision and just relax. I love to listen to my favourite music or maybe watch a video by one of my favourite YouTubers or a TV program.

If I have a longer break I enjoy taking my dog out for a walk in the fresh air and grounding myself in the here and now with nature.

You could maybe do some easy baking like a chocolate fridge cake. You could get creative and do some drawing or painting. You could make yourself a board with nice things others have said to you to help boost your confidence when revising for a tricky subject.

Another thing I like to do in between revision is go on websites such as Pinterest and look at lovely inspiring quotes and funny pictures of animals .

Make sure you drink plenty of water and eat regular meals. Listen to your body it is not a race everyone has different energy levels and study levels. If you are struggling with anything tell a family member, friend or someone you trust they can support you.

Please remember all that matters is that you try your best, we are not defined by our grades, you are worth so much more never forget that!

Body Image & Peer Pressure At School

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This week is Mental Health Awareness week, the theme this year is Body Image. The way bullies treated me through my school life really had a massive negative affected on my mental health and how I saw myself compared to my peer group . It still affects me to this day.

Growing up at school with a disability was very hard for me . I looked different from my peer group as I wore a leg splint on my right leg . I couldn’t wear girls shoes as my splint couldn’t fit into many shoes at all sob I had to wear boys school shoes. I remember their came a time when I had to wear trainers to school and I got picked on a lot because my peer group didn’t understand why I could wear trainers and they couldn’t. I’d get called a teachers pet in class all the time.

I remember I would get bullied because of the designs I had on my splint other kids would say they were childish.As well as calling and shouting out words down the corridor when they saw me from “cripple”or a “spastic” to telling me they would cut off my legs. The bullying from wearing a splint got so bad I decided I wouldn’t wear a skirt to school so that my splint wouldn’t show so much. But of course when it came to summer and the warm weather other girls would bully me for not wearing a skirt but instead still wearing trousers like I did in the colder months. I remember this one time when I took off my splint because sometimes it would rub so much and my foot would be red and sore and another student told me they would break my leg so I wouldn’t need to wear a splint. When I came home at the end of the day I would wish I didn’t have to wear one in the hope the bullies would stop. I just wanted to feel accepted and normal.

Unfortunately the bullying didn’t stop their I was also bullied for having curly hair . At school I remember it was really fashionable to have straight hair, however mine was curly. I remember I used to think I was friends with these’s other girls who were popular. They would pour hot and fizzy drinks in my hair and tell me it was shampoo and that I needed to straighten it. But when I did straighten it they would always say it wasn’t straight enough. Having curly hair really affected me for a very long time but now I am on a journey to loving my natural curly hair but that’s a whole different post in it’s self.

One other massive thing that affected my body confidence growing up was having facial hair. I got bullied loads because of it, not just my peer group or other students in different years but also by some members of staff. Bullies made my life miserable. I began to feel scared just at the thought of having to go to school and knowing people would laugh and point. Walking down the corridors or going to the canteen for lunch was so horrible and scary I was always on edge. Other students would shout at me from down the corridors and call me names like Frida Kahlo. I remember this group of girls who threatened to pour acid on me if I didn’t get rid of it. Other students started to try and make rumours about me; I would sometimes just hear people laughing at me as I walked past as I was trying not to make eye contact wishing the ground would swallow me up.

Harnaam Kaur photo from Instagram.

One of my helpers was really lovely and tried to help me. I remember the day she told me one day about a lady called Harnaam Kaur. Harnaam Kaur also known as the bearded dame is a body positivity warrior and activist. She has a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome at the age of 16 she decided to embrace herself for who she is. She stopped removing her facial hair just because others didn’t like it.

Harnaam really helped me to not feel like a freak and that I wasn’t alone. Bullies made me want to end my life. With all the horrible things that happened to me at school. However Harnaam helped me to stay true to myself. I now get rid of my facial hair but because I want to not because I feel I have to in order to please others!

Though what happened to me was horrible I am now on a never ending journey with trying to be more body positive as well as building up my self -esteem, confidence and self worth.

Find out more about body image: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/body-image-report/exec-summary

The House Of Extraordinary People TV Programme : Why I Think Shows Like This Are So Important

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The House Of Extraordinary People Channel 5. Photo from https://www.whatsontv.co.uk/events/house-extraordinary-people-channel-5-18-mar-19/

The House Of Extraordinary People is a three part documentary on Channel 5. The show follows 9 people with unusual appearances which challenge the views on what “beauty ” is and it really means in today’s society. They live together for 10 days confronting public prejudices and facing their own biggest fears but giving each other support throughout the whole time.

From getting jobs at restaurants interacting with members of the public to going for a spa day and letting spa staff do beauty treatments on them. As well as doing a bit of speed dating.

Watching this documentary really helped me to feel more self confident in myself and I wish shows like this were more around when I was at secondary school. By watching this documentary it made me feel that I am not alone and that I’m not such an outsider. Throughout my school years I was very badly bullied because of my disability and the way I looked compared to other girls in my year. Other students made me feel like a freak. Going through all of this everyday at school and sometimes on social media made me want to end my life.

At school I felt that I had a lot of peer pressure from the way I dressed to how I had my hair or the shoes I wore to even who I was and wasn’t allowed to speak too. Otherwise I would be dropped out of what I thought at the time was my friendship group. I think even now the level of peer pressure for young people has grown massively and it will continue to do so and the pressure will get worse.

This documentary really helped me to celebrate rather than hate the things that make me unique. I think that documentary’s like this one should be shown to students in their lessons as I feel it could really help to build up confidence and self love. I also think this would help children and young adults to realise that we all come in all different shapes and sizes and we all can look different and that shouldn’t be frowned upon.

I think children should be taught about how everyone is different and beautiful in their own way at primary school as I feel this effects more younger children than we think. I also think that if children go through bad experiences because of how they or others feel about them or see them can have a huge negative impact on the child’s life many more years down the line.

Throughout my life I have had low body confidence, low self esteem, low self worth to name a few. Their were times I wished I looked more “normal” that I fitted in or that I looked like the girls in magazines to celebrities I thought were really pretty. I just hated the way I looked I found it hard to look in the mirror everything I saw on myself I hated and I wished I could change it. I feel if documentaries like this one was shown to me by school I would have understood more and believed that their is no definition on what “beautiful ” is because we all have different ways we see beauty in ourselves and others.

Lastly this show has helped me to really embrace myself for who I am on the inside it’s not only about the way we look on the outside. I believe more documentaries like this one should be made as I think it would help people of all ages with their own mental health.

Communicating With Colours

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When I am at college I sometimes find expressing my emotions to others very challenging. As I can feel threatened in this environment due to my past experiences at school with being bullied. The bullying affected me so much doctors diagnosed me with PTSD. To help me process and communicate with others I sometimes use communication aids to help me express myself in ways I feel safe and comfortable to do so.

To help me communicate with others I have done Lego Therapy with my support staff but also in small groups with other students. Lego Therapy is all about trying to identify your emotions by putting a colour to it. For example my happy colour is yellow and my safe colour is green. I use Lego because sometimes I might be feeling more than one emotion so we stack the Lego bricks onto each other.

Lego helps me because in the past whilst doing this with other students I have had to do our whole week in colour. By seeing my week visually using Lego has helped me to understand that my emotions can be mixed and that is ok. Doing this has helped me to identify why I might be feeling upset and other emotions during the week. Talking it through with colours makes me feel more relaxed in sharing how I maybe feeling to others. By dong group sessions it has helped me to understand that I am not “silly” for feeling some emotions as others can feel similar emotions to me in some situations.

By using colour I have been able to cope better with my feelings and thoughts rushing around in my head at 100 miles an hour. Sometimes when this happens I don’t know what’s going on.However if I can find a colour that best describes how I am feeling this can help to slow down my thought process into a more manageable way and it becomes less scary and less overwhelming for me.

I use this to also help me to tell others how the voices I live with are making me feel. I have coloured circles attached to my bag which I take with me all the time. Each circle is a different colour with the emotion it makes me feel on it too. So if I am out and about and feel I can’t tell someone how I am I can show them the coloured circle I am feeling. By having the circles with me makes it more discreet when out and about as I don’t need to get Lego out.

I find using this resource also really useful after I have had a seizure as I can find it very hard to communicate with others because I find it hard to speak or I am hard for others to understand.

I am now able to use this if I need to when I’m out and about with support workers, my family and friends. Using Lego has helped me a lot in understanding emotions and that it is ok to have mixed emotions!

Mirror Mirror On The Wall….

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The hurtful words I got called from bullies everyday are still stuck to me like superglue. The name calling, the abuse, the sound of the bullies laughing going around my head at 100 miles an hour. Unable to make sense of what is going on. What’s actually happening? Instead of what I think is happening?

The names and words they used to called me they probably wouldn’t remember. But for me I remember them like they were only said to me yesterday. Always with me even when I think for just a split second I’ve got rid of them.

When I look in the mirror I see my reflection but I sometimes wish I didn’t see it. Then straight away before I even know it I’m looking at myself and just wishing things were different. I wish I could change parts of my body and the way I look.The bullies words screaming at me whilst tears roll down my cheeks.

For a while I found it hard to look at my reflection. I would always see the negatives and never the positives. It became really hard for me to look at photo of myself let alone having my photo taken.

The voices I have also started to contribute to the horrible things others said to me. It was like I was trapped in my own body. I couldn’t escape I just slowly let myself and others put me down daily. Wishing I was a different shape, wishing that I fitted in and looked more like my peer group so they might accept me.

Going through this has really affected my self-esteem and confidence. What others don’t realise is that the words we call each other can affect us more than we think they will and they can still affect that person for many more years.

I still have those days when I wish I was slimmer. But my body confidence and self confidence is a long ongoing journey but with time I know I will learn to love myself for who I am!

The Power of a Smile

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Just because someone is smiling that doesn’t mean they are happy or ok. A smile has the power to hide the most saddest and darkest most painful feels , thoughts and emotions to the outside world; to others nothing seems wrong but inside you are a mix of emotions all going at 100 miles an hour. A smile can be like a shield you use to protect yourself from the outside world and everyday situations.

In the past I used to smile and try and look happy to the outside world but actually I was in  such a dark and scary place that I didn’t know how to get out of.

At school I was getting bullied constantly every time someone said something horrible and upsetting to me I would try and not show them how much hurt they were giving me. I didn’t want to look hurt because I knew that they would carry on, laugh and it would probably get worse. I felt suicidal and just wanted it to stop I saw no light at the end of the tunnel.

I remember trying to tell adults I trusted what was going on however I was terrified because I knew if the bullies found out something even worse was going to happen so I just smiled and tried to look cheerful. I did tell some teachers what was going on but they didn’t believe me or they would tell me everyone gets bullied and that I should feel sorry for the people bullying me, other teachers tried to help but couldn’t.

For me I found out that a smile could be so powerful because by smiling it used to trick me into thinking everything was fine and that it was completely normal to be getting bullied by lots of people on a daily basis.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is just because someone looks happy to you doesn’t mean they are. We are all fighting things others can’t see or don’t know about. For me a smile was my way of trying to cope with things the best way I could.