Medical Appointments And The Anxiety

mental health

Feeling The Feelings And The Mind Rushing

Medical appointments and anxiety have come hand in hand for me since I can remember before appointments I feel really anxious, worried and sick. I’ve had a lot of medical appointments in my life some to do with my disability and others to do with my mental health. Throw in the pandemic and having to wear a mask and then see others with face masks is something I find really scary. I’m not the best with needles either.

Growing up I noticed I would have more hospital appointments than my peers. I’d have to leave school early for appointments. I still do now even as a college student. At school I than began to realise I needed aids like a splint on my leg whereas my peers didn’t have these. I would often have to explain to other kids what it was and why I wear one.

Even know I still explain to peers what my conditions are. When I was first put on medication for my mental health it was in liquid form. However this then changed to tablet form. I found this really scary thoughts would rush around my head.

What if I can’t swallow it?

What if it gets stuck?

Will it make me sick?

Now I find taking tablets ok most of the time but I still get these questions running through my mind. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to incorporating medical appointments into my life as they still cause me stress in different ways but in a way it feels like a routine I just have to go with.

The past year however I have had my medical appointments on the phone and not in person due to the pandemic except for when I had my first vaccine for COVID. After my jab I had to lie down as the felt dizzy. Me and needles aren’t the best of friends.

As someone with anxiety I found doing appointments by phone call were actually better yes I still felt a bit anxious for the phone to ring. But I didn’t have to go through sitting in a waiting room waiting for my name to be called with about a million things going through my mind preparing myself into knowing I had to talk about things I’d rather not think about. I think it helped having appointments on the phone as I was in my safe place and I could do something straightway after my appointment like watch Netflix on the TV.

Breathe

When I start to feel anxious before the appointment and in the waiting room my mum who takes me can see that I’m nervous. Sometimes I say that “ I can’t do it because my stomach is all in knots and I want it to be over before I even have to go”. This is when my mum will help me to do deep breathing and we do it together, I find doing it with someone else is very helpful as I feel not alone and that I’m not stupid for feeling this way and that’s completely normal and valid to feel how I feel.

Reading Emotions

One of the things I have to do now every week is a COVID test at college. I find these very worrying and scary to do and this can trigger my seizures. I think part of why I find it worrying is that you can’t read another persons face very well as the mask is preventing you from seeing things like a smile. The pandemic has made me realise how much as humans we gather information from each other just through facial expressions. I didn’t realise that a smile one small movement on your face could mean so much. That simple gesture conveys kindness and reassurance and a touch of empathy to another person. When seeing a needle is coming towards me and and I’m preparing for the sharp scratch it can be odd not to see a smile from the nurse or doctor who’s doing it not give that smile of reassurance that everything will be ok.

Doing Something Nice Afterwards

Before lockdown after appointments something my mum and I would do is to try and calm down my anxiety levels. By doing something completely different like going around looking at what yummy things we could buy in the supermarkets in the streets. It gave me a chance to clear my head and to breathe. Sometimes just taking a break feels like the right thing to do. As I feel if we just drove back home I may not want to have some chill time and end up doing more coursework or whatever I need to do.

Due to lockdown this way of helping myself calm down is not possible however we do different things for example before a phone call appointment we will organise something I want to do after the call for example taking my dog Mango on a walk or sitting down to watch a TV program. It’s all about doing the self care you can do at home from baking to having your favourite ice cream to making sure if you pamper yourself with a face mask and bubble bath.

If you feel anxious before appointments tell someone you trust, you don’t have to go through it alone!

My Top Tips: Going Back To School After Lockdown

mental health

After months of doing studying online due to Lockdown. The thought of returning to education which isn’t on a screen may feel a little daunting. Here are some of my top tips on how to make this transitioning a little bit smoother .

A New Routine

Many students all over the country will have to start doing COVID tests in school and colleges. As someone with anxiety I know that timetable changes to my day can set me off to feel extremely anxious and I may have panic attacks. To help you overcome this you could maybe write out your time table in a more visual way using lots of different colours and pictures. Or you could have a little notebook full of little affirmations you can look at whilst your waiting to do your test. Many schools and colleges have created videos to show students what the new process will be like. If they haven’t shown you don’t be afraid to ask your teacher as they may have other resources available for you to you which you might find useful.

Eating Breakfast

This next tip might seem a bit silly but when you get up ready for the day make sure you have breakfast this could be some toast, a fruit smoothie or some cereal. If your stuck on what to have I recommend looking at Pinterest they have some really yummy, healthy, breakfast ideas to help kick start your day.

Did you know:

1. Eating breakfast can help you with your memory for the day and your attention span will be a lot better compared to days we’re you don’t have breakfast

2. Eating breakfast can help you have a more positive outlook on your day.

3. People who eat breakfast regularly are less likely to become obese. Their is still a lot of research going into why this may be. One idea is that eating breakfast helps to prevent large fluctuations in your blood glucose levels, helping you control your appetite.

Things To Have In Your Bag

Recently I was talking to one of my friends about returning to education and how they felt about it. They were feeling very worried and scared because their OCD has worsened through the pandemic and they are becoming more and more scared to touch anything or go out.

To help with returning to education they suggested always make sure you have a little bottle of hand sanitiser with you. As well as this they also have stress balls and fidget spinners with them to help them to control intrusive thoughts.

Talk, Talk,Talk

Another tip I have that may seem obvious is talk to someone. You never know you could be helping them too. They might feel the same and it’s nice to feel your not alone. You could speak to a family member, friend, teacher anymore who makes you feel safe.

Be Kind To Yourself

My final tip is remember to be kind to yourself. The transitioning from working from home on our screens to being back having to get ready to the day ahead , catching the bus so your not late for school. Our whole routine is changing. Make sure you do little things just for yourself and give yourself the attention you give to others. This could be watching your favourite TV show, reading a book, having a nice bubble bath. Give yourself breaks enjoy the outside. You could sit in the garden or go on a short walk with your dog. Ground yourself be in the moment. It doesn’t matter what you’re meant to do or shouldn’t have done. Just enjoy the here and now nothing else matters.

I hope some of this helped and I wish you all the very best of luck with going back to school. Sending all positive vibes. If you need any more support I have listed a couple of websites that you may find helpful.

Youn Minds: https://youngminds.org.uk

Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk

Headroom: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/YfRzhXDKSZQxFVn30TlXBj/your-mental-health-toolkit

Bryony 💜

What 2020 Taught Me

life, mental health

2020 was the year of change for everyone around the world. From students doing lessons online to having meetings on zoom calls and probably spending more time in lounge wear than we thought we would. The pandemic flipped our daily routines upside down and everything we thought we knew out the window.

I would say I like to have a routine as much as possible as this helps me to manage my anxiety better. The unknown can cause me to feel a lot more anxious, have more seizures and me feel scared of doing daily activities compared to before the pandemic. I might have taken simple tasks for granted for example being able to walk around college to get to class.

I do like doing things that aren’t planned as such but if I can plan it I feel more prepared and relaxed.

As plans changed daily with new lockdown rules. I had to learn to adapt and come up with coping strategies this was hard at times. To be honest it still is now after all of us living with the unknown for quite a few more months.

However from having to take each day as it comes I have learned more about being present being in the here and now. I have also been learning to embrace the little things that bring joy to me everyday . For example having cuddles with my cats or watching a film on Netflix with the family. Maybe without this whole lockdown COVID stuff I wouldn’t have seen or appreciated the small things that make me smile and help me to be positive on a daily basis.

Another thing 2020 taught me was to try and stop worrying about things that needed to be done with a longer time frame. For example I would want to get my college work handed in way before the deadline so I could tick it off my to do list. I like to do lists as it helps me to organise my thoughts. Once everything was done I could then go and do things I enjoy like messaging friends. I sometimes didn’t listen to my body and would fight it as I wanted to carry on but I was tired. Through the pandemic I have tried to not rush doing work as slow and steady wins the race. This has really helped me with my own self care as I am now able to feel comfortable and not guilt for taking a couple of breaks and I have then been able to do better work as a result and I feel calmer with knowing my due dates for assignments.

Due to the pandemic a lot of my after college activities have been online and through social media I have been able to find new projects and groups to get involved with which I may have not found if I didn’t have more time to look for new activities to do as my routine wouldn’t of had the time available. So 2020 definitely taught me about embracing new activities, trying new things and learning new skills.

All through last year was definitely a year no one could have predicted . We definitely saw more kindness and appreciation for one another from family, to friends and from strangers.

Happy New Year! May 2021 be the year of light , adventure and kindness 💜.

How I’m Planning My Day During LockDown

life

So with everything that’s going on at the moment I have been feeling more anxious. My routine for the week has changed and I’ve been finding that a bit challenging at times.

Recently I spoke on the phone to my care coordinator and we were discussing how I could create a new routine that I felt I could understand and build myself some structure as things are so unknown. Which can lead to me feeling like I don’t know where I’m coming or going.

I have also been working on creating a new routine I feel happy and comfortable with the help from my support worker. My support worker often reminds me that it doesn’t matter how big or small the things you are achieving are. As well as this she regularly reminds me that it’s all about the sense of achievement I get from doing something and not what others think. I am also trying not to be too judgemental on myself and be kinder to myself as I know I can be a bit to hard on myself at times.

Let’s get started

So to get started on setting out your day visually all you need is a notebook and a pen. I love to make mine colourful so you could use felt tips or gel pens. Or you could do this on a whiteboard and use a whiteboard marker and have this placed somewhere in your room so you can see it everyday when you wake up. Your day could look like this.

How to plan the day

1. First write the date at the top of the page or whiteboard.

2. Now list out the music, TV programme and exercised our want to do for the day.

MUSIC: My happy playlist on Spotify

EXERCISE: Walking the dog

TV PPROGRAMME: Sex Education

3. Next write down 3 things your grateful for, it can be anything!

4. Next you need to write down your MUST do list. This is different from your to do list as these are tasks you must do that day. For example clean the fish tank or send your friend a Happy Birthday message.

5. Now it’s time to think about how you want to feel for the day. For example I wanted to be calm, relaxed and happy on Sunday.

6. Now let’s write down 5 people your sending positivity thoughts and energy to for the day. It can be anyone!

7,. Lastly it’s time to write your to-do list. I like write down 5 things I need to do in the order of importance. Any tasks left to do that day I will add it to my To Do List for tomorrow.

I hope this helps you or gives you some ideas. I would love to know how your adjusting with everything right now. So please comment in the below!

Coping with anxiety during lockdown

mental health

Right now life is very strange for everyone across the world. From our daily routines changing to coping with the uncertainty and unknown. As someone who suffers from high levels of anxiety I thought I would share with you some of the things I am doing right now to help me manage my anxiety.

Social Media

Social media plays a big role in modern day society . And now more than ever you might find your using your social media platforms even more because of social distancing. As you can’t go out and socialise with your group of friends. Social media can be a great tool to use in times like these. But remember if your chat starts to turn onto talking about topics you feel uncomfortable about for example Covid- 19 tell your friends that you feel uncomfortable this is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact the conversation will problem turn into story times and they won’t even realise you’ve changed topic so don’t feel guilty saying . Remember your family and friends care about you and the last thing they won’t is to make you feel uncomfortable or anxious!

Another tip I have is make sure you are following accounts on platforms such as Instagram that you find positive, inspirational and put a big smile on your face. If you are finding any accounts you follow hard to look at remember it is ok to unfollow. The last thing anyone wants is for you to have a negative impact from their account!

The News

It’s great that we want to know more about the current situation and what’s going on around the world. However looking at the news all day can really start us to make us feel more tense and make your anxiety a lot higher . To help keep you less anxious but still know what’s going on you could restrict yourself to just turning on the news at a certain times everyday. For example 9am and 8pm . To help you do this you could turn off your news app notifications on all of your devices.

Sleep

This one might seem a bit obvious but the better night sleep I have the better I feel the next day. An alarm in the morning could really help especially when we get that temptation to have a quick lie in. This could become much greater as we don’t have to get ready for the school run or work run.

Exercise

Even though we are stuck at home their are lots of exercise classes you can do online for free and best thing is all the family can do it together!Checkout this blog post of mine for ideas of classes you could do. https://defeatingdisability.com/2020/04/14/things-to-do-in-isolation-part-1-classes-workshops/

Fresh Air

Now guidelines are saying we can now go for short walk or do other type of exercise like running for about 30 minutes. I recommend just spending so time outdoors in the fresh air. This can really help to clear your mind and make sense of all of your thoughts. As well as this the fresh air can help you feel grounded in the here and now.

Healthy Eating

Right now you maybe finding it hard to go to the shops or struggling to afford ingredients. However making sure you eat everyday is very important especially breakfast it gives you energy for the day ahead. A great place I like to look for easy, affordable and health recipes is on Pinterest. Soon I will be showing you how to make some of my favourite recipes that I have found through Pinterest.

I hope some of these ideas helped you if you are experiencing anxiety at the moment. I would love to know any tips you have too. Please pop them in the comments below!

STAY HOME & STAY SAFE💜

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!

The Theatre Shed Takes CapeAbility To Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019

disability

Can you see our poster?

I had an amazing time with my Shed family performing CapeAbility for the last time on this years Shed Tour. It’s been a crazy adventure full of fun and laughter. We have performed the show at local venues, Brighton Open Air Theatre and finally at this years Edinburgh Fringe.

It feels really strange knowing now that we are not performing CapeAbility again. I really enjoyed playing my character Flint who’s superpower is all about encouraging others. I loved exploring the themes of friendship throughout the production and being able to use my own experiences throughout the production as well as being able to express my feelings.

I loved performing the songs in the production. I loved the messages we were trying to show throughout the production by using lyrics, facial expressions and sign language.

I really enjoyed making the audience feel more involved in the show compared to other shows I have done with different companies.

All in all it has been incredible and I can’t wait until our next Tour in 2021!

If you would like to find out more about this amazing inclusive theatre charity please visit https://thetheatreshed.co.uk

Dear Younger Me: The Night Before Results Day

mental health

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

mental health

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.