Let’s Talk Mental Health

mental health

WARNING: You may find this triggering or upsetting to read!

On the 7th February 2019;Time to Change had TimetoTalk Day. This was a movement all about raising awareness of the importance of talking to others about mental health.

So it got me thinking and inspired me to write this blog post; in this post I will be writing about how opening up about the difficulties I was facing lead to me getting help.

I still remember the day I first told my mum about what was going on and how I was feeling. I was having dinner at the kitchen table like normal and then I just started crying went into the living room and that’s when it all came out. It was finally out in the open everything from how low I was feeling and that all I could see was darkness and I felt trapped I just wanted to end it all. I opened up about the visions I was seeing and the voices I was hearing and my nightmares.

I was so scared to tell anyone as I thought they would find me a complete freak. At the time this all started happening I was also getting bullied by lots of different people at school and it had been going on for years. I didn’t want to tell anyone as I knew if the bullies found out they would bully me even more.

To be honest it was a sigh of relief when I finally was able to tell someone about everything. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Through opening up about what was going on I slowly began to realise the darkness I was facing I didn’t have to go through it alone or keep it a secret from everyone and pretend everything was ok when it wasn’t. I also realised that the people who truly care and love me didn’t see me as a freak they wanted to support me in getting help.

Even though it was terrifying for me to tell my mum as I didn’t want to upset her as well as this I found it scary to get it out in the open. I’m glad I did because even though I still suffer with my mental health on a daily basis with depression, PTSD, my voices and more I feel like more people can help support me daily. I have worked on lots of different things with lots of different types of professionals making myself what I like to call my “tool box “as I have learnt lots of different types of strategies for coping for different things and communicating with my voices. In the past I have made a Self-Care Box or little reminder cards I can use or have positive statements on a piece of small card so I can look at it if I have low self-esteem or low confidence to name a couple. I now feel less alone!

You can find out more about the movement here: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/time-talk-day/support-time-talk-day-online

How Performing Arts Helps My Mental Health

mental health

I have been a Performing Arts Student at my local Stagecoach School for the past 3 years. I have found that Performing Arts has a really positive impact on my mental health. As you may know I have mental health problems; sometimes this can be very hard to tell or explain to someone anything about my difficulties.

However Performing Arts has helped me to express my feelings and emotions in many different ways both physically and verbally. Through doing workshops in dance and movement I have been able to express how I am without having to speak all the time. I also find that dance can help me to identify how I am feeling and by doing this I can start to make more sense of my emotions and I start to feel less anxious and scared.

I enjoy singing lessons as I find that sometimes when learning a song the words really “speak” to me and I feel more connected with the song. This not only helps me to perform it better and with more emotion but I start to feel less alone. Sometimes when I singing a song I try to focus on the song’s lyrics and try to relate the song back to an experience I have had. This can help my PTSD as I do sometimes use this as a way of helping me trying to process a traumatic event from my past. I have tried this in past sessions with my psychologist.

In my acting classes I enjoy being” other people” but I have found if possible trying to use my experiences in acting has really helped me to process negative experiences. I find when I use my experiences in acting it helps me to tell the story more and the audience starts to feel more involved with the show.

I find doing Performing Arts a creative, good and safe way to express myself and to challenge my past experiences such as being bullied in a positive way!

Performing Arts is helping me with my on going journey to growing in confidence and not have such low levels of self-esteem.

Performing Arts has such a positive impact on my mental health , in the future I would love to do acting professionally!

Did you know about Stagecoach Performing Arts School and Young Minds Charity’s Partnership, to find out about this amazing partnership please check out: https://www.stagecoach.co.uk/about-us/our-charity-partner

My Journey With PTSD

mental health

Please be aware this is just about my experience and that I am not a medical professional!

Back in 2015 I was diagnosed with PTSD; I remember being asked what I knew about the condition and to be honest I knew soldiers could be diagnosed with PTSD and that you have flashbacks to past events but that was about it. I never thought I could be diagnosed with it because of the horrible things I went through with being bullied at school.

Through the years of living with PTSD I have learnt quite a lot about my condition on a daily basis and also hearing the myths about PTSD. I thought I would share with you things I learnt about it through living with the condition in everyday life.

1. Anyone can be diagnosed with PTSD not just soldiers.

2. Triggers can happen even through the smallest of things. For example I sometimes get triggers if I see a young person messing about with their mates. For me this can take me back to my experiences of getting bullied quickly. Sometimes the flashbacks just come and I don’t know why.

3. PTSD does not have to come immediately after you have gone through something traumatic. I was diagnosed with PTSD from being bullied when I was in school but now I am not getting bullied by others but it still affects me to this day. I find it hard to trust people in college as I don’t know if they are being genuine.

4. I remember when I once told a teacher that I had PTSD and that’s why I was in a bit of a panic they said to me ” get over it and could I really blame them for picking on me. “At the time I felt so stupid and weak. But now I realise that having mental health problems doesn’t make you weak at all in fact I would say on the good days I have it has helped me to realise having mental health problems is not weak at all and it doesn’t define you !

The Joy Of Baking

bryony bakes

From a young age I have loved baking especially with my mum. As a young child I found it magical to see how the cakes in the oven would change and get bigger and bigger. Or seeing how the biscuits got all golden; not forgetting the wonderful smells they created coming from the oven.

My mum used to come into my primary and do cookery lessons, we learnt how to make lots of different things from cheese scones, jam tarts and marble cake to name a few.

A few years ago I went into a mental health hospital for a couple of weeks. I had 1:1 sessions with the occupational therapist (OT for short). The OT and I had quite a few sessions together baking. We would bake party food together such as cupcakes,biscuits and brownies. I would make party food because when someone was due to leave the ward we would have a little leaving party for them. I enjoyed doing baking activities whilst in hospital as it helped me with my anxiety as I started to feel more comfortable around others. I found by baking it helped me to talk to others and start conversations. People would ask me questions like “what recipe book did you use?”Or “how much chocolate did you use ? “. From just these few questions the conversations I was having grew and before I knew it I had made new friends. I loved seeing others enjoying my baking!

Last year at college I did baking sessions to build up my independent living skills. I would make all the recipes from scratch and my 1:1 helper would help me to make each recipe. I made things such as Victoria Sponge Cake, Black Forest Gateau Cake and Pineapple Upside Down Cake. At college before I made anything I would go on the computer and look at a supermarket website to see how much the ingredients cost and how much I would be spending to make each recipe. I would then go to that supermarket and buy the ingredients I needed.

Chocolate Fridge Cake

Baking doesn’t just make me feel happy, it helps me build up lots of different skills:

Baking helps me to improve my maths as I have to weigh each ingredient correctly to make sure the recipe turns out right . I also need to make sure the oven is on the correct heat and I have to manage my time efficiently because my baking needs to be done and cooked properly before the end of the day.

Sometimes when baking I will need to rub butter into the flour with my finger tips to make a crumble type mixture, by doing this with my hands I am building up my hand strength; I need to make sure I am building up my strength as I am weaker on one side of my body due to my disability.

I find following recipe instructions sometimes difficult to understand so by trying out new recipes I am not only building up on my reading skills but I start to understand the sequence of the instructions.

At college I enjoyed baking things for when we did cake sales . We raise money for Children in Need, Comic Relief and local charities that helped disabled people and their families.

Photography & Mental Health

mental health

Over the past couple of months I have really got into photography, I have found that it is helping me to manage my mental health.

Doing photography helps me to not only be creative but to help me to really ground myself and bring me back to the here and now.

Photography is a very useful tool for me to use when doing my grounding technique I learnt in therapy.

The Technique

5. Name 5 things you can see right now

4. Name 4 things you can hear right now

3. Name 3 things you can touch right now

2. Name 2 things you can smell right now

1. Now take a slow deep and breathe

I love doing nature and animal photography as I have to really look at what is around me and try and see how and what it could look being photographed in different ways. I especially like taking photos in autumn as the leaves are all changing colour I like how the light shines through the leaves and can cast shadows on the trees. I enjoy experimenting with trying to get photos of the raindrops on the leaves and grass.

Raindrops On A Fallen Leaf.

Raindrops On A Blade Of Grass

Light Coming Through The Leaves

Taking photos of wildlife has helped me to look at detail and to take my time when looking and not to rush but be quick enough to capture the shot I want.

I really enjoy taking photos whilst on walks with my dog, by doing photography I can now see things I wouldn’t normally see for example the light shining on some leaves or some fungi growing on some wood. This helps me to stay in the present and try not to dissociative.

Pheasant In The Garden

Visiting Bumble Bee

Wild Deer In The Garden

The great thing about doing photography is that I can do it where ever I am because I don’t have to just do it on a traditional camera I can do it on my phone or iPad.

Doing photography has also helped me to express myself too as I can do my own photography projects on different topics. By doing photography I can express and understand my emotions in a creative way instead of keeping my thoughts and feelings inside.