Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Reflecting on 2013

What a year 2013 has been? I know I say it every year but how quickly did it whizz by? I have to say, unlike other years, I am quite happy to leave 2013 behind. It really has been an emotional year!!! So I am going to reflect on it to take in the highs and lows. 

1) What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

For me it was seeing my sister get married. I loved being her bridesmaid and I really loved that we got a holiday out of it too. Nicola and Robbie have been together 13 years so their wedding had been a long time in the waiting. But worth every minute.



2) What was the single most challenging thing that has happened?

Definitely going through my breakdown and being diagnosed with depression/anxiety in July. It's a time in my life I'd rather forget but I have learnt so much from it as well. The journey continues into next year and I hope I get better and better.


3) What was an unexpected joy this year?

Getting my promotion at work this month. I am now a fully fledge senior nurse on my team! With everything that has been going on the last 5 months, progress at work took a backseat. So to be offered a promotion and pay rise was totally unexpected!


4) Pick 3 words to describe 2013.

Challenging, tough and blessed.

5) What were the most entertaining things you have seen/done this year?

Where do I start? Visiting Florida and Cyprus! Trying my hand at rock climbing and jet skiing. Booking America 2014! Singing to Cohen turning 1. Seeing Matilda with Laurie and Ruth, Ghost with Emma and Becca and Jersey Nights in theatre. Standing next to space shuttles and rockets at Kennedy Space Centre. Meeting Dolphins! Holding a coffee morning to raise money for Macmillan, visiting a chocolate factory, watching the horse racing at Ascot and going in a photo booth!



6) With whom were your most valuable relationships?

I'd have to say my online friendships. You know who you all are! After my breakdown people really rallied round in calling me, texting me, sending me cards, emails and messages. It was and still is invaluable! I cannot thank you all enough - from the bottom of my heart thank you.

7) What was the single biggest waste of your time this year?
My anxiety! The low mood I could understand but dealing with anxiety over such trivial things was such a waste of my time. I would get myself anxious over the smallest things and then when I started feeling better they seemed so minor to bigger things!!! 

8) What are you most proud of doing this past year?
I'm really proud for raising money for Macmillan cancer nursing this year. Here in the UK they hold a nationwide charity morning. We bring in cakes and prizes for competitions! It was so much fun to organise and set up. My work place raised £250 and I will definitely be doing it next year!!!


9) What was the most enjoyable aspect of this year for you?
I would have to say Florida! To travel over the state was so fun! Simon and I made some great memories that I will treasure for a lifetime. We visited Disneyworld, Miami and Florida Keys in two weeks. It was tiring but so worth it!!! 




10) How did you spend Christmas 2013?

For the first time in 8 years I had Christmas off. I worked a late shift Christmas Eve whether we exchanged our secret santas! Then on Christmas day my Gran, Nicola, Robbie and Cohen came over for lunch. We opened presents and played board games until the evening. It was quiet but really relaxed! 
11) What did you do in 2013 that you hadn't done before?
I turned 24 years old =]. And I tried Butterbeer!


                                                              Do you think I liked it?


12) Finally your plans for 2014, what are you most looking forward to?
I'm looking forward to changing shift next year. 2013 was a fun but mainly unexpected year all rolled into one. 2013 seems to be the year of concerts! I'm seeing Taylor Swift twice, Katy Perry, McBusted and Boyce Avenue (so far!) I'm excited for my trip around East USA and Canada in May as well! Also, Cohen turns two in April (i'd like Nicola to be pregnant #2 too!) I am aiming to hopefully be in a position to buy a house with my best friend mid summer! I will also be starting my counselling course in January which will be a massive blessing to my sanity.

However you're spending your last day/night in 2013. I really hope you all look back on 2013 with fondness with lots to look forward to next year. 

See you in 2014 everyone! Happy new year! 

Friday, 27 December 2013

Your Airmail Christmas Cards!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Thank you for taking part in Airmail Christmas this year in memory of Mama MB. Doria (Mama MB's daughter) posted a message of thanks over here, which you can check out. Below is the link to add your link to a picture of your card. Whether you do a blog post, link to instagram or Facebook etc please add the link below. This way we can all see whose post boxes our cards landed in!

My card came from America and I thought it really depicted the essence of Christmas. Thank you Cathy, I love it!!!


See you next year everyone!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Some words save you

The other day I talked about some of things not to say to someone, like me, who is feeling depressed. Like I said it is never because you're trying to intentionally upset them. In fact, you're doing quite the opposite when the wrong thing comes out. When you find out that someone close to you has low mood and anxiety it is easy to think of ways to make them happy again. You want to "fix" them and that's understandable! Below is a list of some of the most helpful words people said to me - and I cannot thank enough.

1) "What you're going through is horrid"

This may sound silly and some other people may not agree with me. But I found this helpful simply because it speaks the truth. One of my best friends said this and it was good to just have someone say to me exactly what I was feeling. What I went through was crap! Utter hell and it was good to have people say this instead of other mumbo jumbo.

2) "When all this is over, I'll still be here and so will you"

My Mum said this to me and I love her so much for it. When she said it I kept asking her "but when will it be over?" and even though she couldn't put a time frame on it - who can? It was good to know that she believed I would ride the storm and come through the other end. Belief is such an important thing!

3) "You're not alone in this"

Depression alienates you. It makes you think that the world doesn't care and goes on without you. It completely isolates you from normal living. So it is SO SO SO vital you say these words over and over. I remember in the beginning when I told some people about what I was going through. They all said they were 'here for me' but saying those words and acting them out is entirely different. One of my friends said she was 'here for me' but I never heard from her until weeks later to check in on me. But my best friend was over that evening with chocolate watching me cry into my tissues. See the difference?

4) "You don't need to say anything"

When I was at my sisters hen do I was having a low day. Nicola's best friend has been through something very similar and I felt like I could open up to her. She was a massive blessing that day! She said those words to me and I felt like a weight had lifted. When someone has depression they often feel like they have to justify their low moods and sadness. 'I am sad because….' was an everyday sentence for me. The thing is Carly was right - I don't need to say anything!!! Sometimes just having a dam good cry was all I needed or a good nights sleep. In a lot of cases actions speak much louder than words.

5) "I'm not going anywhere"

I think this speaks for itself.

6) "I don't understand what your are going through but I want to"

It is so easy to shut people out. I know I did on several occasions and the reason being is because people didn't understand. The thing is we want people to be mind readers to what we are going through but we're human at the end of the day. By telling someone you want to 'get it' and showing your compassion to their ordeal means they will open up. As soon as people told me they wanted to understand what I was feeling, I opened up to them a lot more easily.


I am still riding the storm but due to other people's words/advice and compassion I am still smiling.

I can only hope that this helps someone out there struggling.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Your favourite Christmas song?

One of the things I love about Christmas are the songs. I try not to listen to them too early in December otherwise I am sick of them by the time Christmas comes around. However, whenever I am driving in the car I am belting them out or humming to myself at the gym. There is one Christmas song that I love though…


It's so catchy and always makes me smile. Although the video is a little weird at times.
 

Whats yours?

Friday, 6 December 2013

Some things are better left unsaid

I realise that a lot of my blog has been taken up with my mental health problems. I am not sorry for it but I promise that this blog will brighten up some day. During my battle with low mood and anxiety I have had some wonderful people show their support. Their kind words, hugs and advice has really made me feel encouraged.



I understand that many people don't know what to say, so they say what they think is right and instead it ends up being the least helpful thing. I don't mean for this to sound off/ungrateful putting because at the end of the day, if you have a friend or loved one dealing with mental health issues, then just being there for them is enough. However, below is a list of some things said to me that have been of no help and in all honesty made me feel worse.

1) 'You're strong, Becca. You'll get through this'

It may be mean of me to say this but I do just roll my eyes at this sentence. It's such a nice thing for people to say but I don't think people realise that the reason I suffer from depression is because I am strong. I was strong for too long before the breakdown. So for someone to say this is just a reminder of why this all happened in the first place. They say depression and anxiety affects strong people and I totally see why!

2) 'Tomorrow will be a brighter/better day'

Will it? Many people suffering through a breakdown struggle to get through the present day anyway let alone having to focus on making it through to the next. I remember when people would say this to me and I would just think 'but I need to get through today first, just help me through today!'

3) ' There's a light at the end of the tunnel'

This kind of reiterates what I said in the last one. I was speaking to a girl at my therapy sessions who echoed my thoughts on people saying this. Tunnels don't give off the best picture anyway - it reminds you of darkness and not knowing where you are. I much prefer people saying things like 'the top of the staircase is there.' This is because it allows you to focus on steps to get there.

4) 'Think about all the things you have to be happy about'

I have said it before but depression lies to you. People suffering with depression are even more aware of what is good in their lives just their mind tells them it isn't worthy. With me I do realise the good fortunes in life, more than many people do, but they cannot outweigh my deeper issues.

5) 'There are people that have it so much worse than you'

I'd like to think you wouldn't say this at all unless someone is being selfish or unkind. I have had this said to me a few times and it makes my blood boil! It just makes me feel guilty for the way I am feeling and even more depressed! There are some days where I struggle to put my thoughts and feelings into perspective. So for someone to say this opens up a new can of worms in trying to understand others perspectives too. I understand that the whole world has problems and some people absolutely do have it worse off!!! But it doesn't make what I am going through any less real or less hurtful.

6) 'You need to think positive and positive things will happen.'

Eh? I totally understand that positivity is a good thing in healing the brain. It allows us to retrain our minds to think more clearly. However, when people have said this to me it has just activated the anxiety button in my body.

I know this post comes across as ungrateful and that's why I will soon do a post on what I did find helpful for me. I just think it's important to remember that you don't have to say things because it sounds right. Say it because you mean it! The message will come across a lot more believable and will be invaluable to your loved one.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Airmail Christmas - Sign up!

'I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year' - Charles Dickens


There's just 5 days until Airmail Christmas closes for people signing up to it. After the 1st December I will be pairing people up via a random number generator. The response so far has been awesome and I am so pleased! But there is still plenty more room for Christmas wishes to be sent.

Airmail Christmas is a Christmas card exchange that goes around the world. It is open to anyone and everyone! So if you have been thinking of joining in then please do hop on the sleigh and send Christmas wishes to someone you may not know!

Airmail Christmas was started after I cared for a wonderful lady dying from cancer last Autumn. She loved Christmas and felt very strongly that spreading Christmas magic around the world, other than just those closest to you, got people to be more appreciative in this season. This year Airmail Christmas is being dedicated to another wonderful lady - Mama MB! You can read about her life and legacy in this post.


If you're willing take part and extend your Christmas spirit onto other people then all you have to do is this.

1) Email your address (it can be your home, work or anywhere else address that you'd like a card posted to you at) to the designated email address: forrobin_christmas(at)hotmail.com. Please be rest assured your addresses will be held confidentially and not shared with anyone else apart from the person who will be sending you the card. Emails need to be sent by the 1st December 2013.

2) I will then email you the address of someone else that you can send a card to this year.

3) Once you have posted your card all you need to do is wait for the card that you will receive from another generous blogger.

4) Then blog/tweet/facebook/instagram the card you have received. I will do a link up just before or after Christmas.

The only rule is that if you're paired up with someone who lives abroad then you need to be willing to send the card to another country. I hope this will also be seen as a way of connecting with new people. 

I really hope you take part in the Christmas card exchange. When I spoke to Doria about it she was really touched that it's in honour of her Mama!

The more the merrier, so tell your family, friends, blog friends, facebook and twitter (#airmailchristmas) about it! Let's wish everyone 'A Very Airmail' Christmas this year!!!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Counselling

This is a post asking for advice or people's experiences about counselling. I had an initial consultation this week but don't start my 1:1 sessions for a few weeks.

Counselling is something I have wanted to do for a while but I wanted to work out what I wanted to confront before undertaking it. Now I am feeling more sane and focussed from my therapy sessios I wanted to start counselling. I found the initial consultation quite scary. I did not feel ready to talk about recent events but I did feel okay talking about my family. But even just talking about family opened up more than I thought it would. It was amazing to have my counsellors perspective on things.

I expected to feel nervous but I just wanted to put it out there. Have you or know anyone who has had counselling? Has it changed you/them?

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Join in Hodgepodge!

Welcome to Wednesday Hodgepodge!



I hope by the end of this week's questions you'll want to take part in my Airmail Christmas card exchange. But for now here are my answers to Joyce's questions.

1) What lesson has failure taught you?

I think failure has taught me loads of things but the main thing is that there is always something to be learnt. As horrid as failure is to endure there is a lesson to teach us in it. And hopefully from what we learn we are better off for it.

2) What decision are you glad you made?

When I was 16-18 years old I really wanted to do midwifery despite very little experience. At the last minute I switched to nursing and I have never regretted it since.

3) Is your tree up and decorated?

No! and I have been surprised too by some people putting up lights etc. We don't put our christmas decorations up until two weeks before xmas.

4) Solitaire, poker, rummy, hearts, go fish, old maid…what game of cards would you most like to join?

I love solitaire and go fish!

5) When you're feeling stressed do you snack a lot or are you more the 'can't eat' sort of person?

I am an emotional eater so the more stressed, the food I eat. 

6) Have you ever reviewed a product or service online? Was your review favourable or not so favourable?

I have often and I am a regular reviewer on trip advisor. I think my reviews vary between good and bad. 

7) What was the best conversation you had yesterday?

I think it was with my dementia patient, sometimes their imagination captivates me! She kept telling me that unicorns do exist and explained in great detail what the unicorn looked like. She described a horse in detail but just the way we were talking couldn't not put a smile on my face.

8) Insert your own random thought here.


Last week I announced I was doing Airmail Christmas for the second year. It is a christmas card exchange between other social networkers. The reason it was started is very special so if you can spare a few minutes and read this post. Then please do take part, it's a great thing to be apart of!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A Very Airmail Christmas!

Airmail Christmas is back!




Would you like to take part in a Christmas card exchange with other bloggers and the twitterverse this year?

I was not going to do the Christmas card exchange this year due to everything that has been going on. But I saw Robin's husband in my village the other day and I just thought how could I not? Plus, there's another good reason as this year the Christmas card exchange is in honour another special lady.

I really enjoyed doing the exchange last year and I loved hearing from people what their cards said. I know some people even found some blog pals out of it which is so good. This is exactly what Robin would have wanted! For those of you who did not take part in the exchange last year then please read this post and see why Robin was so key to getting Airmail Christmas started.

But for now (or the next couple of minutes) I am handing you over to Doria, or otherwise known as Monkeybutt on her blog. She lost her mum to breast cancer just before Christmas last year. Here she is introducing Mama Monkeybutt (Mama MB)…

"I remember Mama MB being a strong, beautiful, independent woman. I remember growing up she'd stand up for what was right, she'd stand up for us kids and I'd watched her kick some butt when she had to.  She was one woman who couldn't be stopped.  Nothing ever seemed to bring her down or slow her down.  Mama MB stayed strong and battled through her epilepsy, her asthma, MS and a brain aneurysm.  The less of these I myself  would probably had laid down, pissing and moaning about how bad it was to be me.  She didn't do that, if Mama MB struggled, you'd never have guessed it.  She was always happy and loving, from her kids and family to her pets and yard animals.  Mama MB was a lover of all things.  The biggest heart one could ever wish to know.  Mama MB didn't run any marathons or wrestle any alligators, but she ran her course through life and you know what?  She left one hell of a trail for the rest of us to follow.    

We're approaching the anniversary of Mama MB's death, Mama MB passed away November 26th 2012 of breast cancer.  She fought her battle like a champ. Diagnosed in 2011, she went through chemo and radiation to the brain when the cancer spread.  I remember her telling me, it's so strange not to remember that time.  I can't imagine how she felt about that.  Wishing she could remember.  I remember how happy she was and how she praised God when the Dr reported that the cancer in her brain was gone.  Things looked up, if only for a minute.  

Mama MB never said how long the Dr had given her to live, Mama MB made sure that her children and grand children didn't know the truth.  In the end, when she was unable to know what we were finding out.  We found out the worst, how riddled her poor body was with the cancer. That it had spread to so many places.  That no matter how much I hoped and kept looking up, she wouldn't get better.  

It was a long  hard battle and I can't imagine what it was like for her. I wish with all that I am that I could sit and talk with her, understand what she felt.  To hold and hug her neck and cry with her. I wish I'd known the future. I would have done more!! 
Mama MB is and always will be my strength. I can't see  or talk to her this year. But of all the "thanks" going around this month.  

I'm thankful for my  Mama MB.  Thankful for the time I was allowed to have her in my life.  For the special moments we shared and she shared with my daughter, my father, husband, sister and nieces. Life will never be the same, now that she is gone. But we can all carry a piece of her memory everywhere we go. I hope each and everyone reading this will carry a piece of her with them as well.  

She was spectacular! "

Thank you MB for sharing her so beautifully with us. Airmail Christmas is in honour of Mama MB this year. I really hope you would like to take part and spread Mama MB's spirit globally. It really is so simple!!

If you're willing take part and extend your Christmas spirit onto other people then all you have to do is this.

1) Email your address (it can be your home, work or anywhere else address that you'd like a card posted to you at) to the designated email address: forrobin_christmas(at)hotmail.com. Please be rest assured your addresses will be held confidentially and not shared with anyone else apart from the person who will be sending you the card. Emails need to be sent by the 1st December 2013.

2) I will then email you the address of someone else that you can send a card to this year.

3) Once you have posted your card all you need to do is wait for the card that you will receive from another generous blogger.

4) Then blog/tweet/facebook/instagram the card you have received. I will do a link up just before or after Christmas.
The only rule is that if you're paired up with someone who lives abroad then you need to be willing to send the card to another country. I hope this will also be seen as a way of connecting with new people. 

I really hope you take part in this Christmas card exchange. When I spoke to Doria about it she was really touched that it's in honour of her Mama!

The more the merrier, so tell your family, friends, blog friends, facebook and twitter (#airmailchristmas) about it! Let's wish everyone 'A Very Airmail' Christmas this year!!!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Defining depression

Since starting this journey with depression and anxiety I have learnt so much. I can't define depression exactly because it is so much more than low mood and feeling sad. However, there have been many ways people have explained it to me which has helped me understand so much more. I wanted to share so if you know someone fighting this mental battle. You may understand them a little better.



1) Depression lies.

I think this is what I have heard the most. Depression lies and it loves to make you mask the truth. It tells you you'll think and feel this way forever. It really is like the devil on your shoulder and everyday it makes you question everything, even the things you know to be true. This has been the number one thing that has driven me stir crazy! There have been so many days where people have asked 'you okay?' and I say I am fine because the depression tells me to say it. When in fact I feel awful and so lonely.

2) It makes you believe thoughts are facts.

This is what has brought out the anxiety big time in me. I have always been a big thinker and feeler so when lots of negative thoughts fill my mind they become a fact of life. The most common thought I get is "I'm not good enough" and "People don't like me" because I have or haven't done something. I am learning to write lists against these thoughts but it is hard, because thoughts aren't necessarily facts! But I have this constant battle with myself that if I think it, then surely it must be true?

3) It suppresses who you really are.

In order to get out of thinking and feeling negatively you change things about yourself rather than your lifestyle. All my life I have been a giver and I think what burnt me out was doing too much of this. So I went and did the opposite which made me feel worse. Depression and anxiety almost makes you turn onto the flip side, that surely by doing the opposite will make you better. When in fact it makes you ten times worse.

4) Your sadness is the baseline by which everything else in your life should be measured by.

I think that sentence says it all but this has so much truth! I woke up most days accepting that feeling this way was the norm. I compared everything to feeling down and on my days that were good I would act defeatist by thinking 'well tomorrow I'll just wake up feeling low again.' It was like my good days were outnumbered by the bad.

5) It's your worst enemy but makes you feel like it's your best friend.

When I was going through the thick of my breakdown I did not agree with those words one bit. Depression was my enemy. It is only now that I am seeking help and treatment that I see so much honesty in that sentence. Depression makes you doubt, question and distorts everything good in your life. And I mean everything! So when I tried to explain how I was feeling to people they would often look confused or try to change my approach and attitude to problems. At the time it was the last thing I wanted so I would often to think to myself 'it's a good job I understand' or 'it's only me who gets this mess.' When in fact it was almost like my depression was befriending me to misconstrue my thoughts. By behaving and thinking like this I alienated myself and it's only in recent weeks I have let people in.

I hope by reading this people will understand some facts about how depression and anxiety affect others. It doesn't have any real definition because it changes so much about a person.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Trick or Treat Hodgepodge

Happy Halloween Hodgepodgers!


1) What's something you're dealing with that might be described as tricky?

At the moment my hospital needs a bladder scanner. It's something we have always needed but funds have been tight. Next week I have to do a presentation to my executive director to persuade him to get the hospital one. The trouble is a scanner is about £8000 - so I am finding it tricky to do a presentation with facts and figures. Argh!

2) What's your treat of choice?

Anything sweet!

3) Did you/will you carve a jack-o-lantern this month? Which real (living or dead) or fictional 'Jack' would you most like to meet in person? Why?

I haven't carved one and due to working busy shifts this week I doubt I'll be able to. I still love the lantern I carved last year. I don't know any real Jack's but I would love to meet Jack from Titanic. He's a romantic and fun sort of guy!


4) What's the grossest sounding word in the English language?

I think this is a popular one but I have never liked the word moist. It just makes me feel a little uncomfortable when I hear it. I really hate it when I hear a cake is referred to as moist - it just doesn't sound appetising!

5) When did your heart last skip a beat?

It hasn't for a while. A song came on the radio recently that means a lot to me. My heart skipped a beat and I found it a struggle to concentrate back onto my driving!

6) Monster Mash by Bobby 'Boris' Picket, Michael Jackson's Thriller, Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon or Ray Parker Jr's. Ghostbusters...your favourite scary tune is?

I'd have to say Michael Jackson. Great song and great video!

7) It was a dark and stormy night when...in 2004 when a 100ft tree fell onto my neighbours house. We all had to be 'evacuated' for the evening whilst they chopped it down and sorted out the damage. It was freezing!

8) Insert random thought here.

This weekend just gone was my sisters wedding reception. It was a great evening celebrating her nuptials to my brother in law. I have to be honest though. I am glad all the wedding stuff has finished. I found one wedding tiring, let alone two. Below is a picture of my siblings and I.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Life Lately

Life has been somewhat of a blur for me lately. I am not a person to wallow in pity but the storm I am riding is not an easy one. In saying that there have been many positives that have happened in my life and i have plenty to look forward to too!

1) Nicola and Robbie's wedding

It was just a very special day and I loved being Nicola's bridesmaid. Nicola looked beautiful and Robbie looked so smart. I am so pleased they got the wedding they wanted. They got married in Cyprus and this weekend they had a wedding reception for all family and friends who could not attend. It's safe to say they are so tired! But they had a great time and said they would do it all over if again if they could.




2) Cyprus

The wedding was just one day and the other 4 days I had in Cyprus were lovely. It was the first time I had a chance to get away from this mess and really think. It was so so good to read, relax and just be calm without any stresses. Cyprus itself was beautiful and the harbour had a really pretty promenade to walk along. I miss it.




3) Mental health

Therapy has ended and it's something I am in two minds about. It became routine every Tuesday evening to go and it was my chance to really focus my mind and get a bit more of a grip. On my bad days during the treatment I could just focus on my next session to get me through. However, I now have lots of new tools to help me. I have a HUGE understanding now of what I can do and I am slowly changing my way of thinking to be less destructive. This is a long road, much longer than I anticipated but I am determined. It's all I can really say on the matter.

4) Girly weekend

Last month one of my good friends said we should have a girly weekend away and I jumped on the bandwagon! This weekend we are going to stay in a converted barn, attend a bonfire night and have girly time. I know you shouldn't wish your life away but I would rather like next weekend to hurry up. I am so so so looking forward to it!

5) Tackling the bucket list

I am not sure if I have mentioned this on the blog but I have booked a trip for next year!!! I am finishing off America by going to Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia, Niagara Falls and Toronto. I know I have been to NYC but I didn't get to do Empire State as it was closed. So I will be able to say I have fully finished NYC after this trip!!!

6) Christmas

Last year I did 'Airmail Christmas' - where you send a card to an anonymous person you don't know. This way your'e spreading Christmas spirit intentionally to all areas of the globe. Anyone interested in taking part again this year?


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