[Mental] Health Crisis

Bit of a mush mash of words here.. but just wanted to write something(s!) down to go with my slightly scary discharge letter received last week.. And my brain isn’t working properly to make this blog better.. so I’m done with it in the mish mash that it is.. πŸ˜‚πŸ™„

πŸ˜”

We seem to be in quite the mental health crisis. Everyone knows the NHS is “always” suffering. But the mental health teams seem to be stretched beyond belief.

I waited 6 months for therapy. The therapy I have just undergone (CAT; Cognitive Analytical Therapy, which, btw, I loved and felt was massively helping) is recommended to take 1 hour for between 16-24 weeks. The NHS provides just 8 weeks of *not quite* 1 hour sessions..

How on earth are you supposed to make breakthroughs and adjust and be “fixed” in just 8 hours?! That’s a working day! And an average working day at Clarks is what tore me apart good and proper, forced me to leave the career that I loved, and put me in therapy in the end! 

The funny thing is – I(/we) could/would easily pay for me to have therapy 1,2,3 or even 4 weekly.. but I’m not sure it will ever truly make any difference anymore. This in itself is a huge improvement for me – I used to feel like I needed someone mental health trained to daily be by my side guiding me through life..!

I just seem to chop and change. For no apparent reason sometimes. Just like my eyes do – the other day for example, I felt like I could see clearer and further physically than most days. I only “need” glasses for driving but I often wear them just in places like the supermarket just to help me find my way round {quicker}.. but this was not needed the other day.. just like my PHQ/GAD scores… up and down up and down, better and worse, better and worse. Some days I find myself absorbed in this world of negativity and I cannot snap out of it; no matter how much I want or need to, it sticks with me until it is ready to shift on for a brief spell of time. Yet on others I seem to radiate excitement and zest for life; exactly who and what I want to be 24/7..

But this.. these scores.. they scared me a little. Whilst I agree, and I no longer feel like any amount of help/therapy is ever going to do anything; and I’m just going to have to thrive – as I do – on the good days (sprinkling glitter, kindness, care, love and smiles like the unicorn girl that I am), banking the memories and doing my best to plod through without hurting myself too badly on the bad days… the fact that a service happily discharges you when scores have not improved, and are still considered “severe”, I find quite scary.. 

They did improve, whilst I was undergoing therapy. They dropped a fair bit [“dropping” is good] and then slowly built again. It would seem the so many things that I felt were helping [therapy, running (VLM17), citalopram, holidays, fun, friends, sunshine, etc] really did make me “high” for a period of time and although many of these are still going on, my anxiety is back worsened beyond reasonable belief or expectation.. I don’t know why I am so badly over worrying about everyone and anyone, everything and anything, and why this huge sense of dread is sat so heavily on my shoulders right now. 

We agreed this, my therapist and I. Largely because all they now offered me was something I just cannot guarantee I will put the time and effort into it that it really needs. I always attended and engaged well with my therapist – but putting my mind to work is hard enough in therapy, let alone trying to make it work alone! This week I have been quite motivated to do everything and anything – but others I find myself exhausted not wanting to get out of bed and achieving seemingly nothing. Some say that’s ok – it’s ok to listen to what your body and mind must obviously need; but it never feels ok for me, especially whilst my darling husband is slogging through 50 hour + weeks.. but it means I cannot allow myself to commit to a new therapy that I may not always find the energy or motivation to put the effort into helping myself. And that’s part of the problem with mental health illnesses, isn’t it – you need to help yourself.. but that is always, always easier said than done.

I suspect part of the reason I have been motivated is because I few plans were cancelled (not by me; never by me; I cannot cancel… πŸ™„) at the end of last week which meant I actually had time to not do EVERYTHING and at 400mph as per usual Karen.. who then burns herself out from doing so..

I am incredibly grateful for the NHS and all the help we get, but with mental health in particular there just doesn’t not seem to be “enough” help. That age old problem of “enough”, rising its ugly head again..

Sometimes, I feel like, instead of having “one of those days” I’m having “one of those lives” where one thing after another just seems to go disasterously wrong and on, and on…

I guess I am just generally unsure what to make of it all. I could seek out therapy privately – but part of me can’t be bothered to start all over again somewhere else. Part of me doesn’t think I need/want to. Part of me thinks there’s no point. And part of me is shocked to still see those scores so worryingly high πŸ˜’

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New York πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

Have been meaning to post this amongst my blog for ages. Using this current miserable weather 🌧situation to catch up on everything I have been avoiding whilst it was lovely and sunny β˜€οΈ (and whilst I was feeling depressed/unmotivated/tired etc during the miserable winter months…) SO… New York πŸ—½. What can I say? There is not enough time; even when you think there is. There is never enough time; as per one of my biggest, most longstanding, impossible to get over; anxieties. I did however, see a wonderful verse from (American) poet Henry Van Dyke (in the 9/11 tribute centre) which perfectly sums up/helps(ish) my anxiety; 
“Time is/too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice; but for those who love, time is not.”

Christmas in New York πŸ’–

(A reminder, if we ever needed it; to live in the moment; definitely something I witnessed in New York, whilst I took some (lots, as per!) photos, hundreds of people were constantly filming and watching through a lens/watching later, that which they could have physically lived.. to me, photos help me (and my Dory 🐠 memory) to remember, I look back at some, print some for our photo wall… but do I re-watch over and over videos that I should/would/did just watch in real life at the time? No. Wedding DVD; yes (though not enough!!). Walking around New York/snow falling at the Empire State.. no.. a classic for me, was people taking photos/videoing the time lapse of the view from the Empire State at night.. that was on constant replay whilst in the queue to go back down the Empire State… if you didn’t just take those photos of YOUR experience whilst AT THE TOP.. then I’m seriously worried for you..!!
We walked between 9.3-13.7 miles a day πŸŽ’. We met some lovely chatty (American) people who JUST LOVE the British accent. We dealt with crazy amounts of people. Everywhere. Some just pure idiotic. We’ve decided that unless you’d pre-booked that far in advance (and that’s unlikely/impossible) then taking a young child {in pushchair} on holiday to New York, other than that of one still small enough to be being carried around in a papoose is a totally, completely, utterly ignorant/irresponsible thing to do. Pushchairs/prams/buggies, whatever you want to call them, in central New York are just a disaster; unless you live there with kids: just don’t. And for the love of god, people, use the WiFi – if you aren’t using data – when it’s available. Map out your routes, screenshot it, seriously; New York is a GRID SYSTEM. It is probably the easiest city in the world to navigate πŸ—Ί. Even my navigational/directionally retarded husband could (mostly!) figure it out; DO NOT JUST COME TO A COMPLETE STANDSTILL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET BECAUSE YOU ARE CONFUSED/LOST.. stand aside!! THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE CO-EXISTING ALONGSIDE YOU, you are NOT alone in this world. Another great (hilarious, but sadly true) quote from one of the Rockefeller attendants was; “this is your world, I’m just in it trying to help”….!

Other than that, even given my husband is a self-confessed country bumpkin who didn’t even “visit London until I was in my (late) teens!!” We LOVE New York. I thought I had a soft spot for (SE) Asia? I love New York. I really do.
Few other tips for anyone who has never been and is going to/wants them..
SubwayπŸš‡

Didn’t use it. I’ve heard before of even New Yorkers finding it difficult to understand how to use, despite New York being an amazingly simple grid system. So, I can’t help. Plus, I went to New York with the worry that I couldn’t afford to gain any weight-but I’m still going to try ALL the food… so all walking was a bonus calorie burner for me (albeit nowhere near ENOUGH of a calorie burner!) 
Crowne Plaza Times Square

Decent hotel. Bit dated. Every time we ran the hot water in the sink it absolutely stank of sewage (despite being 30 floors up). Shower took far too long for America to heat up (I’d expect that in Bali perhaps, but having been there and not experienced that, I certainly wouldn’t expect it in NYC!!), toilet didn’t flush properly unless you pressed and held the handle down (even for literally just a wee!!) On our last afternoon we noticed we could hear the wind howling in from somewhere on the corridor, this continued into the night.. also slightly concerned that, unlike other hotels where they stipulate where to put towels etc if you do/do not want changing to “help the environment”, this was non existent, suggesting they were changed unnecessarily every day?! I assume this as the cups left in the bathroom which we used every day for teeth cleaning/water at night were then chucked out and we were given new ones.. wrapped in cellophane/plastic…!! Lifts also seemed crazy slow?! However, our Uber did manage to drop us right at the door, check in was quick and friendly and we were given (extra) drinks vouchers. WiFi mostly worked ok.. we also had a “back” room (3016 – aka not facing Times Square) which, apart from the wind howl on the last night, was reasonably quiet. Some disturbance from other ignorantly loud guests/morning of our last day I was woken several times by what I can only assume was someone’s old school 90’s style alarm (didn’t appear to have one in our room so presumably not hotel provided), which scared me for a few seconds when assuming it was a fire alarm.. however, from being in the Times Square-facing hallway and hearing nothing from Times Square, I would assume the glazing/building is strong enough to block the noise and for you to still get a decent night sleep…

DO NOT book it based solely on the fact there is an (indoor) swimming pool (particularly in winter!!?! But in Summer I would be tempted with an outdoor rooftop pool..!). If you’ve not used the subway πŸš‡, not got bogged down in yellow cab πŸš• traffic nightmare, and walked 🚢🏽everywhere; you won’t use it. When you do go to use it, they won’t let you if they deem it “full” (even if you can see from your room how empty it is) or if you don’t have a swimming cap.. (I had washed my hair the day before and wasn’t getting it wet – thus needing to wash – whilst swimming, but still I wasn’t allowed.. plus, I haven’t worn one of those pull-your-hair-out vile rubber swimming caps since I was about 13 years old, I sure as hell ain’t planning to wear one again now!!) book a cheaper hotel/nicer hotel for the same price if not less. Use booking.com, look for decent WiFi/decent sized comfy beds (especially if you have a +6ft partner)/good location as that’s most important/useful for us these days.
Bar Americain

Overall, we liked this, although slightly random. Really easily located from above mentioned Crowne Plaza/Times Square. Kir Royale mostly tasted like black currant (we think our yank friends don’t really “get” champagne/prosecco). Rosemary Bee’s Knees is the most rosemary thing I have EVER tasted.. and I like Rosemary.. steaks however, are massively overpriced.. they literally come with nothing (so steak + side(s)!!) and if you don’t like “blackened/charcoal) then just don’t go there.. I ordered the filet mignon, and whilst it came medium rare as requested; the outside was blackened/char-coaled which I don’t particularly enjoy.. the creamed kale was delicious, and we quite liked the smashed potatoes with goats cheese – but the fries LOOKED amazing..! If I went back, I’d join the husband on the “normal”, “entrees” menu part, where everything is sub 35 dollars.. it did all look amazing.. I just pretty much got talked into the steak (P.S. the “steak sauce” is waaaay too strong on the mustard, so if you do go for it, go easy, unless you have a cold you want clearing out!!)

Husband had the buttermilk fried chicken (because he’s addicted) – so if you like battered chicken + biscuit (savoury scone), it was good.. βœ…

Bar Americain

Black Tap πŸ–€

Freakshakes. Semi worth the wait.. we got a bit lucky. We just did as everyone else and waited in the queue. We had been waiting about an hour when someone came out checking the kinds of numbers of groups in the queue. The girl almost missed us, thinking we were with the girls in front – so I piped up that we were a party of two.. thank goodness – she asked us if we would be happy sitting at the bar, we said of course, and she took us straight in.. the bar was empty bar two other girls at that point, so we sat pretty much where we wanted and had plenty of space.. the freakshakes were insane.. and good.. I’d recommend the peanut butter one if you like PB.. it comes with the most crazy stuff.. M&M’s stuck to the glass, a caramel chew stick, Reese’s PB cups, etc.. nom. We also had burgers each. Sweet potato fries were good although a little cold when they arrived (I think the server had wondered around a while looking for us; bad planning Black Tap for not knowing exactly where she needed to go?!) chicken burger was better than the burger I had (The Californian), however, both husband and I prefer chicken burgers to anything else (the Californian is turkey, I picked it for the avocado & “sauce” (mayo?!) however I think they will “custom make”/switch in/out to an extent.. freakshake is what it is all about but after queuing so long you may as well eat properly/you’ll probably want to! We actually are our meal and drank our freakshakes, and got back out of Black Tap before the girls in front of us even got in.. they probably still had another hours wait… so definitely worth sitting at the bar!!

Freakshakes. Always Freakshakes.

Cronuts 

Dominique Ansel Bakery on Spring Street appears to have patented these… this is a classic example of DO YOUR RESEARCH before you travel.. we had literally walked past this bakery early in the morning days before (to get to Battery Park for Statue of Liberty).. so back that way we went.. we certainly walked for (some!!) of our food!!!

Husband is adamant if these were readily available in supermarkets then you wouldn’t even look at them.. and he’s probably right, but he’s been right a lot lately so I can’t give him that credit – plus, as a female, I go through mental cravings. Sometimes I NEED a five pack of Sainsbury’s jam doughnuts (Sainsbury’s (outside Krispy Kreme) are the best, don’t even think about giving me anything else!) so I think there are occasions where I could NEED 5 cronuts (as it turns out, I had three…πŸ₯πŸ©). DA Bakery (lazy typer) does a different flavour every month, so, providing I wasn’t going back in December next year where flavour COULD be the same (standard American Christmas, peppermint (Americans always seem to LOVE peppermint?!) with cherry jam).. we both, plus (overhearing) couple next to us in the Bakery thought the peppermint was too much/didn’t work, but fortunately, the peppermint was just icing, so you could peel it off; where, it somehow tasted less pepperminty. On occasion, I would decide I needed a bit of the peppermint again in the same mouthful… so it was a bit of a love-hate relationship.. I’d queue again for a different flavour (FYI we got to the queue just before 7am as recommended by another blog, where we were then 3rd and 4th in line) but not for the same flavour.. but if I could go back in time knowing what I know now, I still would… it’s an unlikely opportunity to try something and I LOVE/LIVE to try. Also, advice is to consume the cronut within 6-8 hours. We bought the max (4; 2 per person) but as husband didn’t enjoy it, I got his 2nd, so I ended up eating one for breakfast the next day (+24 hours later) and it tasted amaze. Un-refrigerated (but carried around for hours in the pouring rain before being left in room temperature hotel room).. so they can keep that long at least.

Also – don’t be tempted by buying EVERYTHING else in the bakery like Miss Piggy 🐷🐽 over here… I am SO greedy and really only the Cronut’s are worth it… for me anyway.. πŸ˜‰

Cronuts

Sarabeth’s (Central South Park, but there are a few)

Brunch. Go. Always busy. Always worth it. Almond French Toast of dreams!

Central Park dreaming πŸ’•

See a show on Broadway (Lion King🦁)/Central Park/General Shopping (especially at Christmas)

You can’t really go to New York and NOT do these things…. pointless..! I was gutted I couldn’t run around any of Central Park due to injury.. next time!! Also, we came across cute and quirky Broadway Market in Lower Manhattan, off Broadway [obvs!] (not too far away from Dominique Ansel Bakery..!!) which is definitely worth a browse.

Broadway Market

Chelsea Market/The High Line

Chances are you can walk from wherever your hotel is, along the high line to Chelsea Market. Both are worth it. The highline is a beautifully done “up” with greenery, art, pop-up stalls, etc. ex railway line. Chelsea Market is just cute with some quirky shops/restaurants/lobster rolls (the “thing”, apparently!)

The High Line (promise I’m not the naked sunbather this time!)
Beautiful Chelsea Market (I love a fairy light πŸ’–πŸ¦„.. & flowers 🌺!!)
Rockefeller Christmas Tree πŸŽ„

Rockefeller/Top of the Rock

I had bought the ticket price of this as part of our “New York Explorer Pass” via attractions direct. (Use Quidco, if not already signed up, sign up here…! http://www.quidco.com/user/2874440/2414459/) I had assumed (correctly) it would be a case of “swap/scan explorer pass in exchange for ticket at particular time”… so keep a rough eye on the weather. We were exhausted and when we “swapped” our explorer passes at 3/4pm one day, the next availability that day was after 9(pm) and as 30-ish year olds, we didn’t want that late (we generally were up at 5/6am!) so we booked sunset the next day, knowing we also had the Empire State Building to do as part of said Explorer Pass..

So, the weather the next day turned out to be HIDEOUS.. it rained all day.. until sunset.. we caught some of the sunset at the top, but when we got down to ground and started walking around again, we found the most beautiful skies (see below) which could only have been utterly stunning from top of the rock.. (check the weather, and then) book sunset, and book it as soon as possible when you arrive in New York if you have an explorer pass.. you’ll see why when you scroll down to Empire State info!

Top of the Rock

Beautiful sunset skies just as we got to the bottom of the Rockefeller… wait!!

Empire State Building

Beware. Once again, we had this as part of our “New York Explorer Pass” but, what we hadn’t realised, is that you didn’t book this for a specific time. You can exchange your “New York explorer pass”/buy a ticket whenever you like, but, it isn’t set for a specific time. So you can queue up, buy, then come back, queue again and then view… but you will always wait in the queue… so, for example, we “queued up” (no queue) to exchange our tickets when it was bucketing it down with rain. They stamped our passes then with “no view” in case we decided to go up when we “bought” (exchanged) so we couldn’t claim a refund for lack of view (whilst walking through the queue line, every attendant was saying “no view”)… we didn’t realise when we got to ticket purchasing desk that it wouldn’t be stamped with the set time for the next day like we had planned (and like top of the rock), so we had to go through the same process (including security!) the next day (where the queue was then a lot bigger!)… you CAN buy an “express pass” either in advance, or on the day, or even upgrade on the day.. but I would say it wasn’t worth it. When we were in the queue (with tickets) “on the day”, even when we had gone through some of the queue, all attendants were saying 2-2.5 hours.. we were up and back out again within that “2 hour” time frame.. we think they say it to get you to pay the extra $31pp for the “express pass” for no reason.. we saw people at the top that had paid for “express” tickets.. whilst we think they were letting far too many people up at once/it was crazy busy, it wasn’t worth paying the extra for the “express pass” just get in the queue early enough; you can stay up as long as you want/can be bothered once you get there (as at 2016!) so, if you want sunset in winter, I’d get in the queue about 1.5-2hours before sunset is due..

Empire State of mind

9/11 Museum

WARNING; New York Explorer Pass DOES NOT cover this.. I had misread that it did. It in fact only cover’s the tribute centre, so we didn’t make it to the museum. Probably for the best, as, being the over-emotional wreck that I am, I was struggling to blink back the tears just from what was in the tribute centre (we didn’t even do the walking tour!) however, as sick as it sounds, I am fascinated by 9/11. A lot more so than 7/7 despite 7/7 being on “home turf” I am awed by the stories of fate/luck and near survival and loss. I am awed alongside questioning of the conspiracy theories out there. I find the entire disaster just completely insane; and I am gutted to have missed out on the museum. I would do it if we went back; Book in advance. We arrived not long after 9 (opening time) and queues were already insane) and, I’d allow a day for it, given the time we spent in the tribute centre (and could have spent longer + done the 90min walking tour). Do it. These are real life stories/encounters; they won’t be fresh from the humans themselves forever, sadly, we all have to end somewhere.

9/11 Memorial xx
Spooky story & image to match from a 9/11 firefighter.. ✝️
9/11 Museum

Statue of Liberty/Liberty Island/Ellis Island/Immigration Museum

Again, we just DID NOT seem to have enough time here. I also could only get us tickets to the pedestal of Lady Liberty πŸ—½ – not the Crown as it gets fully booked months in advance; which is a shame as I’d have happily walked the full 354 steps to the top (where vertigo anxiety would likely have taken over, as per..!) so top tip is to book this as far in advance as you can! The immigration museum on Ellis Island is fascinating – there is SO MUCH to look at and take in – anyone who manages to “do” New York in 4 days is insane! I’d recommend the immigration museum as well as the tour of the old, unrestored immigrant hospital buildings, which again we just didn’t have time for; but definitely next time..!!

Ellis Island Immigration Museum
Lady Liberty

Grand Central Station

Just beautiful. Worth a visit for the beauty even if you aren’t travelling… and those whispering walls? They really work!

[but don’t try to grab food there… queues are insane!]

Grand Central Station

Worrying world of filters and edits…

Original image
Two things. Can we just 😍😍😍 how beautiful are these flowers?! πŸŒΊπŸ’

πŸ’–

But, importantly, this (yet another – spoilt this week!!) little blog, is about the situation with filters/no filters/edits/no edits which I noticed when posting “Cute Cottage” picture on Instagram earlier.. [see below] because it was something I had never really noticed before, and it alarmed me to see such a contrast on my camera roll from an “unfiltered” photo… I couldn’t help thinking to myself – no wonder we have generations of people desperate to change what they look like if others are constantly hash tagging “no filter” but editing TF out of their lives….

Original image…
#nofilter … but a tonne of “edits”!

So, with each picture here, the first one is unedited, the second swipe shows me playing around with the brightness/contrast/structure/warmth/colour/saturation/fade/highlights/shadows/vignette/tiltshift/sharpen… yet still enabling me to #nofilter … I used a few different images to “get the gist” across as such, although, ironically, the one with me in – which was my main point and worry about how people’s looks could be edited so far away from the truth – I think doesn’t actually look as dramatically altered (but it is!).

So this all got me thinking about how frequently we hear about boys and girls, men and women having {body} dysmorphic issues.. and I can’t help but feel, suddenly how obvious it is for some as to why.. I am willing to bet there are millions of people out there uploading seemingly perfect images to the internet every day, hashtagging them as “unfiltered” when in reality, all the filters or edit options have been applied. Now don’t get me wrong; I know I am not the only one noticing this lately, and there is definitely a lot of body empowerment and “owning” who you are going on with the use of the World Wide Web (you just gotta look for it, and once you’ve found one, you’ll find a load more) but I just kind of felt the need to write down a quick little blog for anyone out there thinking that their lives aren’t as perfect as “blah and blah” to say: noones life is perfect. Filters and edits exist, and sometimes – often – people only disclose what they want to disclose… I know I can be a bit of an oversharer at times (#understatement 😝) but, as with the main title of my page here – honesty is what you’ll get from me.. because I’m tired of fighting my perfectly unperfect life, mind, infertility, etc, on my own.. here you’ll find me: open, honest, filtered or unfiltered, edited or unedited – I’ll let you know – Karen. 😘 

Dear everyone – please bare in mind that what you see in an image may not be real life. Smile, love and be kind; that’s what makes you beautiful. πŸ’•

Original image

#nofilter … edited!!

P.S… I only discovered the “edit” options because I wanted a bluer sky behind the cottage like there’d been last week when I was too lazy to take the picture… πŸ€¦πŸ½β€β™€οΈ

#nofilter but lots of edits!

Rufus 🐢

I love how he sits and watches me, or gives me his paw as the universal sign of “I want that food” or “I want to go for a walk” or “play with me and this toy but you can’t have the toy”. His dad is clearly sat right there, but it’s always me he comes to first for everything. I’m “only” a furbaby mum yet it’s much like having a real child. Dad works all day so mum appears to be the provider of everything.I love how, if he isn’t distracted enough with a good enough treat, he will go ballistic when you try to leave the house without him. Sometimes he’ll greet you excitedly when you return, others he will maintain a grump at you for leaving him.. for a while at least. In particular he seems to know if I’ve said I’m just “running 3 miles, will be back within half an hour” and then I run 5,7,9 or more and am gone longer. That tends to be when he gives off that sense of “you lied” grump. I love how he doesn’t realise how funny I find that.

I love how he somehow knows when it’s nearly time for dad to be home. In the summer he will wait for him by the back gate and sniff expectantly. Always ready and waiting and wagging his tail for James to walk through the front door once he’s parked on the driveway.

I love his sheer excitement for a dentastix each evening.

I love how he licks me when I’m back from a run and my legs are obviously a yummy taste of salty sweat. Or how he randomly just licks me as a sign of affection. I love how he cocks and tilts his head at me, and I love how he has just run up to me hearing this video playing, cocking and tilting his head once more trying to figure out where the squeak is coming from. Or when we FaceTime my Mum and Dad and he appears completely unable to even see the phone, let alone the faces of my parents or Rory his cousin (cockapoo) when they talk to him, but continuing to cock his head at me with a frown on his face.

I love how he is crazy, wild and affectionate. I love how “he” gets me out the door and walking (or at the very least gives me the excuse to, even if he is walked too much!), talking to strangers and getting me through the day(s).

I love how he will never know how much he makes me laugh, even when I’m down and crying. I love how he will never know how he’s a big reason for me to stay alive. I love him, my little-big white ball of furry fluffness. 🐾

​​
#rufus #labradoodle #furbaby #ReasonsToStayAlive

An open letter to my therapist..

Today I had my last therapy with my current therapist. I won’t say what kind of therapy it is I’ve had – as knowing this would have put me off at the start and I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone, because it is worth it – but you are asked to write a letter to your therapist in the final session – and they write one to you too.. you can write anything – even just one line – but we all know I’m a writer…!

I was scared because you read the letters to each other (unless you really just can’t, somehow, through tears I managed it!) the writing wasn’t an issue, as usual. 

As I was writing it though, I thought about how it wasn’t necessarily just personal to him. A lot of it just makes sense. The Time to Change campaign are running a “what do you wish people knew about your mental health problem?” And whilst writing, re-writing, reading, and re-reading what I’d written to my therapist, I thought it fit in quite well.. so here it is.. my own words, to my therapist (with a couple of little bits just added)… but what I want you all to know..

Dear Richard,
Well, as per, I have no idea where to start, or end, or what to say full stop! If I’d have known this was coming I probably would have run a mile (or 26… did I mention I ran a marathon?!) 7 sessions ago! Even my husband came out with the understatement of the year in saying it sounded “scary”!
Writing isn’t really a problem for me… I can – and do – go on for hours! It’s more the speaking/saying it out loud. I don’t know if it’s even that I’m just scared/don’t want to/don’t like to – I just feel quite terrified.. but also perplexed – because at school I quite often wrote and did readings – sometimes with a friend, but also sometimes alone. I had forgotten I had ever even done this until going through boxes of my old school “stuff” recently. It highlighted to me, that at some point I must have had an element of self confidence within me, I guess, to have been able to do that.
I have enjoyed our sessions – and this therapy process in itself.

I don’t know whether “you therapists” (Rachael was the same!) “mimic” your patients – as such – but I always found it amusing/calming/warming how we would find the same things funny and despite my crazy mind we could still share a giggle over how much constant holiday you {never me πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‚!} get!! It’s the daft little things I guess!!
I am surprised at myself too, because as I got utterly desperate for help in the months prior to me being offered therapy with you – I eliminated male therapists from my search. I am a real girly, girl’s girl and I was convinced I needed a female therapist again. They didn’t tell me when I was initially offered the appointment over the phone that my therapist would be male – it was only when I got the letter that I realised (panicked!) but I then figured that I may as well give you a chance! I am glad I did – proud of myself, if you like! – you gave me an unexpected, different and somewhat calming approach.. despite being male!! However, you, or I, should really write down my “homework” as I often forgot on my return home!
I like {this} therapy. I think it makes sense – I just think the time isn’t enough (or maybe I am just extra complex – I suspect so!) especially just 8 sessions on the NHS, although I appreciate the constraints! I kept meaning to ask you if you worked privately so I could at least get the longer (infinite!!) time I felt/feel I need(ed), but, I don’t think you do. I feel, perhaps, like I have wasted our sessions: they’ve gone so fast and yet I don’t feel like I’ve progressed. That’s not through fault of you though! I don’t know if it’s my “never good enough” talking, or because time has gone so fast, or even just from where I don’t feel as “high” at the moment. I seem to struggle to concentrate, take things in and remember anything whatsoever when my mind strays into that black hole of… literal emptiness!! I’ve felt the same from my CBT sessions – again, not through therapist fault, but just because my mind is a mess, I guess. 
I wasn’t consciously aware of being upset in our second to last session because I knew therapy was coming to an end – but perhaps subconsciously it was playing on my mind more than I realised. I’ve found myself thinking in the last couple of weeks that I just can’t do this “on my own” despite being surrounded by family and friends who love me unconditionally and just wish they could wave a magic wand to “fix” me.
I write down a tonne of thoughts and head to bed, yet everytime I put my head on the pillow, my mind starts spinning with more. It is never ending. How do I break that cycle? I can, sometimes – or at least “after” – identify rational and irrational thoughts. What is ridiculous and what is stupid. I know hurting myself in any way won’t help, and that, despite the feeling of being in control from doing so, that that couldn’t actually be any further from the truth: that by doing so I am letting my negative, irrational mind win. But I just can’t stop the thoughts or stop myself from “playing up to them”.
It feels impossible to change those age old habits – they are older than I am an adult. They feel like me – even though I am also conscious – to an extent – of not wanting to be like this. I feel like a child. I feel constantly like I have regressed. I feel like I need regular (an improvement from constant!) support and help to crack this. I guess I just feel I need a bit of aid and encouragement to get the old brain cogs working!

And I am scared, but, I think, most of all I am scared of how much this all, still, controls me – what I do and who I am, yet I cannot give it up. It is obsessive and a compulsion, and I am petrified of the “what if’s”!! After all – who am I outside of this crazy mind? Who is Karen underneath all these many years and layers of anxiety with depression? Without compulsively under-eating and overexercising, without having something I can “control”? I know what my friends and family – particularly my Mum and Dad – will say. They will say I am kind and caring, loving and loveable, a worshipper of the sun and warmer weather, a girl who lives and loves to travel and explore the world! They’d say I am a fighter and have been since day 1; be it fighting for myself, or for others who I feel have been subject to injustice. 

But what if I am not? What if this kindness and caring and excessive love I give off is actually a result of anxiety and depression? Of how I have been treated? A result of my many layers; because I know. I know what it feels to not be treated kindly, or be cared about or loved; even if my experience of that has come from someone (some people) who really, is (are) nothing to me. And what if I can’t keep fighting?
I feel like a hypocrite, as, just the other week, in light of all the terror attacks, I wrote a brief post about how we cannot and will not lock ourselves away “just in case” of the “what if’s” – and yet, really, here I am, locked away inside my own compulsive little (nasty!) habits, inside of my own head. Ruled by a negative mind.

I stole the quote “what if I fall? Oh my darling, but what if you fly?” yet, despite finding myself regularly suggesting/helping/being there for others struggling with their own [mental] health, I cannot completely help myself. And worst of all, I worry. I worry that what if I don’t really want to help myself? What if I don’t really – can’t – loose this controlled/controlling part of me? In which case, why am I even doing any of this?!
It’s *almost* funny- but if someone says something self depreciating/negative/I don’t like/feel is true about me, I won’t stand for it, I’ll fight it and be fuming – and yet I’m negative about and towards myself consistently! Nothing anyone ever says or does or writes to me resonates for long enough to remind myself that I am enough. And even as I read you this letter, and you waited for me to finish, you remembered – somehow – even what I had said right at the start in order to respond. Even I couldn’t have remembered what I had said – and I wrote it – yet I know you responded in a way in which to remind me once more that I am enough, but already I cannot remember how or what you said….
And now, I don’t know where, or how to end this. As appears to be my forte – I’ve gone on for quite a while. I’ve been writing this on and off for the last two weeks, the main bulk of it done immediately after our seventh session so I didn’t forget! I’m not sure if I have said everything I want or need to say, or, as usual, if it is “good enough”, but with less than an hour until our final session, I guess I need to end somewhere.. Although I do have a couple of unexpected pages left, so I expect I will have a “P.S” or two somewhere!!

I’m also unsure how to “sign off”. A “sincerely” feels too formal, and I am also used to signing cards and letters to friends and family with outpourings of “lots of love” etc, but that feels even weirder! So instead, the only option feels to me to be a great big thank you, for your understanding and help, and for making me less “wary” or whatever it is I’ve previously thought or felt towards male therapists.
Karen x

There was, in the end, no P.S. I think I said everything I had to say for now. The only thing I’d like to add to Richard now (though it unlikely he’d ever see it!), is how funny I found it when he accidentally let an “f-bomb” slip.. I can’t even remember what context he used it in – it was definitely appropriate, but beyond unexpected, but being that I constantly feel like I’m swearing unnecessarily (and I hate it!) it certainly made me feel better, and giggle. β˜ΊοΈπŸ˜‚

x

The Cinnamon Trust.


My heart, is melting πŸ’”
Rufus 🐢 (!) and I volunteer through The Cinnamon Trust (http://www.cinnamon.org.uk/). It’s a charity which looks for volunteers to support “the elderly, terminally ill and their pets.” I have volunteered to walk dogs should their old/terminally ill owners be unable to walk them any longer.

Weirdly, I discovered around 5 months into being with The Cinnamon Trust that my dad also volunteered with them many years ago. Talk about keeping it in the family! πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦
It took a few months to first find suitable “client(s)”. Cinnamon Trust tries to find and match people that are close to each other so expenses are kept minimum; as you’d expect for a charity.
A month or so ago I began walking Jaz, a sweet little Jack Russell-Staffy cross belonging to an unwell June in my local village/”small town”. June is lovely – so sweet and incredibly grateful for my help. 
But I don’t do this just for June and others like her – I also do it for me, because I am a typical millennial in every sense and I just have this need and desire to help people – yet being too scared of blood and gore renders me useless to train as a doctor or nurse (as if I was even clever enough!*) and I [currently 😬] do not have the self esteem/confidence/belief to look at training as a therapist {a suggestion from my current therapist}.. Volunteering doesn’t often seem to me as that much of a real nice and decent thing to do – it is essentially pretty easy for me to do this and I enjoy it. I believe I am a mostly (!) decent human being, and it’s my opportunity to give a little something back to society; I believe we should look after each other. πŸ’•

I – like many – HATE(D) paying tax (as it so often seems to go towards those who don’t need or are undeserving) but I am more than happy and willing to help out those who are really in need.
Today, June presented me with this adorable bunch of flowers, hand picked from her own garden, πŸ’smelling – and looking – wonderful as a token of her appreciation for me walking Jaz. Just for me doing something that I feel like is just common decency for me to do! And not only that – I think due to holiday, I have only walked Jaz 4 or 5 times so far! 

I don’t need, or want, or expect any thanks – from anyone – for walking Jaz; she is super sweet and very easy to walk. And, like I said, by volunteering I am already part doing this for the good feeling I get back for helping. It is really no hassle for me to walk Jaz – and most of the time I actually feel like I should be doing more – and even though it’s against Cinnamon Trust rules – I always ask June if she needs anything etc. before I leave. I can’t help it – to me it feels like human nature to do so; to help. I was so touched and, as standard Karen, could have cried! We all know I love flowers 😍! Imagine the sheer elation I then felt when the bee 🐝 landed on the orange blossom as I walked home! It really felt like the world was going round harmoniously in one big hug of humanity. Simple acts of kindness really, really make big differences. I had been feeling stressed (thanks to the idiot bank) and anxiety has been creeping it’s way back in, but after receiving this lovely bunch of appreciation, I felt kind and happy and willing and able to engage in conversation with strangers again on my walk home. I am only sorry I didn’t give June a big hugπŸ€—; next week I will ☺️


I feel sad, and worried, as I often always do when I think people might be lonely. I know the feeling all too well and I hate the thought of others being alone and lonely. I suspect it is more often than not why I reckon I am (self diagnosed!) as quite intense sometimes (soz-not-sozπŸ’πŸ½). Why I feel like I’m harassing people sometimes (some of my closest friends may even join me with in a good laugh here about me not being a “manageable relationship”!!!!!!!!!🀣🀣🀣) – because I worry about them being sad and lonely more so than the fact that I’d appreciate the company too! I am not saying June is lonely – I don’t know her well enough to know if she is or isn’t. I – as I am so often – still feel that awkward stage of being unable to ask people more about their lives. I know – from having seen when collecting/dropping Jaz – that she certainly has an array of visitors; which puts my mind at ease. I really am just a worrier. Often unnecessarily! I just hate to think of people being lonely. Ironically, I am then pretty awkward and apparently incapable of simple conversation which would mean I could make others less lonely…. hashtag, lifeπŸ™„/irony or something along those lines!
Anyway, thank you to June – I really, really love flowers.❀️

*My therapist has asked me to notice when I am being self-depreciating, and I expect a few people that read my blog/posts also feel I should just stop being so negative; but on this occasion, I genuinely am not clever enough! I am not stupid, but not clever enough to be a doctor or nurse πŸ‘©πŸ½β€βš•οΈ! BUT, I do later give myself some credit for a change πŸ˜‰ – it doesn’t come easy to me to do so. It feels weird and big headed. I remember an old Primark colleague once saying to me something along the lines of “if I don’t “big myself” up; you can be certain no-one else will, as everyone else is too busy “bigging” themselves up” – so you need to fight for yourself! πŸ‘ŠπŸΎ

Little ray of sunshine πŸŒ€

Sunshine on a rainy day 🎢

One of my old Clarks colleagues (and I feel at some point soon there will be a blog about the whole horrendous Clarks experience, because; therapy.) suggested to me that he had had “depression for 8 weeks once” but “didn’t feel the need to write about it, let alone share it”. Admittedly this was said some time ago but it keeps popping into my head.. particularly after I’ve been forced to go through EVERYTHING on my phone and delete due to “lack of memory space” 😫.

Anyway – there’s a *few* (understatement of the year) things wrong with those words.

The first is that, you DO NOT just get depression for a mere 8 weeks, and then all is fine and la-de-da again forevermore. Nope, nuhuh, no way, soz 🀚🏾. Depression, or indeed, any mental health illness, lives within you forever. You either have it, or you don’t. You’ll have better spells; days, weeks, months, maybe even years (if you’re really lucky!), but it will always be there, lingering, ready to to come back and shatter your world. I suggest – ex colleague – that you were just a bit down in the dumps for a few weeks over something or other [dumped? Clarks being their usual selves?!], but, despite being no expert, I can confirm you most certainly were not “depressed” if that was your first and last lifetime experience of it. And if it is something you continue to struggle with, I encourage you to seek help.

Second/third/fourth issues are; well, that’s just mighty good for you not feeling the need to write or even “share” about your experience. Maybe you’re not a writer. Maybe you deal with things in other ways. Maybe you didn’t want to talk or share your experience; that’s all fine; as a human being in a free world that is your choice. As is my choice to write and share. Ta very much for your *unnecessary* opinion there regarding my choices. πŸ‘πŸΎ [note; sarcasm.]

Little bit in love with Bryony Gordon ATM 😍

I feel the need to write. It’s part of my self-therapy, it’s part of getting it out of me and it’s part just what feels right for me; just like running (although I think I fancy a little break from running… 😬😱!!). And, somewhat most importantly to me; it’s often a little ray of sunshine for others. πŸŒ₯


Others who feel they can’t [yet; because I too was at that point, for a long, long time] talk or write about what they are going through. Others who are suffering in silence; which I don’t recommend but I 100% understand because I’ve been there, {and sometimes I continue to find myself there because it really is an absolute nightmare to tell the people you love the most, that despite your seemingly perfect life; you just aren’t ok.} Others who have been brave enough to tell me, in confidence, that they aren’t ok, and are kind enough to tell me they always read my blogs, and that sometimes my words are enough to remind them they are not alone.

I am not for a second big headed enough (although apparently I sometimes come across like this, and I’d like to remind you that not only did I A) go to drama school but that B) mental health battles are all about the hiding it and faking it and pretending you are “ok”) to think I’m all that: that my ramblings are enough; I am just merely repeating what others have told me. And I thank those people whole-heartedly, because as a typical “millennial” it makes me feel like I have a tiny, incey-wincey bit of purpose.

Biggest fair weather lover you’ll know – but this kind of has a point 🌈

Most of the time my mind wonders enough to form words to write when I am walking the dog. Let me tell you it is not easy to walk the dog across fields and write a blog… I wish my brain had the power to think this clearly and concisely when I was sat at a computer/laptop! More than once I have almost sprained my ankle falling down a rabbit hole [pun intended] whilst thinking and writing; and let me tell you all once and for all this is EXACTLY why I do not run cross country but instead stick to the knee-damaging tarmac of roads and pavements..!!
Anyway – as per usual karen tangent..

I don’t write for others. I write for me. I share for me because I’m tired of not sharing. I’m tired of fighting things alone, and I think we all know from my overgramming (πŸ“ΈπŸ˜) that frankly, I love to share! Sometimes I still find myself having those dark days alone, but sharing and being open and having support – no matter how difficult it is at the time – reminds me I can do this. As can you. β˜€οΈ

I know more than anyone it’s not this easy.. but dance freely and make friends ☺️

In other news – I am a fully grown-almost 30-year old adult who for the second day in a row has spilt food/drink down her top.. this is an improvement on in my hair.. and yet, on putting on a new top I have discovered a twig somehow entwined within the sleeves… πŸ™„ #ICantAdult