I will never be cured…

I don’t want to make this a blog post that’s meant to get views and comments, it’s not me trying to do anything… except talk. I just need to get it out there and whatever happens, whether it gets 1 view or 100 views, then that will just be.

I’ve always been an anxious person. Ever since I was really little. When attending the kids’ parties in Primary School, I barely left my mother’s side. I’d sit with the parents rather than go to play with my classmates. My mother would push me to go and play with them because she knew it was important, but I didn’t like being away from her. When I was 10, I was officially diagnosed with anxiety. I didn’t understand what that was at first, I just called it nervous. There’s a big difference between the two, believe it or not. Having anxiety and having anxiety issues are also two different things.

For a while, maybe three years, I thought that’s all it was going to be was anxiety. Then, when I was in year 8 and had my first breakdown, I was diagnose with borderline depression which then turned into clinical depression. I was just 13 when this happened. So I’ve been dealing for quite some time. Then, when I was 16, I had another breakdown and that’s when I received a third diagnosis of cyclothymia, which is a form of bi-polar. Lesser talked about, but just as important to be recognised. The thing is, cyclothymia is one thing, but to have anxiety and depression with it, it’s almost like a more severe case.

Having cyclothymia can be difficult. It’s exhausting and people don’t understand. Unless a person knows me very well and knows my story, they generally just think I’m just an annoying person. But it’s like being on a pendulum. Swing one way to manic, and I’m hyper, I talksofastthatifyouweretotranscribeitthenitwouldbelikeakeyboardismissingaspacebaraNDTHENSOME TIMESICANGETLOUDUNINTENTIONALLYTOOanditrytobequietanduseanormaltoneBUTTHENIGETLOUDAGAIN and it really bugs the fuck out of people. They’re like “why can’t this kid calm down? Why is she so annoying?” and often I can pick up on myself being annoying and I try to stop it, but it just doesn’t happen.

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Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.

Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

What do you do when every move you make is wrong? Whatever your decision, whatever your beliefs, whatever your actions… they’re just considered wrong.

For the longest time, I didn’t understand politics. I didn’t get activism. I didn’t think I needed to. I’ve been the youngest child to my dad and only child to my mother and adult responsibilities have never been something I’ve truly had to deal with. When you grow up dealing with a self battle and at war with your demons, you don’t really see too much of the outside world. You just survive. You’re constantly fighting and someone else’s troubles are not something you can deal with.

But then… when you begin to finally leave your comfort zone of familiar faces and things you are so used to, when you meet new people of different cultures, race, beliefs, abilities, disabilities, it’s like your eyes are opened. Opened to things school never prepared you for. Things that maybe were taboo subjects in a small, caucasian valley.

You learn from others and try to teach yourself and you finally start to form your own opinions that aren’t influenced from your close knit community or people who have impacted your life up until then.

You learn more about what shit is really going on in the world and yes, it does impact you, especially if you’re a woman, or disabled or fit into what bigots class as “normal”.  You find out more about these issues that do effect you and you want to do something. Talk about it, shout about if, raise awareness. HELLO? This shit is impacting me, it’s impacting people I love and care about and we need to do something. Anything. But once you start giving a shit, start doing something, speaking out, having an opinion which is valid… you get judged?

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Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.

Why the ‘TRIGGERED’ meme needs to stay in 2016

Memes can be fun and really be a great ‘inside joke’ to social media users, but sometimes the internet does take it a step too far, which is why I’ve decided to discuss one of 2016’s biggest meme trends; the ‘triggered meme’.

For those who don’t know what memes are, Google describes it as “an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.” If you are a social media user, such as myself, there’s a very high chance you’ve seen one in your time online. There’s no harm in having a joke and a laugh, but when it comes at price of people being hurt, that’s when it needs to stop.

Here’s an example of the ‘triggered’ meme…

What participants of the joke telling (mostly millennials from what I have seen) have vastly ignored or overlooked the actual meaning of “trigger” and why it’s actually not funny at all.

‘Triggered’ is in fact a legitimate psychological term in which refers to emotions that surface in response to stimulation which brings up a traumatic past experience. Trigger warnings (also known as content warnings) are particularly placed on the internet ahead of content which may be of a explicit nature or that could contain potential triggers for people with past trauma.

Although not always, more often than not triggers happen to people who have PTSD. For some people, a trigger can be identified with past traumatic experiences and therefore they are able to pinpoint why they are triggered. For others, it’s a total mystery.  Despite the cause of triggers, those who experience them tend to recognise patterns within the kids of things which trigger them over time. I’ve definitely had (and still have) some things which can trigger me and cause a panic attack.

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Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.
the anxiety files

The Anxiety Files: One thing you should know about mental health

As I write this blog post, I’m under the duvets, the dim light of my phone hitting my face, the night rather old. It’s another sleepless one for me, by the looks of things. The whole New Year period always gets me reflecting on life. The past 12 months and the 12 yet to come. It can often play on my mind about the state of my mental health.

I’m not one to shy away from the topic of mental health issues, because I was silenced and alone growing up. I know just how important it is for people to speak out and with a hell of a lot of experience, I try to put a silver lining on a dull and grey cloud by helping others.Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to numerous friends from different walks of life and tonight it really just made me realise; mental illness cares for no one. I have friends in highly respected jobs, which if you were to look from an outsider’s point of view, they seem to have the perfect life. But when they invite you into their little private bubble and let down their guard, you see the reality. The last couple of years has seen a rapid increase of diversity within my friendship groups. Young, old, rich, poor, religious, athiest… and there’s something quite distinct about what many of them have in common; mental health struggles.

Continue reading “The Anxiety Files: One thing you should know about mental health”

Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.

The Anxiety Files: habits and safety blankets

 

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I originally planned to write this series in chronological order. ie: when I first got diagnosed, what happened with my relationships of friends, family and the like. But I don’t feel like going in order anymore. I just want to write about what I feel more ready to talk about in time. And, like my anxiety, it’s all a mess, so the order these posts come will reflect in that mess of my mental health. Anyway.

After recently talking to a friend who also has anxiety about habits and safety blankets, I felt like it was the ideal time to talk about it here, while it’s still fresh in my mind of the discussions we had. A lot of people with anxiety or any kind of mental health issue seem to have habits and safety blankets and I am 100% one of those people. I thought I’d talk through some of mine and why I feel they benefit or impact me.

My biggest safety blanket is probably my phone. Now, I know a lot of people are going to dub me a typical millennial for this, but hear me out. My phone is like a connection back to safety. I can talk to my mother as and when needed, I can reach out to other friends and family if I need to. It’s also ideal for any emergencies, whether I’m calling 999 or getting in contact with someone for the right reasons. I also get very anxious talking to people – especially the less I know them. My phone is sort of like a mask to help me cover the awkward and anxiousness. If you take that phone from out of my hands, I will start to act weird. I will pull at things because my hands need something to project how I feel – the nervousness and twitches. Once, I was in a meeting with my head of year back in school and I was so nervous, I pulled at my watch strap until it broke clean off. Everyone awkwardly stared at the watch, then at me and my heart felt like the beat of a drum at a loud pop rock concert with some hot drummer beating out the notes. I’ve broken multiple things – wrist watches, shoe straps (sitting in a chair and reaching my arm to my shoe to pull at it), pieces of plastic from clothing tags that won’t break so easily – the list is pretty long. I don’t know my own physical strength until it comes to anxiety where I could almost turn hulk. If there’s nothing in my hands, I will dig my fingers into my palms, leaving nail marks so deep that sometimes I bleed. “But Jazz, what about stress toys?” Did that, saw the movie, bought the t-shirt. The toys ended up breaking. Stress balls were ripped to shreds and these tough tangle toys that aren’t meant to break easily… well, they snapped pretty quickly. And with my phone, I can ‘casually’ glance at it – probably at nothing important… maybe a text from my phone provider, a tweet from an artist I follow or a notification from an app – making me seem less anxious.

Does it make me look ignorant? Maybe. But this is where I’m coming from. If someone is checking their phone, but still in the conversation with you, don’t instantly assume they’re being ignorant. They could have anxiety and this could be their safety blanket. If I’m still able to carry the conversation with you while looking at my phone, that means I’m still listening. It means I am engaging, but I’m more than likely trying to put my anxious feelings at bay by playing it off cool and trying to calm my inner monologue from talking as rapidly as a commentator for the horse races. Because that’s what my mind is like when I’m anxious. Thoughts rushing at 100pmh, the slight nauseous feeling, palms sweating, knees week (mom’s spaghetti… wait… sorry… this isn’t an Eminem karaoke night. Forgive me.) and my throat dryer than a fucking desert.

What I’m trying to get at, though, is some people need safety blankets. My phone is mine and if it is not charged or broken, I cannot go outside. Full stop. Not because I’m so infatuated with today’s technology (that’s another story.) but it’s something that helps me in many ways. People who don’t have a need for ‘safety blankets’ don’t tend to think about others needing one. They may see myself or someone else on their phone and think of us as obnoxious, which is kind of unfair. I’m not asking you to instantly assume that a person is not being ignorant, but what I’m asking is that if you’re reading this, you make a mental note in the back of your mind to maybe not be so judgemental about someone on their phone. I’ve heard people talk behind my back about me being on my phone and I get upset and anxious again because the last thing I want to do is come off as ignorant or rude. But I need this. I need something with me.

Another thing which kind of goes with safety blankets is habits. I have so many. In fact, if I list them all we will be here a while. So I’m just going to try and focus on some major ones.

Now, I know nobody really knows what happens in other people’s minds, but let me try and explain the inside of mine for you. Imagine a small room. And there’s about 50 boxes. Some stacked on top of others, some tipped over, open wide. Now imagine lots of holograms beaming out of these boxes. Each one playing something irrelevant to the other one. Then there’s about 3 different songs playing. Maybe one like a scratched record playing just a snippet of a song. Another just playing an annoying song from maybe your childhood or an annoying TV ad. And then there’s just one which is a little louder than the rest playing one song over and over. There’s a mess on the floor. And it’s almost like there 17 tabs on an internet browser, each one playing noise of some sort – maybe dialect from a TV or movie show, another a conversation, one is your inner voice trying to guide you through life. And the rest are incoherent babblings. You can’t quite work out what it is, but it’s like noise. Constantly. Then there’s another voice. Maybe like you in a sarcastic tone. And it judges. Every. Thing. You. Do. That’s my mind. Of course, I don’t really visualise that, but to bring it into a form of visionary for you to understand, that’s how I’d best describe it. It’s like that non stop. Even when I’m trying to relax, or sleep. While I’m talking to people, while I’m trying to concentrate. It’s been like this all my life. I used to think that was “normal” until as I got older and spoke to more people, I realised it wasn’t. Now, when I’m trying to concentrate or talk or read aloud, this intensifies. Maybe by 5 or 10 or even up to 20 times more – depending how anxious I feel. It means I stumble when I’m reading or trying to do something scripted in my head. I used to be really good at reading aloud – I was in the highest reading level in my primary school and about 5 years ahead of my age’s capability. But as anxiety has defeated me more and more overtime, that chaos in my head has intensified and that judgemental side of me is like someone trying to dictate every little thing I do and pressurising me. “Read that word, that one comes later, look up, no look at what you’re reading.”

So, I guess you could say overthinking is definitely a big habit of mine. It gets worse when I begin to over analyse things. And I do that. A LOT.

Another habit of mine is getting into ruts. When I get too anxious or my bi-polar swings to the depressive side of the moodswing pendulum, I get into major ruts. I can sleep for hours and hours. Sometimes I can only be awake for up to four hours. And then when I am awake, it’s in the middle of the night. Want to know a secret? That’s what’s happening to me right now. It’s 1:50am as I type this sentence and I’m sitting in the conservatory with my two dogs as they try to sleep and the music channel playing the role of my only real company right now. I’ve gotten into this rut originally because I’m fighting a cold and slept a lot to try and get over it. But with a physical illness sparks my mental illness intensifying. And so depressive mode is back and I’m here, alone. Again. I don’t enjoy being up and awake on my own. Well, most of the time, anyway. For an hour or two it can be nice because for once I’m in charge of the TV and can watch what I want. I can have some me time. But after that, the state of loneliness kicks in. Especially when I wake up at around 3pm, the majority of the day is done and I see people talking about what they’ve achieved in their hours out of slumber, while I spent my day unconscious and alone. Again. It’s not a habit I like. I detest it. But sometimes it’s so easy to just fall into the rut. Especially when my mind isn’t in a good place.

Anyway, I thought I’d share this in hopes that I can maybe reach out to someone who may not have someone to talk to, read this and then realise that what they are going through isn’t abnormal for the issues they’re facing. Because I know I’m not the only one who experiences this. Maybe not in the exact same way as others, but similarly there are people who said they go through something like this.

Have you picked up any anxious habits or safety blankets?

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  • Introduction to The Anxiety Files
Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.

The Anxiety Files: my experiences with mental health

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I thought I’d start a new series on this blog in hopes that I can help other people or maybe spark a conversation amongst other people. There is a big stigma attached to mental health and for some reason, people think talking about your experiences publicly (or at all) means you’re “attention seeking”. I’ve experienced this with both strangers and friends alike and as much as it hurts and makes me feel like closing up, I’ve learnt that it’s important to push past that. It’s important to fight through the people who create the stigma and talk out because after all, 1 in 4 people are dealing with a mental health issue and there still isn’t enough being done about it.

I was first diagnosed with anxiety at 10 years old back in 2006, but have always been a person with a “nervous” personality and I suppose things first began getting worse around 2005. The past eleven years have been an absolute rollercoaster with experiences I’d never wish on even my enemies, but I feel like it’s important to take the good out of the bad and since more and more people are being diagnosed, that people talking about their experiences is so important because it’s a topic not nearly discussed enough. There’s also a lot of different ways people experience their mental health and while it’s simple to give out symptoms for a broken leg or asthma, it’s not so easy with something like anxiety or bi polar.

I wanted to create this first introductory post to give you an idea what my intentions are, but also ask if there’s anything you’d like to see me talk about. I know there are many people out there who don’t have people to talk to and I’m more than willing to share experiences if it means that someone somewhere is benefiting from it. Feel free to comment below or email me.

So, keep your eyes peeled on this blog as I’ll be doing what I can to be informative and helpful as possible, because at the end of the day, we are all in the same boat and it’s crucial we stick together.

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Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.

Panic Attacks and Anxiety: my tips & tricks on coping

panic attacks and anxiety
I may or may not have mentioned this before, but I suffer with anxiety, bi polar and have had battles with depression. I’ve suffered with anxiety since the age of 10 meaning it’s been about 11 years since my diagnosis and how long I’ve been coping with panic attacks and dealing with them.
For a long time I was totally oblivious to the fact that so many more people suffer with similar issues and the fact that 1 in 4 people suffer with a mental health issue. It was barely talked about and my peers during school made me out to be “the freak” and not normal. Times have changed and so many more people are admitting to the fact that they too have their own issues to deal with. There wasn’t much information for me to gain access to at a young age, unlike nowadays, but despite the fact that many people are speaking out about similar issues, I feel like instead of stepping back because there are many blogs like this one, that it’s important to still share my experiences and methods of coping because the more posts = the more chances of someone who needs help can get it, even if it’s just via a blog post.

I’ve had a lot of different methods suggested to me over the past decade but these are the ones that I tend to stick to most.

During a panic attack

During a panic attack it’s definitely not easy to think rational, but if you are familiar with your panic attacks (ie: how they feel, the triggers,etc.) then it’s easier to try and reach out to that tiny rational percentage of your brain to push yourself to do something to help yourself. I’m usually always with a member of my family or friend, so my first port of call would be to inform them of how I’m feeling. I then follow these steps to get myself to a somewhat calmer situation as quickly and hassle free as possible.

Take myself out of the situation – If I’m in public or a place I’m unfamiliar with, I try and take myself out of the situation. Whether it’s going to a public restroom or find a more spacious area. I find that having a panic attack in public / a crowded place makes the entire thing much more stressful and the addition of paranoia of people being able to see you. Back in school, I was given a pass by my head of year which excused me from lessons when I felt the verge of a panic attack so I could go to the toilets or just go outside and breathe and be myself. Some teachers were even kind enough to let me take a friend. If you’re in school then I would definitely recommend a parent/guardian-teacher meeting being arranged and discussing options such as this one. It helped me so much.

Water – I feel like water helps me a lot. My mouth dries and my hands clam up and even if I only have a sip of water, the cool sensation of the water against my hands somehow makes me feel that little bit calmer. I wouldn’t recommend any other form of drink because, for me personally, my senses are heightened during a panic attack and so I would be able to taste a flavour very strongly and with my stomach being in knots from the panic, it would make me feel sick. I try and make sure I have a bottle of water wherever I go not only for hydration reasons, but in case a panic attack is on the horizon,

Deep breathing – This can be difficult as I tend to hyperventilate and shake a lot but I will build up to a deep breath during hyperventilation by taking a slightly bigger breath each time until I feel I can take one big deep breath and then exhale. Once at that state, I try to mimic the breathing of CPR but instead of filling a casualty’s lungs, I fill my own to the brim and then slowly let it all out. This not only calms my breathing but lets my brain try and get back to more rational thoughts.

Letting myself panic – That may sound weird, but if I know I feel anxious and a panic attack is building up, I let it happen. To let all those intense emotions and feelings stay bottled up tends to make the situation worse. Of course, I try and avoid getting into the state altogether, but if I feel like I’m already at panic stage, I just let it happen. Panic attacks are not going to kill you so just let it happen and run its course as you try to handle it as best as you possibly can.

Post panic attack 

The whole feeling after a panic attack feels like you are a walking wounded after a great war between yourself and your mind. It can be exhausting and overwhelming and it’s 100% normal to not feel okay straight away. When I reach back to a somewhat rational state of mind, I try and make sure that the aftercare is something I can make priority to prevent myself feeling so anxious again.

Hydration – I keep drinking the water because normally my mouth gets so dry that it takes a while to wet my whistle again. I keep drinking the water as part of relaxation and not to feel like I’m going to pass out. If I feel a little better I may opt for a weak cup of tea.

Sleep – I personally get exhausted after a panic attack and try to keep myself in a relaxed situation and try and get sleep as soon as possible. If I’m at home or able to get home quickly, one of the first things I do is go to sleep or if I don’t need to go back out, I put my PJs on and then go for an hour’s nap. If I have to stay out/have work to do I try and make compromises so if there’s anything that needs my input that it’s minimum and made easy or postpone whatever it is I need to do. Sometimes I need to just sit down and just think or listen to music or just close my eyes for a few minutes to regain normality around me. Putting myself in a busy situation straight after the incident tends to make my anxiety thrive again so I try and do as minimum as possible.

Talking – I normally need to talk out my reasons for feeling anxious and usually with a person I trust which is normally my mother. If not, I’ll find someone who I’m with (ie: a friend, someone at a course I could be on, a receptionist when I was at school) and just talk through my feelings and try to rationalise with myself with someone’s opinions and inputs.

 

Preventing anxiety

There are various things that trigger my anxiety. Whether it’s public transportation, an appointment, going somewhere new, venturing out in a big location,etc. And I know that, especially on days where I don’t feel 100%, I need to have different things to keep myself in a calm situation.

Charged phone – Not because I’m crazily obsessed with technology (that’s another story) but if I need to get in contact with someone (ie: my mother or stepdad) to talk to me while I’m anxious or to get me out of the situation, then I need to have a charged phone. Sometimes I take my actual charger with me if I know there’s going to be a powerpoint at my destination. If not, I take a power bank which keeps my phone charged on the go.

Music –Especially on public transport, I feel like music is a must. Music I really like always makes me feel comfortable and at home and in a safe place. I don’t know why, but music is like a magical thing for many reasons. So I like to have a pair of earphones and my favourite artists lined up on my phone.

Medication – I have been prescribed medication by a psychiatrist and doctor, so I ensure to take this everyday. I know not everyone has anxiety to that level where it needs to be medicated by a professional, but there are over the counter medications such as Kalms which can help you feel more relaxed and not as anxious.  Sometimes anxiety can be so mild for some people that all they need is some herbals such as herbal tea,etc. so I definitely recommend that first before trying medication. If you are prescribed medication, I know some people tend not to take it as they feel like it dehumanises you. I highly recommend you take any prescribed medication. You are a human. Anxiety is a chemical imbalance. You are merely restoring the correct amount of the right chemicals to make yourself feel better again. A diabetic takes insulin or medication. A person in pain takes a pain killer. You take these medications to make yourself feel better, whether it’s physically or mentally. If your medication makes you feel ill, please notify your GP and they may be able to help find a different medication which doesn’t make you feel so poorly.

Talking – Sometimes, on down days, I need to talk about how I feel. Whether you have a member of your family, a friend, a co-worker or even a charity. @Hope4MentalHelp on Twitter has a list of various helplines and charities around the world and if you’re based in the UK I highly recommend Mind charity for any advice and leaflets for information.

I really hope I have been able to help some people with this blog. Do you have any methods you swear by? Leave a comment blow.

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Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.

A response to The Independent RE: Zoella

I’m not sure what you would call this as it’s not exactly a rant but it’s a response to the Independent in regards to this article about YouTuber Zoella.

This article is discussing YouTube sensation Zoe Sugg AKA Zoella and her impact on teenage girls. I just feel as though the person who wrote the article in question just didn’t do enough research on Zoe. Yes, I watch Zoella’s YouTube videos and while I’m rather fond of her content and her as a person (or at least what she portrays online), I’m not an obsessed fan. However, the article by The Independent branded Zoe as a person who promotes beauty and makes young girls feel insecure due to the fact she supposedly sends out the message that make up and beauty is something a girl must do. When, in fact, she’s not doing this at all.

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Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.