Apps helping me form Healthy Habits..

If you have been keeping up with my posts lately, you will know that I have been making some changes to my daily routines in order to help my health and hopefully try and prevent having a rough Winter. You can see what changes I have been making here, but this post is to let you know about the apps I have been using on my phone to try and help with this.schizo

There are three main apps that I will be talking about, two that are things to help me through some new habits, and the last is one to help me track a change I’ve made. I definitely have my favourite but that’s besides the point.

To track my water intake each day I am using My Water. Its a very simple free app on my phone that allows me to input each glass of water I drink, as well as Tea and Coffee. With tea and coffee, it also calculates the amount of caffeine, and although I have gone decaf, I find it interesting to see how much I would be having if I hadn’t. You can set an amount of water that you want to be consuming each day, and you can look back and see when you have hit the target and when you haven’t. There are also lots of fun little badges to try to earn, which I find just adds to the motivation. Like with most apps there is an option to pay a yearly amount and it will then open up the ability to track many many other drinks, such as fizzy drinks, milkshakes and alcohol. Personally, I have not done this, as I don’t see the need to. I know that I already drink plenty and am just interested in trying to increase my pure water intake.

This next one is one that I am still questioning just how useful it actually is, but never the less, I am giving it a try. That app is 7M Yoga, and if you cant guess from the name it has some premade yoga workouts that guide you through. It is great if you don’t really know what you are doing, as it has a little how to do it video for each move, and nothing is too complex. However there are only 3 workout, and all only about 10mins long. For me this just isn’t seeming to be quite enough, as I am looking for a workout that will be around 20-30 minutes. If you have any suggestions of where I can find something like this then please let me know.

Then finally, and yes this is my favourite, I am using Headspace to take some time each day to meditate. Headspace is full of hundreds of different guided meditations, some set out as ‘packs’, that are a set of meditations to be done on consecutive days, and also ‘singles’ that are for the one of varied emotions. I have been doing a couple of the packs, I started off on the Basics pack, which you can try out for free when you download the app. This just introduces you to some of the various techniques that the app uses, it is definitely a good place to start, and there are further basic packs that you can also dip into. If you subscribe as I have then it opens up a whole bunch more, and I have now started the Mindful Eating pack, hoping that this may help me to keep my focus on healthy eating over this winter. As for the singles, I am slowly just trying to do one a day, sometimes new ones, but just whatever feels relevant or me at the time.

So these are the three new apps that I am using in order to track my new healthy changes. I definitely feel like Headspace and ‘My Water’ are being of great help for me, I think I might need to find something else to help with the yoga, but for now the basic app is helping.

Do you have any health or wellbeing apps that you find helpful?


Healthy Changes I’m making…

If you have read my recent goals posts, you will know that I have been trying to make some pretty simple changes that I am hoping will make all the difference when it comes to the Winter. For many years now I have found Winter to be a tough month for me, with the change in the weather I find comes pain, fatigue and generally poor health.

Now its quite common for the colder months of the year to bring drops in vitamin levels and many other challenges for those who already struggle with their health, and I am no different. Almost every year I end up with very low levels of vitamins C and D, and my immune system as a whole takes a hit. So as you can expect, this means that I end up catching every little cold, bug and flu that goes around.

On top of this, winter and cold wet weather in general plays up my fibromyalgia something crazy. Any one with pain syndromes will probably know what I mean by this, me and my Nan always sympathise with each other as arthritis is also heavily effected by the weather. So this year I am trying to come up with some ways to make this have less effect on me. Last winter I have several days if not weeks where I couldn’t even get myself out of bed due to pain levels, and I refuse to let this happen again.

To overcome the pain, I have started doing a very simple routine of yoga each day. Just 10 minutes of yoga every day I am hoping will keep my muscles well stretched and hopefully put me in a good position that the cold doesn’t leave my muscle super crampy and sore. I know that when I was younger, the more active I stayed the less pain I would feel; although this was before my fibro, I’m thinking that the same effect should happen.img_1005.jpg

Although I know it will have little to no physical effect, I have also started doing 5 minutes of meditation each day. I am finding that this is helping to make me aware of what my body is feeling, and whether I am having a bit of a flare. The difference this has compared to without the meditation, is I am not only aware of whether my body hurts, but also helps me to think of the reasons for this and therefore deal with them. I will definitely be keeping this up.img_1009
All the other changes have purely been through choosing healthier food options. I’ve switched to eating a lot more fruit which will hopefully help to keep my vitamin levels stable, as well as having discovered these Porridge on the Go bars. I adore the golden syrup flavour, they just taste like flapjacks, but they are healthy. For breakfasts I’ve been having smoothies with the porridge and have cut caffeine out of my days. Finally I have increased my water intake by at least an extra litre.img_1010

So that’s my changes so far, I’ll be sharing the apps I’m using to help me with theses in a later blog post. Have you made any changes to your daily habits ready for the winter?


The Difference between feeling alone and being lonely…

This last few weeks, I have been having a really tough time. Mental health is one of those unpredictable things that can just sneak up on you when you are least expect it, when everything seems to be going well. But, as has happened to me, you can believe that you are getting everything in order, prepared to start studying for your degree again, and then BAMM, anxiety depression and general mental health troubles hit you.img_0341-3

I have been trying to explain for a little while now what I’ve been meaning when saying I feel really alone at the moment. Often I get the response of, but you always have company, or just go see different people then. But feeling alone has no relation to how much you are interacting, it doesn’t matter if you are by yourself all day, or if you are in a huge crowd of your favourite people.

Being lonely is something everyone experiences at some point or another. Being home alone, walking to work, or just driving around in your car. Its a feeling that is always nice to have every now and again, time to just stop and unwind, take time for yourself, not having to worry about anyone else.

But feeling alone is an emotional feeling, its a state of mind not presence. You feel alone when you look at all those around you and realise that things go on without you; feeling as if no one would notice if you were to disappear.

Almost two years ago my parents split up, there has been loads of tension and complicated issues between me and some family members ever since. For some reason the other weekend it got me thinking; my mum has a new partner whom has a child, they often seem to go out and about. My Dad also has a new partner with children, and again they often go out and do ‘family’ activities. This got me thinking, I am the one who no longer has ‘family time’.

By no means am I wishing they weren’t happy; I am really glad that they have both found people they can be happy with, and I would not deny them a single moment of that. But when I’m stuck in not doing anything all day, and I get told they’ve taken the kids to go bowling, I cant help but think, why not invite me? Its as if as an adult child, its not thought you include me in ‘family time’.

See so this is the difference, feeling alone is a state of emotion where you don’t feel like anyone can understand. You feel that you have no purpose in the world, and sometimes that no one really cares.

Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means accusing anyone of anything. I just felt that it needed explaining, I know that when my anxiety flares that feeling alone is a common demon. There has to be other people that experience this feeling? I would love to hear from you, talking about it may help us all to realise we are not alone.


Diary of a sleepless night…

When you live with multiple disabilities, all of which leave you hurting, drained and full of fatigue, you would think that sleep would be easy to come by. I spend almost all of my day nearly every day longing to be back in bed, exhausted and just longing for sleep. But when evening comes and I decide to call it a day, I’m normally faced with the inability to turn off, snuggle down, and generally just not able to sleep.

The night before I’m writing this was exactly one of those nights; nice dinner with my man, night in watching telly, and when I go to try and sleep, BING I’m wide awake. img_0341-2

If you have ever had insomnia, then you will know how frustrating this is. For the past few years I have been on medication in order to try and reduce my difficulty sleeping, I take them as soon as I’m going to try and sleep but they don’t always work. This always leaves me so frustrated as I have no focus to do anything but also cant get to sleep.

So last night, I took my pills, snuggled down to get some rest, and lay there for well over 40 minutes, just trying to turn off and go into a nice dream. I must admit that I had a headache most of last night, but that doesn’t normally effect me sleeping too much. But last night was a different matter; I was tossing and turning with no avail.

Now I often find if I get out of bed, and then back into bed that can help me. I don’t know how it works, but its as if it jolts my body into remembering its meant to be getting sleep. With Barney asking to go out and pee, I took myself downstairs, let him in the garden, turned the dishwasher off, got a glass of water and head back to bed.

That did not work though, when I got back into bed, I was welcomed with muscle cramp and restless limb syndrome in my wrists and legs. There is little that can be done when this happens, I tried to ignore it hoping I’d get to sleep, but when that failed I had a bath. Yes I had a bath at 2am, with bubbles and everything. Though it had absolutely no luck, I went back to bed to try to sleep for about another half hour, but it just was not happening.

So at 4am, I gave up hope of sleeping, got out of bed to go downstairs. With the recliner up, favourite blanket to hand and Garfield cartoons on the telly, I expected to just sit up until my partner woke up. Typically, about 5 thirty, I some how fell asleep; only for my partner to wake up at 7 wondering why I wasn’t in bed, which in turn woke me up. After explaining the night I’d had, I got back into bed to try and get back to sleep; on a good day I can sleep till midday, but law of sod means I only managed to get another 2 hours, waking up at 9.

Just in case its not clear, despite being exhausted and completely drained, I managed a grand total of 3 hours, very disturbed sleep. If this morning is anything to go by, it looks like I’m going to have no luck with napping this afternoon either.

Do you ever have sleeping issues? What do you do to try and overcome them?


Psychological Rollercoaster…

Anyone who has ever struggled with mental health of any variety will know that rollercoaster you can go through in just one short week. Such a small event, one that may cause you a bit grief, can then lead to lots of seemingly insignificant things being deeply upsetting. This can lead to flare ups throughout your mental health. This is exactly what has been happening to me this past week. My anxiety and depression has been up in the air, leading to me losing all routine with the blog, twitter, and just generally in all life aspects.

Last Sunday, one of my little gerbils passed away. He had been a bit off all week, and my father then found him asleep on Sunday morning. I wasn’t overly surprised, as he was nearly four years old he was a fine age, not to mention that he had gone through cancer surgery. I will be writing more about his passing in the near future.DSC_0194

But it does not matter however prepared you are, a loss of a pet is always hard, however big or small you grow to love any creature you look after for a significant amount of time.

See, although I was obviously upset about this, it also felt like an element of relief as it meant I knew he was no longer suffering in any way. Of course I had concerns as to how his brother would cope on his own, but generally I felt alright. However this putting me in a slightly bad place on Sunday, had a big knock on effect to the rest of the week.DSC_0200

I wont go into detail about most of the events that followed as many of them are personal and many to do with things that have happened this year that I would prefer to keep to myself.

However nothing all that major happened, but it was enough to cause my depression to flare. I found myself being sent further and further down a negative spiral, each thing impacting me more and more. It got to a point where I just couldn’t handle even the slightest bit of negativity. Hence why I ended up taking a complete break from the blog, and an almost complete break from Twitter. DSC_0217

Sometimes you just have to take a step back as otherwise life could just get the better of you. When you have unstable mental health even the simplest of things can give you a bit of a bump, and set you on a psychological rollercoaster for the following period. But you have to make the time for yourself, to look after your own mental and physical health. This is what I was doing last week.

I now hope to step my game up again, and work on content for the rest of the month. Also, I am planning a giveaway for when I hit 1k followers on Twitter, so be sure to check out my twitter for more details.

What do you find can cause your mental health problems?


Self Care for someone who forgets…

For as long as I can remember I have struggled with my mental health, more recently I have had to balance that with trying to deal with my physical health. Now trying to juggle several physical disabilities while also dealing with anxiety, depression and just generally very complicated mental health (read more about here), I sometimes forget just how important it is for me to find time for self care.

Lately I have read a few blog posts all about the importance of self care and the various things that people do in order to care for themselves; one of my favourites has been Laura’s post over at Laura Spoonie, you can see the post here.  After reading it the other day it reminded me just how much I need to find my own ways to practise self-care, especially while I am struggling day to day with mental and physical health. So this is what this is all about, getting over my excuses and focusing more on ways I can do it. DSC_0202

MY top and favourite way for self care has to be reading, but it has to be reading something that Im reading for myself, not just for a review or study. This is something I often do daily, and sometimes for much of the day; however whenever I start to feel ill or struggling with mental health, I find that I just stop and don’t pick up a book. I’m in that situation at the moment, I’m having issues with pain and fatigue which is having a knock on effect to my depression and anxiety. I’m sad to say Ive not picked up a book for more than a page or two in over a month. It upsets me as I have so much I want to read, you can see my overly ambitious TBR for this month here. Now I am going to focus on trying to get back into a book tonight.

You can not beat a hot bath with bubbles, music on, and a book in hand- oh and did I mention a good cuppa tea! At the moment I cant do this as I have no use of one of my feet- its a long story, but basically I fell down the stairs. So currently, Im having to wait for my partner to be over so he can help lift me into the bath- yes its embarrassing and awkward but oh well its life. However I am still managing to soak my feet in hot soapy water, which at least makes me feel a bit better.DSC_0208For me, going and getting my nails done is something that can make me feel so much better about myself. I, for a long time, stopped doing this because ‘I couldn’t afford it’, after about six months, a depression flare up, and several viruses, I started again. Its £25 for 3 weeks, that’s the price for me to feel human even when I cant get the energy to brush my hair or clean my teeth. In the long run, I think that’s a price worth paying.

Finally, something I am finding my love is growing and growing for, photography. I’ve always enjoyed it every now and again, but lately since getting my nice camera, I am loving taking every opportunity I can. Recently I went on holiday with my partner, and I have to say I think I have found the perfect photography partner, but that’s a different story. When I’m out in nature taking photography, I find myself getting lost in the focus of what Im doing, and that gives me such a sense of achievement. DSC_0224

So they are just some of my favourite ways to make time for myself, to make sure that I am taking care of myself to give me the best chance of keeping on top of my mental health. Some of these work better than others, and work better at various times. If it involves going outside then it normally means that I cant when Im overly anxious, it will just lead to me getting worse, but other times staying inside can do the same thing. I have a wide array of self care activities and these are just some of my favourites, in future I would love to possibly do more posts like this with some of my other techniques.

All images used are all photography shots I have taken.


My Experience- Psych Reassessment

Its no secret that I have been under a psych team for over three and a half years now, but have had mental health issues for most of my life. From anxiety as a child, paranoia, and then the psychotic symptoms in my teens, depression in my 20s, its been a constant issue in my life, but one I have worked hard to control.

During my time under the psych team, Ive been labelled with the diagnosis of Schizophrenia. On this blog I have written about it many times, its a diagnosis that has always made sense to me to some degree. No it was never easy to accept, or to be completely open about, but it ticked the box for helping me understand what was happening to me.DSC_0041

However after such a long time in treatment I really should of been seeing an improvement, and I just never did. So at my last routine appointment they suggested that I saw a completely different doctor and had a full reassessment. This sounded like a great idea, as my symptoms have changed slightly over time as well.

So me and my Dad went to this reassessment at the beginning of July. The new doctor was really friendly, allowed my Dad into the appointment which is against the norm; however he did not understand my mutism. I nearly always go mute when I’m around new people, its something I have struggled with for most of my life. Some people say its because I’m shy, some see it as rude; but its actually an involuntary response to my voices that spike around unknown people.DSC_0010

Eventually I managed to get around it, when this happens I can answer basic questions or talk about subjects I know about, so it works for appointments. We spent a good hour discussing my life basically. From childhood, school, relationships, and family; we discussed it all.

By the end of the conversation and in turn the appointment, he was really rather stumped.

The conclusion was that I do not have one specific diagnosis, I have a combination of many. I have aspects of schizophrenia, aspects of OCD, aspect of EUPD, along with depression and severe anxiety.DSC_0051
Moving forward, I’m going to stay on my anxiety, depression and psychosis medication, but now I am going to try a mixture of CBT and psychotherapy. In my doctors words, I have very complicated and delicate mental health; ultimately I may never get over it, I may never work a ‘normal’ job, or be able to socialise with new people. But time will tell, and I will be sharing my thoughts when my therapy is moving forwards.

Have you ever had either of these treatments? I’d love to hear about your experiences.


Can’t win with the weather

As many will know, England has been hit with one huge heat wave, one probably hotter than I have ever experienced in my lifetime. With temperatures of up to 30oC, a lot of people, especially young people are out enjoying the sun. Be that sitting in beer gardens, having BBQs, and laying out trying to catch a bit of colour. But for me, this heat just means a flare up of symptoms; although this is also the same for the cold. Two different conditions, flare up in two different weather conditions.

Ive talked a few times on this blog about my struggle with both Fibromyalgia and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME); both of which are conditions that vary in level of severity because of a range triggers. One of my biggest triggers for both is the weather.DSC_0010

In the winter when it is cold, this sets my Fibro off, so that both my legs feel like dead weights, and all of my joints go stiff and painful. I have had so many tests for this to see if there was something else going on, but it appears to the doctors that it really is just Fibro, Im just unlucky that it is so effected by the weather. What also doesn’t help is that I cant get out as much in the cold, partly because of those symptoms, which in turn weakens my muscles and makes me stiff and achy.

Oppositely when the weather gets warmer in the summer, my Fibro settles down a touch, and my ME flares up. The hot weather has me exhausted, wobbly, weak and generally very unstable on my feet. This can lead to me falling, dropping things and can also lead to me passing out while doing normal tasks. Its basically like the normal fatigue that people suffer from the heat, but extreme version. Plus like before, the then inability to move around much, can cause the Fibro to make me stiff and achy. Not to mention that if I sit on a too solid seat, then my hip and back just get ridiculouDSC_0012s on the pain scale.

So yes, it is basically a very vicious circle, especially when you think that any sudden temperature changes also cause the Fibro to flare. I think only the Spring is a season that doesn’t cause me to flare too badly one way or another. As the title says; I just cant win with the weather.

Any other chronic illness sufferers find the weather can make things harder?


Why I’m back on full time anxiety meds

Normally in the mental health blogging world we focus on getting off of medication and learning to deal with your conditions. There is nothing wrong with this, and I completely agree that that is the long term aim for almost anyone with a mental illness. However for me, learning to cope with multiple health issues both mental and physical, sometimes is just managing damage control. For me right now, that’s the phase we are in, damage control, and that means taking a little step back and going back on medication. img_0341-3
Lately Ive had a lot going on, with my psych reassessment coming up, an ME flare up, as well as having to prepare to move again. This all is a lot for anyone to handle, especially while Ive been trying to continue with both the blog and my Creative Writing course, and for someone with depression and anxiety it just all became a bit too much. It took a little while, but I did decide that I needed to go back and get professional help for my mental wellbeing.DSC_0018

I had got to a point where I was having panic attacks again. Not just the odd one, but several each and every day, and mostly over ridiculous things, if there was a trigger at all. Sometimes, I would just be sitting there watching TV or reading my book and all of a sudden my vision would shrink and I wouldn’t be able to catch my breath. From there its a downward spiral.

Going back to the psych doctors was a bit nerve racking as I am currently waiting on a reassessment as they think they may have my diagnosis wrong, but I needed to as the anxiety was just taking control of my life. Ultimately I’m glad that I did, as I have now DSC_0049been put back on my anxiety meds that I came off of a few years ago.

This may seem like a step backwards but ultimately its got me in control of my life again- well as much as I can be. I’m only having about one panic attack a day, and they are always for an obvious purpose. I’m lucky that I don’t get side effects from my medication, so its really only a benefit for me. Over time, Ive learnt that I don’t need to be ashamed of taking this little step backwards, as ultimately its going to help me to work forwards and continue to improve.

Should never be afraid to ask for help when you realise you need it, as it can help you from falling backwards.


Bed Rest Diaries #2 Part 3

When you’ve been on bed rest for so long that your diary ends up going into three parts. Either these will be super popular, or you’ll all be really bored, but personally I find them super fun and interesting to write so I’m going to continue. Hopefully, with my final three days on bed rest, I’ll start to feel a bit better and be a bit more interesting. img_0341-3
Continue reading “Bed Rest Diaries #2 Part 3”