Talk and Cheese, my battle with Mental Health

Battling Mental Health can be one of the scariest things for any individual to go through, I had the chance to talk to a blogger called Talk and Cheese who agreed to share her journey with us and show how things can change.

Mental Health is still a big issue and we are seeming to see it everywhere at the moment that sadly people are turning to the wrong things without opening up and letting people know that they are suffering so they can get the help they need and deserve as human beings.

I asked Talk and Cheese a few questions about her life and her battle with Mental Health and how it affected her professional and personal lifestyle.

So please take some time to read the story from this brave individual.

 Please can you tell us a little about yourself

I’m 43 years old and live with bipolar 2.

I was a TV presenter for over twenty years, presenting mainly news and football. I retired last May so that I can look after the two boys in my life, namely my precious 5-year-old son, MK, and my wonderful, supportive and understanding boyfriend, who I refer to in my blogs as Handsome Doc. He’s ok with that title as you can probably imagine!

I also spend a lot of time writing. I blog about my journey with bipolar, and am also in the process of writing a book which is potentially very exciting.
 When did you first realise you may have Mental Health issues?

I always knew I had some form of mental illness. Right from when I was a little girl. My brain was in turmoil for much of the time. 

I swung from being horribly flat and lost, to being deliriously happy and uncontrollably high.

I was far more anxious than a little girl should be, and convinced myself that my parents regretted having me, and even that I was adopted. I’m not, and they didn’t. 

When I was high, everyone just put it down to the fact that I had a big personality (although the true me was actually really shy and insecure), but on reflection, we all now recognise that there was more to it than that.

At my lowest point, I came very close to ending it all, as I explain in this blog.
Stepping out of the sea
Stepping out of the sea

 How did you go about getting help and did they diagnose you with ease?

At the age of 19 I had a complete breakdown, so went to see my GP. She was very nice, and I believe tried her best given the information that was available about mental health back then, but in fact, the big box of Prozac and suggestion that I take up a sport really didn’t cut it. 

I battled on with the diagnosis of depression and anxiety for years, but at the age of 29, was referred to a private mental hospital where I remained for six weeks. Not only did it drain my parents of all their savings (I carry enormous guilt over that), but it actually had limited impact on mental well-being. 

Again, I was being treated for depression and anxiety. I knew this wasn’t right, but believed that there was nothing more I, or they, could do. 

In 2007 I moved to London having been invited to present a fairly high-profile sports programme, and things deteriorated fast at that point. 

I had still been on antidepressants on and off over the years, and had received hours and hours of therapy, but the depressive episodes were lasting for longer, and I was out of control with what I now know to have been hypomania. I made bad decisions with men and I drunk to excess, to the point where my therapist at the time advised me to go to AA. I did go a few times but was in such denial that I stopped turning up for meetings, and carried on drinking.

I’m afraid to say, I was also doing coke. 

It was around this time that I was once again referred to the private mental hospital, this time in London. I was referred due to my mood, not for my alcohol or drug abuse.

It was only at that point, aged 35, that I received an accurate diagnosis of bipolar 2. 

Incredibly, stats show that on average it takes ten and a half years to receive a correct diagnosis of bipolar in the UK, and that before that point, sufferers will receive an average of three and a half misdiagnosis. A pretty sad state of affairs, considering how devastating an illness it is to live with, particularly when it goes untreated. 

I’m now on a fairly hefty combination of drugs (40mg Citalopram, 250mg Lamotrogine and 5mg Aripriprazole), some of which have some horrible side effects.

All that said,  I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. Now that we’ve found the combination of drugs that work for me, and after having been through years of therapy,  interventions, I am more able to manage my illness than ever before.
Today is a good day
Today is a good day
 How does Mental Health affect your day-to-day living?
There’s never a day goes by when I’m not battling with my emotions in some way, but due to my treatment, the battle is far less than it once was. I still get depressive lows which affect the way I am with little MK, and of course Handsome Doc. I have to raise my game for the sake of my son, but it’s utterly exhausting. He’s my priority though, so somehow, and I don’t know where it comes from, I manage to function with him. In periods of hypomania I show signs of mild OCD. I am invincible during these episodes. I find jobs that don’t really exist, I make endless lists and race through the entire thing before starting all over again, I talk (really fast and excitedly) to everyone who comes within ten metres of me, I call everyone I know and barely sleep at all, and I find myself pacing the house until I’ve thought up another job to do. At times I’ve missed a couple of night’s sleep altogether, and still been frighteningly full of energy throughout these hundred hour marathons. Following a high there is always a low, when I grieve the end of the high and sink into that black hole. I try to fight what I refer to as the gremlin in my head, but sometimes I just don’t have the strength. I sleep all day until the school pickup run, cry a lot and feel an agonising sadness.

 

The gremlin within

Gremlin within
Gremlin within
 What made you go into blogging?
I only decided to start blogging a couple of months ago, and the reason I started is that I felt I’d reached a point in my journey, and experienced such a lot along the way, that in sharing, I may be able to offer some level of comfort and support for others battling souls. I’ve actually found it to be cathartic too, but that is just a happy bi-product of the principal aim.
 When the day is hard how do you unwind and let go?

I don’t to be honest. I barely sit down, I have the concentration of a nat, and my mind is always thinking. Actually, I now use blogging as a means of winding down and letting go, but I guess that’s still a form of work, so I’m not sure if that counts!

 If your friends and family could describe what do you think they would say?
This is a  hard one. I know what they would say as they’ve said various things often, but it’s difficult to say positive things about yourself! OK, bear in mind these are not my adjectives, they are those of my friends and family!
Kind, a huge heart, loyal, brave, funny, beautiful, sensitive, a great mummy and strong. When they say strong, they refer to the way in which I battle with bipolar in order to try to lead a meaningful life, and to be the best mummy I can be.

 

 How do you feel your Mental Health is going at the moment?
It’s ok, but it’s all relative I guess. I barely drink at all and never take drugs (other than my bipolar meds. Obvs.)
I tend to suffer more from depression than hypomania, but for some reason or another, the latter has taken the lead over the past few months. I still feel it’s manageable and have no plans to seek professional help at the moment. My meds and past experiences see me through for now. There’s no denying it’s a tough fight to win though, and that the gremlin does his best to manipulate me. I’ve got a 100% success rate of beating him in the end though, and I intend to keep that up.

 

 Are you part of any Mental Health groups?

No I’m not.

 If you could give anyone in your situation or similar some advice what would it be?
To take baby steps in working towards something resembling recovery. Unfortunately bipolar it isn’t curable, but I truly believe that with the right meds and support, it is possible to have a meaningful life, albeit that it may need to be shaped around your state of mind at the time. To be selective over the company you keep. With an illness such as this, you need true and loyal friends around you, and must weed out any negative influences. Mental illness makes us vulnerable, and you must seek to be around the right people who will be there for you in times of need. And, who are willing to try to understand a bit about what you are going through. And finally, although I’m not a medical professional, not am I the oracle in mental health, I want so dearly to offer whatever love and support I can to others, be it that they have just been diagnosed and are completely overwhelmed, or that they just need to offload to someone who gets it!

Finally please can you tell me something you like about yourself

 I like my arms as I used to have two very feisty thoroughbred horses so built up strong, toned arms! Plus I like my heart, strange as that may seem. I like the way it makes me treat other people.
Thank you very much to Talk and cheese for opening up and sharing with me about her Mental health journey, I hope your words and story help someone reading this.
I wish you all the best in the future with everything you do.
If you would like to read more of Talk and Cheese’s post then head over to her blog page and show some support.
Daddy Giraffe x

 

Nobody is perfect and that’s ok

After setting up a Mental Health group and seeing other people’s situation throughout social media I’ve come to the realisation that nobody is perfect and that’s ok.

Every single person is different in so many ways and I think we are to focused on changing not only other people to suit our needs but we are so quick to change ourselves to please other people that we don’t even know.

Every day we see on the TV and in magazine of people who look almost flawless and we are made to believe that this is how we should be, this is how we should look and this is how we should act.

But in real life that is not how they are at all, their life isn’t the perfect dream and it has taken them hours of make up to just take that photo, I guarantee when you wake up next to them in the morning they don’t look like that.

Nobody is perfect in any way, even the most famous people in history have their flaws for instance did you know that these people suffered with Mental Health but still made history.

  • Abraham Lincoln – Suffered with Anxiety and Depression 
  • Charles Darwin – Suffered from Panic Attacks and Agroaphobia
  • Charles Dickens – Suffered Severe Depression and Bipolar
  • Beethoven – Suffered with Bipolar
  • Winston Churchill – Suffered with Bipolar and Manic Depression
  • Virginia Woolf – Suffered Depression and Psychosis

It’s not all about the mental side either, you should be comfortable in the skin that you’re in and if you’re not then change yourself but on your terms and the reason is you’re doing it for yourself.

I have put on a little bit of weight, since having kids and giving up sports im not up to 13 stone but im comfortable with the way I look and the size I am.

The way I see it is there is more of me to cuddle into.

Get to know and love yourselves, that is the way to true happiness, live and love life whatever you’re doing.

Weather it’s watching your kids grow, building a successful career, singing or even just enjoying going out and laughing with friends.

For all we know we only get one life so why not fill it with things like love, excitement, helping people and trying new things.

Except who you are and the emotions you have because nobody is better than you are, you just need to figure that out.

Daddy Giraffe x

 

*Image taken of google images*

 

 

Reflection on Reflection

Yesterday started with a booked appointment with the doctors where I went in with positivity and hope on going back to work and maybe coming off my medication but on reflection should I have been so optimistic?

Instead I was told that I was unfit for any kind of career I was striving for so I should forget it and maybe move on to factory work because at least if I have a relapse there will always be other factory’s

Now first thing there is nothing wrong in working in factory’s, I have been working in them from an early age but over a period of time I had developed new skills to open new doors to me and care work is where it was leading to.

Something where I can help other people, people who need help, people who need that little bit of time and care but instead I was told my condition made me lack the compassion needed!

Not baring in mind I have 5 children, I have all the compassion in the world and then some.

Needless to say I left the doctors feeling deflated and defeated know that this closed-minded dinosaur was going to block my path because he felt he knew better from a piece of paper.

I have spent a long time trying to raise awareness for Mental Health suffers to stand up and speak out, to say its ok to have an Illness and not to be ashamed of it but this man had struck a nerve which believe me is hard to do with me.

I went to the bathroom yesterday looked in the mirror and for the first time in a long time looked at my reflection and didn’t like what I saw, this wasn’t me!, maybe he was right and I should just stick to manual work where I just clock in and clock out, giving up on trying to make a change because how is someone like me going to make a difference.

This was until Cheryl stepped in gave me a cuddle and told me to forget what he said and told me I am worth more than that and to use this to my advantage to move forward and put my story out there that this isn’t ok to just put up with this and we can change people’s views.

Without people like Cheryl behind me then going backwards would be the easier option but she refuses to give up on me when other  people have and im willing to do the same, she is one of life’s angels and you don’t get many of them.

So on reflection of yesterday, at first I was down and ready to give up but now im even more determined to strive forward and make a much-needed change in this world.

Daddy Giraffe x

 

 

 

 

You’re only good for packing boxes

What hope do you have in life when your own doctor tells you that the only job that you are allowed to do is in a factory packing boxes and even then you can only do that if you don’t actually tell them that you have a mental health condition and if they do find out they will probably sack you but it’s ok because you can go and find another job in another factory packing more boxes! Continue reading “You’re only good for packing boxes”

Mental Health & Me with Mary

More and more people are joining me on trying to raise awareness on coming forward with their Mental Health issues to put it out there that its ok to openly talk about such a taboo subject.

I am overwhelmed with the responses ive received and people’s willingness to be brave and step forward.

I was approached by a lovely lady called Mary who wanted to share her story with us and I was more than happy to help her.

Here is the story of Mary….

1. Please can you tell us about yourself.

I’m 38. A mum of twin 9 month old babies, I’m in a long term relationship with Ian we have been together 7 years.

I was until recently a volunteer coordinator at Telford after care team where I created the dual diagnosis groups. I have also been through addiction alongside my mental health diagnosis.

2. How did your Mental Health journey begin and where you diagnosed with anything?

My journey began when I was 14.

I had my first suicidal thoughts after being bullied at school, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

It was only after a serious suicide attempt in 2010 that I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder type 2.

I had lost my best friend to cancer, had a relationship end and was in a job that had no future this all happened in the space of 2 weeks.

I didn’t know how to cope I was homeless and sofa surfing, I felt life had no meaning and attempted to take my own life.

I spent time in ICU and a mental health secure unit for 2 months until I could get housed in a mental health rehab which saved my life.

3. How does this effect your everyday living?

I have mood swings constantly, Highs make me manic and make everyday tasks really hard the lows take the form of me not being able to get out of bed get dressed etc.

4. How do you keep yourself calm in stressful situations?

I use a lot of mindfulness and grounding techniques.

5. Do you feel people’s opinions have changed towards you since you were diagnosed?

I feel some people can be judgemental as they don’t fully understand and make a joke out of it.

Others have been warm and accepting.

6. After being in your situation what advice would you give someone who is going through something similar?

Talk!

Talking helps massively I isolated myself and shut down in my darkest hour but since then I have learnt that talk therapy helps unconditionally.

7. What are your future goals?

My future goals are to be a good mum. A good role model. And find my place in the world again.

8. Are you part of any groups or organisations that have helped you along your way?

I have associated with many organisations during my recovery but the one that has helped me the most has been the community mental health team.

9. Name something good about yourself?

I like to help people.

Thank you Mary for being so open and honest with me about you Mental Health Journey and letting us know its ok to seek help.

I wish you all the best in the future.

Daddy Giraffe x

Life Battles Guest Post with Nicole

After my last post earlier on today I was contacted on my Daddy Giraffe Page by a young woman who also wanted to share her life story with the world on her journey battling Mental Health.

She sent me her story of her life battles and its an incredible read, she is very brave to open up and put it out there for the world to see.

Here is Life Battles with Nicole….

Hiya im Nicole and I was first diagnosed with depression.

When I was only 15 I took a serious amount of overdose which made them think I wasn’t happy at home.

I overdosed on Insulin the first time and the with Paracetamol twice after that, this resulted in me going into care as they said I was not safe at home.

I self harmed for 3 years straight every other day when I got to the point where I couldn’t cope.

I got to the age of 18 where I completely lost my head as my sister had died and this is what the thought the cause was.

I tried hanging myself a few times but my ex partner stopped me, this is where a doctor from Shelton was called and I was diagnosed with Bipolar and Boarder Personality Disorder.

I was referred to the Crisis Team where I was then diagnosed with ADHD and of course add suspected Autism.

CMHT have helped me with life and my children, they have made me feel like I can do this, my head still doesn’t work right sometimes but with the support I have been given over the past few years has helped.

CMHT team are always there to help, I have suffered so long and when my children were born that was my light at the end of the tunnel now I have to think of them and not allow this illness to defeat me never again will I fall that low.

If I could offer anyone any advice who is in the situation I was it would be get some help, there is always someone there when you feel there is nobody.

Thank you very much Nicole for sharing with us and I’m glad you have come through this on a more positive side, I wish you all the best in the future.

Daddy Giraffe x

Raising Awareness with Charlotte

As I have been doing these Mental Health Guest Posts for raising awareness that is OK to open up and talk about the taboo subject that is Mental Health.

More and more people have been coming forward and contacting me about wanting to share their story to help other people in similar situations.

I had a message from Charlotte who was interested in sharing her story to help other people and also raise awareness, I would like to thank her for being so brave for opening up to me.

Here is her incredible personal journey…

My mother gave birth to me at 24 weeks and 3 days, it was touch and go weather I was going to make it through the night or not.

The priest asked my parents on whether they wanted to baptise me or not but my parents  chose that they didn’t want to baptise me.

I made it through the night and spent the next 12 months of my life in hospital, luckily I had someone watching over me and I mad it into the paper when I was 1 as they said I was a miracle baby.

When I just turned 5 a behaviour therapist mentioned to my mother that I should see someone to be assessed for Epilepsy.

At the age of 5 I was diagnosed with Epilepsy and was told that I suffer Peti Mal and Grand Mal seizures, my seizures tend to fluctuate between the two of them but its being controlled by medication.

At the age of 17/18 I started to self harm, I also began to eat less and I didn’t know if I was coming or going.

Luckily I got refereed to the CMHT this is where they diagnosed me with Bipolar  and put me on Quietiapine.

On 19th May 2017 I took a massive quantity of Quietiapine, I had a seizure and became unresponsive when the paramedics go there they had to incubate me.

My friend picked up my mom and drove her to The Princess Royal Hospital where the paramedics were waiting at the entrance for her.

They began to tell her that I was in resuss and they were planning to place me in to an drug induced coma this is were it became immediate family only.

They gave me a 50/50 percent chance of pulling through but luckily I had someone watching over me.

I was reassessed and diagnosed with BPD  and I was put back on the Quietiapine just with a weekly pick up.

If I could give anyone any advice is try and get as much help as you can and try to stay positive because it will all be OK in the end.

I will never let Mental Health defeat me again!

What an incredible story!

You have been through quite a bit Charlotte, Thank you for taking the time out to tell your story and help me raise awareness for Mental Health.

I wish you all the best in the future, stay strong

Daddy Giraffe x

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Journey – Guest Post from Michelle

Over the weeks I will be sharing stories from people who have lived all sorts of lives living with Mental Health on my blog.

So far a few bloggers have come forward to share their story which is a brave thing to do for anyone but this time I had a woman approach me on my Daddy Giraffe Facebook Page asking to share her story.

I of course said yes as this is rare because it usually bloggers who share other bloggers journeys with a link back so I was more than happy to do this.

This is a lady called Michelle and here is her Mental Health Journey…

Tell us a bit about yourself

My names Michelle, I’m a 49 year old grandma of 3  and a mother to 4.

I’ve recently joined a singing group with my local Mental Health Team

When did your illness journey begin?

When I was 38 I had Cancer which spread throughout my abdominal, this resulted in me having an operation to remove the cancer and most of my organs.

2 years later I had a bowel blockage which then lead to another operation.

Since then I have been in pain to the point of 6 years ago I had to give up work because of the amount of pain I was in.

I could no longer work because I was in pain 24/7 and this is where my battle with Mental Health began.

When and what where you diagnosed with?

5 years ago I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

How does this affect your day to day living?

That’s a hard one.

It’s a mixture of pain, anxiety and more pain, I rarely go out in society or anywhere else honestly.

I spend a lot of time asleep , I no longer have any joy in hobbies or things like reading because I just can’t concentrate.

What things do you do to get you through the days?

Sleep mostly because it makes the time pass quicker.

If you could give advice to anyone in your situation what would it be?

Find yourself a hobby that interests you also speak to people about your problems.

Tell us something you like about yourself.

I’m very honest and trustworthy.

Thank you very much Michelle for you honesty with this interview about your health, your very brave and I wish you all the best in the future.

Daddy Giraffe x

 

 

 

Mental Health Guest Post With Realmomblog

As part of my Mental Health quest to show people it’s OK to speak openly about these issues and its nothing to be embarrassed by.

Realmomblog has agreed to open up and tell her story about how she deals with life managing family life and Severe Anxiety Disorder.

Enjoy the read…

 1. Tell us about yourself
I’m a 33 year old wife and mother of 3.  I run Realmomblog.com,where I
chronicle living with severe anxiety disorder, as well as a ton of
parenting stuff.  My hobbies include reading, writing, and hiding from
my children while eating snacks I don’t want to share.

 2. When did you get diagnosed with Mental Health issues and what was you
  diagnosed with? I was diagnosed as a teen with Severe Anxiety Disorder.

 3. How does this effect your everyday living?
Anxiety can be a lot of things, on a good day, you’re just a little on
edge, on a bad day you can have panic attacks where you feel like you’re
dying, it’s hard to breathe and you feel an overwhelming sense of dread.
Basically, whenever you have one of these panic attacks your body says
“Woah, that was scary lets never do that again!”  even though all you
did was something mundane like walk into a store.  Anxiety can be
crippling, always being on edge, always worrying, your body suffers from
the constant flux of fight or flight hormones, cortisol and adrenaline
to name a few. Maintaining a high degree of vigilance or awareness for
an extended period of time is mentally and physically exhausting.  It
becomes easier to stay home or keep to yourself to avoid these panicked
feelings, leading to isolation, loneliness, and potentially depression.

4. How do you keep yourself calm in stressful situations?
Grounding techniques help a lot.  Deep Breathing helps a lot as well.  A
grounding technique gives you a focus point to concentrate, like
something you can feel, smell, taste, see, or hear.  Deep breathing
works similarly by focusing on taking slow deep breaths.  There are
other methods but these two are the simplest and most commonly used.

 5. Do you feel people’s opinions have changed towards you since you were
 diagnosed?
I think they do,  it’s hard to quantify it but it’s quite frustrating.
For this reason I’ve avoided telling people in the past, and this just
led me to feeling even more alone and anxious.

 6. Why did you start blogging?
I actually started my blog to help me overcome some of my anxiety and
it’s been instrumental in allowing me to not feel so alone, in fact I
have encountered the exact opposite.  Everyone has been very friendly
and supportive in both the blogging and mental health circles.  And in
talking to new people in both and research for articles on mental health
awareness, anxiety is surprisingly common with nearly 1 in 4 Americans
experiencing it.  I started blogging to help myself and others
experiencing Severe Anxiety Disorder.

7. What are your future goals?
My blog is really growing very fast right now, and I’m constantly
working on new content, which keeps me very busy.  I’m currently working
on releasing a free course and e-book about Anxiety Disorders and I hope
to be able to release it by early summer!

 8. Name something good about yourself.
I’m a very loving person!

Thank you very much for doing this guest post it was very brave of you to stand up and talk publicly about these issues, I wish you all the best in the future!

If you would like to see more from Realmom then you can from the links below..

http://realmomblog.com

http://fb.me/realmomblogcom

http://pintrest.com/realmomblog

http://instagram.com/realmomblog

http://twitter.com/realmomblogcom

 

Daddy Giraffe x

 

 

Finding work with Mental Health issues

Recently I have been looking to get back into work, it has been 4 years since I have last worked and im finding it more difficult to try to get back into work when you have to declare you have a Mental Illness.

I have filled in the world’s supply of applications and when it comes to the medical sections im finding it hard to fill it in as ive never had to before so when it’s written down on paper in front of me it’s a little disheartening and makes me anxious of what an employer will think when looking at the application and seeing that I have a Personality Disorder.

Would they feel it’s a risk to employ me?

Would they give me an interview because they had to but treat and speak to me differently?

Does this condition limit the work that I can actually do?

These are questions ive never really thought about before as I couldn’t face leaving the house longer than 30 mins let alone going to work in a place full of new people and new situations.

When I have finally plucked up the courage to do something about it there are certain obstacles I will have to overcome.

I’m interested in Care work and I know there is a lot of it out there it’s just a case of somebody taking that risk to employ me and give me the chance to show my worth and how hard I can work.

The decision to go back to work wasn’t a case of money but of self-worth, I have been with this condition for a long time now and I refuse to let it define me and dictate what I can and can’t do!

If I start work and I just cant do it then at least I can say that I tried, ive spent so long finding myself that I at least owe it to myself to try to get back to normality.

So im asking you, if you have a Mental Illness how do you manage finding work or if you do work as well how do you find that healthy balance.

I am not my Illness and this is one step closer to finding the real me!

Daddy Giraffe x

*These images where taken from google images*